An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Southern Qi Dynasty 南齊 (479-502)

Oct 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

The Southern Qi dynasty Nanqi 南齊 (479-502) was the second of the Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420~589). It was founded by Xiao Daocheng 蕭道成 (r. 479-482).

Xiao Daocheng 蕭道成 (posthumous title Emperor Gao of the Qi 齊高帝, r. 479-482) had been called a "saviour of the house of Liu-Song" from its self-lacerating actions and was therefore bestowed with offices, honors and nobility titles (king of Qi 齊王). Yet in 479 he founded his own dynasty that was called Qi. Historians call this his realm also Southern Qi 南齊 or Xiao-Qi 蕭齊 to distinguish it from the somewhat later Northern Qi 北齊 (550-577), a successor state of the Northern Wei. Xiao Daocheng died already in 482 and was succeeded by his son Xiao Ze 蕭賾 (posthumous title Emperor Wu 齊武帝, r. 482-493). Xiao Ze made intensive use of document clerks as a central government instance controlling the activites of the imperial princes and the local governors. He so inherited the political system of the Song dynasty. Similarly, the custom of bloody fights among the imperial princes that had plagued the house of Song, was also adhered to by the house of Qi.

A great problem of each government in the history of China was the fact that free, but poor peasants had the only chance to make a living by transferring their land to influential landowners and so became tenant farmers on their own former land. They weere not obliged to pay taxes or to deliver duties and corvée labour to the state, but became servants, and often enough serfs, of the landowners. A special problem of the Eastern Jin and the Southern Dynasties was that a great part of the old southern gentry was tax-exempted, a present by which a government of northern immigrants (and the dynastic houses were such) could be politically tolerated by the native gentry in the south. To escape tax obligations, many northern immigrants had falsely registered themselves as being of southern origin. Xiao Ze therefore carried out a broad review of the household registers with the hope to unveil more households that were actually liable to pay taxes and to deliver labour to the government. During this tax review campaign "northernes" unmasked were downgraded as tax-liable households (queji 卻籍 "skipping them from households [with preferential treatment]"). A lot of them therefore rose in rebellion. The most important of these was the uprising of Tang Yuzhi 唐㝢之 in the region of modern Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu, who even adopted the title of emperor of Wu 吳.

The last decade of the Southern Qi period is characterized by succession struggles. Xiao Ze's sons Xiao Zhaoye 蕭昭業 and Xiao Zhaowen 蕭昭文 were deposed by their uncle Xiao Luan 蕭鸞 (posthumous title Emperor Ming 齊明帝, r. 494-498). Xiao Luan's own sons Xiao Baojuan 蕭寶卷 (Duke of Donghun 東昏侯) and Xiao Baorong 蕭寶融 on their parts fell victim to their distant relative Xiao Yan 蕭衍, the Prince of Liang 梁王, in 502. He founded a new dynasty.

Table 1. Rulers of the (Southern) Qi Dynasty (Nanqi) 南齊 (479-502)
Capital: Jiankang 建康 (today's Nanjing 南京, Jiangsu.
dynastic title {temple name} personal name reign-periods
(Nan-)Qi Gaodi (南)齊高帝 {Taizu 太祖} (r. 479-482) Xiao Daocheng 蕭道成 Jianyuan 建元 (479-482)
(Nan-)Qi Wudi (南)齊武帝 {Shizu 世祖} (r. 482-493) Xiao Ze 蕭賾 Yongming 永明 (483-493)
Usurper Tang Yuzhi 唐㝢之 (r. 485-486)
Xingping 興平 (486)
The Deposed Emperor (Feidi) of (Southern) Qi (南)齊廢帝 (I) (r. 493-494)
Demoted as Prince of Yulin 鬱林王.
Xiao Zhaoye 蕭昭業 Longchang 隆昌 (494)
Prince Gongwang of Qi (南)齊恭王 (r. 494)
Demoted as Prince of Hailing 海陵王.
Xiao Zhaowen 蕭昭文 Yanxing 延興 (494)
(Nan-)Qi Mingdi (南)齊明帝 {Gaozong 高宗} (r. 494-498) Xiao Luan 蕭鸞 Jianwu 建武 (494-497)
Yongtai 永泰 (498)
The Deposed Emperor (Feidi) of (Southern) Qi (南)齊廢帝 (II) (r. 498-500)
Demoted as Marquis of Donghun 東昏侯.
Xiao Baojuan 蕭寶卷 Yongyuan 永元 (499-500)
Counter-Emperor Yong Daoxi 雍道晞 (r. 500)
Jianyi 建義 (500)
Nanqi Hedi 南齊和帝 (r. 501-502) Xiao Baorong 蕭寶融 Zhongxing 中興 (501-502)
502 Southern Qi replaced by Liang 梁.
Yang Debing 楊德炳 (1992), "Nanqi 南齊", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, pp. 574-576.
Zhonguo lishi da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 中國歷史大辭典編纂委員會 (ed. 2000), Zhongguo lishi da cidian 中國歷史大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), Vol.2, pp. 3322, 3324, 3326, 3328.