An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

The Empire of Min 閩 (909-945)

Mar 19, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

The empire of Min 閩 was one of the Ten States 十國 (902-979) that controlled southern China during the first half of the ninth century, the so-called Five Dynasties period 五代 (907-960). Its territory corresponded roughly to the modern province of Fujian. The seat of government was the Prefecture of Changle 長樂 (modern Fuzhou).

The mountainous region of modern Fujian province had always been an area that was quite independent from the central government. The brothers Wang Chao 王潮 (d. 898), Wang Shenzhi 王審知 (862-925, posthumous title Emperor Taizu 閩太祖, r. 909-925), and Wang Shengui 王審邽 joined general Wang Xu 王緒, who planned to attain independence from the Tang empire 唐 (618-907). Yet in 885 the Wang brothers arrested Wang Xu in Nan'an 南安, and continued the struggle of independency on their own. A year later they conquered Quanzhou 泉州, and in 893 occupied Fuzhou 福州 and threatened to overrun Dingzhou 汀州 (modern Changding 長汀), Jianzhou 建州 (modern Jian'ou 建甌) and Zhangzhou 漳州. The Tang court thereupon appointed Wang Chao surveillance commissioner (guanchashi 觀察使) of Fujian 福建 and military commissioner (jiedushi 節度使) of Weiwu 威武. When Wang Chao died, his brother Shenzhi succeeded. In 904 he was given the title of king of Langya 琅琊, in 909 that of king of Min. Because his empire was so remote and economically and culturally backward, Wang Shenzhi tried everything to attract scholars that should help to construct an efficient bureaucracy, tax system and economical directives. In fact, the intensive maritime trade of the Min kingdom prepared the blooming sea trade of the Song Dynasty 宋 (960-1279). Hailing from a poor family, the Wangs knew the hardships of the common people, and executed a benevolent government. Wang Zhishen's son and successor Wang Yanhan 王延翰 (posthumous title Emperor Sizong Sizong 閩嗣宗, r. 925-926) retained the title of king and accepted the suzerainty of the Later Tang empire 後唐 (923-936) in the north.

In 933 Wang Yanhan was killed by his brother Yanjun 王延鈞 (later called Wang Lin 王鏻 or 王璘, posthumous title Emperor Huizong 閩惠宗 or Taizong 閩太宗, r. 926-935), who proclaimed himself emperor of Min. From then on, the rulers were controlled by ministers and mighty generals. Yanjun was killed by his own son Jipeng 王繼鵬 (later name Wang Chang 王昶, posthumous title Emperor Kangzong 閩康宗, r. 935-938), and the latter was removed by his uncle Yanxi 王延曦 (later called Xi 王曦, posthumous title Emperor Jingzong 閩景宗, r. 939-942). For a short time, in 943-945, Wang Yanzheng 王延政 (Wang Yanxi's 王延曦 brother) proclaimed himself emperor of the independent realm of Yin 殷, with the reign motto Tiande 天德 (Capital: Jianzhou 建州, i.e. modern Nanping 南平). Only one year later, Yanxi was killed by one of his generals, and Yanzheng was able to expand his territory to the north. He became emperor of Min, but half a year later, in autumn 945, the Min empire was destroyed by the Southern Tang 南唐 (937-975). General Li Renda 李仁達 withstood the troops of the Southern Tang for some weeks. Chen Hong 陳洪, military commissioner of the military prefecture of Pinghai 平海軍, reigned independently in a realm called Qingyuan 清源 (capital: Quanzhou 泉州). The area of Min was only conquered by the Song as late as 978.

Rulers of Min 閩 (909-945)
Capital: Fuzhou 福州 (Modern Fuzhou, modern Fujian)
temple name (miaohao 廟號) personal name reign-periods (nianhao 年號)
Min Taizu 閩太祖 (Zhongyiwang 閩忠懿王, Zhaowuwang 閩昭武王) (r. 909-925) Wang Shenzhi 王審知
Min Sizong 閩嗣宗 (r. 925-926) Wang Yanhan 王延翰
Min Huizong 閩惠宗 or Taizong 閩太宗 (r. 926-935) Wang Yanjun 王延鈞 (or Lin 鏻) Longqi 龍啟 (933-934)
Yonghe 永和 (935)
Min Kangzong 閩康宗 (r. 935-938) Wang Jipeng 王繼鵬 (or Chang 昶) Tongwen 通文 (936)
Min Jingzong 閩景宗 (r. 939-942) Wang Yanxi 王延羲 (or Xi 曦) Yonglong 永隆 (939)
Usurper Wang Yanzheng 王延政, ruler of Yin 殷 (r. 943-945)
-----Tiande 天德 943-945
Min Tiandedi 天德帝 (Fu Gongyiwang 福恭懿王, r. 943-945) Wang Yanzheng 王延政 Tiande 天德 (943-945)
Military commissioners (jiedushi 節度使) of Qingyuan 清源 (acting 949-978)
Liu Congxiao 留從效
Chen Hong 陳洪
978 Min conquered by Song 宋.
Huang Weihu 黃偉虎 (1992), "Min 閩", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 661.
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, 3336, 3338.