The Liang dynasty (Chinese: 梁朝; pinyin: Liáng Cháo), alternatively known as the Southern Liang (Chinese: 南梁; pinyin: Nán Liáng) or Xiao Liang (Chinese: 萧梁; pinyin: Xiāo Liáng) in historiography, was an imperial dynasty of China and the third of the four Southern dynasties during the Northern and Southern dynasties period. It was preceded by the Southern Qi dynasty and succeeded by the Chen dynasty. The rump state of Western Liang existed until it was conquered in 587 by the Sui dynasty.

Liang alongside Western Wei and Eastern Wei after 534.
Liang alongside Western Wei and Eastern Wei after 534.
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

Rule edit

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]

In 548, the Prince of Henan Hou Jing started a rebellion with Xiao Zhengde, the Prince of Linhe, nephew and a former heir of the Emperor Wu of Liang, and installed Xiao Zhengde as 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 opposed to him in the 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 the Prince of Hedong, forcing Xiao Yu's younger brother Xiao Cha Prince of Yueyang to surrender to the 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 the 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 the 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 the imperial title as Emperor Yuan of Liang. He also ordered his subordinates to 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 (Sichuan).

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

As the relationship 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 installing Xiao Cha as emperor of (Western) Liang at Jiangling.

Liang generals led by Wang Sengbian declared Xiao Fangzhi Prince of Jin'an, the only living son of Emperor Yuan, as Prince of Liang at Jiankang, aiming to crown him the new emperor, but the Northern Qi army defeated them, forcing them into an agreement to recognise a nephew of Emperor Wu, Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, as emperor instead. Wang requested that Xiao Fangzhi be created Crown Prince and Xiao Yuanming agreed. General Chen Baxian launched 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, and Chen seized power. He initially claimed Liang a subject of Northern Qi but later defeated the army of Northern Qi.

In 557, Chen Baxian established the new powerful Chen dynasty. Liang general Wang Lin also claimed Xiao Zhuang Prince of Yongjia grandson of Emperor Yuan emperor. In 560, the Chen dynasty defeated Xiao Zhuang who fled to the Northern Qi and was created Prince of Liang in 570. The small and weak Western Liang state existed until 587 when the Sui dynasty destroyed it.

In 617, Xiao Xian from Western Liang imperial clan claimed himself Liang Emperor in light of the disturbance in the end of Sui dynasty. His realm was destroyed by Tang dynasty in 621.

Portraits of Periodical Offering of Liang edit

The Portraits of Periodical Offering of Liang by the Emperor Yuan of Liang, Xiao Yi, dated to the 6th century, is the earliest surviving of these specially significant paintings. They reflect foreign embassies that took place, particularly regarding the three Hephthalite (Hua) ambassadors, in 516–520 CE.[5][6] The original of the work was lost, and the only surviving edition of this work was a copy from the Song dynasty in the 11th century, and is currently preserved at the National Museum of China. The original work consisted of at least twenty five portraits of ambassadors from their respectively country. The copy from the Song dynasty has twelve portraits and descriptions of thirteen envoys, with the envoy from Dangchang missing a portrait.[7]

The envoys from right to left were: the Hephthalites (滑/嚈哒), Persia (波斯), Korea (百濟), Kucha (龜茲), Japan (倭), Malaysia (狼牙脩), Qiang (鄧至), Yarkand (周古柯), Kabadiyan (呵跋檀), Kumedh (胡蜜丹), Balkh (白題), and Mohe (末).[5][8][7]

The Portraits of Periodical Offering of Liang with descriptions on the back of each ambassador. Song dynasty copy of Liang dynasty original from 526-539 CE, in the National Museum of China.

Literature edit

The Liang is the best represented of the Northern and Southern Dynasties in terms of surviving written material. It produced important texts like the official histories of the Liu Song and Southern Qi dynasties, the poetry anthology Wenxuan, the literary criticism work Wenxin diaolong, and Huang Kan's commentary on the Lunyu.[9]

Artistic heritage edit

Tombs of a number of members of the ruling Xiao family, with their sculptural ensembles, in various states of preservation, are located near Nanjing.[10] 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.[11][12]

Emperors edit

Posthumous Name Personal Name Period of Reigns Era names
Emperor Wu of Liang Xiao Yan 502–549[note 1] Tianjian (天監) 502–519
Putong (普通) 520–527
Datong (大通) 527–529
Zhongdatong (中大通) 529–534
Datong (大同) 535–546
Zhongdatong (中大同) 546–547
Taiqing (太清) 547–549
Emperor Jianwen of Liang Xiao Gang 549–551 Dabao (大寶) 550–551
Xiao Dong 551–552 Tianzheng (天正) 551-552
Emperor Yuan of Liang Xiao Yi 552–555[note 2] Chengsheng (承聖) 552–555
Xiao Yuanming 555 Tiancheng (天成) 555
Emperor Jing of Liang Xiao Fangzhi 555–557[note 3] Shaotai (紹泰) 555–556
Taiping (太平) 556–557

Rulers' family tree edit

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

See also edit

The Liang dynasty and contemporary Central, South and West Asian polities c. 500 CE.

Notes edit

  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.

References edit

  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. ^ a b DE LA VAISSIÈRE, ÉTIENNE (2003). "Is There a "Nationality of the Hephtalites"?". Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 17: 127–128. ISSN 0890-4464. JSTOR 24049310.
  6. ^ DE LA VAISSIÈRE, ÉTIENNE (2003). "Is There a "Nationality of the Hephtalites"?". Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 17: 130, note 31. ISSN 0890-4464. JSTOR 24049310.
  7. ^ a b Lung, Rachel (2011). Interpreters in Early Imperial China. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 29, n.14, 99. ISBN 978-90-272-2444-6.
  8. ^ Ge, Zhaoguang (Professor of History, Fudan University, China) (2019). "Imagining a Universal Empire: a Study of the Illustrations of the Tributary States of the Myriad Regions Attributed to Li Gonglin" (PDF). Journal of Chinese Humanities. 5: 128.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Yong, Rong 永瑢 (2016) [1784]. Siku quanshu jianming mulu 四庫全書簡明目錄. Shanghai: Scientific and Technological Literature Press.
  10. ^ "Mausoleum Stone Carvings of Southern Dynasties in Nanjing". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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 edit