Ancient China Leaders

There were 13 dynasties that held rule over ancient China. In some cases they had a single emperor or leader, in other cases the dynasties had multiple emperors.

King Wu

Xia dynasty

The first dynasty in ancient China that had 17 emperors and lasted nearing 500 years. This was set up using the ability to select an emperor based on his abilities and talents.

Later, the system was changed to the “hereditary system” which allowed children to succeed an emperor. In the case of this dynasty, 15 children succeeded the first emperor, Qi.

Shang dynasty

This dynasty had 30 different leaders and lasted around 600 years. Tang was the original founder and he brought about a lot of changes to ancient China.

Favored because he ruled with compassion and kindness, the ancient Chinese people prospered and were happy.

The philosophies were continued until the 10th emperor, when things started to fall apart.

Chou (Zhou) dynasty

Wuwang founded this dynasty and it had 37 emperors, lasting over 800 years. It was Wuwang that made Haojing the capital of China.

The Chou dynasty is divided into two periods: the Eastern Chou and Western Chou, due to the differences in capital cities and the time of wars.

It was during this time that the 7 states warred with each other, which led to the Qin dynasty uniting them all.

Qin dynasty

The Qin dynasty had the first emperor that ruled over all of ancient China. Although the dynasty only lasted around 15 years, it was the most important because it united the country.

Emperor Qin acted to strengthen the relationship with the people, the economy, culture, military and political affairs. Qin began the order to build the Great Wall of China.

Emperor Shi Huangdi-Qin dynasty

The Qin dynasty had only two emperors that followed and then the Han dynasty began.

Not much came in the way of improvement and it seemed that many actions were negligent. This led to a revolt that finally ended the Qin dynasty.
Emperor Shi Huangdi

Han dynasty

The dynasty was divided into the Western Han and the Eastern Han, and there were 24 emperors on the thrown during each of these phases.

Many of the emperors were very superb, contributing much to the peace and prosperity.

Six dynasties

This dynasty is named for the six successive dynasties that appeared during this time in Southern ancient China.

The entire country wasn’t united under a single emperor, but the 6 dynasties that were in power covered 3 ½ centuries. It ended with the reunification of Northern and Southern China.

• Wu (222 AD–280 AD)
• Dong (Eastern) Jin (317 AD–420 AD)
• Liu-Song (420 AD–479 AD)
• Nan (Southern) Qi (479 AD–502 AD)
• Nan Liang (502 AD–557 AD)
• Nan Chen (557 AD–589 AD)

Sui dynasty

There were only 3 emperors during the 38 years of the Sui dynasty. This was a time for the expansion of the Great Wall as well as building the Grand Canal.

The last emperor became corrupt and this caused the decline of the dynasty.

Tang dynasty

This dynasty had an emperor that declared himself as such. Tang led many years that flourished in technology, art, and literature and is called the Golden Age of Ancient China.

Tang Taizong

Five dynasties

Lasting only 53 years, this time period consists of a series of dynasties in northern China:

Later Liang Dynasty, Later Tang Dynasty, Later Jin Dynasty, Later Han Dynasty, and Later Zhou Dynasty.

When the death of the Later Zhou emperor occurred his son resigned, bringing on the Song dynasty.

Song dynasty

This dynasty was the first to have had an emperor placed on the throne by his troops. General Zhao Kuang-yin became emperor, leading a number of wars that unified China in 979 AD.

Yuan dynasty

After a long war, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan defeated the Song dynasty and took control. This reign became the Yuan dynasty.

Ming dynasty

Overthrowing the Mongols, the Ming dynasty is considered to be the last of the great dynasties.

During this time the Great Wall was finished and they constructed the Forbidden City for the emperor and his family.

Qing dynasty

This dynasty ruled for 300 years with many different leaders. It finally ended with the last emperor and eventually became the Republic of China.


What was the dynasty ruled by the Mongols called?

Yuan dynasty

How many dynasties were there in ancient China?


What was the name of the palace built for the emperor and his family?

The Forbidden City

What are the two dynasties that have numbers for names?

Five and Six dynasties

What is the Tang dynasty often called?

The Golden Age of China