The Southern Chen Dynasty (557-589)

Northern & Southern Dynasties – Chen Dynasty南陳朝(557-589)

The Chen dynasty was the fourth and last of the Southern dynasties in China. Following the Liang dynasty, it was founded by Chen Baxian, an 18th generation descendant of Ying Chuan Chen Clan founder Chen Shi. The Chen dynasty covered most of China South of the Yangtse River 長江

Chen Emperor

Personal Name


Birth – Death



Ba Xian霸先

Wu Di武帝





Wen Di 文帝




Bo Zong 伯宗

Fei Di 癈帝





Xuan Di 宣帝




Shu Bao 叔寶

Hou Zhu 後主



Although the dynasty strengthened and revitalized the economy and culture of Southern China, it was short-lived, lasting a mere 32 years and three generations across five emperors. It was succeeded by the short-lived Sui dynasty, which was supplanted by the Tang dynasty. The Chen royal family continued to hold powerful high-ranking positions in the governments of both succeeding dynasty.

Chen Baxian 陳霸先The First Chen Emperor (503-559)

Chen Baxian - Emperor Wu of Chen

Chen Baxian was from Wuxing Commandery near modern Huzhou, Zhejiang and Shanghai. He was a distinguished Liang dynasty general who first gain notice fighting against the rebel general Hou Jing. After progressive promotions, he seized power in 555 in a coup against his commander General Wang Sengbian. By 557 he had forced the Emperor Jing to abdicate the throne in his favor and made Jiankang (modern Nanjing) his capital. Baxian died of a sudden illness in 559. Since his only surviving son was detained by the Northern Zhou, he was succeeded by his nephew Chen Qian. Baxian is known posthumously as the Emperor Wu of Chen 陳武帝.

Chen Qian 陳蒨 - The Second Chen Emperor (522-566)

Chen Qian - Emperor Wen of Chen

Chen Qian was the oldest son of Chen Baxian’s brother Chen Daotan, who was a commander of the Liang dynasty palace guards. During the his reign, Qian consolidated control of the state against independent warlords and seized territory greatly expanding Chen’s territory and strength. Qian is known posthumously as the Emperor Wen of Chen陳文帝.

After Qian death in 566, he was succeeded by his son Chen Bozong陳伯宗(554-570). The royal court was soon beset with infighting, and Bozong was deposed by his uncle Chen Xu in 568. Bozong is known posthumously as the Emperor Fei of Chen陳癈帝. Our branch of the Chin family are descendants of Chen Qian and Chen Bozong.

Chen Xu 陳頊 The Fourth Chen Emperor (530-582)

Chen Xu was the second son of Chen Daotan, and the younger brother of Chen Qian the Second Chen Emperor. After seizing the throne from his nephew in 568, Chen Xu ruled for 13 years. He was a capable and diligent ruler. At one point, he expanded militarily into Northern Qi territory only to lose those gains when the Northern Qi fell to the Northern Zhou in 577. When he died in 582, he was succeeded by his son Chen Shubao. Xu is known posthumously as the Emperor Xuan of Chen 陳宣帝.

Chen Xu - Emperor Xuan of Chen

When Xuan died, Chen Shubao陳叔寶(553-604) became the fifth Chen Emperor and immediately faced military pressure from the Sui on many fronts. According to historians, Shubao was an incompetent and inattentive ruler, preferring literature and women to the affairs of state. By 589, Sui armies captured the Chen capital, Jiankang, ending Chen rule and unifying China after almost 300 years of division. Shubao was taken to the Sui capital Chang’an, where he was treated kindly by the Sui Emperors and died in 604. Shubao is known posthumously as the Houzhu or the Last Ruler of Chen 陳後主.

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