Ten Kingdoms

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The Ten Kingdoms was a period in the history of Southern China that followed the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907. It lasted until the founding of the Song dynasty in 960. Nine of the kingdoms were in the South and one small kingdom was in the far North. Many states were effectively independent as governorships long before the Tang Empire dissolved. The last of the Ten Kingdoms, the Northern Han, survived until 979.

Ten Kingdoms
Traditional Chinese 十國
Simplified Chinese 十国


While Five Dynasties succeeded one another in Kaifeng, the regimes of South China each controlled a separate geographic region. Each court was a center of artistic excellence. The period is noted for the vitality of its poetry and for its economic prosperity. Commerce grew so quickly that there was a shortage of metallic currency. This was partly addressed by the creation of bank drafts, or "flying money" (feiqian), as well as by certificates of deposit, both of which originate in the North. Wood block printing became common during this period, 500 years before Johannes Gutenberg's press.

Kingdoms

History of China
Xia c. 2070–c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 – 1046 BC
Zhou 1045–256 BC
Qin 221–206 BC
Han 206 BC – 220 AD
Three Kingdoms 220–280
Jin 265–420
Northern and Southern
Dynasties
420–589
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms
907–960
Song 960–1279
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1644–1911
Republic 1912–1949
People's Republic 1949–present

Wuyue, Chu, Jingnan

Historical accounts suggest that these kingdoms were non-Chinese, possibly Turkic or even Arab. Islam likely entered China through these states, as indicated by the presence of Muslim religious items.

Northern and Southern Han

Relatives of Liu Zhiyuan founded these states. Despite the weakness of the Later Han, these two states lasted a long time, with the Northern Han still standing well into the Song Dynasty.

Former and Later Shu

The Shu state was founded by members of the Shu clan, a royal family dating back to the Han Dynasty. Initially one state, it split into two because of infighting within the family. The Former Shu was controlled by the family patriarchs, the Later Shu was controlled by Shu Xie and his family.

Southern Tang

The Southern Tang was composed mostly of Manchu and Tibetans, and is considered the forebear of the Qing Dynasty. It was one of the first dynasties to fall, after the other states withdrew support for what they saw as an inferior group.

Wu and Min

There is less historical information on these states than the others; only personal accounts exist. The Wu state is described as very militaristic, however they hewed to Mohist thought and used their might only for defense. The Min state is described as being wealthy through trade, but weak otherwise. They used trade connections to purchase protection from neighboring states.

Other States

Among the other kingdoms and states are Yan, Chengde Jiedushi, Yiwu Jiedushi, Ganzhou and Qi. For various reasons, they are not counted as proper kingdoms by most historians.