Later Han (Five Dynasties)

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Capital Bian (Kaifeng)
Languages Chinese
Religion Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion
Government Monarchy
 -  947–948 Emperor Gaozu
 -  948–951 Emperor Yin
Historical era Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
 -  Established in Taiyuan March 10, 947
 -  Coup d'etat, surrender of Bian; Emperor Yin killed (de facto end) January 1; January 2, 951
 -  Guo Wei proclaimed Emperor (de jure end) February 13, 951
Currency Chinese cash, Chinese coin, copper coins etc.
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
  Chuban 160–490
  Wei (Dingling) 388–392
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Avar Khaganate 564–804
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Tatar confederation 8th century–1202
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Gansu Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Kingdom of Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek Khanate
Oghuz Yabgu State
Shatuo dynasties 923–979
  Later Tang
  Later Jin
  Later Han (Northern Han)
Ghaznavids 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Sultanate of Rum 1092–1307
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khilji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty
Sufids 1361–1379

The Later Han (simplified Chinese: 后汉; traditional Chinese: 後漢; pinyin: Hòu Hàn) was founded in 947. It was the fourth of the Five Dynasties and the third consecutive Shatuo Turk dynasty.[1][2][3] It was among the shortest-lived of all Chinese regimes, lasting for slightly under four years before it was overcome by a rebellion that resulted in the founding of the Later Zhou.

Establishment of the Later Han[edit]

Liu Zhiyuan was military governor of Bingzhou, an area around Taiyuan in present-day Shanxi that had long been a stronghold of the Shatuo Turks. However, the Later Jin he served was weak and little more than a puppet of the expanding Khitan empire to the north. When the Later Jin finally did decide to defy them, the Khitan sent an expedition south that resulted in the destruction of the Later Jin.

The Khitan force made it all the way to the Yellow River before the emperor decided to return to his base in present-day Beijing, in the heart of the contentious Sixteen Prefectures. However, following constant harassment from the Chinese on the return route, he died of an illness in May 947. The combination of the fall of the Later Jin and the succession crisis among the Khitan resulted in a power vacuum. Liu Zhiyuan was able to fill that void and founded the Later Han.

Territorial Extent[edit]

Liu Zhiyuan established his capital at Bian, present day Kaifeng. The Later Han held essentially the same territory as the Later Jin. Its southern border with the southern states stretched from the East China Sea about halfway between the Yellow River and the Yangtze River before dipping south toward the Yangtze at its mid reaches before turning northwest along the northern border of Sichuan and extending as far west as Shaanxi. In the north, it included much of Shaanxi and Hebei except the Sixteen Prefectures, which were lost by the Later Jin to what was by this time known as the Liao Dynasty.

Short-lived dynasty[edit]

The Later Han was among the shortest-lived regimes in the long history of China. Liu Zhiyuan died the year following the founding of the dynasty, to be succeeded by his teenage son. The dynasty was overthrown two years later when a Han Chinese named Guo Wei led a military coup and declared himself emperor of the Later Zhou.

Northern Han[edit]

The remnants of the Later Han returned to the traditional Shatuo Turk stronghold of Shanxi and established the Northern Han kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Eastern Han. Under Liao dynasty protection, it was able to remain independent of the Later Zhou. The Song Dynasty emerged from the ashes of the Later Zhou in 960 and emerged as a strong, stabilizing presence in northern China. Though they had been successful in bringing the southern states under its control, a process essentially completed in 978, the Northern Han were able to hold out due to help from the Liao Dynasty. In fact, the continued existence of the Northern Han was one of the two thorns in the side of Liao-Song relations. Finally, the Song Dynasty was able to incorporate the Northern Han into its territory in 979, essentially completing the reunification of China, with the exception of the Sixteen Prefectures, which would remain in the hands of the Liao dynasty.


Temple names Posthumous names Personal names Reign Era names
Gāozǔ (高祖)[4] Emperor Ruìwén Shèngwǔ Zhāosù Xiào (睿文聖武昭肅孝皇帝) Liu Zhiyuan (劉知遠) 947–948 Tiānfú (天福) 947
Qiányòu (乾祐) 948
None Emperor Yǐn (隱皇帝) Liu Chengyou (劉承祐) 948–951 Qiányòu (乾祐) 948–951


  • Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China (900–1800). Harvard University Press. pp. 11, 13, 16, 69. 
  1. ^ Lorge, Peter Allan (2012). Chinese Martial Arts: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS. p. 115. 
  2. ^ Gumilev, Lev Nikolaevich. Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom: The Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John. Cambridge University Press 1987. p. 78. 
  3. ^ Mote, Frederick W (2003). Imperial China 900-1800. pp. 12–13. 
  4. ^ Hòuhàn Gāozǔ 後漢高祖, [1], ChinaKnowledge online encyclopedia,, ed. Ulrich Theobald (Tian Yuli 田宇利, styled Shudouting 數豆亭), Department of Chinese and Korean Studies, University of Tübingen, heading Later Han. "Later Han High Ancestor," 高祖 Gāozǔ "High Ancestor" being a conventional designation for dynastic founders, as in the case of 高祖 Gāozǔ Emperor Gaozu of Han, founder of the original Han Dynasty, though in that case 高祖 Gāozǔ is his temple name, identical with the temple name of this Later Han ruler, and the original Han dynasty founder's posthumous name is 高皇帝 Gāo Huángdì "High Emperor" as the founder of the second of the historically recorded Dynasties in Chinese history, which is what distinguishes the two in their honorific titular names.