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The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
was an era of political upheaval in 10th-century Imperial China. Five states quickly succeeded one another in the Central Plain, and more than a dozen concurrent states were established elsewhere, mainly in South China. It was the last prolonged period of multiple political division in Chinese history.[1] Traditionally, the era started with the fall of the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
in 907 AD and ended with the founding of the Song dynasty
Song dynasty
in 960. Many states had been de facto independent kingdoms long before 907. After the Tang had collapsed, the kings who controlled the Central plain crowned themselves as emperor. War between kingdoms occurred frequently to gain control of the central plain for legitimacy and then over the rest of China. The last of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms states, Northern Han, was not vanquished until 979.

Contents

1 States

1.1 Maps

2 Background 3 Northern China

3.1 Later Liang 3.2 Later Tang 3.3 Later Jin 3.4 Later Han 3.5 Later Zhou 3.6 Northern Han

4 Southern China: the Ten Kingdoms

4.1 Wu 4.2 Wuyue 4.3 Min 4.4 Southern Han 4.5 Chu 4.6 Northern Han 4.7 Jingnan
Jingnan
(also known as Nanping) 4.8 Former Shu 4.9 Later Shu 4.10 Southern Tang 4.11 Transitions between kingdoms

5 Culture 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading

States[edit] See also: Timeline of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties were:

Later Liang (June 1, 907–23) Later Tang
Later Tang
(923–36) Later Jin (936–47) Later Han (947–51 or 979, depending on whether Northern Han
Northern Han
is considered part of the dynasty) Later Zhou
Later Zhou
(951–60).

The Ten Kingdoms were:

Wu (907–37) Wuyue
Wuyue
(907–78) Min (909–45) Chu (907–51) Southern Han
Southern Han
(917–71) Former Shu
Former Shu
(907–25) Later Shu
Later Shu
(934–65) Jingnan
Jingnan
(924–63) Southern Tang
Southern Tang
(937–75) Northern Han
Northern Han
(951–79).

Only ten are traditionally listed, hence the era's name, "Ten Kingdoms"; some historians, such as Bo Yang, count eleven, including Yan and Qi but not the Northern Han, viewing it as simply a continuation of Later Han. This era also led to the founding of the Liao dynasty
Liao dynasty
in the north. Other regimes during this period were Yan, Qi, Zhao, Yiwu Jiedushi, Dingnan Jiedushi, Wuping Jiedushi, Qingyuan Jiedushi, Yin, Ganzhou, Shazhou, and Liangzhou. Maps[edit]

Later Liang in 907

Later Tang
Later Tang
in 926

Later Jin in 939

Later Han in 949

Later Zhou
Later Zhou
in 951

Background[edit] Towards the end of the Tang, the imperial government granted increased powers to the jiedushi, the regional military governors. The Huang Chao Rebellion weakened the imperial government, and by the early 10th century the jiedushi commanded de facto independence from its authority. In the last decades of the dynasty, they were not even appointed by the court any more, but developed hereditary systems, from father to son or from patron to protégé. They had their own armies rivalling the "palace armies" and amassed huge wealth, as testified by their sumptuous tombs.[2] Thus ensued the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The following were important jiedushi: North China

Zhu Wen
Zhu Wen
at Bianzhou (modern Kaifeng, Henan), precursor to Later Liang Li Keyong
Li Keyong
and Li Cunxu
Li Cunxu
at Taiyuan
Taiyuan
(modern Taiyuan, Shanxi), precursor to Later Tang Liu Rengong and Liu Shouguang at Youzhou
Youzhou
(modern Beijing), precursor to Yan Li Maozhen at Fengxiang (modern Fengxiang County, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
province), precursor to Qi Luo Shaowei at Weibo (modern Daming County, Hebei
Hebei
province) Wang Rong at Zhenzhou (modern Zhengding County, Hebei
Hebei
province) Wang Chuzhi at Dingzhou
Dingzhou
(modern Dingzhou, Hebei)

South China

Yang Xingmi at Yangzhou
Yangzhou
(modern Yangzhou, Jiangsu), precursor to Wu Qian Liu
Qian Liu
at Hangzhou
Hangzhou
(modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang), precursor to Wuyue Ma Yin at Tanzhou (modern Changsha, Hunan), precursor to Chu Wang Shenzhi
Wang Shenzhi
at Fuzhou
Fuzhou
(modern Fuzhou, Fujian), precursor to Min Liu Yin at Guangzhou
Guangzhou
(modern Guangzhou, Guangdong), precursor to Southern Han Wang Jian at Chengdu
Chengdu
(modern Chengdu, Sichuan), precursor to Former Shu

Northern China[edit] Later Liang[edit] Main article: Later Liang (Five Dynasties)

Painting by Chinese artist Li Cheng (c. 919–967)

During the Tang Dynasty, the warlord Zhu Wen
Zhu Wen
held the most power in Southern China. Although he was originally a member of Huang Chao's rebel army, he took on a crucial role in suppressing the Huang Chao Rebellion. For this function, he was awarded the Xuanwu Jiedushi title. Within a few years, he had consolidated his power by destroying neighbours and forcing the move of the imperial capital to Luoyang, which was within his region of influence. In 904, he executed Emperor Zhaozong of Tang and made his 13-year-old son a subordinate ruler. Three years later, he induced the boy emperor to abdicate in his favour. He then proclaimed himself emperor, thus beginning the Later Liang. Later Tang[edit] Main article: Later Tang During the final years of the Tang Dynasty, rival warlords declared independence in their governing provinces — not all of whom recognized the emperor's authority. Li Cunxu
Li Cunxu
and Liu Shouguang (劉守光) fiercely fought the regime forces to conquer northern China; Li Cunxu
Li Cunxu
succeeded. He defeated Liu Shouguang (who had proclaimed a Yan Empire in 911) in 915, and declared himself emperor in 923; within a few months, he brought down the Later Liang regime. Thus began the Shatuo
Shatuo
Later Tang
Later Tang
— the first in a long line of conquest dynasties. After reuniting much of northern China, Cunxu conquered Former Shu
Former Shu
in 925, a regime that had been set up in Sichuan. Later Jin[edit] Main article: Later Jin (Five Dynasties) The Later Tang
Later Tang
had a few years of relative calm, followed by unrest. In 934, Sichuan
Sichuan
again asserted independence. In 936, Shi Jingtang, a Shatuo
Shatuo
jiedushi from Taiyuan, was aided by the Liao dynasty
Liao dynasty
in a rebellion against the Later Tang. In return for their aid, Shi Jingtang promised annual tribute and the Sixteen Prefectures
Sixteen Prefectures
(modern northern Hebei
Hebei
and Beijing) to the Khitans. The rebellion succeeded; Shi Jingtang
Shi Jingtang
became emperor in this same year. Not long after the founding of the Later Jin, the Khitans regarded the emperor as a proxy ruler for China proper. In 943, the Khitans declared war and within three years seized the capital, Kaifeng, marking the end of Later Jin. But while they had conquered vast regions of China, the Khitans were unable or unwilling to control those regions and retreated from them early in the next year. Later Han[edit] Main article: Later Han (Five Dynasties)

Butterfly
Butterfly
and Wisteria
Wisteria
Flowers, by Xu Xi (886–974)

To fill the power vacuum, the jiedushi Liu Zhiyuan
Liu Zhiyuan
entered the imperial capital in 947 and proclaimed the advent of the Later Han, establishing a third successive Shatuo
Shatuo
reign. This was the shortest of the five dynasties. Following coup in 951, General Guo Wei, a Han Chinese, was enthroned, thus beginning the Later Zhou. However, Liu Chong, a member of the Later Han imperial family, established a rival Northern Han
Northern Han
regime in Taiyuan
Taiyuan
and requested Khitan aid to defeat the Later Zhou. Later Zhou[edit] Main article: Later Zhou After the death of Guo Wei
Guo Wei
in 951, his adopted son Chai Rong
Chai Rong
succeeded the throne and began a policy of expansion and reunification. In 954, his army defeated combined Khitan and Northern Han
Northern Han
forces, ending their ambition of toppling the Later Zhou. Between 956 and 958, forces of Later Zhou
Later Zhou
conquered much of Southern Tang, the most powerful regime in southern China, which ceded all the territory north of the Yangtze
Yangtze
in defeat. In 959, Chai Rong
Chai Rong
attacked the Liao in an attempt to recover territories ceded during the Later Jin. After many victories, he succumbed to illness. In 960, the general Zhao Kuangyin
Zhao Kuangyin
staged a coup and took the throne for himself, founding the Northern Song Dynasty. This is the official end of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. During the next two decades, Zhao Kuangyin
Zhao Kuangyin
and his successor Zhao Kuangyi
Zhao Kuangyi
defeated the other remaining regimes in China proper, conquering Northern Han
Northern Han
in 979, and reunifying China completely in 982. Northern Han[edit] Main article: Northern Han Though considered one of the ten kingdoms, the Northern Han
Northern Han
was based in the traditional Shatuo
Shatuo
stronghold of Shanxi. It was created after the last of three dynasties created by Shatuo
Shatuo
Turks fell to the Han-governed Later Zhou
Later Zhou
in 951. With the protection of the powerful Liao, the Northern Han
Northern Han
maintained nominal independence until the Song Dynasty wrested it from the Khitan in 979. Southern China: the Ten Kingdoms[edit]

Buddhist donatresses, Cave 98, Mo-kao Caves, Tunhwang, Five Dyasties era

Vaishravana
Vaishravana
riding across the waters, Dunhuang, Mogao Caves, Cave 17, 10th century, Five Dyasties era, British Museum

Unlike the dynasties of northern China, which succeeded one other in rapid succession, the regimes of South China
South China
were generally concurrent, each controlling a specific geographical area. These were known as "The Ten Kingdoms". Wu[edit] The Kingdom of Wu (902–937) was established in modern-day Jiangsu, Anhui, and Jiangxi. It was founded by Yang Xingmi, who became a Tang Dynasty military governor in 892. The capital was initially at Guangling (present-day Yangzhou) and later moved to Jinling (present-day Nanjing). The kingdom fell in 937 when it was taken from within by the founder of the Southern Tang. Wuyue[edit] The Kingdom of Wuyue
Wuyue
was the longest-lived (907–978) and among the most powerful of the southern states. Wuyue
Wuyue
was known for its learning and culture. It was founded by Qian Liu, who set up his capital at Xifu (modern-day Hangzhou). It was based mostly in modern Zhejiang province but also held parts of southern Jiangsu. Qian Liu
Qian Liu
was named the Prince of Yue by the Tang emperor in 902; the Prince of Wu was added in 904. After the fall of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
in 907, he declared himself king of Wuyue. Wuyue
Wuyue
survived until the eighteenth year of the Song dynasty, when Qian Shu surrendered to the expanding dynasty. Min[edit] The Kingdom of Min (909–945) was founded by Wang Shenzhi, who named himself the Prince of Min with its capital at Changle (present-day Fuzhou). One of Shenzhi’s sons proclaimed the independent state of Yin in the northeast of Min territory. The Southern Tang
Southern Tang
took that territory after the Min asked for help. Despite declaring loyalty to the neighboring Wuyue, the Southern Tang
Southern Tang
finished its conquest of Min in 945. Southern Han[edit] The Southern Han
Southern Han
(917–971) was founded in Guangzhou
Guangzhou
(also known as Canton) by Liu Yan. His brother, Liu Yin, was named regional governor by the Tang court. The kingdom included Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. Chu[edit] The Chu (927–951) was founded by Ma Yin with the capital at Changsha. The kingdom held Hunan
Hunan
and northeastern Guangxi. Ma was named regional military governor by the Tang court in 896, and named himself the Prince of Chu with the fall of the Tang in 907. This status as the Prince of Chu was confirmed by the Later Tang
Later Tang
in 927. The Southern Tang
Southern Tang
absorbed the state in 951 and moved the royal family to its capital in Nanjing, although Southern Tang
Southern Tang
rule of the region was temporary, as the next year former Chu military officers under the leadership of Liu Yan seized the territory. In the waning years of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the region was ruled by Zhou Xingfeng. Northern Han[edit] The Northern Han
Northern Han
was founded by Liu Min (劉旻), formerly known as Liu Chong (劉崇), and lasted from 951 to 979. It has the capital at Taiyuan. Jingnan
Jingnan
(also known as Nanping)[edit] The smallest of the southern states, Jingnan
Jingnan
(924–963), was founded by Gao Jichang. It was based in Jiangling and held two other districts southwest of present-day Wuhan
Wuhan
in Hubei. Gao was in the service of the Later Liang (the successor of the Tang in North China). Gao’s successors claimed the title of King of Nanping after the fall of the Later Liang in 924. It was a small and weak kingdom, and thus tried to maintain good relations with each of the Five Dynasties. The kingdom fell to advancing armies of the Song in 963. Former Shu[edit] Former Shu
Former Shu
(907–25) was founded after the fall of the Tang Dynasty by Wang Jian, who held his court in Chengdu. The kingdom held most of present-day Sichuan, western Hubei, and parts of southern Gansu
Gansu
and Shaanxi. Wang was named military governor of western Sichuan
Sichuan
by the Tang court in 891. The kingdom fell when his son surrendered in the face of an advance by the Later Tang
Later Tang
in 925. Later Shu[edit] The Later Shu
Later Shu
(935–965) is essentially a resurrection of the previous Shu state that had fallen a decade earlier to the Later Tang. Because the Later Tang
Later Tang
was in decline, Meng Zhixiang found the opportunity to reassert Shu’s independence. Like the Former Shu, the capital was at Chengdu
Chengdu
and it basically controlled the same territory as its predecessor. The kingdom was ruled well until forced to succumb to Song armies in 965. Southern Tang[edit] Main article: Southern Tang

A Literary Garden, by Zhou Wenju, Southern Tang.

The Southern Tang
Southern Tang
(937–975) was the successor state of Wu as Li Bian (Emperor Liezu) took the state over from within in 937. Expanding from the original domains of Wu, it eventually took over Yin, Min, and Chu, holding present-day southern Anhui, southern Jiangsu, much of Jiangxi, Hunan, and eastern Hubei
Hubei
at its height. The kingdom became nominally subordinate to the expanding Song in 961 and was invaded outright in 975, when it was formally absorbed into Song China. Transitions between kingdoms[edit] Although more stable than northern China as a whole, southern China was also torn apart by warfare. Wu quarrelled with its neighbours, a trend that continued as Wu was replaced with Southern Tang. In the 940s Min and Chu underwent internal crises which Southern Tang
Southern Tang
handily took advantage of, destroying Min in 945 and Chu in 951. Remnants of Min and Chu, however, survived in the form of Qingyuan Jiedushi
Qingyuan Jiedushi
and Wuping Jiedushi
Jiedushi
for many years after. With this, Southern Tang
Southern Tang
became the undisputedly most powerful regime in southern China. However, it was unable to defeat incursions by the Later Zhou
Later Zhou
between 956 and 958, and ceded all of its land north of the Yangtze
Yangtze
River. The Song dynasty, established in 960, was determined to reunify China. Jingnan
Jingnan
and Wuping Jiedushi
Jiedushi
were swept away in 963, Later Shu
Later Shu
in 965, Southern Han
Southern Han
in 971, and Southern Tang
Southern Tang
in 975. Finally, Wuyue
Wuyue
and Qingyuan Jiedushi
Qingyuan Jiedushi
gave up their land to Northern Song in 978, bringing all of southern China under the control of the central government. In common with other periods of fragmentation, the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period resulted in a division between northern and southern China. The greater stability of the Ten Kingdoms, especially the longevity of Wu Yue and Southern Han, would contribute to the development of distinct regional identities within China. The distinction was reinforced by the Old History and the New History. Written from the northern viewpoint, these chronicles organized the history around the Five Dynasties (the north), presenting the Ten Kingdoms (the south) as illegitimate, self-absorbed and indulgent.[2] Culture[edit] The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
turned away from the international cultural mood of the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
and appears as a transition towards the solidified national culture of the Song dynasty.[3] Throughout the period, there was marked cultural and economic growth, rather than decline.[1] Although short, the period saw cultural innovations in different areas. Pottery saw the appearance of "white ceramics." In painting, the "varied landscape" of China was inspired by Taoism. It emphasized the sacredness of mountains as places between heaven and earth and depicted the natural world as a source of harmony.[4]

Early snow on the river (五代南唐 趙幹 江行初雪圖) Shan shui painting by Chao Khan.

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.

Old History of the Five Dynasties Annam (Chinese province) Family trees of the emperors of the Five Dynasties Chinese sovereign Liao dynasty Conquest of Southern Tang
Southern Tang
by Song Zizhi Tongjian

References[edit]

^ a b Glen Dudbridge (2013). A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956). Oxford University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780191749537.  Dudbridge actually quotes Reischauer's Ennin's Travels. ^ a b Xiu Ouyang (2004). Historical Records of the Five Dynasties. Translated by Richard L. Davis. Columbia University Press. pp. LV–LXV. ISBN 9780231128278.  The information was taken from Richard L. Davis's introduction. ^ The Culture of China. Britannica Educational Publishing. 2011. p. 245. ISBN 9781615301836.  ^ "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms". Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography, Parma. 

Further reading[edit]

Davis, Richard L. (2015). From Warhorses to Ploughshares: The Later Tang Reign of Emperor Mingzong. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888208104.  Dudbridge, Glen (2013). A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199670680.  Hung, Hing Ming (2014). Ten States, Five Dynasties, One Great Emperor: How Emperor Taizu Unified China in the Song Dynasty. Algora Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62894-072-5.  Kurz, Johannes L. (2011). China's Southern Tang
Southern Tang
Dynasty (937-976). Routledge. ISBN -9780415454964.  Lorge, Peter, ed. (2011). Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. The Chinese University Press. ISBN 962996418X.  Ouyang Xiu
Ouyang Xiu
(2004) [1077]. Historical Records of the Five Dynasties. (transl. Richard L. Davis). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12826-6.  Schafer, Edward H. (1954). Empire of Min: A South China
South China
Kingdom of the Tenth Century. Tuttle Publishing.  Wang Gungwu
Wang Gungwu
(1963). The Structure of Power in North China
North China
During the Five Dynasties. Stanford University Press.  Wang Hongjie (2011). Power and Politics in Tenth-Century China: The Former Shu
Former Shu
Regime. Cambria Press. ISBN 1604977647. 

Preceded by Tang dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history 907–960 Succeeded by Song dynasty Liao dynasty

v t e

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period

Five Dynasties

Later Liang (Jin) / Later Tang Later Jin Later Han Later Zhou

Ten Kingdoms (States)

Wu Former Shu Chu Wuyue Min / (Yin) Southern Han Jingnan Later Shu Southern Tang Northern Han

Other states

Qi Zhao Yan

De facto independent entities

Yiwu Jiedushi Dingnan Jiedushi Qingyuan Jiedushi Jinghai Jiedushi Wuping Jiedushi Guiyi Jiedushi

Neighboring states

Balhae Gansu
Gansu
Uyghur Kingdom Liao dynasty Tibetan kingdoms Dali Ngô dynasty

Histories

Old History of the Five Dynasties Historical Records of the Five Dynasties Spring and Autumn Annals of the Ten Kingdoms Wudai Huiyao

Authority control

GND: 4717161-3

History of Imperial

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