Liang dynasty

The Liang dynasty (Chinese: 梁朝; pinyin: Liáng cháo) (502–557), also known as the Southern Liang dynasty (南梁), was the third of the Southern Dynasties during China's Southern and Northern Dynasties period. It was located in East China and South China, and replaced by the Chen dynasty in 557. The small rump state Western Liang (555–587), located in Central China, continued until its annexation in 587.


Liang with West Wei and East Wei
Liang with West Wei and East Wei
CapitalJiankang (502–552, 555–557)
Jiangling (552–555)
• 502–549
Emperor Wu of Liang
• 549–551
Emperor Jianwen of Liang
• 552–555
Emperor Yuan of Liang
• 555–557
Emperor Jing of Liang
• Established
30 April[1] 502
• Jiankang's fall to Hou Jing
24 April 549[2]
• Jiangling's fall to Western Wei
7 January 555[3]
• Emperor Jing's yielding the throne to Chen Baxian
16 November 557
• Disestablished
16 November 557
CurrencyChinese cash coins
(Taiqing Fengle cash coins)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Southern Qi
Chen dynasty
Northern Qi
Western Wei
Western Liang (555–587)
Today part of


During the Liang dynasty, in 547 a Persian embassy paid tribute to the Liang, amber was recorded as originating from Persia by the Book of Liang.[4]


Posthumous Name Family name and given names Period of Reigns Era names and their according range of years
Convention: Liang + posthumous name
Emperor Wu of Liang - Wu Di
(武帝 Wǔ Dì)
Xiao Yan (蕭衍 Xiāo Yǎn) 502-549[5] Tianjian (天監 tiān-jiān) 502-519
Putong (普通 pǔ-tōng) 520-527
Datong (大通 dà-tōng) 527-529
Zhongdatong (中大通 zhōng-dà-tōng) 529-534
Datong (大同 dà-tóng) 535-546
Zhongdatong (中大同 zhōng-dà-tóng) 546-547
Taiqing (太清 tài-qīng) 547-549
Emperor Jianwen of Liang - Jianwen Di
(簡文帝 jiān wén dì)
Xiao Gang (蕭綱 xiāo gāng) 549-551 Dabao (大寶 dà bǎo) 550-551
Prince of Yuzhang - Yu Zhang Wang
(豫章王 yù zhāng wáng)
蕭棟 xiāo dòng 551-552 Tianzheng (天正 tiān zhèng) 551-552
Emperor Yuan of Liang - Yuan Di
(元帝 yuán dì)
蕭繹 xiāo yì 552-555[6] Chengsheng (承聖 chéng shèng) 552-555
Marquess of Zhenyang - Zhen Yang Hou
(貞陽侯 zhēn yáng hóu)
蕭淵明 xiāo yuān míng 555 Tiancheng (天成 tiān chéng) 555
Emperor Jing of Liang - Jing Di
(敬帝 jìng dì)
蕭方智 xiāo fāng zhì 555-557[7] Shaotai (紹泰 shào tài) 555-556
Taiping (太平 tài píng) 556-557

Rulers' family tree

Liang dynasty and Western Liang

- Liang emperors

- Western Liang emperors

- Liang throne pretenders

Xiao Shunzhi
Xiao Yi 萧懿 (d. 500)Xiao Yan 蕭衍
Xiao Xiu 蕭秀
Xiao Hong
Xiao Yuanming
蕭淵明 d.556; r.555
Xiao Tong
萧统 (501-531)
Xiao Gang 蕭綱
Xiao Yi 蕭繹
Xiao Ji 蕭紀
Xiao Zhengde
d.549; r.548-549
Xiao Huan 萧欢Xiao Cha 蕭詧
Xiao Daqi
Xiao Fangdeng
蕭方等 (528-549)
Xiao Fangzhi 蕭方智
Xiao Dong
萧栋 d.552; r.551
Xiao Kui 蕭巋
Xiao Yan 蕭巖Xiao Zhuang
Empress Xiao
蕭皇后 566?–648
Xiao Yu 蕭瑀
Xiao Cong 蕭琮
Xiao Xuan 萧璿
Xiao Xian 萧铣

Artistic heritage

Tombs of a number of members of the ruling Xiao family, with their sculptural ensembles, in various states of preservation, are located near Nanjing.[8] The best surviving example of the Liang dynasty's monumental statuary is perhaps the ensemble of the Tomb of Xiao Xiu (475–518), a brother of Emperor Wu, located in Qixia District east of Nanjing.[9][10]

Tomb of Xiao Hong - western turtle and column - P1070706

A turtle-borne stele and a pillar; tomb of Xiao Hong

Xiao Dan - turtle in the tower - P1070633

A turtle-borne stele; tomb of Xiao Dan

Xiao Hui - eastern bixie, seen from S - P1070581

A bixie (winged lion); tomb of Xiao Hui

Tomb of Xiao Jing - Bixie

A bixie near the tomb of Xiao Jing, widely regarded as Nanjing's icon

Xiao Xiu - SE turtle - P1070558

A stele-bearing turtle; tomb of Xiao Xiu

Tomb of Xiao Zhengli - Two Bixies

Two bixies near the tomb of Xiao Zhengli

See also


  1. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 145.
  2. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 162.
  3. ^ Book of Liang, vol. 5.
  4. ^ Maurice Fishberg (1907). Materials for the physical anthropology of the eastern European Jews, Issues 1-6 (reprint ed.). New Era Print. Co. p. 233. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  5. ^ Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Zhengde the Prince of Linhe, who joined Hou Jing's rebellion, was declared emperor by Hou in 548, but after Hou's victory over Emperor Wu in 549 was deposed and killed by Hou, and is not usually considered a true emperor.
  6. ^ Emperor Yuan's brother Xiao Ji the Prince of Wuling also declared himself emperor in 552, but was defeated and killed by Emperor Yuan in 553, and is usually not considered a true emperor.
  7. ^ In 558, a year after Emperor Jing had yielded the throne to Chen Baxian (and had been killed by Chen), his nephew Xiao Zhuang the Prince of Yongjia, with support from Northern Qi, was proclaimed the emperor of Liang by the general Wang Lin. In 560, Wang Lin defeated the Chen troops, and both he and Xiao Zhuang were forced to flee to Northern Qi. It is a matter of controversy whether Xiao Zhuang should be considered an emperor of Liang.
  8. ^ "Mausoleum Stone Carvings of Southern Dynasties in Nanjing". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011.
  9. ^ Albert E. Dien, «Six Dynasties Civilization». Yale University Press, 2007 ISBN 0-300-07404-2. Partial text on Google Books. P. 190. A reconstruction of the original form of the ensemble is shown in Fig. 5.19.
  10. ^ 梁安成康王萧秀墓石刻 Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine. (Sculptures at the Tomb of Xiao Xiu) (in Chinese) (description and modern photos)

External links

Media related to Liang Dynasty at Wikimedia Commons

Emperor Jianwen of Liang

Emperor Jianwen of Liang (梁簡文帝) (2 December 503 – 551), personal name Xiao Gang (蕭綱), courtesy name Shizuan (世纘), nickname Liutong (六通), was an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. He was initially not the crown prince of his father Emperor Wu, the founder of the dynasty, but became the crown prince in 531 after his older brother Xiao Tong died. In 549, the rebellious general Hou Jing captured the capital Jiankang, and Hou subsequently held both Emperor Wu and Crown Prince Gang under his power, having Crown Prince Gang take the throne (as Emperor Jianwen) after Emperor Wu's death later that year. During Emperor Jianwen's reign, he was almost completely under Hou's control, and in 551, Hou, planning to take the throne himself, first forced Emperor Jianwen to yield the throne to his grandnephew Xiao Dong the Prince of Yuzhang, and then sent messengers to suffocate the former emperor.

Emperor Wen of Chen

Emperor Wen of Chen (陳文帝) (522–566), personal name Chen Qian (陳蒨), courtesy name Zihua (子華), was an emperor of the Chinese Chen Dynasty. He was the nephew of the founding emperor, Emperor Wu (Chen Baxian), and after Emperor Wu's death in 559, the officials supported him to be emperor since Emperor Wu's only surviving son, Chen Chang, was detained by rival Northern Zhou. At the time he took the throne, Chen had been devastated by war during the preceding Liang Dynasty, and many provinces nominally loyal to him were under control of relatively independent warlords. During his reign, he consolidated the state against warlords, and he also seized territory belonging to claimants to the Liang throne, Xiao Zhuang and Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, greatly expanding Chen's territory and strength.

Emperor Wu of Chen

Emperor Wu of Chen (陳武帝) (503–559), personal name Chen Baxian (陳霸先), courtesy name Xingguo (興國), nickname Fasheng (法生), was the first emperor of the Chen dynasty of China. He first distinguished himself as a Liang dynasty general during the campaign against the rebel general Hou Jing, and he was progressively promoted. In 555, he seized power after a coup against his superior, the general Wang Sengbian, and in 557 he forced Emperor Jing to yield the throne to him, establishing the Chen dynasty. He died in 559, and as his only surviving son Chen Chang was held by Northern Zhou as a hostage, he was succeeded by his nephew Chen Qian (Emperor Wen).

Emperor Wu of Liang

Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝) (464–549), personal name Xiao Yan (蕭衍), courtesy name Shuda (叔達), nickname Lian'er (練兒), was the founding emperor of the Liang Dynasty of Chinese history. His reign, until the end, was one of the most stable and prosperous during the Southern Dynasties. He came from the same family that ruled Southern Qi, but from a different branch.

Emperor Wu created universities and extending the Confucian civil service exams, demanding that sons of nobles study. He was well read himself and wrote poetry and patronized the arts. Although for governmental affairs he was Confucian in values, he embraced Buddhism as well. He himself was attracted to many Indian traditions. He banned the sacrifice of animals and was against execution. It was said that he received the Buddhist precepts during his reign, earning him the nickname The Bodhisattva Emperor. The Emperor is the namesake of the Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance (梁皇寳懺), a widely read and major Buddhist text in China and Korea.

At the end of his reign, his overly lenient attitude on his clan's and officials' corruption and lack of dedication to the state came at a heavy price; when the general Hou Jing rebelled, few came to his aid, and Hou captured the capital Jiankang, holding Emperor Wu and his successor Emperor Jianwen under close control and plunging the entire Liang state into anarchy. Emperor Liang himself died while under house arrest, with some historians believing that Hou starved him to death.

Emperor Yuan of Liang

Emperor Yuan of Liang (Chinese: 梁元帝; pinyin: Liáng Yuándì) (16 September 508 – 27 January 555), personal name Xiao Yi (蕭繹), courtesy name Shicheng (世誠), nickname Qifu (七符), was an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. After his father Emperor Wu and brother Emperor Jianwen were successively taken hostage and controlled by the rebel general Hou Jing, Xiao Yi was largely viewed as the de facto leader of Liang, and after defeating Hou in 552 declared himself emperor. In 554, after offending Yuwen Tai, the paramount general of rival Western Wei, Western Wei forces descended on and captured his capital Jiangling (江陵, in modern Jingzhou, Hubei), executing him and instead declaring his nephew Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan) the Emperor of Liang.

Emperor Yuan was a renowned writer and collector of ancient books, but was criticized by historians for concentrating on eliminating potential contenders for the throne rather than on fighting Hou Jing. As Jiangling was besieged by Western Wei troops, Emperor Yuan set his collection of more than 140,000 volumes of ancient books on fire, and this is commonly considered as one of the greatest disasters for the study of ancient works in Chinese history.

Former Liang

The Former Liang (Chinese: 前涼; pinyin: Qián Liáng; 320–376) was a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms during the Jin dynasty (265–420) in China. It was founded by the Zhang family of the Han Chinese. Its territories included present-day Gansu and parts of Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai and Xinjiang.

All rulers of the Former Liang remained largely titularly under the court of the Jin dynasty as the Duke of Xiping except Zhang Zuo who proclaimed himself wang (prince/king). However, at times the other Former Liang rulers also used the wang title when imposed on them when they were forced to submit to Han Zhao, Later Zhao, or Former Qin.

In 327, the Gaochang commandery was created by the Former Liang under the Han Chinese ruler Zhang Gui. After this, significant Han Chinese settlement occurred in Gaochang, a major, large part of the population becoming Chinese. In 383 The General Lu Guang of the Former Qin seized control of the region.

History of the Southern Dynasties

The History of the Southern Dynasties (Nánshǐ) is one of the official Chinese historical works in the Twenty-Four Histories canon. It contain 80 volumes and covers the period from 420 to 589, the histories of Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang dynasty, and Chen dynasty. Like the History of the Northern Dynasties, the book was started by Li Dashi. Following his death, Li Yanshou (李延壽), son of Li Dashi completed the work on the book between 643 and 659. As a historian, Li Yanshou also took part of some of the compilation during the early Tang dynasty. Unlike the many other contemporary historical texts, the book was not commissioned by the state.

Later Liang

Later Liang may refer to the following states in Chinese history:

Later Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms) (後涼; 386–403), one of the Sixteen Kingdoms

Western Liang (555–587), also known as Later Liang (後梁), a state during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period

Later Liang (Five Dynasties) (後梁; 907–923), a state during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period

Shen Yue

Shen Yue (traditional Chinese: 沈約; simplified Chinese: 沈约; 441–513), courtesy name Xiuwen (休文), was a poet, statesman, and historian born in Huzhou, Zhejiang. He served emperors under the Liu Song Dynasty, the Southern Qi Dynasty, and the Liang Dynasty.

He was a prominent scholar of the Liang Dynasty and the author of the Book of Song, an historical work covering the history of the previous Liu Song Dynasty. He is probably best known as the originator of the first deliberately applied rules of tonal euphony (so called "four tones and eight defects" 四聲八病) in the history of Chinese prosody. He was also the leading scholar on the musical practices of his time and author of the essays on qilin and omenology.

Southern Qi

The Southern Qi (simplified Chinese: 南齐; traditional Chinese: 南齊; pinyin: Nán Qí) (479-502) was the second of the Southern dynasties in China, followed by the Liang Dynasty. During its 23-year history, the dynasty was largely filled with instability, as after the death of the capable Emperor Gao and Emperor Wu, Emperor Wu's grandson Xiao Zhaoye was assassinated by Emperor Wu's intelligent but cruel and suspicious cousin Xiao Luan, who took over as Emperor Ming, and proceeded to carry out massive executions of Emperor Gao's and Emperor Wu's sons and grandsons, as well as officials whom he suspected of plotting against him. The arbitrariness of these executions was exacerbated after Emperor Ming was succeeded by his son Xiao Baojuan, whose actions drew multiple rebellions, the last of which, by the general Xiao Yan led to Southern Qi's fall and succession by Xiao Yan's Liang Dynasty.

Western Liang (555–587)

The Liang (555–587), later called the Western Liang (西梁) or Later Liang (後梁) to distinguish it from the Liang dynasty (502–557), was a small puppet state during the Northern and Southern dynasties period, located in the middle Yangtze region in today's central Hubei province. From 555 to 557 it was subservient to the Western Wei, from 557 to 581 to the Northern Zhou (which replaced Western Wei), and from 581 to 587 to the Sui dynasty (which replaced Northern Zhou) before the Sui annexed it.

The Western Liang's founding emperor Xiao Cha was a grandson of the Liang dynasty founder Emperor Wu of Liang, as a result Western Liang is usually considered a rump state of the Liang dynasty after 557. From 555 to 557 the two states existed simultaneously: Xiao Cha ruled from Jiangling, while the Liang dynasty emperors Xiao Yuanming and Xiao Fangzhi ruled from Jiankang. Before 555, Emperor Yuan of Liang also ruled from Jiangling before he was captured and executed by Xiao Cha and his Western Wei backers, but he is considered a Liang dynasty emperor rather than a Western Liang emperor because, among other things, he (at least nominally) controlled a much larger territory.

The Western Liang had 3 emperors, Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan), Xiao Kui (Emperor Ming), and Xiao Cong (Emperor Jing). From 617 to 621, Xiao Cha's great-grandson Xiao Xian occupied the former Western Liang territory (and more) and proclaimed himself King of Liang, but his short-lived state is usually considered separate.

Xiao Cha

Emperor Xuan of (Western) Liang ((西)梁宣帝; 519–562), personal name Xiao Cha (蕭詧), courtesy name Lisun (理孫), was the founding emperor of the Chinese Western Liang dynasty. He took the Liang throne under support from Western Wei after Western Wei forces had defeated and killed his uncle Emperor Yuan in 554, but many traditional historians, because he controlled little territory and relied heavily on military support by Western Wei and Western Wei's successor state Northern Zhou, did not consider him and his successors true emperors of Liang. Instead, their state is traditionally considered separate, as Western Wei (or Later Wei).

Xiao Cong

Emperor Jing of (Western) Liang ((西)梁靖帝, as later honored by Xiao Xi in 617), personal name Xiao Cong (蕭琮), courtesy name Wenwen (溫文), known during the Sui dynasty as the Duke of Ju (莒公) then Duke of Liang (梁公), was the final emperor of the Chinese Western Liang dynasty. He died at an unknown date after 607, by which time he was at least into middle age. Both he and his father Emperor Ming heavily relied on the military support of the Sui. In 587, after Emperor Jing's uncle Xiao Yan (蕭巖) and brother Xiao Huan (蕭瓛), surrendered to Chen Dynasty after suspecting Sui intentions, Emperor Wen of Sui abolished Western Liang, seized the Western Liang territory, and made Emperor Jing one of his officials, ending Western Liang.

Xiao Dong

Xiao Dong (Chinese: 蕭棟; died 552), courtesy name Yuanji (元吉), sometimes known by his pre-ascension title of Prince of Yuzhang (豫章王), was briefly an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. In 551, with the general Hou Jing in control of the imperial government at the capital Jiankang, Hou, wanting to show off his strength, deposed Xiao Dong's granduncle Emperor Jianwen and replaced him with Xiao Dong, the grandson of Emperor Jianwen's older brother Xiao Tong, who was originally the founder Emperor Wu's crown prince.

During his brief reign, Xiao Dong was entirely under Hou's control. Just two and a half months after Xiao Dong became emperor, Hou forced him to yield the throne to himself, who took the throne as the Emperor of Han. In 552, troops under Wang Sengbian, a general loyal to Xiao Dong's granduncle Xiao Yi retook Jiankang, and the general Zhu Maichen (朱買臣), under Xiao Yi's instructions, threw Xiao Dong and his two brothers into the Yangtze River to drown.

Xiao Kui

Emperor Ming of (Western) Liang ((西)梁明帝) (542–585), personal name Xiao Kui (蕭巋), courtesy name Renyuan (仁遠), was an emperor of the Chinese Western Liang dynasty. He, like his father Emperor Xuan and his son Emperor Jing, controlled little territory and relied heavily on military support from Northern Zhou and Northern Zhou's successor state Sui dynasty.

Xiao Tong

Xiao Tong (traditional Chinese: 蕭統; simplified Chinese: 萧统; pinyin: Xiāo Tǒng; Wade–Giles: Hsiao T'ung, September/October 501 – 30 May 531), courtesy name Deshi (德施), formally Crown Prince Zhaoming (昭明太子, literally "Accomplished and Understanding Crown Prince"), was a Crown Prince of the Chinese Liang Dynasty, posthumously honored as Emperor Zhaoming (昭明皇帝). He was the oldest son of Emperor Wu of Liang, whom he predeceased. Xiao Tong's enduring legacy is the literary compendium Wen Xuan (Literary Anthology).

Xiao Yu

Xiao Yu (574–647), courtesy name Shiwen, posthumously known as Duke Zhenbian of Song, was an imperial prince of the Western Liang dynasty who later became an official under the Sui and Tang dynasties. He served as a chancellor during the reigns of the emperors Gaozu and Taizong in the early Tang dynasty.

Xiao Yuanming

Xiao Yuanming (蕭淵明) (died 556), courtesy name Jingtong (靖通), often known by his pre-ascension title of Marquess of Zhenyang (貞陽侯), at times known by his post-removal title Duke of Jian'an (建安公), honored Emperor Min (閔皇帝) by Xiao Zhuang, was briefly an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. He was the nephew of the founding emperor Emperor Wu. In 555, with Liang in disarray after Western Wei had captured and killed Emperor Yuan, Northern Qi, which had held Xiao Yuanming as an honored captive since 547, forced the general Wang Sengbian to accept Xiao Yuanming as emperor. Soon, however, Wang's subordinate Chen Baxian killed Wang and removed Xiao Yuanming from the throne, replacing him with Emperor Yuan's son Xiao Fangzhi (Emperor Jing). Xiao Yuanming died the following year.

Yan Zhitui

Yan Zhitui (Chinese: 顏之推; pinyin: Yán Zhītuī; Wade–Giles: Yen2 Chih1-t'ui1, 531–591) was a Chinese calligrapher, painter, musician, writer and politician who served four different Chinese states during the late Southern and Northern Dynasties: the Liang Dynasty in southern China, the Northern Qi and Northern Zhou Dynasties of northern China, and their successor state that reunified China, the Sui Dynasty. Yan Zhitui was a supporter of Buddhism in China despite criticism by many of his Confucian-taught peers. Yan was also the first person in history to mention the use of toilet paper.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.