Traditionally, the era started with the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907 AD and ended with the founding of the Song dynasty in 960. Many states had been de facto independent kingdoms long before 907. After the Tang had collapsed, the kings who controlled the Central plain crowned themselves as emperor. War between kingdoms occurred frequently to gain control of the central plain for legitimacy and then over the rest of China. The last of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms states, Northern Han, was not vanquished until 979.
The Five Dynasties were:
The Ten Kingdoms were:
Only ten are traditionally listed, hence the era's name, "Ten Kingdoms"; some historians, such as Bo Yang, count eleven, including Yan and Qi but not the Northern Han, viewing it as simply a continuation of Later Han. This era also led to the founding of the Liao dynasty in the north.