Five Dynasties & Ten States

After Zhu Quanzhong usurped the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and founded the Later Liang Dynasty (907 - 923), there were sequentially four dynasties after that. All these five dynasties were called Five Dynasties in Chinese history. Meanwhile, there were also ten kingdoms originating from the former Jiedushi (regional military attachment) of Tang. Hereunder is the timeline of the Five Dynasties and Ten States:

Period Dynasty Capital City Reign Period Destroyed by
Five Dynasties Later Liang Luoyang, Kaifeng 907 - 923 Later Tang
Later Tang Luoyang 923 - 936 Later Jin
Later Jin Luoyang, Kaifeng 936 - 946 Liao
Later Han Kaifeng 947 - 951 Later Zhou
Later Zhou Kaifeng 951 - 960 Song
Ten States Southern Wu Yangzhou 902 - 937 Southern Tang
Southern Tang Nanjing 937 - 975 Song
Wu Yue Hangzhou 907 - 978 Song
Southern Chu Changsha 927 - 951 Southern Tang
Northern Han Taiyuan 951 - 979 Song
Southern Han Guangzhou 917 - 971 Song
Former Shu Chengdu 907 - 925 Later Tang
Later Shu Chengdu 934 - 965 Song
Southern Ping Jingzhou 924 - 963 Song
Min Fuzhou 909 - 945 Southern Tang

Five Dynasties

The period of the five dynasties lasted for only 53 years, from 907 to 960. In 907, Zhu Quanzhong established the Later Liang in Kaifeng (provincial capital of Henan Province).In his reign, old conventions of the Tang Dynasty were discarded while new reforms were reinforced. However, Zhu did not pursue the cause of unification and later became corrupt. In 923, Later Liang was defeated by Li Cunxu.

The Later Tang lasted for 14 years. During this dynasty, the second emperor of Later Liang, Emperor Mingzong, was an enlightened emperor. He carried out many favorable policies under which people lived an affluent life. Likewise, rulers of the Later Tang did not unify the whole country either. Finally, the regime was destroyed by Emperor Mingzong's brother-in-law Shi Jingtang, with the help of the Qidan group from the northern areas.

After the downfall of the Later Tang, Shi Jingtang was enthroned as emperor of the Later Jin by the king of the Qidan group. In this way, the regime of the Later Jin was attached to the Qidan group. Till the reign of Shi Zhonggui, who was the foster son of Shi Jingtang, wanted to break away from the control of Qidan. Unfortunately, the Later Jin was captured by Qidan who afterwards set up the Liao Dynasty in capital Kaifeng.

Although the Qidan group established a new dynasty, their regime did not last long in the central plain areas because of the objection from the local people. Before long, Liu Zhiyuan, a man from Taiyuan, led his army into the central plain and soon founded a new dynasty - Later Han. In 950, suspecting that a military general named Guo Wei plotting to rebel, Liu Chengyou (the second emperor of the Later Han) wanted to kill him. But Liu Chengyou did not fulfill his goal; instead, Guo Wei along with his military force killed Liu Chengyou and founded Later Zhou in 951.

Comparatively, the Later Zhou was the most prosperous one among the five dynasties. Under the wise ruling of Guo Wei and his foster son Chai Rong, the national strength was greatly enhanced. In that period, the rulers gradually unified almost the whole country. But the third emperor was a child who was enthroned at the age of seven. In 960 when the regime unstable, a military general in the court, named Zhao Kuangyin, took the chance of resisting the Liao aggressors and launched a mutiny in Chenqiao County. Soon the child emperor had to yield the throne to Zhao, after which a new dynasty - Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) was founded.

 See information on Ten States

- Last updated on Aug. 09, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Five Dynasties & Ten States
Asked by Gabi | Oct. 28, 2015 09:10Reply
What Rights did the people have while living within the Liang Dynasty?
Were they treated more like slaves and forced to do the bidding of the emperor, was there a drift between the poor and rich? How was their life style?
Answers (1)
Answered by Edward from BELGIUM | Oct. 29, 2015 04:59

Gabi, Later Liang just existed for 16 years. There were 7 kings. During their reigns, they were busy with the wars against other states. So the civilians didn't have peaceful life.
Asked by Claire from USA | Mar. 18, 2015 13:00Reply
How did "Later Han" come into power?
Answers (2)
Answered by John from DENMARK | Mar. 22, 2015 01:13

The Qidan (a nation comes from the northern area) invade to the southern area, and wants people in there submit to Qidan. The official in Taiyuan, Liu Zhiyuan made himself the emperor and lead the common people to fight againstQidan. He won his people’s heart with his policy. That’s the main process why the Later Han come into power.
Answered by Claire from USA | Apr. 20, 2015 16:03

Thanks a ton!
Asked by Elena from AMERICA | Mar. 17, 2015 23:46Reply
Who were the emperors of the 5 Dynasties?
Maybe on one of the sections you can put an emperor column and that way people can get all the information they need immediately and not where you can not find them or in another site.
Answers (2)
Answered by Lina from CHINA | Mar. 17, 2015 23:49

There were a lot of Emperors but the main one was Zhu Wen. of course others are good but this one was the first.
Answered by Elena from AMERICA | Mar. 17, 2015 23:50

Thank you so much Lina!
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