Dynasties in Chinese history

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Territories occupied by different dynasties as well as modern political states throughout the history of China

Many Chinese dynasties have ruled the country during its history. China is a society which has had a very long history. This history was affected by the dynasties which have ruled it. They have slowly changed China into its current form.

Dynasties[change | edit source]

Dynasty Rulers Ruling House or Clan Years
Name Chinese Pinyin Meaning
Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors 三皇五帝 Sān Huáng Wǔ Dì As English (list) various 2852[1]-2070 BC 782
Xia Dynasty Xià Summer (list) Sì (姒) 2070–1600 BC 470
Shang Dynasty Shāng Toponym (list) Zǐ (子) 1600–1029 BC 571
Western Zhou Dynasty 西周 Xī Zhōu Toponym (list) (姬) 1029–771 BC 275
Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Traditionally divided into
Spring and Autumn Period
Warring States Period

東周 / 东周


春秋
戰國 / 战国

Dōng Zhōu

Chūnqiū
Zhànguó

Toponym


"Histories"
(literally "Spring and Autumns")
"Warring States"

(list)


(list)
(list)

(姬)


various

770–256 BC


722–476 BC
475–221 BC

514


246
254

Qin Dynasty Qín Unknown, Possibly Toponym (list) Yíng (嬴) 221–206 BC 15
Western Han Dynasty 西漢 / 西汉 Xī Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉 / 刘) 206 or 202 BC–9 AD, 23-25 AD 215
Xin Dynasty Xīn "New" (list) Wáng (王) 9–23 AD 14
Eastern Han Dynasty 東漢 / 东汉 Dōng Hàn Toponym (list) Liú (劉 / 刘) 25–220 195
Three Kingdoms 三國 / 三国 Sān Guó As English (list) Cáo (曹)
Liú (劉 / 刘)
Sūn (孫 / 孙)
220–265 or 280 45
Western Jin Dynasty 西晉 / 西晋 Xī Jìn Ducal title (list) Sīmǎ (司馬 / 司马) 265–317 52
Eastern Jin Dynasty 東晉 / 东晋 Dōng Jìn Ducal title (list) Sīmǎ (司馬 / 司马) 317–420 103
Southern and Northern Dynasties 南北朝 Nán Běi Cháo As English (list) various 386 or 420–589 169
Sui Dynasty Suí Ducal title
(随 homophone)
(list) Yáng (楊 / 杨) 581–618 37
Tang Dynasty Táng Ducal title (list) (李) 618–907 289
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十國 / 五代十国 Wǔ Dài Shí Guó As English (list) various 907–960 53
Kingdom of Dali 大理国 Dàlǐ Guó Toponym (list) Duan (段) 937–1253 316
Northern Song Dynasty 北宋 Běi Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙 / 赵) 960–1127 167
Southern Song Dynasty 南宋 Nán Sòng Toponym (list) Zhào (趙 / 赵) 1127–1279 152
Liao Dynasty 遼 / 辽 Liáo "Vast" or "Iron"
(Khitan homophone)
(list) Yelü (Ei.ra.u.ud.svg; 耶律) 907 or 916–1125 209
Jin Dynasty Jīn "Gold" (list) Wanggiyan
(Wo-on gia-an.png; 完顏 / 完颜)
1115–1234 119
Western Xia 西夏 Xī Xià Toponym (list) Li (Tangut Lie.png; 李) 1038–1227 189
Yuan Dynasty Yuán "Great" or "Primacy" (list) Borjigin
(ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ; 孛兒只斤 / 孛儿只斤)
1271–1368 97
Ming Dynasty Míng "Bright" (list) Zhū (朱) 1368–1644 or 1662 276
Qing Dynasty Qīng "Pure" or "Gold"
(Manchu homophone)
(list) Aisin Gioro
( ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ}; 愛新覺羅 / 爱新觉罗)
1636 or 1644–1911 268
Timeline graph

Xia dynasty[change | edit source]

The Xia dynasty lasted from 2100 BC until 1600 BC. It was the first ruling dynasty in Chinese history. The Xia was probably created by emperor Yu the Great. It is not known for certain if the Xia dynasty actually existed. Many people thinks that the Xia dynasty is only a legend. This is because there is no evidence that can prove that there was some dynasty before 1600 BC. There were found some archaeological excavations from 1500 BC which may come from the Xia dynasty. For example one of the excavations causes archaeologists to believe that the foundations of China were created during the Xia dynasty. Also there are findings of the oldest Chinese calendar called a lunar calendar. Xia dynasty was ended by a dynasty named Shang.

Shang dynasty[change | edit source]

The Shang dynasty lasted from 1600 BC until 1046 BC. It started when Tang took control from the last Xai emperor, Jie. The dynasty ended with the suicide of Di Xin.

The Shang dynasty was important for Chinese culture. The first Chinese character fonts were created at this time. They were mainly used by seers and shaman. People made their own ritual vessels, agricultural and craft tools and even weapons. Everything was made of cast bronze.

In agriculture, millets, wheats and rice were the main crops. Mulberries were also grown. They were used to feed mulberry silkworms.

Zhou dynasty[change | edit source]

The Zhou dynasty lasted from 1045 BC until 256 BC. The Shangs had became weak because they were always fighting with a neighboring tribes. This was good for the less advanced Zhou. They defeat the Shang in the current town of An-yang. After that, the Zhou dynasty took the government. They ruled for the longest time of all Chinese dynasties.

Zhous were nomadic shepherds from the Shanxi province. The rulers of Zhou dynasty divided the country into four smaller areas. Each of these areas were controlled by relatives and members of aristocracy. Princes controlled fortified towns with a peasant background. They also helped the rulers at times of war. This form of government allowed the Zhou rulers to control more area.

Notes[change | edit source]

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  1. Hucker, Charles (1995). China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture. Stanford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780804723534.

References[change | edit source]

  • 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.

Other websites[change | edit source]

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