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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 ofChina



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]

More than fifty percent of Tuoba Xianbei princesses of the Northern Wei were married to southern Han Chinese men from the imperial families and aristocrats from southern China of the Southern dynasties who defected and moved north to join the Northern Wei.[5] Tuoba Xianbei Princess Nanyang (南阳长公主) was married to Xiao Baoyin, a Han Chinese member of Southern Qi royalty.[6]

In 548, Hou Jing Prince of Henan set a rebellion with Xiao Zhengde Prince of Linhe nephew and a former heir of Emperor Wu of Liang and claimed Xiao Zhengde emperor. In 549, Hou sacked Jiankang, deposed and killed Xiao Zhengde, seized the power and put Emperor Wu effectively under house arrest. He dismissed the armies against him in name of Emperor Wu. In 550 Emperor Wu died, Hou created Emperor Wu's third son Crown Prince Gang Emperor Jianwen of Liang, also effectively under house arrest. He also attempted to suppress those who would not submit to him.

At the same time the Liang princes fought with each other rather than try to eliminate Hou: Emperor Wu's seventh son Xiao Yi Prince of Xiangdong killed his nephew Xiao Yu Prince of Hedong, forcing Xiao Yu's younger brother Xiao Cha Prince of Yueyang to surrender to Western Wei; Xiao Yi also attacked his sixth brother Xiao Guan Prince of Shaoling, forcing him to surrender to Northern Qi. Both Xiao Cha and Xiao Guan were created Prince of Liang. However, as Xiao Yi also allied with Northern Qi, Northern Qi gave up their support of Xiao Guan; Xiao Guan was defeated by Hou and finally killed by Western Wei. Xiao Ji Prince of Wuling the youngest son of Emperor Wu claimed imperial title.

In 551, Hou forced Emperor Jianwen to abdicate to his grandnephew Xiao Dong Prince of Yuzhang, then killed Emperor Jianwen and forced Xiao Dong to abdicate to him. Hou established a new dynasty named Han. In 552, Xiao Yi destroyed Han and claimed imperial title as Emperor Yuan of Liang. He also ordered his subordinates kill Xiao Dong and Xiao Dong's younger brothers. He created his headquarter Jiangling capital instead of returning to Jiankang. He also managed to eliminate Xiao Ji, but in order to do this he allied with Western Wei, who in turn conquered Yi Province.

In 553, Northern Qi attacked Liang, aiming to claim Xiao Tui Marquess of Xiangyin nephew of Emperor Wu emperor, but was defeated.

As the relation between Emperor Yuan and Western Wei was deteriorating, in 555, Western Wei army sacked Jiangling, forcing Emperor Yuan to surrender, and killed Emperor Yuan as well as his sons before claiming Xiao Cha emperor of Western Liang at Jiangling.

Liang generals led by Wang Sengbian created Xiao Fangzhi Prince of Jin'an the only living son of Emperor Yuan Prince of Liang at Jiankang, aiming to claim him the new emperor, but Northern Qi army defeated them, forcing them into an agreement on claiming Xiao Yuanming Marquess of Zhenyang nephew of Emperor Wu emperor instead. Wang requested that Xiao Fangzhi be created Crown Prince and Xiao Yuanming agreed. General Chen Baxian set a raid that killed Wang in favor of Xiao Fangzhi while denouncing Wang for surrendering to Northern Qi. Xiao Yuanming was forced to abdicate to Xiao Fangzhi, who was known as Emperor Jing of Liang. Chen seized the power of Liang. He initially claimed Liang a subject of Northern Qi but later defeated the army of Northern Qi.

In 557, Chen forced Emperor Jing to abdicate to him and established a new Chen dynasty.

However, Liang general Wang Lin also claimed Xiao Zhuang Prince of Yongjia grandson of Emperor Yuan emperor. In 560, Xiao Zhuang was defeated and fled to Northern Qi and was created Prince of Liang in 570, while Wang Lin continued to resist Chen until 573. Western Liang existed until 587 when Sui dynasty decided to cancel it.


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[note 1] 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[note 2] 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[note 3] Shaotai (紹泰 shào tài) 555–556
Taiping (太平 tài píng) 556–557

Rulers' family treeEdit

Artistic heritageEdit

Tombs of a number of members of the ruling Xiao family, with their sculptural ensembles, in various states of preservation, are located near Nanjing.[7] 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.[8][9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.


  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. ^ Tang, Qiaomei (May 2016). Divorce and the Divorced Woman in Early Medieval China (First through Sixth Century) (PDF) (A dissertation presented by Qiaomei Tang to The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the subject of East Asian Languages and Civilizations). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University. pp. 151, 152, 153.
  6. ^ China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2004. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-1-58839-126-1.
  7. ^ "Mausoleum Stone Carvings of Southern Dynasties in Nanjing". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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 linksEdit