The Five Dynasties:
* Later Liang Dynasty
* Later Tang Dynasty
* Later Zhou Dynasty
The Ten Kingdoms: , Wuyue, , , Southern Han, Former Shu, Later Shu, Jingnan, Southern Tang, Northern Han.
Other regimes: , , Chengde Jiedushi , Yiwu Jiedushi, Dingnan Jiedushi, Wuping Jiedushi, Qingyuan Jiedushi, , , , .
Towards the end of the Tang Dynasty, the imperial government granted increased powers to the ''jiedushi'', the regional military governors. The weakened the imperial government's authority, and by the early 10th century the jiedushi, who commanded ''de facto'' independence, were not subject to the authority of the imperial government. Thus, the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms ensued.
The following were important jiedushi:
* at Bianzhou , precursor to Later Liang Dynasty
* Li Keyong and Li Cunxu at Taiyuan , precursor to Later Tang Dynasty
* Liu Rengong and Liu Shouguang at Youzhou , precursor to
* Li Maozhen at Fengxiang , precursor to
* Luo Shaowei at Weibo
* Wang Rong at Zhenzhou
* Wang Chuzhi at Dingzhou
* Yang Xingmi at Yangzhou , precursor to
* Qian Liu at Hangzhou , precursor to Wuyue
* Ma Yin at Tanzhou , precursor to
* Wang Shenzhi at Fuzhou , precursor to
* at Guangzhou , precursor to Southern Han
* at Chengdu , precursor to Former Shu
Later Liang Dynasty
During the Liang Dynasty, the warlord held the most power in northern China. Although he was originally a member of Huang Chao's rebel army, he took on a crucial role in suppressing the Huang Chao Rebellion. For this function, he was awarded the Xuanwu Jiedushi title. Within a few years, he had consolidated his power by destroying neighbours and forcing the move of the imperial capital to Luoyang , which was within his region of influence. In 904, he executed and made his 13-year-old son a subordinate ruler. Three years later, he induced the boy emperor to abdicate in his favour. He then proclaimed himself emperor, thus beginning the Later Liang Dynasty.
After his death, his son ruled. Zhū Zhèn, a cowardly man who disdained responsibility, left the kingdom to avoid kingship.
Later Tang Dynasty
During the Tang Dynasty, rival warlords declared independence in their governing provinces — not all of whom recognized the emperor's authority. Li Cunxu and Liu Shouguang fiercely fought the regime forces to conquer northern China; Li Cunxu succeeded. He defeated Liu Shouguang in 915, and declared himself emperor in 923; within a few months, he brought down the Later Liang regime. Thus began the Later Tang Dynasty—the first in a long line of conquest dynasties. After reuniting much of northern China, Cunxu conquered Former Shu in 925, a regime that had been set up in Sichuan.
Later Jin Dynasty
The Later Tang Dynasty had a few years of relative calm, followed by unrest. In 934, Sichuan again asserted independence. In 936, , a jiedushi from Taiyuan, was aided by the Manchurian Khitan Empire in a rebellion against the dynasty. In return for their aid, Shi Jingtang promised annual tribute and 16 prefectures in the Youyun area to the Khitans. The rebellion succeeded; Shi Jingtang became emperor in this same year.
Not long after the Jin Dynasty's founding, the Khitans regarded the emperor as a proxy ruler for China proper. In 943, they declared war on this kingdom, and within three years seized the capital, Kaifeng—thus marking the end of Later Jin Dynasty. But, although they had conquered vast regions of China, they were unable or unwilling to control those regions and retreated from them early in the next year.
Later Han Dynasty
To fill the power vacuum, the ''jiedushi'' Liu Zhiyuan entered the imperial capital in 947, and proclaimed the advent of the , establishing a third successive dynasty. This was the shortest of the five dynasties; following a coup in 951, General Guo Wei, a Han Chinese, was enthroned, thus beginning the Later Zhou Dynasty. However, Liu Chong, a member of the Later Han imperial family, established a rival Northern Han regime in Taiyuan, and requested Khitan aid to defeat Later Han.
Later Zhou Dynasty
After the death of Guo Wei in 951, his adopted son Chai Rong succeeded the throne and began a policy of expansion and reunification. In 954, his army defeated combined Khitan and Northern Han forces, ending their ambition of toppling the Later Zhou dynasty. Between 956 and 958, forces of Later Zhou conquered much of Southern Tang, the most powerful regime in southern China, which ceded all the territory north of the Yangtze River in defeat. In 959, Chai Rong attacked the Khitan Empire in an attempt to recover territories ceded during the Later Jin Dynasty. After many victories, he succumbed to illness.
In 960, the general Zhao Kuangyin staged a coup and took the throne for himself, founding the Northern Song Dynasty. This is the official end of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. During the next two decades, Zhao Kuangyin and his successor defeated the other remaining regimes in China proper, conquering Northern Han in 979, and reunifying China completely in 982.
Though considered one of the ten kingdoms, the Northern Han was based in the traditional stronghold of Shanxi. It was created after the last of three dynasties created by Shatuo Turks fell to the Han-governed Later Zhou Dynasty in 951. With the protection of the powerful , the Northern Han maintained nominal independence until the Song Dynasty wrested it from the Khitan in 979.
Southern China: The Ten Kingdoms
Unlike the dynasties of northern China, which succeeded one other in rapid succession, the regimes of southern China were generally concurrent, each controlling a specific geographical area. These were known as "The Ten Kingdoms".
The Kingdom of was established in modern-day Jiangsu, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces. It was founded by Yang Xingmi, who became a Tang Dynasty military governor in 892. The capital was initially at Guangling and later moved to Jinling . The kingdom fell in 937 when it was taken from within by the founder of the Southern Tang.
The Kingdom of Wuyue was the longest-lived and among the most powerful of the southern states. Wuyue was known for its learning and culture. It was founded by Qian Liu, who set up his capital at Xifu . It was based mostly in modern Zhejiang province but also held parts of southern Jiangsu. Qian Liu was named the Prince of Yue by the emperor in 902; the Prince of Wu was added in 904. After the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907, he declared himself king of Wuyue. Wuyue survived until the eighteenth year of the Song Dynasty, when Qian Shu surrendered to the expanding dynasty.
The Kingdom of Min was founded by Wang Shenzhi, who named himself the Prince of Min in 909 after the fall of the Tang Dynasty. It was not until his son formally declared himself the Emperor of Min in 933 that Shenzhi was posthumously named as the founding emperor. It was located in Fujian with its capital at Changle . One of Shenzhi’s sons proclaimed the independent state of Yin in the northeast of Min territory. The Southern Tang took that territory after the Min asked for help. Despite declaring loyalty to the neighboring Wuyue, the Southern Tang finished its conquest of Min in 945.
The Southern Han was founded in Guangzhou by Liu Yan. His father, Liu Yin, was named regional governor by the court. The kingdom included Guangdong and most of Guangxi.
The was founded by Ma Yin with the capital at Changsha. The kingdom held Hunan and northeastern Guangxi. Ma was named regional military governor by the court in 896, and named himself the Prince of Chu with the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907. This status as the Prince of Chu was confirmed by the Later Tang Dynasty in 927. The Southern Tang absorbed the state in 951 and moved the royal family to its capital in Nanjing, although Southern Tang rule of the region was temporary, as the next year former Chu military officers under the leadership of seized the territory. In the waning years of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the region was ruled by Zhou Xingfeng.
The smallest of the southern states, Jingnan , was founded by Gao Jichang. It was based in Jiangling and held two other districts southwest of present-day Wuhan in Hubei. Gao was in the service of the Later Liang Dynasty . Gao’s successors claimed the title of King of Nanping after the fall of the Later Liang in 924. It was a small and weak kingdom, and thus tried to maintain good relations with each of the Five Dynasties. The kingdom fell to advancing armies of the Song Dynasty in 963.
The Kingdom of was founded after the fall of the Tang Dynasty by Wang Jian, who held his court in Chengdu. The kingdom held most of present-day Sichuan, western Hubei, and parts of southern Gansu and Shaanxi. Wang was named military governor of western Sichuan by the court in 891. The kingdom fell when his incompetent son surrendered in the face of an advance by the Later Tang Dynasty in 925.
The Later Shu is essentially a resurrection of the previous Shu state that had fallen a decade earlier to the Later Tang Dynasty. Because the was in decline, Meng Zhixiang found the opportunity to reassert Shu’s independence. Like the Former Shu, the capital was at Chengdu and it basically controlled the same territory as its predecessor. The kingdom was ruled well until forced to succumb to armies in 965.
The Southern Tang was the successor state of as took the state over from within in 937. Expanding from the original domains of , it eventually took over Yin, Min, and Chu, holding present-day southern Anhui, southern Jiangsu, much of Jiangxi, Hunan, and eastern Hubei at its height. The kingdom became nominally subordinate to the expanding Song Dynasty in 961 and was invaded outright in 975, when it was formally absorbed into the Song Dynasty.
Transitions between kingdoms
Although more stable than northern China as a whole, southern China was also torn apart by warfare. quarrelled with its neighbours, a trend that continued as Wu was replaced with Southern Tang. In the 940s and 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 in southern China. However, it was unable to defeat incursions by the Later Zhou Dynasty between 956 and 958, and ceded all of its land north of the Yangtze River.
The Northern Song Dynasty, established in 960, was determined to reunify China. Jingnan and were swept away in 963, Later Shu in 965, Southern Han in 971, and Southern Tang in 975. Finally, Wuyue and gave up their land to Northern Song in 978, bringing all of southern China under the control of the central government.
List of Sovereigns
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
|Temple Names||Posthumous Names||Personal Names||Period of Reign||s and their according range of years|
|''* note the naming convention: name of dynasty + temple name or posthumous name , which makes ''後漢高祖|
|Later Liang Dynasty 後梁 ''Hòu Liáng'' 907-923|
|Tài Zǔ 太祖||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||朱溫||907-912|
|Did not exist||Mò Dì 末帝||朱瑱||913-923|
|Later Tang Dynasty 後唐 ''Hòu Táng'' 923-936|
|Zhuāng Zōng 莊宗||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||李存勗||923-926||Tóngguāng 同光 |
|Míng Zōng 明宗||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign|| 李嗣源 |
Lǐ Dǎn 李亶
|Did not exist||Mǐn Dì 節閔帝||李從厚||933-934||Yìngshùn 應順 |
|Did not exist||Mò Dì 末帝||李從珂||934-936||Qīngtài 清泰 |
|後晉 ''Hòu Jìn'' 936-947|
|Gāo Zǔ 高祖||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||石敬瑭||936-942||Tiānfú 天福 |
|Did not exist||Chū Dì 出帝||石重貴||942-947|
|後漢 ''Hòu Hàn'' 936-947|
|Gāo Zǔ 高祖||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||劉知遠||947-948|
|Did not exist||Yǐn Dì 隱帝||劉承祐||948-950||Qiányòu 乾祐 |
|Later Zhou Dynasty 後周 ''Hòu Zhōu'' 951-960|
|Tài Zǔ 太祖||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||郭威||951-954|
|Shì Zōng 世宗||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||柴榮||954-959||Xiǎndé 顯德 |
|Did not exist||Gōng Dì 恭帝||柴宗訓||959-960||Xiǎndé 顯德 |
|''note the naming convention: use the personal names unless otherwise stated''|
|Wuyue Kingdom 吳越 904-978|
|Tài Zǔ 太祖||Wǔsù Wáng 武肅王||錢鏐||904-932|
|Shìzōng||Wénmù Wáng 文穆王||錢元瓘||932-941||Did not exist|
|Chéngzōng 成宗||Zhōngxiàn Wáng 忠獻王||錢佐||941-947||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Zhōngxùn Wáng 忠遜王||錢倧||947||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Zhōngyì Wáng 忠懿王||錢俶||947-978||Did not exist|
|Kingdom 閩 909-945 including Kingdom 殷 943-945|
|Tàizǔ 太祖||Zhōngyì Wáng 忠懿王||王審知||909-925||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Did not exist||王延翰||925-926||Did not exist |
|Tàizōng 太宗||Huìdì 惠帝||王延鈞||926-935|| |
|Kāngzōng||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||王繼鵬||935-939||Tōngwén 936-939 |
|Jǐngzōng||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||王延羲||939-944||Yǒnglóng 939-944 |
|Did not exist||Tiāndé Dì||王延政||943-945||Tiāndé 943-945 |
|Jingnan 荊南 or Nanping 南平 Kingdom 906-963|
|Did not exist||Wǔxìn Wáng 武信王||高季興||909-928||Did not exist |
|Did not exist||Wénxiàn Wáng 文獻王||高從誨||928-948||Did not exist |
|Did not exist||Zhēnyì Wáng 貞懿王||高寶融||948-960||Did not exist |
|Did not exist||Shìzhōng 侍中||高寶勗||960-962||Did not exist |
|Did not exist||Did not exist||高繼沖||962-963||Did not exist |
|Kingdom 楚 897-951|
|Did not exist||Wǔmù Wáng 武穆王||馬殷||897-930||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Héngyáng Wáng 衡陽王||馬希聲||930-932||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Wénzhāo Wáng 文昭王||馬希範||932-947||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Fèi Wáng 廢王||馬希廣||947-950||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Gōngxiào Wáng 恭孝王||馬希萼||950||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Did not exist||馬希崇||950-951||Did not exist|
|Kingdom 吳 904-937|
|Tài Zǔ 太祖||Xiàowǔ Dì 孝武帝||楊行密||904-905||Tiānyòu 904-905|
|Liè Zōng 烈宗||Jǐng Dì 景帝||楊渥||905-908||Tiānyòu 905-908|
|Gāo Zǔ 高祖||Xuān Dì 宣帝||楊隆演||908-921|| |
|Did not exist||Ruì Dì 睿帝||楊溥||921-937|
|Southern Tang Kingdom 南唐 937-975|
|''Convention'' for this kingdom only '': Nan Tang + posthumous names.'' Hòu Zhǔ was referred to as Lǐ Hòuzhǔ 李後主.|
|Xiān Zhǔ 先主 |
Liè Zǔ 烈祖
|Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||李昪||937-943||Shēngyuán 937-943|
|Zhōng Zhǔ 中主 |
Yuán Zōng 元宗
|Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||李璟||943-961|
|後主||Wǔ Wáng 武王||Lǐ Yù 李煜||961-975||Did not exist|
|Southern Han Kingdom 南漢 917-971|
|Gāo Zǔ 高祖||Tiān Huáng Dà Dì 天皇大帝||劉龑||917-925|
|Did not exist||Shāng Dì 殤帝||劉玢||941-943||Guāngtiān 941-943|
|Zhōng Zōng 中宗||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||劉晟||943-958|
|Hòu Zhǔ 後主||Did not exist||劉鋹||958-971||Dàbǎo 958-971|
|Bei Han Kingdom 951-979|
|Shi Zu|世祖 shi4 zu3||Shen Wu Di|神武帝 shen2 wu3 di4||Liu Min|劉旻 liu3 min2||951-954||Qianyou 951-954|
|Rui Zong|睿宗 rui4 zong1||Xiao He Di|孝和帝 xiao4 he2 di4||Liu Cheng Jun|劉承鈞 liu3 cheng2 jun1||954-970|
|Shao Zhu|少主 shao4 zhu3||Did not exist||Liu Ji En|劉繼恩 liu3 ji4 en1||970||Did not exist|
|Did not exist||Ying Wu Di|英武帝 ying1 wu3 di4||Liu Ji Yuan|劉繼元 liu3 ji4 yuan2||970-982||Guangyun 970-982|
|Qian Shu Kingdom 907 - 925|
|Gao Zu|高祖 gao1 zu3||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||Wang Jian|王建 wang2 jian4||907-918|
|Hou Zhu|後主 hou4 zhu3||Did not exist||Wang Yan|王衍 wang2 yan3||918-925|
|Hou Shu Kingdom 934 - 965|
|Gao Zu|高祖 gao1 zu3||Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign||Meng Zhi Xiang|孟知祥 meng4 zhi1 xiang2||934||Mingde 934|
|Hou Zhu|後主 hou4 zhu3||Did not exist||Meng Chang|孟昶 meng4 chang3||938-965|
|Name of Posts||Personal Names||Period on post|
|Wuping jiedu|節度 950-963|
|Wuping jiedushi|武平節度使 Wǔpíng jíedùshǐ||Liú Yán|劉言||950-953|
|Wuping jiedushi|武平節度使 Wǔpíng jíedùshǐ||Wáng Kuí|王逵 or Wáng Jìnkuí|王進逵||953-956|
|Wuping jiedushi|武平節度使 Wǔpíng jíedùshǐ||Zhōu Xíngféng|周行逢||956-962|
|Wuping jiedushi|武平節度使 Wǔpíng jíedùshǐ||Zhōu Bǎoquán|周保權||962-963|
|Qingyuan jiedu|節度 945-978|
|Qingyuan jiedushi|清源節度使 Qīngyuán jíedùshǐ||Liú Cóngxiào|留從效||945-962|
|Qingyuan jiedushi|清源節度使 Qīngyuán jíedùshǐ||Liú Shàozī|留紹鎡||962|
|Qingyuan jiedushi|清源節度使 Qīngyuán jíedùshǐ||Zhāng Hànsī|張漢思||962-963|
|Qingyuan jiedushi|清源節度使 Qīngyuán jíedùshǐ||Chén Hóngjìn|陳洪進||963-978|
* The 2006 Chinese film by director Feng Xiaogang is set in this period. However, it has no historical accuracy, nor does it claim to have any.