The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese History.


As one might incorrectly infer from viewing historical timelines, it is not usually the case that one dynasty transitions abruptly and smoothly into another. Rather, dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing reign, or continued for a time after they had been defeated. For example, the conventional date 1645 marks the year in which the Qing dynasty armies overthrew the preceding Ming dynasty, according to the dynastic cycle of China. However, the Qing dynasty was established in 1636 (or even 1616, albeit under a different name), while the last Ming dynasty pretender was not deposed until 1663. This change of ruling houses was a messy and prolonged affair, and the Qing took almost twenty years to extend their control over the whole of China. It is therefore inaccurate to assume China changed suddenly and all at once in the year 1645.

In addition, China was divided for short periods of its history, with different regions being ruled by different groups. During such periods, there was not any single dynasty ruling a unified China. As a case in point, there is much dispute about times in and after the Western Zhou period. In the Chinese historiographical tradition, each new dynasty would write the history of the dynasty which preceded it. This cycle was disrupted, however, when the Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing dynasty in favor of a republic. Even an attempt by Republicans to draft the history of the Qing was disrupted by the Chinese Civil War, which resulted in the division of China into the People's Republic of China on mainland China and the Republic of China on Taiwan.[1]

Dynasties of China

Dynasty Rulers Ruling house or clan of houses From To Term
Name Chinese



Pinyin Meaning
Confederacy dynasties
Xia dynasty Xià Tribe name (list) Sì (姒) 2070 BC 1600 BC 470 years
Shang dynasty Shāng Toponym (list) Zǐ (子) 1600 BC 1046 BC 554 years
Western Zhou dynasty 西周 Xī Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 1046 BC 771 BC 275 years
Eastern Zhou dynasty 東周 / 东周 Dōng Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 770 BC 256 BC 515 years
Spring and Autumn period 春秋 Chūn Qiū As English 770 BC 476 BC 295 years
Warring States period 戰國 / 战国 Zhàn Guó As English 476 BC 221 BC 255 years
Imperial dynasties
Qin dynasty Qín Toponym (list) Yíng (嬴) 221 BC 207 BC 14 years
Western Han dynasty 西漢 / 西汉 Xī Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉) 206 BC or 202 BC AD 9 215 years
Xin dynasty Xīn "New" (list) Wáng (王) AD 9 AD 23 14 years
Eastern Han dynasty 東漢 / 东汉 Dōng Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉) AD 25 AD 220 195 years
Three Kingdoms 三國 / 三国 Sān Guó As English (list) Cáo (曹)
Liú (劉 / 刘)
Sūn (孫 / 孙)
AD 220 AD 280 60 years
Western Jin dynasty 西晉 / 西晋 Xī Jìn Toponym (list) Sīmǎ (司馬) AD 265 AD 317 52 years
Eastern Jin dynasty 東晉 / 东晋 Dōng Jìn Toponym (list) Sīmǎ (司馬) AD 317 AD 420 103 years
Southern and Northern dynasties 南北朝 Nán Běi Cháo As English (list) various AD 420 AD 589 169 years
Sui dynasty Suí Ducal title
(随 homophone)
(list) Yáng (楊) AD 581 AD 618 38 years
Tang dynasty Táng Ducal title (list) (李) AD 618 AD 907 289 years
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十國

/ 五代十国

Wǔ Dài Shí Guó As English (list) various AD 907 AD 960 53 years
Kingdom of Dali 大理國

/ 大理国

Dà Lǐ Guó Toponym (list) Duan (段) AD 937 AD 1253 316 years
Northern Song dynasty 北宋 Běi Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙) AD 960 AD 1127 167 years
Southern Song dynasty 南宋 Nán Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙) AD 1127 AD 1279 152 years
Liao dynasty / Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) AD 907 or 916 AD 1125 209 years
Jin dynasty Jīn "Gold" (list) Wanggiya
(Wo-on gia-an.png; 完顏)
AD 1115 AD 1234 119 years
Western Xia 西夏 Xī Xià Toponym (list) Li (𘝾; 李) AD 1038 AD 1227 189 years
Western Liao 西遼 Xī Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) AD 1124 AD 1218 94 years
Yuan dynasty Yuán "Great" or "Primacy" (list) Borjigin
(ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ; 孛兒只斤)
AD 1271 AD 1368 98 years
Ming dynasty Míng "Bright" (list) Zhū (朱) AD 1368 AD 1644 276 years
Qing dynasty Qīng "Pure" (list) Aisin Gioro
(ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ; 愛新覺羅)
AD 1616 or 1636 AD 1912 268 years
Modern China
Republic of China 中華民國

/ 中华民国

Zhōnghuá Mínguó "Chinese Republic" (list) various AD 1912 present 106 years
People's Republic of China 中華人民共和國 /


Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó "Chinese People's Republic" (list) various AD 1949 present 68 years
Timeline graph

See also


  1. ^ "Chiang Kai-shek and retrocession". Taiwan: China Post. November 5, 2012. p. 2. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 


  • China Handbook Editorial Committee, China Handbook Series: History (trans., Dun J. Li), Beijing, 1982, 188–89; and Shao Chang Lee, "China Cultural Development" (wall chart), East Lansing, 1984.

External links