Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dynasties in Chinese history

The following is a chronology of the in Chinese history.

Chinese history is rarely as neat as it is portrayed and it was rare indeed for one dynasty to end calmly and give way quickly and smoothly to a new one. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they had been defeated.

In addition, China was divided for long periods of its history, with different regions being ruled over by different groups. At times like these, there was no dynasty ruling a unified China. As a case in point, there is much dispute about times in and after the Western Zhou period. One example of the potential for confusion will suffice:

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 , while the last Ming dynasty pretender was not disposed of until 1662. The 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 changes all at once in the year 1644.

For more details on the dynasties listed here and their emperors, follow the relevant links in the table. Click on H for the history of the dynasty, and E for a table of its emperors .

Chronology of dynasties

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