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China: List of Dynasties and Selected Rulers
From A Traveller's History of China, fourth edition p263-268

Note: the personal names of Chinese rulers were rarely used after they ascended the throne. For the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the names shown below are the formal ones taken by kings on their accession. For the Qin dynasty, the personal titles used by rules are given. After the Qin dynasty, reigning emperors were normally referred to only as 'Imperial Highness' or something similar and had no personal titles during their lifetimes. After their deaths, they were given posthumous titles: these are the titles shown below for rulers from the Han to the Yuan dynasties. (Wang Mang is an exception: this was his personal name). Personal names of rulers of the Han, Sui and Tang dynasties appear in parenthesis. Mongol titles or names are given in parenthesis for rulers of the Yuan dynasty. For the Ming and Qing dynasties it has become the usual practice to refer to emperors not by any personal title or name but by the title of their reign-period (which was used in the Chinese system of dates): for these two dynasties, therefore, titles of reign-periods are given. Strictly, it is incorrect to refer to, say, 'the Emperor Qianlong' as 'Qianlong' is not the emperor's personal name or title. 'The Qianlong Emperor' is preferable.

Xia existence not proven, probably c. 2100 - c. 1600 BC

Shang c. 1600 - c. 1050 BC
King Zhou - last Shang king, killed in c. 1050 BC

Zhou c. 1050 - 256 BC

WESTERN ZHOU c. 1050 - 771 BC
King Wen - reigned before the overthrow of the Shang dynasty
King Wu - succeeded King Wen, destroyed the Shang dynasty

EASTERN ZHOU 770 - 256 BC
Spring and Autumn period 770 - 464 BC
King Ping 770 - 20 BC
Warring States period 463 - 222 BC

Qin 221 - 206 BC
Qin Shi Huangdi 221 - 10 BC
Er Shi Huangdi 209 - 7 BC

Han 206 BC - AD 220

WESTERN HAN 206 BC - AD 9
Gao Di (Liu Bang) 206 - 195 BC
Wu Di (Liu Che) 140 - 87 BC

XIN AD 9 - 23
Wang Mang AD 9 - 23

EASTERN HAN AD 25 - 220
Guang Wu Di (Liu Xiu) 25 - 57

The Three Kingdoms 220 - 80
WEI (in north China) 220 - 65
SHU HAN (in Sichuan) 221 - 63
WU (in south-east China) 222 - 80

Jin 265 - 420
WESTERN JIN 265 - 317
(in north China and Sichuan 265-80, then in control of all China until 304, after which much of the north was lost to the Huns)
EASTERN JIN (in southern China) 317 - 420

The Sixteen Kingdoms (in parts of northern China) 304 - 439

The Northern and Southern Dynasties 420 - 589

THE SOUTHERN DYNASTIES
Song 420 - 79
Qi 479 - 502
Liang 502 - 57
Chen 557 - 89

THE NORTHERN DYNASTIES
Northern Wei 386 - 34
Eastern Wei 534 - 50
Northern Qi 550 - 77
Western Wei 535 - 56
Northern Zhou 557 - 81

Sui 581 - 618
(founded in the north in 581, controlled all China after 589)
Wen Di (Yang Jian) 581 - 604

Tang 618 - 907
Tai Zong (Li Shimin) 627 - 49
Gao Zong (Li Zhi) 650 - 83
Empress Wu 684 - 704
Xuan Zong 712 - 55

The Five Dynasties 907 - 60
Later Liang 907 - 23
Later Tang 923 - 36
Later Jin 936 - 47
Later Han 947 - 50
Later Zhou 951 - 60

Song 960 - 1279

NORTHERN SONG 960 - 1127
Tai Zong 976 - 97
Zhen Zong 998 - 1022
Ren Zong 1023 - 57
Wei Zong 1101 - 25

SOUTHERN SONG 1127 - 1279
Gao Zong 1127 - 62
Li Zong 1225 - 64

Liao (in part of north China) 907 - 1125

Jin (in part of north China) 1115 - 1234

Yuan 1206 - 1368
(destroyed the Jin in 1234, the southern Song in 1279)
Tai Zu (Chenghiz Khan) 1206 - 27
Shi Zu (Khubilai Khan) 1260 - 94
Cheng Zong (Timur) 1295 - 1307

Ming 1368 - 1644
Hongwu 1368 - 98
Jianwen 1399 - 1402
Yongle 1403 - 24
Hongxi 1425
Xuande 1426 - 35
Zhengtong 1436 - 49*
Jingtai 1450 - 6
Tianshun 1457 - 64*
Chenghua 1465 - 87
Hongzhi 1488 - 1505
Zhengde 1506 - 21
Jiajing 1522 - 66
Longqing 1567 - 72
Wanli 1573 - 1619
Taichang 1620
Tianqi 1621 - 7
Chongzhen 1628 - 44

* The same emperor ruled during both these reign-periods: he had been carried off by the Mongols and was replaced on the throne by a brother, but was later able to return and rule again.

Qing 1616 - 1911
(founded in Manchuria in 1616, conquered Beijing in 1644)
Tianming 1616 - 26
Tiancong 1627 - 35*
Chongde 1636 - 43*
Shunzhi 1644 - 61
Kangxi 1662 - 1722
Yongzheng 1723 - 35
Qianlong 1736 - 95
Jiaqing 1796 - 1820
Daoguang 1821 - 50
Xianfeng 1851 - 61
Tongzhi 1862 - 74
Guangxu 1875 - 1908
Xuantong 1909 - 11

*The same emperor ruled during both these reign-periods: until the Ming dynasty, it had been common for reign-periods to change during the course of a single reign, but after 1368 such changes became exceptional.

The Republic of China 1912 - 1949 (still in existence in Taiwan)

Presidents and Heads of State
Sun Yat-sen (Sun Yixian, Sun Zhongshan) 1912
Yuan Shikai 1912 - 16
Li Yuanhong 1916 - 17
Feng Guozhang 1917 - 18*
Xu Shichang 1918 - 22*
Li Yuanhong 1922 - 3*
Cao Kun 1923 - 4*
Duan Qirui 1924 - 6*
Sun Yat-sen 1921 - 5*
Wang Jingwei 1925 - 7*
Hu Hanmin 1927 - 8
Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) 1928 - 75
Jiang Jingguo 1978 - 88
Li Denghui 1988 - 2000
Chen Shuibian 2000 -

*From 1917 until 1927 there were two rival governments in China, one in the north, enjoying international recognition, and one in the south, backed by the Chinese Nationalist Party. The southern government was led until his death in 1925 by Sun Yat-sen, though he did not take the title of president until 1921. From 1926 the northern government was totally dominated by the warlord Zhang Zuolin and had no chief executive. It collapsed in 1927. Zhang Zuolin fled from Beijing the following year shortly before it was occupied by Nationalist forces.

THE PEOPLE's REPUBLIC OF CHINA 1949 -

Heads of State/Presidents
Mao Zedong 1949 - 59
Liu Shaoqi 1959 - 68*
Dong Biwu 1968 - 75*
Li Xiannian 1983 - 8*
Yang Shangkun 1988 - 93
Jiang Zemin 1993 -

*Liu Shaoqi was unconstitutionally removed from office during the Cultural Revolution - legally he remained head of state until his death in 1969. After his death his deputy, Dong Biwu, became acting head of state. The post was not officially filled again during the period of the Cultural Revolution and was abolished by the consitution promulgated in 1975, its powers being transferred to the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. The current constitution, adopted in December 1982, created a presidency: Li Xiannian became the first president in June 1983.