China has had a long history of successive rulers from mythical sages to real people documented in historical chronicles. Below is a list of rulers by their reign title. Only the main dynastic players in Chinese history are listed.
The first section lists the mythical and semi-mythical rulers. These contributed towards the development of Chinese culture in general by their teaching of important skill to the people. The founders of the Xia4, Shang1 and Zhou1 dynasties are important only as signposts in the timeline, the transition between the mythical and the historical.
In the second section, Dynastic China, the major dynasties are given together with reign titles and dates. The names of the founders of those dynasties are given in brackets. The year given against each ruler is the year (in the Western calendar) of ascension the throne.
We end with the third section, post imperial Modern China. For a Unicode UTF-8 version of this page, click here.
武 (Wu3) name 武王姬發 (Wu3Wang2 Ji1Fa1) established the Zhou1 Dynasty. A Sage King. Father of 成王 (Cheng2Wang2).
文 (Vun2) father of 武 (name 西佰昌 Xi1Bai3Chang1) ancestor of the dukes of the 魯 Lu3 and 晉 Jin4 states during the Zhou1 Dynasty.
Western Zhou1 西周 (Xi1 Zhou1) 1066-771 BC
武王 King Wu3 (姬發 Ji1 Fa1)
成王 King Cheng2
康王 King Kang1
昭王 King Zhao1
穆王 King Mu4
共王 King Gong1
懿王 King Yi4
孝王 King Xiao4
夷王 King Yi2
厲王 King Li4
共和行政 (Regency after death of King Li4) 841 BC
宜王 King Yi2 827 BC
幽王 King You1 781 BC
Eastern Zhou1 東周 (Dong1 Zhou1) 770-256 BC
平王 King Ping2 (姬宜臼 Ji1 Yi2Jiu4) 770 BC
桓王 King Huan2 719 BC
莊王 King Zhuang1 696 BC
釐王 King Li2 681 BC
惠王 King Hui4 676 BC
襄王 King Xiang1 651 BC
頃王 King Qing3 618 BC
匡王 King Kuang1 612 BC
定王 King Ding4 606 BC
簡王 King Jian3 585 BC
靈王 King Ling2 571 BC
景王 King Jing3 544 BC
敬王 King Jing4 519 BC
元王 King Yuan2 475 BC
貞定王 King Zhen1 Ding4 468 BC
考王 King Xiao4 440 BC
威烈王 King Wei1 Lie4 425 BC
安王 King An1 401 BC
烈王 King Lie4 375 BC
顯王 King Xian3 368 BC
慎靚王 King Shen4 Jing4 320 BC
赧王 King Nan3 314 BC
Spring and Autumn Period 春秋 (Chun1 Qiu1) 770-476 BC
Warring States 戰國 (Zhan4 Guo2) 475-221 BC (Seven Most Powerful States)
昭襄王 King Zhao1 Xiang1 (嬴則 Ying2 Ze2) 306 BC
孝文王 King Xiao4 Wen2 250 BC
莊襄王 King Zhuang1 Xiang1 249 BC
始皇帝 Qin2 Shi3 Huang2 Di4 (嬴政 Ying2 Zheng4) 246 BC see Qin 秦 below
二世皇帝 Er4 Shi4 Huang2 Di4 209 BC
Qin2 秦 221-207 BC
始皇帝 Qin2 Shi3 Huang2 Di4 (嬴政 Ying2 Zheng4) 246 BC The First Emperor of Qin China
二世皇帝 Er4 Shi4 Huang2 Di4 209 BC The Second Emperor of Qin China
Western Han 西漢 (Xi1 Han4) 206 BC - 8 AD
高帝 Emperor Gao1 (劉邦 Liu2 Bang1) 206 BC
惠帝 Emperor Hui4 194 BC
高后 Emperess Gao1 187 BC
文帝 Emperor Wen2 179 BC
景帝 Emperor Jing3 156 BC
武帝 Emperor Wu3 140 BC
昭帝 Emperor Zhao1 86 BC
宣帝 Emperor Xuan1 73 BC
元帝 Emperor Yuan2 48 BC
成帝 Emperor Cheng2 32 BC
哀帝 Emperor Ai1 6 BC
平帝 Emperor Ping2 1 AD
孺子嬰 (王莽攝政) Child heir, regent Wang Mang 6 AD
Xin1 新 9AD - 25 AD
王莽 Wang2 Mang3 9 AD
更始帝 Emperor Shi3 Geng1 (劉玄 Liu2 Xuan2) 23 AD
Kingdom of Heavenly Peace 太平天國 (Tai4 Ping2 Tian1 Guo2) 1850-1864
洪秀全 Hong2 Xiu4 Quan2 (b.1813 d. 1 June 1864) 1850
Hong2 Xiu4 Quan is said to have commited suicide by taking poison, and was suceeded by his son,
洪天貴福 Hong2 Tian1Gui4 Fu2 (b. 23 Nov 1849 d. 18 Nov 1864) 1864
The Fu2 character in Hong2 Tian1Gui4 Fu2 洪天貴福 was appended to his name by his father when he was twelve years old. TianGui Fu continues the Tai4 Ping2 Tian1 Guo2 until his surrender, capture and execution of his followers. He dies a few days before his fifteenth birthday having succeeded his father for just over five and a half months.
滿洲國 Man1 Zhou1 Guo2 (Manchukuo) Puppet State 1932 - 1945
(愛新覺羅溥儀 Ai4 Xin1 Jue2 Luo2 Pu3 Yi4 / Aisin Gioro Pu Yi ) 1932-1945
PuYi becomes Emperor of Manchukuo, 28 January 1932. Abidicated 15 August 1945 after Japanese surrender. Later, he was captured by the Communists and reeducated, gaining a pardon on 4 December 1959 and dies in 1967.
Jan - Feb 1912
Proclaimed provisional president of the new Republic of China, with negotiations occuring with the XuanTong court for the emperors abdication (Feb 1912).
袁世凱 Yuan2 Shi4 Kai (Yüan Shi-k'ai b. 1859 d. 1916) March 1912 - 6 June 1916
As part of the terms of the abdication, Yuan Shikai replaces Sun YatSen and becomes the new provisional in March. He tries to proclaim himself Emperor in January 1916, and forced by public opposition to abandon that. He dies naturally, and the Age of the Warlords effectively begins.
軍閥時代 Age of the Warlords1916-1928
Northern (北京 Beijing) Regime
黎元洪 Li Yuanhong (Li Yüan-hung) 1916-1917
馮國璋 Feng Guozhang (Feng Kuo-chang) 1917-1918
徐世昌 Xu Shichang (Hsü!> Shih-ch'ang) 1918-1922
黎元洪 Li Yuanhong (Li Yüan-hung) 1922-1923
曹錕 Cao Gun (Ts'ao Kun) 1923
段祺瑞 Duan Qirui (Tuan Chi-jui) 1924
Southern (廣州 Guangzhou and 南昌 Nanchang) Regimes
孫文 Sun Wen 1921-1925
Sun having spent some time in exile in Japan and in the West, returns to China, and seeing the outcome of the age of Warlordism, tries to set up a rival powerbase in Guangzhou. Since the foreign powers does not recognise the southern parliament, the Guangzhou rump parliament suffers from lack of financial support. Sun dies and succeeded by Generalissimo Jiang Jieshi.
蔣介石 Jiang3 Jie4 Shi2 (Chiang Kai-Shek) 1925 - 1928
After the death of Sun YatSen, Jiang sets about bringing China under control, defeating the Warlords in the north and when he takes Beijing/Peking, he is recognised as the true government of China.
China becomes a one party state under the "Organic Law" of 1928. Jiang contends with the Japanese occupation in the puppet state of Manchukuo, Communists, and natural disasters. The economy suffers inflation. After Japanese departure, civil war leads to defeat where the nationalists flee to Taiwan in December 1948 with 2 million supporters.
Nationalist government moved to Taiwan 1949 - present
蔣介石 Jiang2 Jie4 Shi2 (Chiang Kai-Shek) 1949 - 1975
After Jiang JieShi's death, Vice President Yen Chia-kan (Yan2 Jia1 Gan4 嚴家淦) becomes the acting president 1975 - 1978
蔣經國 Chiang Ching-Kuo (b. 1910 d. 1988) 1978 - 1988
李登輝 Li3 Deng1 Hui1 / Lee Teng-hui (b. 1923) 1988 - 2000
陳水扁 Chen2 Shui3 Bian3 (b. 1951) 2000 -
毛澤東 Mao ZeDong 1931 - 1949
Mao leads a band of Communist followers on what will become known as The Long March when Jiang attacks them. Civil war occurs after the departure of the Japanese forces, and won by the communists in 1949.
People's Republic of China 中華人民共和國 1949 - present
毛澤東 Mao2 Ze2 Dong1 / Mao Tse-Tung (b. 1893) 1949 - 1976
After Mao ZeDong's death, Prime Minister Hua4 Guo2 Feng1 (華國鋒) becomes acting head of state 1976-1977
鄧小平 Deng4 Xiao3 Ping2 (b. 1902) 1976 - 1997
江澤民 Jiang1 Ze2 Ming2 (b. 1926) 1997 -
Si Jiao Hao Ma Xin Ci Dian 四角號碼新詞典, Shang Wu Yin Shu Guan 商務印書館
Shang Wu Xin Zi Dian 商務新字典, Shang Wu Yin Shu Guan 商務印書館
Benesse KanWa Jiten 福武漢和辭典
From Emperor to Citizen, The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi. Transl. W.J.F. Jenner
God's Chinese Son, (The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong XiuQuan), Jonathan Spence. Harper Collins, 1996. ISBN 0-00-255584-0.
A History of China, J.A.G. Roberts, Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-65426-9
The Cambridge illustrated history of China, Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-43519-6 pbk / ISBN 0-521-66991-X hbk
Modern China - An Illustrated History, J.A.G. Roberts, Sutton Pub. ISBN 0-86299-847-6
The Concise Encyclopedia of World History. Rodney Castleden
Ancestors - 900 Years in the Life of a Chinese Family, Frank Ching, Harrap, ISBN 0-245-54675-8
The Mongols, E.D. Phillips. Thames and Hudson. 1969
The Mongol Warriors - Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hülegü, Tamerlane. David Nicolle. 1990. ISBN 1-85314-104-6
Ghengis Khan - Conqueror of the World. Leo De Hartog. I. B. Taurus (publ.). 1989. ISBN 1-86064-375-2
Some other pages of interest, especially regarding the Age of the Warlord.