History Files

Far East Kingdoms



Xiao Liang / Southern Liang Kingdom (Northern & Southern Dynasties China)
AD 502 - 557

The 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' period of Chinese history saw the continuance of a chaotic period of internecine warfare. Restored to unity following the bitter, highly destructive wars of the 'Three Kingdoms' period, China almost immediately fractured again at the start of the 'Sixteen Kingdoms' period. Much of the conflict took place in the north, above the line of the Yangtze River, and between various Chinese states and barbarian states. Towards the end of this period it became harder to tell the difference between Chinese and barbarian as the Northern Wei managed to secure control of the entire north. This triggered the start of the 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' period, which saw further warfare and fracturing.

Several regional kingdoms rose and fell, and each fought the other for power and territory. This process continued to permit various barbarian empires also to rise and fall along China's western borders. To the north-west this included the Rouran khaganate, which governed much of Mongolia until the middle of the sixth century AD.

The Southern Liang was the third of the four southern dynasties during the 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' period. It was preceded by the Southern Qi dynasty and succeeded by the Southern Chen dynasty. Its rump state of Western Liang survived until it was conquered in 587 by the Sui dynasty.

Northern & Southern Dynasties / Six Dynasties

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate, Gao Yang (Tenth Türk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 1986), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughin Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The Origins of Northern China's Ethnicities, Zhu Xueyuan (Beijing 2004), from Ethnogenesis in the tribal zone: The Shaping of the Turks, Peter Benjamin Golden (2005), and from External Links: China between empires: the northern and southern dynasties (Internet Archive), and Zizhi Tongjian: Comprehensive mirror to aid in government (ChinaKnowledge.de), and The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, George Coedès (Walter F Vella (Ed), Susan Brown Cowing (Trans), University of Hawaii Press, 1968, and available online via the Internet Archive).)

502 - 549

Wu Ti


502 - 527

Very little is known about the successors in Lâm Ấp to King Chu Nong, Fan Wen-k'uan, Fan T'ien-k'ai (perhaps the Indianised Devavarman), and P'i-ts'ui-pa-mo (Vijayavarman), other than the dates of embassies to the Southern Liang between 502-527.

Emperor Wu Ti of Southern Liang (AD 502-549)
Emperor Wu Ti of Southern Liang is perhaps the most colourful and famous of all the Buddhist emperors of China - even though he was educated in Confucianism and was initially a follower of Taoism, he led twenty thousand people in a ceremony during which he proclaimed that he was a Buddhist


The reign of Jayavarman of Funan marks an epoch of grandeur which is reflected in the regard being shown to him by the Southern Liang emperor. On the occasion of an embassy of 503 an imperial order says: 'The king of Funan, Kaundinya Jayavarman, lives at the limits of the ocean. From generation to generation he [and his people] have governed the distant lands of the south'. The emperor grants the title of 'General of the Pacified South, King of Funan'.


The ascendancy of Funan come crashing down when unrest in the provinces of the middle Mekong result in the rise of a rival. This movement is directed by Bhavavarman of Chen-La and his successor, possible relatives through Rudravarman's mother. Funan is dismembered in the second half of the sixth century.


A warlord by the name of Lý Bí has seized control of the Southern Liang province of Giao, along with the internal districts of Ai and Đc. Seemingly this takes place before 544 when he establishes autonomy from the Southern Liang dynasty, proclaiming himself emperor of Nam Viet.

546 - 548

Nam Viet's successes in recreating itself last for about a year before the Southern Liang launch a retaliatory campaign against it. They reconquer much of their lost territory, forcing its king to seek refuge in the mountainous regions of Nam Viet where he is killed in 548 by hostile highlanders.

548 - 551

The Southern Liang begin to withdraw from Nam Viet in 548, unable to counter the effective guerrilla tactics of the locals. By 550 or 551, the leader of the revolt is able to re-established the kingdom on an official basis.

550 - 552

Chien-wên Ti


552 - 555

Yüan Ti


555 - 557

Ching Ti



The Southern Liang are succeeded by the Southern Chen dynasty, but the change of control is violent. Liang resources have to be withdrawn from Nam Viet to assist in the fight for survival, allowing that to more fully assert itself.

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