Northern Han

For the state known as Northern Han during the Sixteen Kingdoms period, see Han Zhao.
Capital Taiyuan
Languages Chinese
Religion Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion
Government Monarchy
   951–954 Emperor Shizu
  954–968 Emperor Ruizong
  968 Emperor Shaozhu
  968–979 Emperor Yingwudi
Historical era Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
   Established 951 951
   Ended by the Song Dynasty 979 979
Currency Chinese cash, Chinese coin, copper coins etc.
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Later Han (Five Dynasties)
Song Dynasty
Today part of  China

The Northern Han kingdom (simplified Chinese: 北汉; traditional Chinese: 北漢; pinyin: Běi Hàn) is a state of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. It was founded by Liu Min (劉旻), formerly known as Liu Chong (劉崇), and lasted from 951 to 979.

Founding of the Northern Han

The short-lived state of Later Han fell in 950. Liu Min founded the Northern Han Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Eastern Han, in 951 claiming that he was the legitimate heir to the imperial throne of Later Han. Liu Min immediately restored the traditional relationship with the Khitans, who had founded the Liao Dynasty.

Sources conflict as to the origin of the Later Han and Northern Han emperors, some indicate sinicized Shatuo ancestry[1][2] while another claims that the emperors claimed patrilineal Han Chinese ancestry.[3]

Territorial Extent

The Northern Han was a small kingdom located in Shanxi with its capital located at Taiyuan. Shanxi had been a traditional base of power since the fading days of the Tang Dynasty in the late ninth century and early tenth century. It was wedged between the two major powers of the day, the Liao Dynasty to the north and the Song Dynasty to the south. It also shared a border with the Tangut kingdom of Western Xia.

Wedge Between Liao and Song

The existence of the Northern Han was one of the two major thorns in relations between the Liao Dynasty and the Song Dynasty, the other being the continued possession of the Sixteen Prefectures by the Liao Dynasty. The Northern Han had placed itself under the protection of the Liao.

Emperor Taizu was successful in nearly completing the incorporation of the southern kingdoms into the Song Dynasty by his death in 976. His younger brother, Emperor Taizong wished to emulate his older brother’s successes. Wuyue was brought into the realm in 978.

Fall of the Northern Han

Emboldened by his success to the south, Emperor Taizong decided to embark on a campaign to finally destroy the Northern Han. Leading the army himself, he brought his forces to the Northern Han capital of Taiyuan, which was laid under siege in June. An initial relief force sent by the Liao was easily defeated by Song. After a two-month siege of the capital, the leader of the Northern Han surrendered, and the kingdom was incorporated into the Song Dynasty.


Sovereigns in Northern Han Kingdom 951–979
Temple Names (Miao Hao 廟號) Posthumous Names (Shi Hao 諡號) Personal Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號) and their according range of years
世祖 Shìzǔ 神武帝 Shénwǔdì Liu Min (劉旻) 951–954 Qiányòu (乾祐) 951–954
睿宗 Ruìzōng 孝和帝 Xiàohédì Liu Jun (劉鈞) 954–968 Qiányòu (乾祐) 954–957

Tiānhuì (天會) 957–968

少主 Shàozhǔ Did not exist Liu Ji'en (劉繼恩) 968 Did not exist
Did not exist 英武帝 Yīngwǔdì Liu Jiyuan (劉繼元) 968–979 Guǎngyùn (廣運) 968–979

The family tree of the Later Han and Northern Han rulers



  1. Endymion Porter Wilkinson (2000). Chinese History: A Manual. p. 12.
  2. Mote, Frederick W (2003). Imperial China 900-1800. pp. 67–68.
  3. According to Old History of the Five Dynasties, vol. 99, and New History of the Five Dynasties, vol. 10. Liu Zhiyuan was of Shatuo origin. According to Wudai Huiyao, vol. 1 Liu Zhiyuan's great-great-grandfather Liu Tuan (劉湍) (titled as Emperor Mingyuan posthumously, granted the temple name of Wenzu) descended from Liu Bing (劉昞), Prince of Huaiyang, a son of Emperor Ming of Han


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