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Tang Dynasty
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Tang Dynasty

This article is part
of the series:
History of China
3 Huang 5 Di
Xia Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
Han Dynasty
Three Kingdoms
Jin Dynasty
Sixteen Kingdoms
N/S Dynasties
Sui Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
Five Dyn./Ten King
Song Dynasty
Liao Dynasty
Western Xia
Jin Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
Republic of China
P.R. China

Tang Dynasty (唐朝 618-907) followed Sui Dynasty and preceded the Five Dynasties and the 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, 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 literature and 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.

By the middle of the 8th century, Tang power had ebbed. Military defeat in 751 by Arabs at the Battle of Talas marked end of Tang authority in Central Asia. Domestic economic instability and subsequent rebellions of An Lushan and warlordism marked the beginning of five centuries of steady military decline for the Tang empire. Misrule, court intrigues, economic exploitation, and popular rebellions weakened the empire, making it possible for warlord Zhu Wen to terminate the dynasty in 907. The next half-century saw the fragmentation of China into five northern dynasties and ten southern kingdoms.

Rulers of the Tang Dynasty

Temple names Chinese family names and first namess 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
(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
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
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; see note below Li Zhu (李柷 Lǐ zh) 904-907 Tianyou (天佑 Tiān yu) 904-907

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