Dynasties in Chinese history

Dynasties in Chinese history
History of China
History of China
3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors
Xia Dynasty 2100–1600 BC
Shang Dynasty 1600–1046 BC
Zhou Dynasty 1045–256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn Period
   Warring States Period
Qin Dynasty 221 BC–206 BC
Han Dynasty 206 BC–220 AD
  Western Han
  Xin Dynasty
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin Dynasty 265–420
  Western Jin 16 Kingdoms
  Eastern Jin
Southern and Northern Dynasties
Sui Dynasty 581–618
Tang Dynasty 618–907
  (Second Zhou 690–705)
5 Dynasties and
10 Kingdoms

Liao Dynasty
Song Dynasty
  Northern Song W. Xia
  Southern Song Jin
Yuan Dynasty 1271–1368
Ming Dynasty 1368–1644
Qing Dynasty 1644–1911
Republic of China 1912–1949
People's Republic
of China

Republic of
China (Taiwan)

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

The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.

Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they had been defeated. For example, the conventional date 1644 marks the year in which the Manchu Qing dynasty armies occupied Beijing and brought Qing rule to China proper, succeeding the Ming dynasty. However, the Qing dynasty itself was established in 1636 (or even 1616, albeit under a different name), while the last Ming dynasty pretender was not deposed until 1662. 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 1644.

In addition, China was divided for long periods of its history, with different regions being ruled by different groups. At times like these, 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.

Dynasty Rulers Years
Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors 三皇五帝 sān huáng wǔ dì (list) 3500-2070 BCE ???
Xia Dynasty xià (list) 2070–1600 BCE 470
Shang Dynasty shāng (list) 1600–1029 BCE 554
Western Zhou Dynasty 西周 xī zhōu (list) 1029–771 BCE 275
Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Traditionally divided into
Spring and Autumn Period
Warring States Period

東周 / 东周

戰國 / 战国

dōng zhōu

chūn qiū
zhàn guó



770–256 BCE

722–476 BCE
475–221 BCE



Qin Dynasty qín (list) 221–206 BCE 15
Western Han Dynasty 西漢 / 西汉 xī hàn (list) 206 BCE–9 CE 215
Xin Dynasty xīn (list) 9–23 14
Eastern Han Dynasty 東漢 / 东汉 dōng hàn (list) 25–220 195
Three Kingdoms 三國 / 三国 sān guó (list) 220–265 45
Western Jin Dynasty 西晉 / 西晋 xī jìn (list) 265–317 52
Eastern Jin Dynasty 東晉 / 东晋 dōng jìn (list) 317–420 103
Southern and Northern Dynasties 南北朝 nán běi cháo (list) 420–589 169
Sui Dynasty suí (list) 581–618 37
Tang Dynasty táng (list) 618–907 289
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十國 / 五代十国 wǔ dài shí guó (list) 907–960 53
Northern Song Dynasty 北宋 běi sòng (list) 960–1127 167
Southern Song Dynasty 南宋 nán sòng (list) 1127–1279 152
Liao Dynasty 遼 / 辽 liáo (list) 916–1125 209
Jin Dynasty jīn (list) 1115–1234 119
Yuan Dynasty yuán (list) 1271–1368 97
Ming Dynasty míng (list) 1368–1644 276
Qing Dynasty qīng (list) 1644–1911 268
Timeline graph

See also


  • 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.

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