Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907–960)

A time of political disturbance in china, the period occupied by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 960) existed after Tang Dynasty and before the emergence of Song Period. It was more like a rapid transition since there were five dynasties that succeeded one after the other in the northern part of China; in the southern part it exceeded a dozen although not all of them appeared in record that is why they are acknowledged as just the Ten Kingdoms, the 11th according to Historians is Bo Yang.

The Later Liang Dynasty

Coming from a royal government the shift went to a military government or a system led by the Jiedushi, and then there came the Huang Chao Rebellion which resulted in the ending of the Tang Dynasty that was replaced by the Later Liang Dynasty (907-923) which is the first among the Five Dynasties.

Xuanwu Jiedushi

Zhu Wen, most influential warlord in North China who was a member of Huang Chao’s rebel army, yielded to the Tang Dynasty and was central in conquering the rebellion. He was called Xuanwu Jiedushi, he defeated his neighbours, and was able to force the transfer of the imperial capital to Luoyang which was his base. In 904 he had Emperor Zhaozong executed and enthroned his 13-year-old son to become a puppet ruler. In 907, he persuaded the young emperor to resign in his favor and proclaimed the Later Liang Dynasty, with him as emperor.

The Later Tang Dynasty

The new dynasty disposed the old rules and created reforms in the government. But then the leader Zhu Quanzhong failed to establish a unification program and in the later part of his reign, gave in to corruption which was why in 923 Li Cunxu overpowered the dynasty. He affirmed himself emperor and created Later Tang Dynasty. North China was somehow unified and in 925 he overcame Former Shu in Sichuan.

The Later Tang existed for 14 years, the second emperor of Later Liang, Emperor Mingzong, was an open-minded emperor. He implemented numerous advantageous programs which allowed the people to experience a comfortable existence. But then like the previous dynasty, the leaders of Later Tang failed to bring together the entire nation. The government was then overpowered by Shi Jingtang, the brother-in-law of the Emperor, together with the assistance of Qidan cluster of the north.

The Later Jin Dynasty

After the collapse of Later Tang, it was Shi Jingtang who was crowned ruler of the Dynasty of Later Jin by the Qidan king, thus linking the two groups. It was the situation until the time of Shi Zhonggui, Shi Jingtang’s adoptive son who sought to cut the ties and become independent from the Qidan people. However, Qidan defeated Later Jin and later on built the Liao Dynasty with Kaifeng as its capital; but it was not the last dynasty in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 960).

The Later Han Dynasty

The reign of the Quidan group was cut short in the dominant areas of China due to the opposition of the native people. Liu Zhiyuan, from Taiyuan, steered his armed forces to the mainland and established a different dynasty which is Later Han. During the year 950, suspicion of rebellion to be led by high ranking military official Guo Wei arose and Liu Chengyou who was the second ruler of Later Han sought to eliminate the threat. Liu Chengyou failed to complete his plan for it was Guo Wei together with his armed men who assassinated Liu Chengyou then created Later Zhou during the year 951.

The Later Zhou Dynasty

Among the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 960) Later Zhou had been considered as the most flourishing dynasty. The power of the government was strengthened through Guo Wei and adoptive son Chai Rong’s clever governing over the empire. During that time there was an evident proof of unification that is coming into existence little by little. However, the successor was very young and had been crowned at the tender age of seven years; in the year 960 when the empire was unsteady, the then military general Zhao Kuangyin, took advantage of attacking the Liao assailants and sprang a rebellion in Chenqiao County. The young ruler had to surrender the rule to Zhao; subsequently Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) had been established.

The transition of the different reigns was dependent upon the leadership, economic situation and the programs implemented to the people by the government. Behind all these government are the key people who made the establishment of the empires possible. Some of them may have acted in good faith and out of the need to put an end to an unjust or corrupt ruler while some only took advantage of the situation for their own good. Whatever may be their motive or the cause that they fought for, these leaders contributed one way or another to the development of the rich history and culture of China at present.

Influential Figures During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

Among the influential people in China during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 960) are those from North China: Zhu Wen at Bianzhou of the Later Liang Dynasty; Li Keyong and Li Cunxu of the Later Tang Dynasty; Liu Rengong and Liu Shouguang at Youzhou of Yan Dynasty; Li Maozhen at Fengxiang of the Qi group; Luo Shaowei at Weibo; Wang Rong at Zhenzhou; Wang Chuzhi at Dingzhou and those from South China: Yang Xingmi at Yangzhou of the Wu dynasty; Qian Liu at Hangzhou of the Wuyue; Ma Yin at Tanzhou of the Chu; Wang Shenzhi at of the Min; Liu Yin at Guangzhou of the Southern Han; and Wang Jian at Chengdu of the Former Shu.

One of the main reasons attributed for the downfall of an empire is the failure of its leader to unify the entire empire to avoid disputes and conflicting ideologies, those who failed to create unification programs were usurped from their throne. Then there is the will to occupy the highest position in the land, some of the leaders opted to eliminate other rulers who had some power vested in their hands. But despite all these factors, the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 960) also experienced economic success and the downfall of one dynasty after another led to the creation and development of reforms and programs that uplifted the citizens’ rights.