Historical capitals of China

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The Chinese phrase Four Great Ancient Capitals of China (simplified Chinese: 中国四大古都; traditional Chinese: 中國四大古都; pinyin: Zhōngguó Sì Dà Gǔdū) traditionally refers to Beijing (the current capital of the People's Republic), Nanjing, Luoyang, and Chang'an (Xi'an).

Due to additional evidence discovered since the 1930s, other historical capitals have been included in the list. The later phrase Seven Ancient Capitals of China includes Kaifeng (added in the 1920s as the fifth ancient capital), Hangzhou (the sixth, added in the 1930s), and Anyang (a proposal by numerous archaeologists in 1988, after which it finally became the seventh ancient capital). In 2004, the China Ancient Capital Society officially added Zhengzhou as an eighth due to archaeological finds from the early Shang Dynasty there.

List of historical capitals of China[edit]

Historical capitals in use prior to the 20th century.
Historical capitals in use from the 20th century onwards.

In alphabetical order:

  • A'cheng (now a district of the city of Harbin), was the capital during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) from 1115 until 1153, called Shangjing Huining Fu. Destroyed in 1157 and re-established as a secondary capital of the empire in 1173.
  • Anyang was the capital during the Yin period of the Shang Dynasty (estimated between 1600 BC and 1046 BC): called Yin (殷, pinyin: Yīn).
  • Beijing (formerly Romanized as Peking, from Chinese Postal Map Romanization (CPMR); briefly known as Peip'ing in Wade-Giles (WG) or Běipíng in pinyin (py)), the Northern Capital, was and has been the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
State of Yan (Yen in WG) in Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC): called Ji (薊, pinyin: Jì).
Liao Dynasty (907-1125), as a secondary capital: called Yanjing (燕京, pinyin: Yānjīng, "capital of Yan").
Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) from Emperor Shizong until 1215: called Zhongdu (中都, pinyin: Zhōngdū, "central capital").
Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368): called Dadu (大都, pinyin: Dàdū, "great capital") in Chinese, Daidu (a direct transliteration from Chinese[1]) in Mongolian and Khanbaliq ("city of the Khan") in the Turkic languages. This was reported as "Cambuluc" by Marco Polo.
Ming Dynasty from the time of the Ming Yongle Emperor (r. 1402/1424) until 1644 called Jīngshī (京師,"capital").
Qing Dynasty from the fall of the Ming in 1644 to the end of the dynasty in 1912.
The Beiyang Government of the Republic of China.
The current capital of the People's Republic of China.
  • Guangzhou (formerly Romanized Canton from CPMR)
Kingdom of Nanyue (206-111BC)
Republic of China: it was seat of the National Government before the Northern Expedition, and was briefly the seat of Chiang's ROC government during the Chinese civil war with the Communist Party of China.
  • Hangzhou (also Hangchou or Hangchow) was the capital of:
The Wuyue Kingdom (904-978), during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
China during the Southern Song Dynasty: called Lin'an (臨安 Lín'ān).
  • Kaifeng was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Later Liang during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Jin during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Han during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Zhou during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Northern Song Dynasty: called Dongjing (東京 Dōngjīng).
  • Luoyang was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty from 25 to 220
Kingdom of Wei during the Three Kingdoms.
Western Jin Dynasty
Northern Wei Dynasty since 493, moved its capital from Datong.
Zhou Dynasty from 690 to 705
Later Tang during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Later Liang during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, from 909 to 913.
  • Nanjing (formerly Romanized Nanking (CPMR) or Nanching in WG), the Southern Capital was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
all of the Six Dynasties: called Jianye (建業 Jiànyè) or Jiankang (建康 Jiànkāng). The Six Dynasties are:
Kingdom of Wu during the Three Kingdoms.
Eastern Jin Dynasty
Liu Song Dynasty
Southern Qi Dynasty
Liang Dynasty
Chen Dynasty
Southern Tang during the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
Ming Dynasty before Yongle Emperor moved the capital to Beijing.
Taiping Tianguo (Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace and Prosperity) during the Taiping Rebellion. Known as Tianjing (天京,literally 'Heavenly Capital') between 1853 and its fall in 1864.
Republic of China after the Northern Expedition until the Japanese invasion in 1937 of WWII, and after the war until Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949.
Wang Jingwei's pro-Japanese collaborationist government.
  • Taipei has been the de facto capital of the Republic of China since 1949 when the government relocated to Taiwan.
  • Xi'an (WG: Hsi'an; called Chang'an in ancient times) was the capital of various Chinese governments including (sorted chronologically):
Western Zhou Dynasty, also see Fenghao.
State of Qin in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Qin Dynasty 221 BC-207 BC: Xi'an is located near the former Qin capital Xianyang (咸陽 Xiányáng).
Western Han Dynasty from 206 BC to AD 9
Xin Dynasty from 8 to 23
Eastern Han Dynasty
Western Jin Dynasty
State of Former Zhao, a state in the Sixteen Kingdoms period during the Jin Dynasty (265-420).
State of Former Qin from 351 to 394, during the Sixteen Kingdoms period.
State of Later Qin from 384 to 417, during the Sixteen Kingdoms period.
Western Wei Dynasty
Northern Zhou Dynasty
Sui Dynasty from 581 to 618
Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907

Chronology[edit]

Government Capital Chinese Period Notes
Xia Song Gun
Yangcheng 陽城 Yu[2]
Chu Yi
Qiongshi 窮石 Yi, Hanzhuo
Zhen Taikang
Diqiu 帝丘 Xiang
Yuan Zhu
Laoqiu 老丘 Zhu
Xihe 西河 Yinjia
Zhen Jie
Henan 河南 Jie[3]
Shang Bo Shang Tang[3]
Fan Xie
Dishi 砥石 Zhaoming
Shang Zhaoming
Shangqiu 商邱 Xiangtu
Foot of Mount Tai "泰山麓" Xiangtu
Shangqiu 商邱 Xiangtu
Yin Shanghou
Shangqiu 商邱 Yinhou
Bo "西"亳 Tang
Xiao Zhongding
Xiang Hedanjia
Xing Zuyi
Bi Zuyi
Yan Nan'geng
Yin Pan'geng
Zhou Western Zongzhou 宗周 1046 BC—771 BC Western capital
Chengzhou 成周 1046 BC—771 BC Eastern capital
Eastern Chengzhou 成周 770 BC—367 BC
"Henan" 河南 367 BC—256 BC capital of the Western Zhou State
Gong 367 BC—249 BC capital of the Eastern Zhou State
Qin Xiquanqiu 西犬丘
Pingyang 平陽 —677 BC
Yong 677 BC—
Jingyang 涇陽 —383 BC
Yueyang 櫟陽 383 BC—250 BC
Xianyang 咸陽 350 BC—207 BC
Han Western Luoyang 雒陽 202 BC
Yueyang 櫟陽 202 BC—200 BC
Chang'an 長安 200 BC—8 BC
Xin Chang'an 長安 8 CE—23 CE
Han Eastern Luoyang 雒陽 25—190
Chang'an 長安 191—195
Xu 196—220
Three
Kingdoms
Wei Luoyang 洛陽 220—265
Shu Chengdu 成都 221—263
Wu Jianye 建業 227—279
Jin Western Luoyang 洛陽 265—313
Chang'an 長安 313—316
Eastern Jiankang 建康 317—420
Northern
dynasties
Wei Pingcheng 平城 386—493
Luoyang 洛陽 493—534
Ye 534—550 capital of the Eastern Wei State
Chang'an 長安 535—557 capital of the Western Wei State
Qi Ye 550—577
Zhou Chang'an 長安 557—581
Southern
dynasties
Song Jiankang 建康 420—479
Qi Jiankang 建康 479—502
Liang Jiankang 建康 502—557
Chen Jiankang 建康 557—589
Sui Dongdu 東都 581—618
Daxing 大興 581—618 auxiliary capital
Tang Chang'an 長安 618—690
Luoyang 洛陽 657—690 auxiliary capital
Zhou Luoyang 洛陽 690—705
Tang Chang'an 長安 705—904
Luoyang 洛陽 705—736 auxiliary capital
Luoyang 洛陽 904—907
Five
dynasties
Liang Dongdu 東都 907—923
Tang Dongdu 東都 923—936
Jin Dongjing 東京 936—947
Han Dongjing 東京 947—950
Zhou Dongjing 東京 951—960
Song Northern Dongjing 東京 960—1127
Southern Nanjing 南京 1127—1129 After the fall of Dongjing, Zhao Gou declares himself Emperor Gaozong in Henan
Yangzhou 杨州 1129—1130 Flight of Emperor Gaozong during the Jin invasion of the Yangtze Delta in 1129—1130.
Zhenjiang 镇江
Lin'an 臨安
Yuezhou 越州
Mingzhou 明州
Dinghai 定海
Off the coast Taizhou, Wenzhou "海上朝廷"
Zhang'an 章安
Yuezhou 越州
Lin'an 臨安 1130—1276 Song court settles in Lin'an for 146 years
Fuzhou 福州 1276—1277 Flight of Emperor Duanzong along the southeast coast following the fall of Lin'an in 1276.
Guangzhou 广州 1277—1278
Guanfuchang 官富场 1278
Gangzhou 碙州 Emperor Bingzong succeeds Duanzong on Lantau Island in modern Hong Kong
Yashan 厓山 1278—1279 Song court makes last stand off the coast of Yashan
Liao,
Empire of the Khitan
Shangjing 上京 907—1120
Nanjing 南京 1122—1123
Tokmok 虎思斡耳朵 1134—1218
Jin Shangjing 上京 1115—1153
Zhongdu 中都 1153—1214
Nanjing 南京 1214—1234
Western Xia Xingqing 1038—1227
Yuan
Shangdu 上都 May 1264 — 1267
Dadu 大都 1267[4] — August 1368
Shangdu 上都 August 1368 — 1369
Ming Nanjing 南京 23 January 1368 — 2 February 1421
Beijing 北京 2 February 1421 — 25 April 1644
Nanjing 南京 1644 — 1645
Fuzhou 福州 1645 — 1646
Zhaoqing 肇慶 1646 — 25 April 1662
Later Jin Feiala 費阿拉 1587 — 1603
Hetuala 赫圖阿拉 1603 — 1619
Jiefan 界凡 1619 — September 1620
Sarhu 薩爾滸 September 1620 — April 1621
Dongjing 東京 April 1621 — 11 April 1625
Shengjing 盛京 11 April 1625 — 1636
Qing Shengjing 盛京 1636 — 30 October 1644
Peking 北京 30 October 1644[5] — 12 February 1912[6]
Republic of China Nanking 南京 1 January 1912 — 2 April 1912 Provisional Government
Beijing 北京 2 April 1912 — 30 May 1928 Beiyang Government[6]
Shenyang 奉天 30 May 1928 — 29 December 1928 Beiyang Government
Guangzhou 广州 1 July 1925 — 21 February 1927 Guangzhou Nationalist Government
Wuhan 武漢 21 February 1927 — 19 August 1927 Wuhan Nationalist Government[7]
Nanking 南京 18 April 1927 — 20 November 1937 the Nanjing decade[6]
Luoyang 洛陽 29 Jan 1932 — 1 December 1932
Beijing 北平 9 September 1930 — 23 September 1930 Beiping Nationalist Government
Taiyuan 太原 23 September 1930 — 4 November 1930 Beiping Nationalist Government
Guangzhou 廣州 28 May 1931 — 22 December 1931 Guangzhou Nationalist Government
Chongqing 重慶 21 November 1937 — 5 May 1946 during the Second Sino-Japanese War[6]
Nanking 南京 30 March 1940 — 10 August 1945 Wang Jingwei Government
Nanking 南京 5 May 1946 — 23 April 1949[6]
Guangzhou 廣州 23 April 1949 — 14 October 1949 during the Chinese Civil War
Chongqing 重慶 14 October 1949 — 30 November 1949 during the Chinese Civil War
Chengdu 成都 30 November 1949 — 27 December 1949 during the Chinese Civil War
Sichang 西昌 27 December 1949 — 27 March 1950 during the Chinese Civil War
Taipei 臺北 10 December 1949 — Present
People's Republic of China Beijing 北京 1 October 1949 — Present

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Denis Twitchett, Herbert Franke, John K. Fairbank, in The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p 454.
  2. ^ 李玉潔. [2003] (2003). 中國早期國家性質. 知書房出版集團. ISBN 986-7938-17-8, ISBN 978-986-7938-17-6.
  3. ^ a b Bamboo annals Xia chapter on Xia Jie under the name Gui (癸).
  4. ^ Kenneth Pletcher (2010) ”The History of China”, page 173 ISBN 1615301097
  5. ^ William T. Rowe (2009) ”China's Last Empire: The Great Qing”, page 19 ISBN 0674036123
  6. ^ a b c d e Esherick, Joseph. [2000] (2000). Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2518-7.
  7. ^ Clark, Anne Biller. Clark, Anne Bolling. Klein, Donald. Klein, Donald Walker. [1971] (1971). Harvard Univ. Biographic Dictionary of Chinese communism. Original from the University of Michigan v.1. Digitized Dec 21, 2006. p 134.