Ancient China Kings

Ancient China was ruled by emperors for over 2,000 years. There were many ways that emperors took control of power.

The most common was for a son to take the title from a father, however, it didn’t always occur that way.

In some cases, the next emperor was selected and in other cases, emperors were overthrown and a new one took his place.

“Huangdi” is the Chinese word for emperor and it has been said that the additional titles include “Son of Heaven, Lord of Ten Thousand Years”, and “Holy Highness.”

The words and orders spoken by the emperor were to be immediately obeyed. Many of the emperors considered the peasants to be worthless and it wasn’t uncommon for entire villages to be killed due to the request of an emperor.

While there were over 500 emperors, not all contributed in a positive way to their country. Here are some of the more well-known emperors:

Qin Shi Huang (221 BC to 210 BC)

Qin Shi Huang was considered to be the very first emperor of China. He was the founder of the Qin Dynasty and the country of China was named after him.

Qin is given credit for uniting the various warring kingdoms of China as one country. Qin started political and economic changes in China that caused an explosion of creativity in science, technology and philosophy.

To protect his country and people from the attacks of the Mongols, he built the Great Wall of China.

Emperor Gaozu of Han (202 BC to 195 BC)

This is one of the situations where the title of emperor didn’t go to a succeeding son.

Gaozu began his life as a peasant but in his participation in a revolt he not only overthrew the existing Qin dynasty but took over as leader.

Gaozu reduced the high taxation burder of the people and added Confucianism as part of the government process of China.

Emperor Gaozu

Emperor Wu of Han (141 BC to 87 BC)

Wu was more of a military emperor, reigning for 57 years and expanding the borders of China through many military campaigns.

He ruled China for 57 years, creating a very strong government while also insisting that there be progress in music, poetry, and many of the arts.

Emperor Taizong (626 AD to 649 AD)

Taizong played a major role in assisting his father in creating the Tang dynasty. Once he himself became emperor he added a number of changes to benefit China.

These alterations were in the government and the economy and assisted in bringing China into an era of what is called the “Golden Age of Peace and Prosperity.”

Many historians give credit to Taizong as being one of the best emperors in the history of China.

Empress Wu Zetian (690 AD to 705 AD)

Listed as the only woman to ever rule China under the title of emperor, Empress Wu made sure that any promotions within the government were due to talents and contributions, not just relations with the family.

This philosophy helped her to create an expansion of the empire, bring economic reforms and benefits, and allow the country to have a period of success that lasted a long time.

Empress Wu Zetian

Kublai Khan (1260 AD to 1294 AD)

When the Mongolians attacked and finally conquered China, the leader Kublai Khan became emperor.

He created the Yuan dynasty, but instead of instilling the Mongol culture into China, he and his fellow Mongols adopted many of the ways and culture of China.

He built up the infrastructure and encouraged trade with many of the countries outside of China.

It was thanks to Khan that other countries were brought into China and there was an exchange that lasted many years.

Hongwu Emperor (1368 AD to 1398 AD)

The Ming dynasty might be one that is more well-known today due to the beautiful porcelain art created during that time.

Hongwu was the founder of the dynasty and forced the Mongols that had taken over to leave China.

To help protect his country he created an incredible powerful Chinese Army. He created a new code of laws that also included giving land to the peasants so that they could have improved lives.
Hongwu Emperor

Kangxi Emperor (1661 AD to 1722 AD)

Lasting 61 years, Kangxi had the longest rule as emperor in China. He ruled during a time when ancient China was doing incredibly well.

He had the first Chinese dictionary created and expanded the bordered of China.


Who was the only woman that carried the title of emperor?

Empress Wu Zetian

How many years did emperors rule in China?


Around how many emperors were there?


Who was the Mongol leader that took over China and became emperor?

Kublai Khan

What do they called emperor Taizong’s time as emperor?

Golden Age of Peace and Prosperity