Time Line of the Tang Dynasty

Founding of the Tang Dynasty

The Sui Dynasty has burdened the Chinese people too hard with public works projects, lost its wars against Korea, and suffered economically. With flooding and famine came rebellion and civil war.

The first Tang emperor, Li Yuan (566 – 635, temple name, Gaozu),  began as an official in the troubled Sui Dynasty.  Through military success, he titled himself “Great Chancellor,” overcame rivals and defeated rebels, then installed a puppet emperor and dismissed him, proclaiming himself Emperor Gaozu of Tang in 618. By 621 he controlled China’s eastern plain, in 624 he added most of the rest of North and South China. In 626, he was succeeded by his son, Li Shimin, known by the temple name Taizong, who murdered two brothers and forced his father’s abdication. He would become one of the greatest emperors China has known.

The Tang Dynasty would last for nearly three centuries. During the Tang Dynasty, China became the largest nation in the world, covering most of present-day China, northern Vietnam and that portion of Central Asia that included the valuable Silk Route as far as eastern Kazakhstan, but excluding Tibet. It’s capital Chang’an included a million souls.

618 – 624

Li Yuan establishes Tang dynasty with Chang’an(modern day Xi’an) as its capital. IN 624, China establishes a written criminal code with over 500 articles listing different crimes and penalties.


Li Shimin kills his two brothers and becomes Second Emperor Taizong of Tang ruling until 649. China’s northern and western boundaries are established and secured. Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism is permitted in China. Within China, there is good administration.


First conflict between Tibet and Tang Dynasty ends in defeat for Tibetan armies.


Following the emperor’s death, Li Zhi took the throne as Emperor Gaozong. Islam is introduced into China by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, maternal uncle of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.


Multiple campaigns against Göktürks. By 657, Tang armies control the western frontier and Silk Road.


Wu Zetian becomes Empress Wu following the stroke of Emperor Gaozong.  She was the concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death, she married his successor – his ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, becoming Empress and administrator of the court, until 705.


Meng Haoran is born.


Wang Wei and Li Bai are born.


Emperor Zhongzong, son of Wu Zetian and the Emperor Gaozong, begins his relatively short reign which ends in 710.


Du Fu is born.

Seventh Emperor Ming (Xuanzong) of Tang begins reign of 43 years (713 to 756), overseeing growth and prosperity, as well as advances in the arts. His reign ends with the commencement of the An Lushan Rebellion.


Death of Meng Haoran.


An Lushan Rebellion begins, devastating northern China. Emperor Xuanzong flees to the south.


Li Heng, son of Emperor Xuanzong, is made Emperor Suzong of Tang by the army, ruling until 762.


Death of Wang Wei.


Death of Li Bai.

Emperor Daizong of Tang, eldest son of Emperor Wuanzong succeeds his father.


Emperor Daizong ends the An Lushan Rebellion.


Death of Du Fu.


Poets Bai Juyi and Li Shen (?) are born.


Emperor Wuzong confiscates Buddhist temples and property, begins persecution of Buddhists. Other ‘foreign religions’ are affected and Taoism and Confucianism become dominant.


The record of a proto-gunpowder formula is contained in a written work dated about 850. Originally, the mixture was developed as a potion to insure immortality.


Great Flood of Gun-Yu begins during the reign of Emperor Yao and lasts for years. Yellow and Yangtze rivers, and the connecting Grand Canal, overflow their banks killing tens of thousands and displacing millions. Yao writes, “Like endless boiling water, the flood pours forth destruction. Boundless and overwhelming, over-topping hills and mountains. Rising, ever rising, threatening the very heavens. How the people groan and suffer.”


The Diamond Sutra, the world’s earliest dated wood block printed book, is printed.


Huang Chao’s rebellion follows severe drought, famine, and excessive taxation.


Zhu Wen kills last Emperor Zhaozong, ending Tang dynasty.

On Translation