Southern Tang

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Great Qi / Great Tang / Jiangnan
大齊 / 大唐 / 江南

Capital Jinling
(briefly Nanchang)
Languages Middle Chinese
Government Monarchy
 •  937-943 Emperor Liezu
 •  943-961 Emperor Yuanzong
 •  961-976 King of Jiangnan
Historical era Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
 •  Coup d'etat 937 937
 •  Renamed from "Qi" to "Tang" 939
 •  Became a vassal of Later Zhou 958
 •  Renamed from "Tang" to "Jiangnan" 971
 •  Surrendered to Song 976 976
Today part of  China

Southern Tang (Chinese: 南唐; pinyin: Nán Táng; also referred to as Nantang), later known as Jiangnan (江南), was one of the Ten Kingdoms in Southern China created following the Tang Dynasty from 937–976. Southern Tang replaced the Wu Kingdom when Li Bian (a.k.a. Xu Zhigao) deposed the emperor Yang Pu.

The capital was located in Jinling (also known as Xidu), located in present-day Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. The territory comprised parts of modern Fujian, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces and the whole of Jiangxi Province.

Southern Tang was conquered in 976 by the Song Dynasty.


A Literary Garden, by Zhou Wenju, Southern Tang era.

Li Bian was an orphan who was adopted by the Wu prince Yang Xingmi. He was then adopted by Xu Wen, the Prime Minister of Wu and was renamed Xu Zhigao. Upon Xu Wen's death, he took over power in Wu, and was made a prince of Qi. In 937 he proclaimed himself emperor. In 940, he changed his name back to Li Bian and renamed the state to Tang (history would refer to it as Southern Tang). Thus, the Southern Tang began as an empire, however under Li Jing it was no longer diplomatically possible to claim the title of emperor in facing other states, thus he assumed the title of king[1] instead, thus technically lowering the political status of the realm.

The state was at first relatively large and prosperous compared to the other Ten States of that period. Li Bian's rule was comparatively stable and prosperous.

Li Jing took over when his father Li Bian died in 943.

Inside the Qinling (欽陵) Mausoleum of Emperor Liezu. Zutang Mountains, Jiangning District, Nanjing
Pottery Dancers. 943 CE. From tomb of Li Bian, founder of Southern Tang Dynasty

The Southern Tang was able to expand its holdings far beyond those of its Wu Kingdom predecessor. It took advantage of a rebellion in the Kingdom of Min when the northwest revolted and set up the Kingdom of Yin. Min appealed for help, but instead of helping, the Southern Tang absorbed the rebellious territory into its own. Then, by 945, the Southern Tang completed its conquest of the Min Kingdom and absorbed it into its own boundaries.

As with the Min, the Southern Tang was able to take advantage of internal squabbles within Chu to expand its territory even further. The Ma family had internal squabbles. The Southern Tang sent in an army in 951 and removed the ruling family to their own capital in Nanjing, and absorbed the territory.

However, Li Jing suffered a setback from the Later Zhou between 956 and 958, and ceded away all of its land north of the Yangtze River. Li Jing became a vassal of the Later Zhou.

The Last Ruler Li Yu (Li Houzhu) took over the state upon the death of his father in 961. The Song dynasty had conquered the northern part of the state located in Huainan, and thus Li Yu reigned no longer as an emperor but as the Ruler of the State of Jiangnan (Jiangnan guozhu 江南國主). Li Yu managed to maintain a semi-independent status of vassal of the Song but had to finally surrender after fighting for almost a year in 975. He was taken to the Song capital in Kaifeng where he offered his formal surrender to the Song emperor in early 976.


Sovereigns in Southern Tang Kingdom 937-975
Temple Names Posthumous Names Personal Names Period of Reigns Reign periods and dates
Convention for this kingdom only : Nan (Southern) Tang + posthumous names. Hou Zhu was referred to as Li Hou Zhu (李後主 Lǐ Hòu Zhǔ)
Liè Zǔ or
Xian Zhu (先主 Xiān Zhǔ)
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign 李昪 Lǐ Biàn 937-943 Shengyuan (昇元 Shēng Yuán) 937-943
Yuan Zong or
Zhong Zhu (中主 Zhōng Zhǔ)
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign 李璟 Lǐ Jǐng 943-961 Baoda (保大 Bǎo Dà) 943-958
Jiaotai (交泰 Jiāo Tài) 958
Zhongxing (中興 Zhōng Xīng) 958
Hou Zhu (後主 Hòu Zhǔ) or
Wu Wang (吳王 Wú Wáng)
None 李煜 Lǐ Yù 961-975 (Under Li Yu, the Southern Tang did not have its own titles for reign periods)

Southern Tang and Wu rulers family tree

See also


  • Kurz, Johannes L. (2011). China's Southern Tang Dynasty (937-976). Routledge. ISBN -9780415454964.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China (900-1800). Harvard University Press. pp. 14–16. ISBN -0674012127.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wu, John C. H. (1972). The Four Seasons of Tang Poetry. Charles E.Tuttle. ISBN -978-0804801973.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Wu, 212

External links