The Chinese Dynasties

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms











































































Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
The History of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

~~Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960) was a period of political upheaval in China, between the Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty. During this period, 5 dynasties succeeded each other in rapid succession in the north, and more than a dozen independent states, mainly in the south, were established, though only ten of them are traditionally listed, hence giving rise to the name "Ten Kingdoms." (Some historians, including Bo Yang, count 11 -- not including Northern Han (as it is an extension of the Later Han Dynasty) and including Yan and Qi in the list.)

Setting the stage
The period was a direct result of the political disintegration at the end of the Tang Dynasty, which saw power shifting away from the imperial government and into the hands of regional military governors (jiedushi). The Huang Chao Rebellion (875-884) also dealt a severe blow to the authority of the central government. By the early 10th century, the central government held little power over powerful jiedushi, who were de facto independent. Important jiedushi at this point included:

North China

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

South China

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

The North

Zhu Wen was the most powerful warlord at the time in North China. Originally a member of Huang Chao's rebel army, he surrendered to the Tang Dynasty and was crucial in suppressing the rebellion. For this he was given the title of Xuanwu Jiedushi. Within a few years he had consolidated his power by destroying his neighbours, and was able to force a move of the imperial capital to Luoyang (modern Luoyang, Henan province), within his power base. In 904 he had the Emperor Zhaozong killed and put his 13-year-old son on the throne as a puppet ruler. Three years later, in 907, he induced the boy emperor to abdicate in his favour. He then proclaimed the founding of the Later Liang Dynasty, with himself as emperor.

By now, many of his rival warlords had also declared their own independent regimes, and not all of them recognized the new dynasty as overlord. In particular, Li Cunxu and Liu Shouguang opposed the new regime, and fought it for control of North China. Li Cunxu was particularly successful. After defeating in 915 Liu Shouguang (who had proclaimed a Yan Empire in 911), Li Cunxu declared himself emperor in 923 and, within a few months, swept away the Later Liang regime, replacing it with the Later Tang Dynasty. Under him, much of North China was reunified again, and in 925 he was able to conquer Former Shu, a regime that had been set up in Sichuan.

The Later Tang Dynasty oversaw a few years of relative calm. Soon, however, unrest began to brew once again. In 934 Sichuan once again became independent as the Later Shu regime. In 936, Shi Jingtang, a jiedushi based in Taiyuan, rebelled with the help of the Khitan Empire of Manchuria. In return for their help, Shi Jingtang promised the Khitans 16 prefectures in the Youyun area (modern northern Hebei province and Beijing) and annual tribute. The rebellion succeeded, and Shi Jingtang became emperor of the Later Jin Dynasty in that same year.

After the founding of Later Jin, the Khitans increasingly began to view Later Jin as their proxy in China proper. In 943 they decided to take the land for themselves, and within three years had swept into the capital at Kaifeng, ending the Later Jin dynasty. However, they were unable (or unwilling) to hold onto the vast areas of China proper that they had conquered, and retreated early in the next year.

To fill this void, a jiedushi named Liu Zhiyuan entered the imperial capital in 947, proclaiming the Later Han Dynasty. This was the most short-lived of the 5 dynasties, as a coup in 951 led to the enthronement of General Guo Wei and the beginning of the Later Zhou Dynasty. However, Liu Chong, a member of the Later Han imperial family, set up the rival Northern Han regime in Taiyuan, and sought Khitan help to defeat Later Zhou.

After the death of Guo Wei in 951, his adopted son Chai Rong succeeded the throne and began to pursue a policy of expansion and reunification. In 954 he defeated combined Khitan and Northern Han forces, ending their hopes of destroying Later Zhou. Between 956 and 958 Later Zhou dealt severe defeats to Southern Tang, the most powerful regime in South China, forcing them to cede all territory north of the Yangtze River. In 959 Chai Rong attacked the Khitan Empire in a bid to recover the territories ceded during the Later Jin Dynasty, and scored several victories before succumbing to illness.

In 960, the general Zhao Kuangyin staged a coup and took the throne for himself, founding the Northern Song Dynasty. This marks the official end of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Over the next two decades, Zhao Kuangyin and his successor Zhao Kuangyi defeated all of the other remaining regimes in China proper, conquering Northern Han in 979 and reunifying China completely by 982.

The South

Unlike North China, where dynasties succeeded each other in rapid succession, the regimes of South China existed more or less concurrently and each held on to a specific geographical area.

By 920, Wu had been established in modern Jiangsu, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces; Wuyue was based mostly in modern Zhejiang province, Min in Fujian, Southern Han in Guangdong, Chu in Hunan, Jingnan in Jiangling, Hubei province, and Former Shu in Sichuan. Sichuan fell under northern control in 925, but in 934 it regained independence as the Later Shu. In 937 Wu was replaced with Southern Tang.

Although more stable than North China as a whole, South China was also torn apart by warfare. Wu quarrelled with her neighbours, a trend that continued as Wu was replaced with Southern Tang. In the 940's Min and Chu underwent internal crises which 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 and Wuping Jiedushi for many years after.) With this, Southern Tang became the undisputedly most powerful regime of Southern China. However, it was unable to defeat incursions by the Later Zhou Dynasty between 956 and 958, and ceded away all of its land north of the Yangtze River.

The Northern Song Dynasty, established in 960, was determined to reunify China. Jingnan and Wuping were swept away in 963, Later Shu in 965, Southern Han in 971, Southern Tang in 975. Finally, Wuyue and Qingyuan gave up their land to Northern Song in 978, bringing all of South China into the control of the central government.


The Emperors of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
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Sovereigns in Period of Fve Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 907-965
Temple Names ( Miao Hao )

Posthumous Names

Personal Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao and their according range of years
the Five Dynasties
Convention: name of dynasty + temple name or posthumous name
Hou (Later) Liang Dynasty 907-923
Tai Zu
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Zhu Wen


Did not exist
Mo Di
Zhu Zhen

Qianhua 913-915
Zhenming 915-921 Longde 921-923

Hou (Later) Tang Dynasty 923-936
Zhuang Zong
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Li Cun Xu
Tongguang 923-926
Ming Zong
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Li Si Yuan|

Tiancheng 926-930
Changxing 930-933

Did not exist
Min Di|
Li Cong Xu
Yingshun 913-915
Did not exist
Mo Di
Li Cong Ke
Qingtai 934-936
Hou (Later) Jin Dynasty 936-947
Gao Zu
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Shi Jing Tang|
Tianfu 936-942
Did not exist
Chu Di|
Shi Chong Gui

Tianfu (942-944
Kaiyun 944-947

Hou (Later) Han Dynasty 936-947
Gao Zu|
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Liu Zhi Yuan

Tianfu 947
Qianyou 948

Did not exist
Yin Di
Liu Cheng You
Qianyou 948-950
Hou (Later) Zhou Dynasty 951-960
Tai Zu
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Guo Wei

Guangshun 951-954
Xiande 954

Shi Zong
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign
Chai Rong
Xiande 954-959
Did not exist
Gong Di|
Chai Zong Xun
Xiande 959-960
the Ten Kingdoms
Convention: use personal names, noticed otherwise
Wu Yue Kingdom 904-978
Tai Zu
Wu Su Wang
Qian Liu

Tianbao 908-923
Baozheng 925-932

Shi Zong
Wen Mu Wang
Qian Yuan Quan|
Did not exist
Cheng Zong
Zhong Xian Wang
Qian Zuo
Did not exist
Did not exist
Zhong Xun Wang|
Qian Zong
Did not exist
Did not exist
Zhong Yi Wang
Qian Chu
Did not exist
Min Kingdom 909-945 including Yin Kingdom 943-945
Taizu Zhong Yi wang wang2 shen3 zhi1 909-925 Did not exist
Did not exist Did not exist wang2 yan2 han4 925-926 Did not exist
Tai Zong Hui Di wang2 yan2 jun1 926-935 Longqi933-935

Yonghe 935

Kang Zong Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign wang2 ji4 peng2 935-939 Tongwen936-939
Jing Zong Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign wang2 yan2 xi1 939-944 Yonglong939-944
Did not exist Tian De Di (as Emperor of Yin) wang2 yan2 zheng4 943-945 Tiande 943-945
Jing Nan or Nan Ping Kingdom 906-963
Did not exist wu3 xin4 wang2 gao1 ji4 xing1 909-928 Did not exist
Did not exist wen2 xin4 wang2 gao1 cong2 hui4 928-948 Did not exist
Did not exist yi4 wang2 gao1 bao3 rong2 948-960 Did not exist
Did not exist shi4 zhong1 gao1 bao3 xu4 960-962 Did not exist
Did not exist Did not exist gao1 ji4 chong1 962-963 Did not exist
Chu Kingdom 897-951
Wu Kingdom 904-937
Nan (Southern) Tang Kingdom 937-975
Nan (Southern) Han Kingdom 917-971
Bei (Northern) Han Kingdom 951-979
Qian (Former) Shu Kingdom 907 - 925
Hou (Later) Shu Kingdom 934 - 965
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