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Later Zhou

As the last of the Five Dynasties (907 - 960), the Later Zhou Dynasty spanned ten years and was ruled by three emperors. With Bianjing (Kaifeng City of Henan Province) as the capital, Later Zhou Dynasty was established by Guo Wei, the military affairs commissioner of the former Later Han Dynasty (947 - 951).

Guo Wei applied himself to his goal of unifying China, and in doing so strove to undo the mistakes made by Later Han. The measures he took included reducing frivolous spending, improving the social environment, rectifying order, reducing public oppression and exploitation, harnessing rivers, and many other positive policies to maintain his sovereign and social stability.

Succeeding Guo Wei, was Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou – Chai Rong (later named Guo Rong, the adopted son of Guo Wei) was born with great talent and bold vision. Chai Rong continued Guo Wei's policies, pushing for reforms while also expanding the countries international reach. Together with the positive efforts of Guo Wei, the social economy of Later Zhou began to flourish during Chai Rong's rule. Additionally, Chai Rong repealed the temples and used the copper materials of the temples to create the ‘Zhou Yuan Tong Bao' coin. As a result, both the quality and quantity of money in Later Zhou ranked first of the Five Dynasties. Politically, Chai Rong planned to recover the 'sixteen prefectures of Yanyun' (16 states located north of Beijing and Tianjin, Shanxi, Hebei Province) which were ceded to Khitan by Emperor Shi Jingtang of Later Jin (936 - 946). He consolidated the frontier defense in northern China, beating back Khitan, and was able to recover four states in northern China as well as many states and counties in southern China. During the war, Chai Rong fell ill – he died at the age of 39, and his dream was never realized.

Chai Rong reigned for five years, during which he restored modes of water transportation, constructed water conservancy systems, edited the criminal law and the ancient calendar, verified and corrected gagaku, engraved many ancient books, and developed education and culture in a large scale. Later Zhou had made great political, economic, and military progress during his reign. In its most prosperous period, its territory covered Shandong and Heman Provinces, the majority of Shaanxi, Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces, as well as the Southern portion of Hebei Province, the Northern partion of Hubei Province, and part of Inner Mongolian, Ningxia, Gansu and Shanxi Provinces.

Following Chai Rong's death, his seven-year-old son inherited the throne, and the next year, General Zhao Kuangyin launched a mutiny at Chenqiao ('Chenqiao Munity') and established the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127). Thus, Later Zhou ended, brining an end to the Five Dynasties.

Emperors and Reign Time during the Later Zhou

Emperor / Name Reign Time
Emperor Xinzu Guojing – Guo Jing ---
Emperor Xizu – Guo Chen ---
Emperor Yizu – Guo Yun ---
Emperor Qingzu – Guo Jian ---
Emperor Taizu – Guo Wei 951 - 954
Emperor Shizong – Chai Rong 954 - 959
Emperor Gong – Chai Zongxun 959 - 960

Further Reading: Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han