After the Anshi Rebellion, which broke out towards the end of the Tang Dynasty, uprisings erupted all over the country. Finally in 907, a leader of the peasant uprising, Zhu Wen set up a new regime - Later Liang (907-923) - which indicated the beginning of the next half-century's political fragmentation - Five Dynasties (907-960) and Ten States (902-979).
Five Dynasties refers to the five short-lived military regimes existing in Northern China during this period including Later Liang (907-923), Later Tang (923-936), Later Jin (936-946), Later Han (947-950) and Later Zhou (951-960); whilst Southern China was broken up into ten individual states, hence named Ten States including Wu, Southern Tang, Wuyue, Chu, Min, Southern Han, Southern Ping, Former Shu, Later Shu and Northern Han.
Due to a struggle for power among the various regimes, there was no central government at the time. The regimes alternated one by one, an indication of the political chaos during this period. Fortunately, however, at that time the invasions from the north didn't happen frequently - except for the Khitan Mongols of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125), an ethnic group who established their headquarters in Manchuria and Mongolia. The Khitan extended their force to the south.
Wars between the separatist regimes continued for a long time, but eventually conditions for reunification were created by Chairong, 'Shizong' of the Later Zhou regime. Finally in 960, a general of the army Zhao Kuangyin started a mutiny and founded the Song Dynasty. For the next twenty years, efforts continued to be made to reunify the entire country. Successively the Ten States were under the governance of the Song Dynasty (960-1276).
During this rough-and-tumble era, constant warfare ensued, however, there was still some visible economic progress. The people in the north fled to the south to get away from the chaos. Therefore, the economic situation of the south progressed.
Hangzhou and Yangzhou became prosperous commercial cities. The income of the trade became the pocketbook of the Chu regime. In order to prevent the Qiantang River flooding, Wuyue constructed a water conservancy scheme. The silk industry made new progress. Shu's embroidery and Wu's damask silk were well-known across the country. Tea industry, paper-making and printing also improved. Chengdu, Jinling (the present Nanjing) became the two biggest centres of the printing industry.
During the reign of the Later Zhou, the ruler 'Shizong'- Chairong reformed many aspects: in economics he created conditions for the exiled peasants to enhance the government's control over the land. As a leader with great foresight, Chairong's reform contributed to economical development and social stability.
The native-born Taoism still prevailed and was utilised by the rulers of the Five Dynasties and Ten States as a means to strengthen mental control over the people. The Taoism's teaching of immortality was appealing to the ruling classes and the wealthy aristocrats.
Go to the Song Dynasty