A dynasty (UK: /ˈdɪnəsti/, US: /ˈdaɪnəsti/) is a sequence of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system, but sometimes also appearing in elective republics. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "house", "family" and "clan", among others. The longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to 660 BC.
The dynastic family or lineage may be known as a "noble house", which may be styled as "royal", "princely", "ducal", "comital", et cetera, depending upon the chief or present title borne by its members.
Historians periodize the histories of numerous nations and civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt (3100–30 BC) and Imperial China (221 BC–AD 1912), using a framework of successive dynasties. As such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, and to describe events, trends and artifacts of that period (for example, "a Ming-dynasty vase"). The word "dynasty" itself is often dropped from such adjectival references (id est, "a Ming vase").
Prior to the 20th century, dynasties throughout the world have traditionally been reckoned patrilineally, such as under the Frankish Salic law. In nations where it was permitted, succession through a daughter usually established a new dynasty in her husband's ruling house. This has changed in some places in Europe, where succession law and convention have maintained dynasties de jure through a female. For instance, the House of Windsor will be maintained through the children of Queen Elizabeth II, as it did with the monarchy of the Netherlands, whose dynasty remained the House of Orange-Nassau through three successive queens regnant. The earliest such example among major European monarchies was in the Russian Empire in the 18th century, where the name of the House of Romanov was maintained through Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna. In Limpopo Province of South Africa, Balobedu determined descent matrilineally, while rulers have at other times adopted the name of their mother's dynasty when coming into her inheritance. Less frequently, a monarchy has alternated or been rotated, in a multi-dynastic (or polydynastic) system – that is, the most senior living members of parallel dynasties, at any point in time, constitute the line of succession.
Not all feudal states or monarchies were/are ruled by dynasties; modern examples are the Vatican City State, the Principality of Andorra, and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. Throughout history, there were monarchs that did not belong to any dynasty; non-dynastic rulers include King Arioald of the Lombards and Emperor Phocas of the Byzantine Empire. Dynasties ruling subnational monarchies do not possess sovereign rights; two modern examples are the monarchies of Malaysia and the royal families of the United Arab Emirates.
The word "dynasty" is sometimes used informally for people who are not rulers but are, for example, members of a family with influence and power in other areas, such as a series of successive owners of a major company. It is also extended to unrelated people, such as major poets of the same school or various rosters of a single sports team.
The word "dynasty" derives from Latin dynastia, which comes from Greek dynastéia (δυναστεία), where it referred to "power", "dominion", and "rule" itself. It was the abstract noun of dynástēs (δυνάστης), the agent noun of dynamis (δύναμις), "power" or "ability", from dýnamai (δύναμαι), "to be able".
A ruler from a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is also used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a throne. For example, King Edward VIII ceased to be a dynast of the House of Windsor following his abdication.
In historical and monarchist references to formerly reigning families, a "dynast" is a family member who would have had succession rights, were the monarchy's rules still in force. For example, after the 1914 assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg, their son Duke Maximilian was bypassed for the Austro-Hungarian throne because he was not a Habsburg dynast. Even since the abolition of the Austrian monarchy, Duke Maximilian and his descendants have not been considered the rightful pretenders by Austrian monarchists, nor have they claimed that position.
The term "dynast" is sometimes used only to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm's monarchs, and sometimes to include those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe overlapping but distinct sets of people. For example, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth II through her sister Princess Margaret, is in the line of succession to the British crown; in that sense, he is a British dynast, but since he is not a patrilineal member of the British royal family, he is therefore not a dynast of the House of Windsor.
On the other hand, the German aristocrat Prince Ernst August of Hanover, a male-line descendant of King George III of the United Kingdom, possesses no legal British name, titles or styles (although he is entitled to reclaim the former royal dukedom of Cumberland). He was born in the line of succession to the British throne and was bound by Britain's Royal Marriages Act 1772 until it was repealed when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 took effect on 26 March 2015. Thus, he requested and obtained formal permission from Queen Elizabeth II to marry the Roman Catholic Princess Caroline of Monaco in 1999. Yet, a clause of the English Act of Settlement 1701 remained in effect at that time, stipulating that dynasts who marry Roman Catholics are considered "dead" for the purpose of succession to the British throne. That exclusion, too, ceased to apply on 26 March 2015, with retroactive effect for those who had been dynasts prior to triggering it by marriage to a Roman Catholic.
A "dynastic marriage" is one that complies with monarchical house law restrictions, so that the descendants are eligible to inherit the throne or other royal privileges. The marriage of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to Queen Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002 was dynastic, for example, and their eldest child Princess Catharina-Amalia is expected to inherit the Crown of the Netherlands eventually. However, the marriage of his younger brother Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau to Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau in 2003 lacked governmental support and parliamentary approval. Thus, Prince Friso forfeited his place in the order of succession to the Dutch throne, lost his title as a "Prince of the Netherlands", and left his children without dynastic rights.
Some dynasties appear more than once in this list, because:
This is a list of rulers of the Huns. Period Ruler
Though in elected governments, rule does not pass automatically by inheritance, political power often accrues to generations of related individuals in republics. Eminence, influence, tradition, genetics, and nepotism may contribute to the phenomenon.
Family dictatorships are a different concept in which political power passes within a family because of the overwhelming authority of the leader, rather than informal power accrued to the family.
Some political dynasties in republics:
The basic idea of monarchy was the idea that hereditary right gave the best title to political power...The dangers of disputed succession were best avoided by hereditary succession: ruling families had a natural interest in passing on to their descendants enhanced power and prestige...Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia, Maria Theresa of Austria, were alike infatuated with the idea of strengthening their power, centralizing government in their own hands as against local and feudal privileges, and so acquiring more absolute authority in the state. Moreover, the very dynastic rivalries and conflicts between these eighteenth-century monarchs drove them to look for ever more efficient methods of government
The Abbasid Caliphate ( or Arabic: ٱلْخِلافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّة, al-Khilāfatu al-ʿAbbāsiyyah) was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib (566–653 CE), from whom the dynasty takes its name. They ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE (132 AH).
The Abbasid Caliphate first centred its government in Kufa, modern-day Iraq, but in 762 the caliph Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad, near the ancient Sasanian capital city of Ctesiphon. The Abbasid period was marked by reliance on Persian bureaucrats (notably the Barmakid family) for governing the territories as well as an increasing inclusion of non-Arab Muslims in the ummah (national community). Persianate customs were broadly adopted by the ruling elite, and they began patronage of artists and scholars. Baghdad became a centre of science, culture, philosophy and invention in what became known as the Golden Age of Islam.
Despite this initial cooperation, the Abbasids of the late 8th century had alienated both non-Arab mawali (clients) and Iranian bureaucrats. They were forced to cede authority over Al-Andalus and the Maghreb to the Umayyads in 756, Morocco to the Idrisid dynasty in 788, Ifriqiya to the Aghlabids in 800 and Egypt to the Isma'ili-Shia caliphate of the Fatimids in 969.
The political power of the caliphs largely ended with the rise of the Iranian Buyids and the Seljuq Turks, who captured Baghdad in 945 and 1055, respectively. Although Abbasid leadership over the vast Islamic empire was gradually reduced to a ceremonial religious function, the dynasty retained control over its Mesopotamian domain. The Abbasids' period of cultural fruition ended in 1258 with the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols under Hulagu Khan. The Abbasid line of rulers, and Muslim culture in general, re-centred themselves in the Mamluk capital of Cairo in 1261. Though lacking in political power, the dynasty continued to claim religious authority until after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517.Buyid dynasty
The Buyid dynasty or the Buyids (Persian: آل بویه Āl-e Buye), also known as Buwaihids, Bowayhids, Buyahids, or Buyyids, was a Shia Iranian dynasty of Daylamite origin. Coupled with the rise of other Iranian dynasties in the region, the approximate century of Buyid rule represents the period in Iranian history sometimes called the 'Iranian Intermezzo' since, after the Muslim conquest of Persia, it was an interlude between the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Seljuk Empire.The Buyid dynasty was founded by 'Ali ibn Buya, who in 934 conquered Fars and made Shiraz his capital, while his younger brother Hasan ibn Buya conquered parts of Jibal in the late 930s, and by 943 managed to capture Ray, which he made his capital. In 945, the youngest brother, Ahmad ibn Buya, conquered Iraq and made Baghdad his capital, receiving the honorific title of "Mu'izz al-Dawla" ("Fortifier of the State"), while 'Ali was given the title of "'Imad al-Dawla" ("Support of the State"), and Hasan was given the title of "Rukn al-Dawla" ("Pillar of the State").
As Daylamite Iranians the Buyids consciously revived symbols and practices of Iran's Sasanian Empire. In fact, beginning with 'Adud al-Dawla they used the ancient Sasanian title Shahanshah (شاهنشاه), literally "king of kings".At its greatest extent, the Buyid dynasty encompassed most of today's Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria, along with parts of Oman , the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the 10th and 11th centuries, just prior to the invasion of the Seljuq Turks, the Buyids were the most influential dynasty in the Middle East, and under king 'Adud al-Dawla, became briefly the most powerful dynasty in the Middle East.Chola dynasty
The Chola dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in history. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire (Ashoka Major Rock Edict No.13). As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE.
The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. The whole country south of the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of two centuries and more. Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia. The power of the new empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by the expedition to the Ganges which Rajendra Chola I undertook and by the naval raids on cities of the maritime empire of Srivijaya, as well as by the repeated embassies to China. The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power.
During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala. He also successfully invaded cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Chola dynasty went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyan Dynasty, which ultimately caused their downfall.The Cholas left a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture. The Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but also as centres of economic activity. They pioneered a centralised form of government and established a disciplined bureaucracy. The Chola school of art spread to Southeast Asia and influenced the architecture and art of Southeast Asia.Eunuch
The term eunuch (; Greek: εὐνοῦχος) generally refers to a man who has been castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences. In Latin, the words eunuchus, spado (Greek: σπάδων spadon), and castratus were used to denote eunuchs.Castration was typically carried out on the soon-to-be eunuch without his consent in order that he might perform a specific social function. The earliest records for intentional castration to produce eunuchs are from the Sumerian city of Lagash in the 21st century BC. Over the millennia since, they have performed a wide variety of functions in many different cultures: courtiers or equivalent domestics, treble singers, religious specialists, soldiers, royal guards, government officials, and guardians of women or harem servants.
Eunuchs would usually be servants or slaves who had been castrated in order to make them reliable servants of a royal court where physical access to the ruler could wield great influence. Seemingly lowly domestic functions—such as making the ruler's bed, bathing him, cutting his hair, carrying him in his litter, or even relaying messages—could in theory give a eunuch "the ruler's ear" and impart de facto power on the formally humble but trusted servant. Similar instances are reflected in the humble origins and etymology of many high offices.
Eunuchs supposedly did not generally have loyalties to the military, the aristocracy, or to a family of their own (having neither offspring nor in-laws, at the very least), and were thus seen as more trustworthy and less interested in establishing a private 'dynasty'. Because their condition usually lowered their social status, they could also be easily replaced or killed without repercussion. In cultures that had both harems and eunuchs, eunuchs were sometimes used as harem servants (compare the female odalisque) or seraglio guards.Han dynasty
The Han dynasty (; Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàncháo) was the second imperial dynasty of China (206 BC–220 AD), preceded by the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms period (220–280 AD). Spanning over four centuries, the Han period is considered a golden age in Chinese history. To this day, China's majority ethnic group refers to themselves as the "Han Chinese" and the Chinese script is referred to as "Han characters". It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han, and briefly interrupted by the Xin dynasty (9–23 AD) of the former regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han dynasty into two periods: the Western Han or Former Han (206 BC – 9 AD) and the Eastern Han or Later Han (25–220 AD).
The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the Han government but shared power with both the nobility and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. The Han Empire was divided into areas directly controlled by the central government using an innovation inherited from the Qin known as commanderies, and a number of semi-autonomous kingdoms. These kingdoms gradually lost all vestiges of their independence, particularly following the Rebellion of the Seven States. From the reign of Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BC) onward, the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism in education and court politics, synthesized with the cosmology of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu. This policy endured until the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 AD.
The Han dynasty saw an age of economic prosperity and witnessed a significant growth of the money economy first established during the Zhou dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC). The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). The period saw a number of limited institutional innovations. To finance its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the Han government nationalized the private salt and iron industries in 117 BC, but these government monopolies were repealed during the Eastern Han dynasty. Science and technology during the Han period saw significant advances, including the process of papermaking, the nautical steering ship rudder, the use of negative numbers in mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer employing an inverted pendulum that could be used to discern the cardinal direction of distant earthquakes.
The Xiongnu, a nomadic steppe confederation, defeated the Han in 200 BC and forced the Han to submit as a de facto inferior and vassal partner, but continued their military raids on the Han borders. Emperor Wu launched several military campaigns against them. The ultimate Han victory in these wars eventually forced the Xiongnu to accept vassal status as Han tributaries. These campaigns expanded Han sovereignty into the Tarim Basin of Central Asia, divided the Xiongnu into two separate confederations, and helped establish the vast trade network known as the Silk Road, which reached as far as the Mediterranean world. The territories north of Han's borders were quickly overrun by the nomadic Xianbei confederation. Emperor Wu also launched successful military expeditions in the south, annexing Nanyue in 111 BC and Dian in 109 BC, and in the Korean Peninsula where the Xuantu and Lelang Commanderies were established in 108 BC. After 92 AD, the palace eunuchs increasingly involved themselves in court politics, engaging in violent power struggles between the various consort clans of the empresses and empresses dowager, causing the Han's ultimate downfall. Imperial authority was also seriously challenged by large Daoist religious societies which instigated the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion. Following the death of Emperor Ling (r. 168–189 AD), the palace eunuchs suffered wholesale massacre by military officers, allowing members of the aristocracy and military governors to become warlords and divide the empire. When Cao Pi, King of Wei, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, the Han dynasty ceased to exist.History of China
The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was recorded as the twenty-first Shang king by the written records of Shang dynasty unearthed. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (c. 100 BC) and the Bamboo Annals (296 BC) describe a Xia dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BC) before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia. The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River. These Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.The Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC) supplanted the Shang, and introduced the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule. The central Zhou government began to weaken due to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the country eventually splintered into smaller states during the Spring and Autumn period. These states became independent and warred with one another in the following Warring States period. Much of traditional Chinese culture, literature and philosophy first developed during those troubled times.
In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang conquered the various warring states and created for himself the title of Huangdi or "emperor" of the Qin, marking the beginning of imperial China. However, the oppressive government fell soon after his death, and was supplanted by the longer-lived Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly. In the 21 centuries from 206 BC until AD 1912, routine administrative tasks were handled by a special elite of scholar-officials. Young men, well-versed in calligraphy, history, literature, and philosophy, were carefully selected through difficult government examinations. China's last dynasty was the Qing (1644–1912), which was replaced by the Republic of China in 1912, and in the mainland by the People's Republic of China in 1949, resulting in two de facto states claiming to be the legitimate government of all China.
Chinese history has alternated between periods of political unity and peace, and periods of war and failed statehood – the most recent being the Chinese Civil War (1927–1949). China was occasionally dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were eventually assimilated into the Han Chinese culture and population. Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras control stretched as far as Xinjiang and Tibet, as at present. Traditional culture, and influences from other parts of Asia and the Western world (carried by waves of immigration, cultural assimilation, expansion, and foreign contact), form the basis of the modern culture of China.Joseon
Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, Korean: 조선; officially the Kingdom of Great Joseon, Korean: 대조선국) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and was replaced by the Korean Empire in October 1897. It was founded following the aftermath of the overthrow of Goryeo in what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the rivers of Amnok and Tuman through the subjugation of the Jurchens. Joseon was the last dynasty of Korea and its longest-ruling Confucian dynasty.
During its reign, Joseon encouraged the entrenchment of Chinese Confucian ideals and doctrines in Korean society. Neo-Confucianism was installed as the new dynasty's state ideology. Buddhism was accordingly discouraged and occasionally faced persecutions by the dynasty. Joseon consolidated its effective rule over the territory of current Korea and saw the height of classical Korean culture, trade, literature, and science and technology. However, the dynasty was severely weakened during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the Japanese invasions of Korea in the 1590s and the first and second Manchu invasions nearly overran the Korean Peninsula, leading to an increasingly harsh isolationist policy, for which the country became known as the "hermit kingdom" in Western literature. After the end of invasions from Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace.
However, whatever power the kingdom recovered during its isolation further waned as the 18th century came to a close, and faced with internal strife, power struggles, international pressure and rebellions at home, the Joseon dynasty declined rapidly in the late 19th century.
The Joseon period has left a substantial legacy to modern Korea; much of modern Korean culture, etiquette, norms, and societal attitudes towards current issues, and the modern Korean language and its dialects derive from the culture and traditions of Joseon.Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically-extensive Iron Age historical power based in Magadha and founded by Chandragupta Maurya which dominated ancient India between 322 and 187 BCE. Comprising the majority of South Asia, the Maurya Empire was centralized by conquering the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the eastern extent of the empire and had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The empire was the largest to have ever existed in the Indian subcontinent, spanning over 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its zenith under Ashoka.
Chandragupta Maurya raised an army, with the assistance of Chanakya (also known as Kauṭilya), and overthrew the Nanda Empire in c. 322 BCE. Chandragupta rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India by conquering the satraps left by Alexander the Great, and by 317 BCE the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India. The Mauryan Empire then defeated Seleucus I, a diadochus and founder of the Seleucid Empire, during the Seleucid–Mauryan war, thus gained additional territory west of the Indus River.The Maurya Empire was one of the largest empires in Indian history. At its greatest extent, stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and southeast Iran) and the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Afghanistan. The Empire was expanded into India's central with boundary into southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded Kalinga (modern Odisha), until it was conquered by Ashoka. It declined for about 50 years after Ashoka's rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BCE with the foundation of the Shunga dynasty in Magadha.
Under Chandragupta Maurya and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture, and economic activities all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security. The Mauryans built the Grand Trunk Road, one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced nearly half a century of peace and security under Ashoka. Mauryan India also enjoyed an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya's embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist missionaries into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Mediterranean Europe.The population of the empire has been estimated to be about 50–60 million, making the Mauryan Empire one of the most populous empires of Antiquity. Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). The Arthashastra and the Edicts of Ashoka are the primary sources of written records of Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath has been made the national emblem of India.Ming dynasty
The Ming dynasty () was the ruling dynasty of China – then known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years (1368–1644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng (who established the Shun dynasty, soon replaced by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty), regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1683.
The Hongwu Emperor (ruled 1368–98) attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty: the empire's standing army exceeded one million troops and the navy's dockyards in Nanjing were the largest in the world. He also took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting to guide these princes through the Huang-Ming Zuxun, a set of published dynastic instructions. This failed when his teenage successor, the Jianwen Emperor, attempted to curtail his uncles' power, prompting the Jingnan Campaign, an uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in 1402. The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed it Beijing, constructed the Forbidden City, and restored the Grand Canal and the primacy of the imperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the eastern coasts of Africa.
The rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances; the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor during the 1449 Tumu Crisis ended them completely. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate figures. Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million, but necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers as more disappeared from the official records or "donated" their lands to tax-exempt eunuchs or temples. Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from "Japanese" pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves.
By the 16th century, however, the expansion of European trade – albeit restricted to islands near Guangzhou like Macau – spread the Columbian Exchange of crops, plants, and animals into China, introducing chili peppers to Sichuan cuisine and highly productive corn and potatoes, which diminished famines and spurred population growth. The growth of Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch trade created new demand for Chinese products and produced a massive influx of Japanese and American silver. This abundance of specie remonetized the Ming economy, whose paper money had suffered repeated hyperinflation and was no longer trusted. While traditional Confucians opposed such a prominent role for commerce and the newly rich it created, the heterodoxy introduced by Wang Yangming permitted a more accommodating attitude. Zhang Juzheng's initially successful reforms proved devastating when a slowdown in agriculture produced by the Little Ice Age joined changes in Japanese and Spanish policy that quickly cut off the supply of silver now necessary for farmers to be able to pay their taxes. Combined with crop failure, floods, and epidemic, the dynasty collapsed before the rebel leader Li Zicheng, who was defeated by the Manchu-led Eight Banner armies who founded the Qing dynasty.Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire (Persian: گورکانیان, translit. Gūrkāniyān; Urdu: مغلیہ سلطنت, translit. Mughliyah Saltanat) or Mogul Empire was an empire in the Indian subcontinent, founded in 1526. It was established and ruled by the Timurid dynasty, with Turco-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia, claiming direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur, and with significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances; the first two Mughal emperors had both parents from Central Asian ancestry. The dynasty was Indo-Persian in culture, combining Persianate culture with local Indian cultural influences visible in its traits and customs.The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). During the reign of Humayun, the successor of Babur, the empire was briefly interrupted by the Sur Empire. The "classic period" of the Mughal Empire started in 1556 with the ascension of Akbar the Great to the throne. Some Rajput kingdoms continued to pose a significant threat to the Mughal dominance of northwestern India, but most of them were subdued by Akbar. All Mughal emperors were Muslims; Akbar, however, propounded a syncretic religion in the latter part of his life called Dīn-i Ilāhī, as recorded in historical books like Ain-i-Akbari and Dabistān-i Mazāhib. The Mughal Empire did not try to intervene in the local societies during most of its existence, but rather balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule. Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, the Pashtuns, the Hindu Jats and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience.Internal dissatisfaction arose due to the weakness of the empire's administrative and economic systems, leading to its break-up and declarations of independence of its former provinces by the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other small states. In 1739, the Mughals were crushingly defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nader Shah, the founder of the Afsharid dynasty in Persia, and Delhi was sacked and looted, drastically accelerating their decline. By the mid-18th century, the Marathas had routed Mughal armies and won over several Mughal provinces from the Punjab to Bengal. During the following century Mughal power had become severely limited, and the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II, had authority over only the city of Shahjahanabad. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British, Bahadur issued a firman supporting the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Consequent to the rebellion's defeat he was tried by the British East India Company for treason, imprisoned, and exiled to Rangoon. The last remnants of the empire were formally taken over by the British, and the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1858 to enable the Crown formally to displace the rights of the East India Company and assume direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.
The Mughal Empire at its peak extended over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Afghanistan. It was the third largest empire to have existed in the Indian subcontinent (behind the Maurya Empire, and the British Indian Empire which replaced it), spanning approximately four million square kilometres at its zenith, second to the Maurya Empire. The maximum expansion was reached during the reign of Aurangzeb, who ruled over more than 150 million subjects, nearly one quarter of the world's population at the time. The Mughal Empire also ushered in a period of proto-industrialization, and around the 17th century, Mughal India became the world's largest economic and manufacturing power, producing a quarter of global industrial output up until the 18th century. The Mughal Empire is considered "India's last golden age" and one of the three Islamic Gunpowder Empires (along with the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia). The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, between 1628 and 1658, was the zenith of Mughal architecture with famous monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Moti Masjid at Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort.Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty (Persian: دودمان پهلوی) was the last ruling house of the Imperial State of Iran from 1925 until 1979, when the 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchy was overthrown and abolished as a result of the Iranian Revolution. The dynasty was founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925, a former brigadier-general of the Persian Cossack Brigade, whose reign lasted until 1941 when he was forced to abdicate by the Allies after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.
The Pahlavis came to power after Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty, proved unable to stop British and Soviet encroachment on Iranian sovereignty, had his position extremely weakened by a military coup, and was removed from power by the parliament while in France. The National Senate, known as the Majlis, convening as a Constituent Assembly on 12 December 1925, deposed the young Ahmad Shah Qajar, and declared Reza Khan the new King (Shah) of the Imperial State of Persia. In 1935, Reza Shah asked foreign delegates to use the endonym Iran in formal correspondence and the official name the Imperial State of Iran (Persian: کشور شاهنشاهی ایران Keshvar-e Shâhanshâhi-ye Irân) was adopted.
Following the coup d'état in 1953 supported by United Kingdom and the United States, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's rule became more autocratic and was aligned with the Western Bloc during the Cold War. Faced with growing public discontent and popular rebellion throughout 1978 and after declaring surrender and officially resigning, the second Pahlavi went into exile with his family in January 1979, sparking a series of events that quickly led to the end of the state and the beginning of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 11 February 1979, officially ending the 2,500-year-old Persian monarchy.Persian Empire
The Persian Empire (Persian: شاهنشاهی ایران, translit. Šâhanšâhiye Irân, lit. 'Imperial Iran') refers to any of a series of imperial dynasties that were centred in Persia/Iran from the 6th century BC Achaemenid Empire era to the 20th century AD in the Qajar dynasty era.Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty (listen ; Persian: سلسله قاجار Selsele-ye Qājār; also Romanised as Ghajar, Kadjar, Qachar etc.; Azerbaijani: قاجارلر Qacarlar ) was an Iranian royal dynasty of Turkic origin, specifically from the Qajar tribe, which ruled Persia (Iran) from 1789 to 1925. The state ruled by the dynasty was officially known as the Sublime State of Persia (Persian: دولت علیّه ایران Dowlat-e Aliyye Iran). The Qajar family took full control of Iran in 1794, deposing Lotf 'Ali Khan, the last Shah of the Zand dynasty, and re-asserted Iranian sovereignty over large parts of the Caucasus. In 1796, Mohammad Khan Qajar seized Mashhad with ease, putting an end to the Afsharid dynasty, and Mohammad Khan was formally crowned as Shah after his punitive campaign against Iran's Georgian subjects. In the Caucasus, the Qajar dynasty permanently lost many of Iran's integral areas to the Russians over the course of the 19th century, comprising modern-day Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.Qin dynasty
The Qin dynasty (Chinese: 秦朝; pinyin: Qíncháo; Wade–Giles: Chʻin²-chʻao²) was the first dynasty of Imperial China, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu and Shaanxi), the dynasty was founded by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the Legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the fourth century BC, during the Warring States period. In the mid and late third century BC, the Qin state carried out a series of swift conquests, first ending the powerless Zhou dynasty, and eventually conquering the other six of the Seven Warring States. Its 15 years was the shortest major dynasty in Chinese history, consisting of only two emperors, but inaugurated an imperial system that lasted from 221 BC, with interruption and adaptation, until 1912 CE.
The Qin sought to create a state unified by structured political power and a large military supported by a stable economy. The central government moved to undercut aristocrats and landowners to gain direct administrative control over the peasantry, who comprised the overwhelming majority of the population and labour force. This allowed ambitious projects involving three hundred thousand peasants and convicts, such as connecting walls along the northern border, eventually developing into the Great Wall of China.The Qin introduced a range of reforms such as standardized currency, weights, measures, and a uniform system of writing, which aimed to unify the state and promote commerce. Additionally, its military used the most recent weaponry, transportation, and tactics, though the government was heavy-handedly bureaucratic. Han dynasty Confucians portrayed the dynasty as a monolithic tyranny, notably citing a purge known as the burning of books and burying of scholars although some modern scholars dispute the veracity of these accounts.
When the first emperor died in 210 BC, two of his advisers placed an heir on the throne in an attempt to influence and control the administration of the dynasty. These advisors squabbled among themselves, resulting in both of their deaths and that of the second Qin Emperor. Popular revolt broke out and the weakened empire soon fell to a Chu general, Xiang Yu, who was proclaimed Hegemon-King of Western Chu, and Liu Bang, who later founded the Han dynasty. Despite its short reign, the dynasty greatly influenced the future of China, particularly the Han, and its name is thought to be the origin of the European name for China.Qing dynasty
The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912. It was preceded by the Ming dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The Qing multi-cultural empire lasted for almost three centuries and formed the territorial base for modern China. It was the fifth largest empire in world history.
The dynasty was founded by the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan in Manchuria. In the late sixteenth century, Nurhaci, originally a Ming Jianzhou Guard vassal, began organizing "Banners", military-social units that included Manchu, Han, and Mongol elements. Nurhaci formed the Manchu clans into a unified entity. By 1636, his son Hong Taiji began driving Ming forces out of the Liaodong Peninsula and declared a new dynasty, the Qing.
In an unrelated development, peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng conquered the Ming capital, Beijing, in 1644. Rather than serve them, Ming general Wu Sangui made an alliance with the Manchus and opened the Shanhai Pass to the Banner Armies led by the regent Prince Dorgon. He defeated the rebels and seized the capital. Resistance from the Southern Ming and the Revolt of the Three Feudatories led by Wu Sangui delayed the Qing conquest of China proper by nearly four decades. The conquest was only completed in 1683 under the Kangxi Emperor reign (1661–1722). The Ten Great Campaigns of the Qianlong Emperor from the 1750s to the 1790s extended Qing control into Inner Asia. The early Qing rulers maintained their Manchu customs, and while their title was Emperor, they used "Bogd khaan" when dealing with the Mongols and they were patrons of Tibetan Buddhism. They governed using Confucian styles and institutions of bureaucratic government and retained the imperial examinations to recruit Han Chinese to work under or in parallel with Manchus. They also adapted the ideals of the tributary system in dealing with neighboring territories.
During the Qianlong Emperor reign (1735–1796) the dynasty reached its apogee, but then began its initial decline in prosperity and imperial control. The population rose to some 400 millions, but taxes and government revenues were fixed at a low rate, virtually guaranteeing eventual fiscal crisis. Corruption set in, rebels tested government legitimacy, and ruling elites failed to change their mindsets in the face of changes in the world system. Following the Opium Wars, European powers imposed "unequal treaties", free trade, extraterritoriality and treaty ports under foreign control. The Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864) and the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) in Central Asia led to the deaths of some 20 million people, most of them due to famines caused by war. In spite of these disasters, in the Tongzhi Restoration of the 1860s, Han Chinese elites rallied to the defense of the Confucian order and the Qing rulers. The initial gains in the Self-Strengthening Movement were destroyed in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1895, in which the Qing lost its influence over Korea and the possession of Taiwan. New Armies were organized, but the ambitious Hundred Days' Reform of 1898 was turned back in a coup by the conservative Empress Dowager Cixi. When the Scramble for Concessions by foreign powers triggered the violently anti-foreign "Boxers", the foreign powers invaded China, Cixi declared war on them, leading to defeat and the flight of the Imperial Court to Xi'an.
After agreeing to sign the Boxer Protocol, the government initiated unprecedented fiscal and administrative reforms, including elections, a new legal code, and abolition of the examination system. Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionaries competed with constitutional monarchists such as Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao to transform the Qing Empire into a modern nation. After the deaths of Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor in 1908, the hardline Manchu court alienated reformers and local elites alike by obstructing social reform. The Wuchang Uprising on 11 October 1911, led to the Xinhai Revolution. General Yuan Shikai negotiated the abdication of Puyi, the last emperor, on 12 February 1912.Shang dynasty
The Shang dynasty (Chinese: 商朝; pinyin: Shāngcháo) or Yin dynasty (殷代; Yīndài), according to traditional historiography, ruled in the Yellow River valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the Xia dynasty and followed by the Zhou dynasty. The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Book of Documents, Bamboo Annals and Records of the Grand Historian. According to the traditional chronology based on calculations made approximately 2,000 years ago by Liu Xin, the Shang ruled from 1766 to 1122 BC, but according to the chronology based upon the "current text" of Bamboo Annals, they ruled from 1556 to 1046 BC. The Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project dated them from c. 1600 to 1046 BC.
The Shang dynasty is the earliest dynasty of traditional Chinese history supported by archaeological evidence. Excavation at the Ruins of Yin (near modern-day Anyang), which has been identified as the last Shang capital, uncovered eleven major royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual sites, containing weapons of war and remains from both animal and human sacrifices. Tens of thousands of bronze, jade, stone, bone, and ceramic artifacts have been found.
The Anyang site has yielded the earliest known body of Chinese writing, mostly divinations inscribed on oracle bones – turtle shells, ox scapulae, or other bones. More than 20,000 were discovered in the initial scientific excavations during the 1920s and 1930s, and over four times as many have been found since. The inscriptions provide critical insight into many topics from the politics, economy, and religious practices to the art and medicine of this early stage of Chinese civilization.Song dynasty
The Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng cháo; 960–1279) was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song often came into conflict with the contemporary Liao and Western Xia dynasties in the north. It was eventually conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Song government was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as the first discernment of true north using a compass.
The Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods, Northern and Southern. During the Northern Song (Chinese: 北宋; 960–1127), the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of what is now Eastern China. The Southern Song (Chinese: 南宋; 1127–1279) refers to the period after the Song lost control of its northern half to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in the Jin–Song Wars. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze and established its capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou). Although the Song dynasty had lost control of the traditional "birthplace of Chinese civilization" along the Yellow River, the Song economy was still strong, as the Southern Song Empire contained a large population and productive agricultural land. The Southern Song dynasty considerably bolstered its naval strength to defend its waters and land borders and to conduct maritime missions abroad. To repel the Jin, and later the Mongols, the Song developed revolutionary new military technology augmented by the use of gunpowder. In 1234, the Jin dynasty was conquered by the Mongols, who took control of northern China, maintaining uneasy relations with the Southern Song. Möngke Khan, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, died in 1259 while besieging the mountain castle Diaoyucheng, Chongqing. His younger brother Kublai Khan was proclaimed the new Great Khan, though his claim was only partially recognized by the Mongols in the west. In 1271, Kublai Khan was proclaimed the Emperor of China. After two decades of sporadic warfare, Kublai Khan's armies conquered the Song dynasty in 1279. The Mongol invasion led to a reunification under the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368).The population of China doubled in size during the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries. This growth was made possible by expanded rice cultivation in central and southern Song, the use of early-ripening rice from south-east and southern Asia, and the production of widespread food surpluses. The Northern Song census recorded 20 million households, double of the Han and Tang dynasties. It is estimated that the Northern Song had a population of some 120 million people, and 200 million by the time of the Ming dynasty. This dramatic increase of population fomented an economic revolution in pre-modern China. The expansion of the population, growth of cities, and the emergence of a national economy led to the gradual withdrawal of the central government from direct involvement in economic affairs. The lower gentry assumed a larger role in grassroots administration and local affairs. Appointed officials in county and provincial centers relied upon the scholarly gentry for their services, sponsorship, and local supervision.
Social life during the Song was vibrant. Citizens gathered to view and trade precious artworks, the populace intermingled at public festivals and private clubs, and cities had lively entertainment quarters. The spread of literature and knowledge was enhanced by the rapid expansion of woodblock printing and the 11th-century invention of movable-type printing. Technology, science, philosophy, mathematics, and engineering flourished over the course of the Song. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused with Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a new organization of classic texts that brought out the core doctrine of Neo-Confucianism. Although the institution of the civil service examinations had existed since the Sui dynasty, it became much more prominent in the Song period. The officials who gained power by succeeding in the exams became a leading factor in the shift from a military-aristocratic elite to a bureaucratic elite.Tang dynasty
The Tang dynasty (; Chinese: 唐朝) or the Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians generally regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, and a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty. The Tang capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) was the most populous city in the world in its day.
The Lǐ family (李) founded the dynasty, seizing power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was briefly interrupted when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, proclaiming the Second Zhou dynasty (690–705) and becoming the only Chinese empress regnant. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people. Yet, even when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by then to about 80 million people. With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade-routes along the Silk Road. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang also conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system. Besides political hegemony, the Tang also exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring East Asian states such as those in Japan and Korea.
The Tang dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule, until the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the later half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty maintained a civil-service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. The rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century undermined this civil order. Chinese culture flourished and further matured during the Tang era; it is traditionally considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry. Two of China's most famous poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan, and Zhou Fang. Scholars of this period compiled a rich variety of historical literature, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works. The adoption of the title Tängri Qaghan by the Tang Emperor Taizong in addition to his title as emperor was eastern Asia's first "simultaneous kingship".Many notable innovations occurred under the Tang, including the development of woodblock printing. Buddhism became a major influence in Chinese culture, with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, in the 840s the Emperor Wuzong of Tang enacted policies to persecute Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence. Although the dynasty and central government had gone into decline by the 9th century, art and culture continued to flourish. The weakened central government largely withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless. However, agrarian rebellions in the latter half of the 9th century resulted in damaging atrocities such as the Guangzhou massacre of 878–879.Yuan dynasty
The Yuan dynasty (; Chinese: 元朝; pinyin: Yuán Cháo), officially the Great Yuan (Chinese: 大元; pinyin: Dà Yuán; Middle Mongolian: ᠳᠠᠢᠦᠨᠦᠯᠦᠰ, Dai Ön Ulus, literally "Great Yuan State"), was the empire or ruling dynasty of China established by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. It followed the Song dynasty and preceded the Ming dynasty. Although the Mongols had ruled territories including modern-day North China for decades, it was not until 1271 that Kublai Khan officially proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style, and the conquest was not complete until 1279. His realm was, by this point, isolated from the other khanates and controlled most of modern-day China and its surrounding areas, including modern Mongolia. It was the first foreign dynasty to rule all of China and lasted until 1368, after which the rebuked Genghisid rulers retreated to their Mongolian homeland and continued to rule the Northern Yuan dynasty. Some of the Mongolian Emperors of the Yuan mastered the Chinese language, while others only used their native language (i.e. Mongolian) and the 'Phags-pa script.The Yuan dynasty was the khanate ruled by the successors of Möngke Khan after the division of the Mongol Empire. In official Chinese histories, the Yuan dynasty bore the Mandate of Heaven. The dynasty was established by Kublai Khan, yet he placed his grandfather Genghis Khan on the imperial records as the official founder of the dynasty as Taizu. In the Proclamation of the Dynastic Name, Kublai announced the name of the new dynasty as Great Yuan and claimed the succession of former Chinese dynasties from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to the Tang dynasty.In addition to Emperor of China, Kublai Khan also claimed the title of Great Khan, supreme over the other successor khanates: the Chagatai, the Golden Horde, and the Ilkhanate. As such, the Yuan was also sometimes referred to as the Empire of the Great Khan. However, while the claim of supremacy by the Yuan emperors was at times recognized by the western khans, their subservience was nominal and each continued its own separate development.