Dynasties in Chinese history

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History of China
History of China
ANCIENT
Neolithic c. 8500–c. 2100 BC
Xia dynasty c. 2100–c. 1600 BC
Shang dynasty c. 1600–c. 1046 BC
Zhou dynasty c. 1045–256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
IMPERIAL
Qin dynasty 221–206 BC
Han dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Xin dynasty
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin dynasty 265–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin 16 Kingdoms
Southern and Northern Dynasties
420–589
Sui dynasty 581–618
Tang dynasty 618–907
  (Second Zhou 690–705)
5 Dynasties and
10 Kingdoms

907–960
Liao dynasty
907–1125
Song dynasty
960–1279
  Northern Song W. Xia
  Southern Song Jin
Yuan dynasty 1271–1368
Ming dynasty 1368–1644
Qing dynasty 1644–1911
MODERN
Republic of China 1912–1949
People's Republic
of China

1949–present
Republic of
China on Taiwan

1949–present
Approximate territories occupied by the various dynasties and states throughout the history of China

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

Background[edit]

It was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next (as is said in ancient stories), since dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing reign, or continued for a time after they had been defeated. For example, the conventional date 1644 marks the year in which the Qing dynasty armies completely subjugated loyalists of the preceding Ming dynasty. However, the Qing dynasty itself was established in 1636 (or even 1616, albeit under a different name), while the last Ming dynasty pretender was not deposed until 1662. 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 1644.

In addition, China was divided for long periods of its history, with different regions being ruled by different groups. At times like these, 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[edit]

Dynasty Rulers Ruling House or clan of houses From To Term
Name Chinese Pinyin Meaning
Xia dynasty Xià Summer (list) Sì (姒) 2070 BC 1600 BC 470 years
Shang dynasty Shāng Toponym (list) Zǐ (子) 1600 BC 1050 BC 571 years
Western Zhou dynasty 西周 Xī Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 1050 BC 770 BC 275 years
Eastern Zhou dynasty 東周 / 东周 Dōng Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 770 BC 250 BC 514 years
Spring and Autumn period 春秋 Chūn Qiū As English 770 BC 479 BC 295 years
Warring States period 戰國 / 战国 Zhàn Guó As English 476 BC 221 BC 255 years
Qin dynasty Qín Toponym (list) Yíng (嬴) 221 BC 206 BC 15 years
Western Han dynasty 西漢 / 西汉 Xī Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉 / 刘) 206 BC or 202 BC 9 AD or 23–25 AD 215 years
Xin dynasty Xīn "New" (list) Wáng (王) 9 AD 23 AD 14 years
Eastern Han dynasty 東漢 / 东汉 Dōng Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉 / 刘) 25 AD 220 AD 195 years
Three Kingdoms 三國 / 三国 Sān Guó As English (list) Cáo (曹)
Liú (劉 / 刘)
Sūn (孫 / 孙)
220 AD 265 AD or 280 AD 45 years
Western Jin dynasty 西晉 / 西晋 Xī Jìn Ducal title (list) Sīmǎ (司馬 / 司马) 265 AD 317 AD 52 years
Eastern Jin dynasty 東晉 / 东晋 Dōng Jìn Ducal title (list) Sīmǎ (司馬 / 司马) 317 AD 420 AD 103 years
Southern and Northern Dynasties 南北朝 Nán Běi Cháo As English (list) various 386 AD or 420 AD 589 AD 169 years
Sui dynasty Suí Ducal title
(随 homophone)
(list) Yáng (楊 / 杨) 581 AD 618 AD 37 years
Tang dynasty Táng Ducal title (list) (李) 618 AD 907 AD 289 years
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Traditional: 五代十國 / Simplified: 五代十国 Wǔ Dài Shí Guó As English (list) various 907 AD 960 AD 53 years
Kingdom of Dali 大理国 Dà Lǐ Guó Toponym (list) Duan (段) 937 AD 1253 AD 316 years
Northern Song dynasty 北宋 Běi Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙 / 赵) 960 AD 1127 AD 167 years
Southern Song dynasty 南宋 Nán Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙 / 赵) 1127 AD 1279 AD 152 years
Liao dynasty 遼 / 辽 Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) 907 AD or 916 AD 1125 AD 209 years
Jin dynasty Jīn "Gold" (list) Wanggiyan
(Wo-on gia-an.png; 完顏 / 完颜)
1115 AD 1234 AD 119 years
Western Xia 西夏 Xī Xià Toponym (list) Li (Tangut Lie.png; 李) 1038 AD 1227 AD 189 years
Yuan dynasty Yuán "Great" or "Primacy" (list) Borjigin
(ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ; 孛兒只斤 / 孛儿只斤)
1271 AD 1368 AD 97 years
Ming dynasty Míng "Bright" (list) Zhū (朱) 1368 AD 1644 AD or 1662 AD 276 years
Qing dynasty Qīng "Pure" (list) Aisin Gioro
( ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ}; 愛新覺羅 / 爱新觉罗)
1636 AD or 1644 AD 1911 AD 268 years
Timeline graph

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • Columbia University. Dynasties song sung to the tune of "Frère Jacques" that repeats the major Chinese dynasties in chronological order.