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Encyclopedia > Tang Empire
History of China
series
The Three August Ones and the Five Emperors
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Tang Dynasty (唐朝 618-907) followed the Sui Dynasty and preceded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China. The dynasty was interrupted by the Second Zhou Dynasty (690-705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne.


The Tang dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an(modern day suburb of Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization — equal, or even superior, to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han. Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, continued to flourish during the Tang period and was adopted by the imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. Block printing made the written word available to vastly greater audiences.


The Tang period was the golden age of Chinese literature and art (see Tang Dynasty art). A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing empire in 1911, scholar officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots level and the government.


Li Yuan founded the Tang Dynasty but only ruled for a few years before being deposed by his son, Li Shih-min. Li Shih-min then claimed the title "T'ang T'ai-Tsung". T'ang T'ai then set out to solve internal problems within the government. Internal problems have constantly plagued past dynasties. The Emperor had 3 administrations: Military Affiars, Censorate, and Council of State. Each administration had its own job.


Near the end of the Tang Dynasty, regional military governors (jiedushi) became increasingly powerful, and began to function more like independent regimes on their own right. The dynasty was ended when one of the military governors, Zhu Wen, deposed the last emperor and took the throne for himself, thereby beginning the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period.


Rulers of the Tang Dynasty

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Temple names Chinese family names and first names Reigns Era names and their according durations
Convention: "Tang" + temple name
Note: Wu Hou (武后 Wǔ Hu) (Empress Wu) was posthumous name.
Gao Zu (高祖 Gāo Zǔ) Li Yuan (李淵 Lǐ Yūan) 618-626 Wude (武德 Wǔ d) 618-626
Tai Zong (太宗 Ti Zōng) Li Shi Min (李世民 Lǐ Sh Mn) 626-649 Zhenguan (貞觀 Zhēn gūan) 627-649
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(高宗 Gāo zōng) Li Zhi (李治 Lǐ Zh) 650-683 Yonghui (永徽 Yǒng hūi) 650-655

- Xianqing (顯慶 Xiǎn qng) 656-661
- Longshuo (龍朔 Lng shu) 661-663
- Linde (麟德 Ln d) 664-665
- Qianfeng (乾封 Qan fēng) 666-668
- Zongzhang (總章 Zǒng zhāng) 668-670
- Xianheng (咸亨 Xin hēng) 670-674
- Shangyuan (上元 Shng yun) 674-676
- Yifeng (儀鳳 Y fng) 676-679
- Tiaolu (調露 Tio l) 679-680
- Yonglong (永隆 Yǒng lng) 680-681
- Kaiyao (開耀 Kāi yo) 681-682
- Yongchun (永淳 Yǒng chn) 682-683
- Hongdao (弘道 Hng do) 683

-
Zhong Zong (中宗 Zhōng zōng), dismissed by Wu Hou Li Xian (李顯 Lǐ Xiǎn) or Li Zhe (李哲 Lǐ zh) 684, (also 705-710) Sisheng (嗣聖 S shng) 684
-
Rui Zong (睿宗 Ri zōng), dismissed by Wu Hou Li Dan (李旦 Lǐ dn) 684, (also 710-712) Wenming (文明 Wn mng) 684
-
Wu Hou (武后 Wǔ hu) Wu Zetian (武則天 Wǔ Z tiān) 684-705 Guangzhai (光宅 Guāng zhi) 684

- Chuigong (垂拱 Chu gǒng) 685-688
- Yongchang (永昌 Yǒng chāng) 689
- Zaichu (載初 Zi chū) 690

-
Zhou Dynasty (690 AD - 705 AD)
Continuation of Tang Dynasty
Zhong Zong (中宗 Zhōng zōng), retake the throne Li Xian (李顯 Lǐ Xiǎn) or Li Zhe (李哲 Lǐ Zh) (also 684,) 705-710 Shenlong (神龍 Shn lng) 705-707

- Jinglong (景龍 Jǐng lng) 707-710<be>

-
Shao Di (少帝 Sho d) see note below the table Li Chong Mao (李重茂 Lǐ Chng Mo) 710 Tanglong (唐隆 Tng lng) 710
(睿宗 Ru zōng), retake the throne Li Dan (李旦 Lǐ Dn) (also 684,) 710-712 Jingyun (景雲 Jǐng yn) 710-711

- Taiji (太極 Ti j) 712
- Yanhe (延和 Yn h) 712

-
(玄宗 Xun zōng) Li Long Ji (李隆基 Lǐ Lng Jī) 712-756 Xiantian (先天 Xiān tiān) 712-713

- Kaiyuan (開元 Kāi yun) 713-741
- Tianbao (天寶 Tiān bǎo) 742-756

-
(肅宗 S zōng) Li Heng (李亨 Lǐ Hēng) 756-762 Jide (至德 Zh d) 756-758

- Qianyuan (乾元 Qin yun) 758-760
- Shangyuan (上元 Shng yun) 760-761

-
(代宗 Di zōng) Li Yu (李豫 Lǐ Y) 762-779 Baoying (寶應 Bǎo yng) 762-763

- Guangde (廣德 Guǎng d) 763-764
- Yongtai (永泰 Yǒng ti) 765-766
- Dali (大曆 D l) 766-779

-
(德宗 D zōng) Li Gua (李适 Lǐ Guā) 780-805 Jianzhong (建中 Jin zhōng) 780-783

- Xingyuan (興元 Xīng yun) 784
- Zhenyuan (貞元 Zhēn yun) 785-805

-
Shun Zong (順宗 Shn zōng) Li Song (李誦 Lǐ sng) 805 Yongzhen (永貞 Yǒng zhēn) 805
-
(憲宗 Xin zōng) Li Chun (李純 Lǐ chn) 806-820 Yuanhe (元和 Yun h) 806-820
-
Mu Zong (穆宗 M zōng) Li Heng (李恆 Lǐ hng) 821-824 Changqing (長慶 Chng qng) 821-824
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Jing Zong (敬宗 Jng zōng) Li Zhan (李湛 Lǐ zhn) 824-826 Baoli (寶曆 Bǎo l) 824-826
-
Wen Zong (文宗 Wn zōng) Li Ang (李昂 Lǐ ng) 826-840 Baoli (寶曆 Bǎo l) 826

- Dahe (大和 D h) or Taihe (Ti h 太和) 827-835
- Kaicheng (開成 Kāi chng) 836-840

-
(武宗 Wǔ zōng) Li Ya (李炎 Lǐ yn) 840-846 Huichang (會昌 Hu chāng) 841-846
-
(宣宗 Xuān zōng) Li Chen (李忱 Lǐ chn) 846-859 Dachong (大中 D chōng) 847-859
-
Yi Zong (懿宗 Y zōng) Li Cui (李漼 Lǐ cuǐ) 859-873 Dachong (大中 D chōng) 859

- Xiantong (咸通 Xin tōng) 860-873

-
Xi Zong (僖宗 Xī zōng) Li Xuan (李儇 Lǐ xuān) 873-888 Xiantong (咸通 Xin tōng) 873-874

- Qianfu (乾符 Qin f) 874-879
- Guangming (廣明 Guǎng mng) 880-881
- Zhonghe (中和 Zhōng h) 881-885
- Guangqi (光啟 Guāng qǐ) 885-888
- Wende (文德 Wn d) 888

-
Zhao Zong (昭宗 Zhāo zōng) Li Ye (李曄 Lǐ y) 888-904 Longji (龍紀 Lng j) 889

Dashun (大順 D shn) 890-891
Jingfu (景福 Jǐng f) 892-893
Qianning (乾寧 Qin nng) 894-898
Guanghua (光化 Guāng hu) 898-901
Tianfu (天復 Tiān f) 901-904
Tianyou (天佑 Tiān yu) 904

Ai di (哀帝 Aī d) or Zhaoxuan di昭宣帝 Zhāo xuān D Li Zhu (李柷 Lǐ zh) 904-907 Tianyou (天佑 Tiān yu) 904-907

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