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Chinese History - Southern Han Dynasty 南漢 (Yue 粵; 917-971)

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The empire of Southern Han was one of the Ten States 十國 (902-979) that controlled southern China during the first half of the ninth century, the so-called Five Dynasties period 五代 (907-960). It was founded by the brother Liu Yin 劉隱 (874-911, posthumous title Emperor Liezong 南漢烈宗) and Liu Yan 劉巖 (889-942, later called Zhi 陟, Yan 龔 or XXX {龍/天}, posthumous title Emperor Gaozu 南漢高祖, r. 917-941). The capital was Panyu 番禺 (modern Guangzhou 廣州), called prefecture of Xingwang 興王, and it covered the territory of what is today the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, and parts of Yunnan.
Liu Yin hailed from Shangcai 上蔡 (in modern Henan) or from Pengcheng 彭城 (modern Xuzhou 徐州, Jiangsu), but later moved to Quanzhou 泉州 (in modern Fujian). His father Liu Qian 劉謙 was regional inspector (cishi 刺史) of Fengzhou 封州 (modern close to modern Wuzhou 梧州, Guangxi), in which function he commanded over a huge army and also a fleet of considerable dimensions. After his death he was succeeded in office by Liu Yin. In 905 the Tang dynasty 唐 (618-907) appointed him military commissioner (jiedushi 節度使) of the military prefecture of Qinghai 清海軍. Two years later the emperor of the Later Liang 後梁 (907-923) enfeoffed him as king of the Commandery of Dapeng 大彭郡, and in 909 as king of Nanping 南平, then king of Nanhai 南海.
The disturbances after the fall of the Tang stirred up unrest also in the southernmost region of China. Some were refugees coming from the north, others had been exiled to this region, and a third group consisted of Tang officials unable to return to their homelands in the north. The Liu brothers used the support of these groups of persons to establish an independent realm. Military clashes with the kingdom of Chu occurred in the eastern frontier region. In 911 Liu Yan succeeded his brother to the throne. He adopted the title of emperor in 917, calling his empire Great Yue 大越, but in the next year he chose the name Han. In 942 his son Liu Fen 劉玢 (original name Hongdu 洪度, 920-943, posthumous title Emperor Shang 南漢殤帝, r. 942) succeeded to the throne, but was a year later murdered by his brother Liu Cheng 劉晟 (original name Hongxi 洪熙, 920-958, posthumous title Emperor Zhongzong 南漢中宗, r. 943-957). Liu Cheng used the internal trouble in the kingdom of Chu and in 948 invaded this state, seizing ten prefectures. The reign of Liu Chang 劉鋹 (original name Jixing 繼興, 942-980, called the Last Emperor 南漢後主, r. 958-971) was overshadowed by the influence of eunuchs, and the strength of the central government declined. In 971 Liu Chang surrendered to the troops of the Song empire 宋 (960-1279).
The empire of Southern Han was understood as a civilian empire and had annually organized state examinations to recruit officials. He was so able to prevent a militarization of the government. Yet on the other hand, he and his brother lived a luxurious life in extravagant palaces, for instance, the Zhaoyang Hall 昭陽殿 with its golden roof. Rebellions against the overly heavy taxation were cruelly suppressed. In 942 Zhang Yuxian 張遇賢 rebelled with the fisherfolk of Xunzhou 循州 (near Longchuan 龍川, Guangdong), and proclaimed himself "King of the Eight Countries in Central Heaven" (zhongtian baguo wang 中天八國王). His army several times defeated the government troops and even invaded the empire of Southern Tang 南唐 (937-975).

Rulers of Southern Han 南漢 (Yue 粵; 917-971)
Capital: Fanyu 番禺 (modern Guangzhou 廣州, Guangdong)
temple name
-----reign periods
personal name
Nanhan Liezong 南漢烈宗 Liu Yin 劉隱
Nanhan Gaozu 南漢高祖 (r. 917-941)
-----Qianheng 乾亨 917-924
-----Bailong 白龍 925-927
------Dayou 大有 928-941
Liu Yan 劉巖 (or Yan 龑, Zhi 陟)
Nanhan Shangdi 南漢殤帝 (r. 942)
-----Guangtian 光天 942
Liu Fen 劉玢 (or Hongdu 宏度)
Nanhan Zhongzong 南漢中宗 (r. 943-957)
-----Yingqian 應乾 943
-----Qianhe 乾和 943-957
Liu Cheng 劉晟 (or Hongxi 宏熙)
The Last Ruler (Houzhu) of Southern Han 南漢後主, Prince of Nanyue 南越王 (r. 958-971)
-----Dabao 大寶 958-971
Liu Jixing 劉繼興 (or Chang 鋹)
971 Southern Han conquered by Song 宋.

Sources: Huang Weihu 黃偉虎 (1992), "Nanhan 南漢", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 718. ● Zhonguo lishi da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 中國歷史大辭典編纂委員會 (ed. 2000), Zhongguo lishi da cidian 中國歷史大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), Vol.2, pp. 3337, 3339, 3341.

June 22, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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