Dynasties in Chinese history

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Approximate territories occupied by the various dynasties and states throughout the history of China
History of China
History of China
ANCIENT
Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BCE
Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BCE
Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BCE
Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BCE
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
IMPERIAL
Qin 221–206 BCE
Han 202 BCE – 220 CE
  Western Han
  Xin
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin 265–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
420–589
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
  (Second Zhou 690–705)
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

907–979
Liao 907–1125
Song 960–1279
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1636–1912
MODERN
Republic of China 1912–1949
People's Republic of China 1949–present

The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese History since 2000 BCE.

Background[edit]

One might incorrectly infer from viewing historical timelines that transitions between dynasties occur abruptly and smoothly. Rather, dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing reign, or continued for a time after they had been effectively 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[edit]

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

(Traditional

/Simplified)

Pinyin Meaning
Feudal dynasties
Xia dynasty Xià Tribe name (list) Sì (姒) 2070 BCE 1600 BCE 470 years
Shang dynasty Shāng Toponym (list) Zǐ (子) 1600 BCE 1046 BCE 554 years
Western Zhou dynasty 西周 Xī Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 1046 BCE 771 BCE 275 years
Eastern Zhou dynasty 東周 / 东周 Dōng Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 770 BCE 256 BCE 514 years
Imperial dynasties
Qin dynasty Qín Toponym (list) Yíng (嬴) 221 BCE 207 BCE 14 years
Western Han dynasty 西漢 / 西汉 Xī Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉) 202 BCE 8 CE 209 years
Xin dynasty Xīn "New" (list) Wáng (王) 9 CE 23 CE 14 years
Eastern Han dynasty 東漢 / 东汉 Dōng Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉) 25 CE 220 CE 195 years
Three Kingdoms 三國 / 三国 Sān Guó As English (list) Cáo (曹)
Liú (劉 / 刘)
Sūn (孫 / 孙)
220 CE 280 CE 60 years
Western Jin dynasty 西晉 / 西晋 Xī Jìn Toponym (list) Sīmǎ (司馬) 266 CE 316 CE 50 years
Eastern Jin dynasty 東晉 / 东晋 Dōng Jìn Toponym (list) Sīmǎ (司馬) 317 CE 420 CE 103 years
Southern and Northern dynasties 南北朝 Nán Běi Cháo As English (list) various 420 CE 589 CE 169 years
Sui dynasty Suí Ducal title
(随 homophone)
(list) Yáng (楊) 581 CE 618 CE 37 years
Tang dynasty Táng Ducal title (list) (李) 618 CE 907 CE 289 years
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十國

/ 五代十国

Wǔ Dài Shí Guó As English (list) various 907 CE 960 CE 53 years
Northern Song dynasty 北宋 Běi Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙) 960 CE 1127 CE 167 years
Southern Song dynasty 南宋 Nán Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙) 1127 CE 1279 CE 152 years
Liao dynasty / Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) 907 CE 1125 CE 218 years
Jin dynasty Jīn "Gold" (list) Wanggiya
(Wo-on gia-an.png; 完顏)
1115 CE 1234 CE 119 years
Western Xia 西夏 Xī Xià Toponym (list) Li (𘝾; 李) 1038 CE 1227 CE 189 years
Western Liao 西遼 / 西辽 Xī Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) 1124 CE 1218 CE 94 years
Yuan dynasty Yuán "Great" or "Primacy" (list) Borjigin
(ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ; 孛兒只斤)
1271 CE 1368 CE 97 years
Ming dynasty Míng "Bright" (list) Zhū (朱) 1368 CE 1644 CE 276 years
Qing dynasty Qīng "Pure" (list) Aisin Gioro
(ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ; 愛新覺羅)
1636 CE 1912 CE 276 years
Modern China
Republic of China 中華民國

/ 中华民国

Zhōnghuá Mínguó "Chinese Republic" (list) various 1912 CE until 1949 CE controlled the Chinese mainland, after 1949 CE de facto only controls Taiwan and a few surrounding islands controlled Chinese mainland for 37 years, de facto only controls Taiwan and a few surrounding islands for 69 years
People's Republic of China 中華人民共和國 /

中华人民共和国

Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó "Chinese People's Republic" (list) various 1949 ce present 69 years
Timeline graph

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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

Sources[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]