Tang dynasty painting

Sui and Tang Dynasty Timeline

  • Jan 1, 604

    Yang Kuang usurps the Sui throne

    Yang Kuang usurps the Sui throne
    Emperor Wen's song, Yang Kuang, was a typical tyrant who murdered his father and older brother to seize the throne. (After gaining power, Yang Kuang named himself Emperor Yang.) While Yang's rule spurred many cultural achievements, Yang prioritized economic prosperity over his people, which led to over-expansion and citizens' distrust.
  • Jan 1, 610

    Grand Canal completed

    Grand Canal completed
    To transfer goods from southern to northern China, Emperor Yang ordered the construction of a canal that linked the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers. While the result, the Grand Canal, expanded China's economy and capital (first named Chang'an, later Beijing), its labor standards spurred exhuastion and chaos. Over a seven-year building period, the government enlisted 5.5 million people aged fifteen to fifty-five, torturing those who protested.
  • Jan 1, 615

    Administrative accomplishments under Wen and Yang

    Administrative accomplishments under Wen and Yang
    To achieve centralized power rather than local independence, Sui rulers rotated province officials every three years. However, Emperor Wen and Emperor Yang retained local practices within their consolidated legal code. Wen also demolished the Fubing System, which forced troops’ family members to live with them, preventing state citizenship. Instead, Wen ensured that troops and their families would receive state property to cultivate during peacetime.
  • Jan 1, 617

    Emperor Gong takes Emperor Yang's throne

    Emperor Gong takes Emperor Yang's throne
    Emperor Gong, who succeeded Emperor Yang, reigned for only two years before the Sui dynasty collapsed in 618 C.E. and accomplished little (besides over-extension) during his rule. In 618 C.E., Gong surrendered the throne to Li Yuan, also known as Emperor Gaozu, which signaled the Tang dynasty's creation.
  • Jan 1, 620

    Gaozu expands empire to present-day borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran

    Gaozu expands empire to present-day borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran
    While the Sui's failed missions to defeat Korea and central Asia angered troops, took unnecessary lives, and worsened economic conflicts, its goal of expansion paved the way for the Tang dynasty. Shortly after gaining power, the Tang extended China to the borders of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, initiating a far-reaching empire.
  • Jan 1, 627

    First Glorious Period begins

    First Glorious Period begins
    With Emperor Taizong Li Shimin in power, the Tang's economy flourished and was free of government corruption, explaining the name "Glorious Period." Taizong influenced Confucianism's spread by performing scholarly projects rooted in Confucianism during his reign. He also contributed to the extension of civil (government) service examinations.
  • Jan 1, 701

    Buddhist poet Wang Wei born

    Buddhist poet Wang Wei born
    Along with Daoist Li Bao and Confucian Du Fu, Buddhist Wang Wei was one of the most influential Tang poets. Poetry flourished under the Tang, revealing authors' expanding knowledge and addressing topics from government to meditation. Now, poets' vivid accounts aid historians in understanding each class' daily life and grasping the impact of historical events.
  • Jan 1, 712

    Second Glorious Period begins

    Second Glorious Period begins
    When Emperor Ruizong relinquished his throne to Li Lonji, who ruled as Emperor Xuanzong, the Tang dynasty reached its summit. The first half of Xuanzong's reign, known as the Kaiyuan era, triggered success in economy, culture, politics, and social development. However, Xuanzong spent the second half of his rule appointing corrupt officials and showing indifference toward state affairs, which marked his decline.
  • Jan 1, 754

    Imperial Academy Han-Lin Yuan established

    Imperial Academy Han-Lin Yuan established
    The Tang emphasized centralized rule while targeting attention toward total government success. To ensure that administrators were qualified before accepting their positions, the Tang dynasty established a training school (or Imperial Academy) named the Han Lin-Yuan (the Forest of Pens).
  • Jan 1, 755

    An Shi rebellion begins

    An Shi rebellion begins
    The An Shi rebellion traces to General An Lushan, who feigned respect for the Tang empire to earn the favoritism of Emperor Xuanzang. For three decades, Lushan tricked Xuanzang into believing their relationship was genuine before leading a rebellion that shifted Tang power from central government to province officials.The Tang’s costly overextension ignited the uproar, which hindered further advancement and fueled the Tang’s gradual demise.
  • Yang Chien founds the Sui dynasty

    Yang Chien founds the Sui dynasty
    Before the Sui dynasty, unified China disintegrated into chaotic city-states. When one of the northern Chinese states’ turbulent politics began harming residents, the Han (who inhabited this state) desperately selected governor Yang Chien to lead their administration. The ruling Emperor Xuan died in 580 C.E., causing Yang Chien to snatch the throne from Xuan’s eight-year-old successor, Emperor Jing, and establish the Sui dynasty under the name Emperor Wen.
  • First pharmacopoeia published

    First pharmacopoeia published
    The Tang created the first pharmacopoeia, or book containing records of medicinal drugs. In other medical achievements, the Tang developed a medical school system complete with textbooks on disease information. These advancements even prompted Tang laws that addressed hygiene and medicine.
  • Emperor Wen conquers city-states

    Emperor Wen conquers city-states
    Shortly after creating the Sui dynasty, Emperor Wen defeated surrounding city-states to produce a unified China that lasted over three centuries. Advanced tools like protective body armor, incessant drills, and crossbows assisted Wen in his conquest, as did his devoted army of farmers to whom Wen granted land rights.
  • Sui collapse and Tang creation

    Sui collapse and Tang creation
    Public construction projects like the Grand Canal and Great Wall restoration led to commoners' heavy labor and tax payment, which, combined with failed attempts to control North Korea and central Asia, caused those under the Sui to revolt. Li Yuan, a prominent Sui dynasty official, took advantage of the Sui’s instability and snatched Emperor Gong’s throne while his people rebelled. After gaining power, Li Yuan named himself Emperor Gaozu.
  • Empress Wu gains power

    Empress Wu gains power
    Empress Wu, who extended the Tang dynasty to its geographical peak, was the only woman who ruled China under her own name. Wu seized power after the death of Emperor Gaozong, whose concubine she was, and seven years of governing through their two sons. An avid Buddhism supporter, Wu constructed temples in each of China's provinces and claimed she was the reincarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of redemption.
  • Emperor Wuzong gains power

    Emperor Wuzong gains power
    Daoist ruler Emperor Wuzong resented Buddhism's stability through political turmoil. In response to Buddhism's power, Wuzong forced about 260,500 monks and nuns from Buddhist monasteries, repossessed monasteries' money and property, and demolished sacred writings and shrines. Wuzong destroyed all but 49 monasteries throughout China by the end of his attacks, creating irreversible damage that prevents even present-day Buddhism from restoring its impact.
  • First woodblock print created

    First woodblock print created
    As a result of needing to distribute their faith teachings, Buddhists created the first block printing, which depicted the sacred text Diamond Sutra. Cave art, paintings, and porcelain also relayed Buddhism's prosperity during the Tang era.
  • Tang collapse

    Tang collapse
    Military official Zhu Wen usurped Emperor Ai's throne in 907 C.E. and completed the Tang dynasty, which never regained strength from the An Shi rebellion and Battle of Talas River. The Tang's collapse initiated a period of dischord among states, returning China to its pre-Sui dynasty predicament.
  • Period: to

    Sui and Tang Dynasties

    Combined, the Sui and Tang dynasties stretched from 581 C.E. to 907 C.E.