Dynasties in Chinese history

Hereditary monarchical regimes in historical China / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the legendary inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great c.2070 BC to the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, China was ruled by a series of successive dynasties.[lower-alpha 1][lower-alpha 2] Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic Han—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the Huaxia tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples.[6]

Dividing Chinese history into periods ruled by dynasties is a convenient method of periodization.[7] Accordingly, a dynasty may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, as well as to describe events, trends, personalities, artistic compositions, and artifacts of that period.[8] For example, porcelain made during the Ming dynasty may be referred to as "Ming porcelain".[9] The word "dynasty" is usually omitted when making such adjectival references.

The longest-reigning orthodox dynasty of China was the Zhou dynasty, ruling for a total length of 789 years, albeit it is divided into the Western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou in Chinese historiography, and its power was drastically reduced during the latter part of its rule.[10] The largest orthodox Chinese dynasty in terms of territorial size was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source.[11][12][13][14][15][lower-alpha 3]

Chinese dynasties often referred to themselves as "Tiāncháo" (天朝; "Celestial Dynasty" or "Heavenly Dynasty").[19][20] As a form of respect and subordination, Chinese tributary states referred to Chinese dynasties as "Tiāncháo Shàngguó" (天朝上國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Exalted State") or "Tiāncháo Dàguó" (天朝大國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Great State").