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Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (960-1911)

Following the Tang Dynasty came a period of almost continual warfare known as the Five Dynasties and Ten States. In 960, Zhao Kuangyin, a general of the State of Later Zhou, established the Song Dynasty (960-1279), known in history as the Northern Song Dynasty. When the Song Dynasty moved its capital to the south, it became known in history as the Southern Song Dynasty. China in the Song Dynasty was in the forefront of the world in astronomy, science and technology. Bi Sheng invented movable type printing in the 1040s, ushering in a major revolution in the history of printing.

In 1206, Genghis Khan established the Mongolian Khanate. In 1271, Kublai, a grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered the Central Plains, founded the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and made Dadu (today's Beijing) the capital. Kublai ended the centuries-long situation in which many independent regimes existed side by side by forming a united country that brought Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan under its sway. During the Song-Yuan period, the "four great inventions" in science and technology of the Chinese people in ancient times papermaking, printing, the compass and gunpowder were further developed, and spread abroad.

In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang established the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in Nanjing, reigning as Emperor Taizu. When his son and successor Zhu Di (1360-1424) ascended the throne, he built and expanded the palaces, temples, city walls and moats in Beijing. In 1421, he officially moved the capital to Beijing. During his reign, he dispatched a eunuch named Zheng He to lead a fleet of many ships to make seven far-ranging voyages. Passing the Southeast Asian countries, the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Maldives Islands, Zheng He explored as far as Somalia and Kenya on the eastern coast of Africa. These were the largest-scale and longest voyages in the world before the age of Columbus.

The Manchus of northeast China established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1644. The best known of the Qing Dynasty emperors, Kangxi (r. 1661-1722) restored the central empire's rule over Taiwan, and resisted invasions by tsarist Russia. To reinforce the administration of Tibet, he also formulated the rules and regulations on the confirmation of the Tibetan local leaders by the Central Government. He effectively administered over 11 million sq km of Chinese territory.

The Dynasties

Dynasty 

Date

Xia 

2070-1600 B.C.

Shang

1600-1046 B.C.

Western Zhou

1046-771 B.C.

Eastern Zhou 

 

Spring and Autumn Period

770-476  B.C.

Warring States Period

475-221 B.C.

Qin 

221-206 B.C.

Western Han

206 B.C.-A.D. 24

Eastern Han   

25-220

Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu and Wu)    

220-265

Western Jin

265-316

Eastern Jin     

317-420

Southern and Northern Dynasties 

420-589

Sui  

581-618

Tang

618-907

Five Dynasties

907-960

Northern Song

960-1127

Southern Song

1127-1279

Yuan      

1271-1368

Ming      

1368-1644

Qing      

1644-1911

 

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