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Period of Rival Empires
Tibet and China Under Mongol Domination
Economy and Religion Between China and Tibet
China and Tibet Under Manchu Rule
Republican China and Independent Tibet
China and Tibet Under PRC Rule
The Periodization of Tibetan History: General Chronology
This timeline includes dates of influential Tibetan figures and major political eras. At this point it does not attempt to represent the whole of the Tibetan cultural region, nor does it portray Tibetan history from a variety of subject-specific rubrics – art, medicine, literature, politics – in any systematic fashion. We eventually hope to create a multi-level chronology that is region and subject specific.
Compiled by Dan Martin; reprinted from
Based primarily on an outline by Michael Aris compiled from chronologies by Christopher Beckwith, Hugh Richardson & David Snellgrove, Helmut Hoffmann & Melvyn Goldstein
Early empire (c. 600-842)
Gnam ri slon mtshan of Yarlung Valley made king of Tibet.
Srong brtsan sgam po (d. 649).
Conquest of Zhang zhung; creation of Tibetan script.
Srong brtsan sgam po marries Chinese princess Wen-ch'eng.
Gung srong gung brtsan.
Khri srong brtsan.
Mang srong mang brtsan.
Conquest of the A zha (T'u-yü-hun);
first Tibetan expansion into eastern Turkestan.
Khri 'dus srong.
Temporary loss of eastern Turkestan.
Khri ma lod.
Khri lde gtsug brtsan, aka Mes ag tshoms.
Married Chinese princess Kimshang.
Khri srong lde brtsan.
foundation of Bsam yas monastery
Tibetan occupation of Tun-huang.
Debate of Bsam yas (?).
Second Tibetan colonial expansion in eastern Turkestan.
Mu ne btsan po.
Khri lde srong brtsan, aka Sad na legs; increasing influence of Buddhist monks in state government.
Khri gtsug lde brtsan, alias Ral pa can; increase of clerical influence and translation of Buddhist scriptures.
Sino-Tibetan treaty guaranteeing most of the Tibetan colonial possessions.
re. 838 or 841-842
Khri u'i dum brtsan, later known as Glang dar ma; eclipse of monastic Buddhism in central Tibet.
Tibet in pieces (c. 842-1249)
Loss of imperial territory in Tarim Basin and internal disorder in Tibet. Following years saw the dispersal of surviving members of the royal family, who founded local principalities on the periphery; three great peasant revolts.
Ye shes 'od; king of western Tibet, sends Rin chen bzang po to Kashmir for Buddhist studies.
Klu mes and Sum pa return from the east to central Tibet, thus initiating the second introduction of monastic Buddhism.
Marpa the Translator.
Milarepa (Mi la ras pa), the poet-saint.
The Bengali-born teacher Atisha arrives in Tibet.
Reting (Rwa-sgreng) Monastery founded by Atisha's Tibetan disciple 'Brom ston; origins of Bka' gdams pa school.
Foundation of the Sa skya Monastery (origins of Sa skya School).
At Bsam yas, a group belonging to the Klu mes monastic faction battled a group belonging to the Rba and Rag factions. Most of the temples in the environs of Bsam yas were destroyed.
Fighting in Lhasa area between the monastic communities of Rba and 'Bring. Peace negotiations by Dwags po Sgom tshul, who hands responsibility for protecting and restoring the Jo khang 'Cathedral' to Zhang G.yu brag pa. Zhang goes on to exert political control over much of the area of Dbus.
Monasteries of six great Bka' brgyud pa sub schools founded (the first Bka' brgyud monasteries were founded in mid 12th century).
The Kashmiri teacher Shakyashri visits Tibet.
Mongol pressure (c. 1249-1349)
Sa skya Pandita.
Tibetan chiefs submit to Mongols to avoid invasion.
Sa skya Pandita visits Godan Khan.
Sa skya Pandita appointed Tibetan viceroy by Mongols.
'Phags pa visits Kublai Khan, emperor of China, and receives title of Imperial Teacher and temporal rule over the 13 myriarchies of Tibet.
'Bri gung Monastery sacked on behalf of Sa skya by Mongol soldiers, bringing the 'Bri gung Gling log civil war to an end.
Life of Bu ston, systematizer the Tibetan Buddhist scriptural canon.
Rival powers (c. 1350-1642)
Byang chub rgyal mtshan of the Phag mo gru Myriarchy establishes his power over central Tibet (Dbus & Gtsang), ending rule by Sa skya Dpon chen.
Tsong kha pa, founder of what would become known as the Dge lugs pa School.
End of the Mongol Y�an dynasty in China; beginning of Ming dynasty.
Birth of Dge 'dun grub, nephew of Tsong kha pa, who would later become abbot of Dga' ldan Monastery, and still later be recognized as the First Dalai Lama.
The circular letter of 'Bri gung Dpal 'dzin, against the Rnying ma School.
Foundation of Dga' ldan Monastery.
Foundation of Bkra shis lhun po Monastery in Shigatse.
Foundation of 'Bras spungs.
Foundation of Se ra.
Visit to Tibet by Vanaratna, the last of the Indian Buddhist pundits.
Dge 'dun rgya mtsho, to be recognized as the 2nd Dalai Lama.
Decline of Phag mo gru pa power; rise of the Rin spungs pa of Gtsang (beginning already in 1435), who patronized the Karma pa school.
Bsod nams rgya mtsho, 3rd Dalai Lama
Invited by Altan Khan of the Tumed and began the 2nd conversion of the Mongols; received the Mongol title Dalai Lama (Ta la'i Bla ma), which was then applied to his predecessors.
Karma tshe brtan of Gtsang takes over power from the Rin spungs pa.
Blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan, former teacher of the Dalai Lama, installed as the 1st Panchen Lama.
Official alliance between the princes of Gtsang and the Karma pa hierarch, in opposition to the Dge lugs pa.
Yon tan rgya mtsho, the 4th Dalai Lama, born a Mongol.
Karma phun tshogs rnam rgyal takes over Central Tibet (including Gtsang).
Zhabs drung Ngag dbang rnam rgyal, prince-abbot of Rwa lung Monastery, flees to Bhutan and founds the Bhutanese state.
Ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho, the 5th Dalai Lama.
Karma bstan skyong (son of Karma phun tshogs rnam rgyal), King of Gtsang.
Dga' ldan Pho brang government (1642-1950s)
Gushri Khan of the Khoshot Mongols subdues the Bon king of Be ri and the King of Gtsang, then hands over religious and secular power to the 5th Dalai Lama. The Khoshot Khan and his dynasty remain as protectors of Tibet. Beginning of Dga' ldan Pho brang Government.
Lha btsun chen po enthrones the 1st Dharma-King of Sikkim, Phun tshogs rnam rgyal.
The 5th Dalai Lama visits China and the emperor K'ang hsi.
Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho appointed Regent (Sde srid).
Tshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho, the 6th Dalai Lama, famous for his songs.
Sangs rgyas rgya mtsho slain by Lha bzang Khan, leader of the Khoshot Mongols in Tibet.
Lha bzang Khan deposes the 6th Dalai Lama and installs Pad dkar 'dzin pa, who is not accepted as a Dalai Lama by Tibetans.
Bskal bzang rgya mtsho, 7th Dalai Lama.
The Jesuit priest Desideri in Lhasa.
Zunghar Mongols sack Lhasa and kill Lha bzang Khan.
Manchu pressure (c. 1720-1912)
The Manchu Emperor K'ang Hsi has the Zunghars driven out of Tibet. Khang chen nas rules, following the orders of the Manchus (Rnying ma school persecuted).
Civil war follows withdrawal of Manchus from Lhasa.
Pho lha nas defeats his rivals and governs Tibet with Manchu support. (He rules Tibet from 1728-1747.) Pairs of Manchu representatives called Ambans established in Lhasa.
Pho lha nas established as King of Tibet.
Pho lha nas's son and successor 'Gyur med rnam rgyal is killed by Manchus, after ruling only 3 years; the Ambans are murdered.
Death of 7th Dalai Lama; appointment of Regents (now called Rgyal tshab, "Representatives," rather than Sde srid) from monastic ranks (mainly incarnates) begins now and continues until 1950s.
'Jam dpal rgya mtsho, 8th Dalai Lama.
George Bogle's mission to the 3rd Panchen Lama.
Samuel Turner's mission.
First Nepalese invasion.
Second Nepalese invasion defeated with help of Manchu army; policy of excluding foreigners adopted. Manchu military power begins a long slow decline.
Lung rtogs rgya mtsho, 9th Dalai Lama (officially on the throne 1808-1815, although power remained in the hands of his Regents).
Tshul khrims rgya mtsho, 10th Dalai Lama.
Mkhas grub rgya mtsho, 11th Dalai Lama.
The Dogra war.
Conflict with Nepal.
'Phrin las rgya mtsho, 12th Dalai Lama.
Thub bstan rgya mtsho, 13th Dalai Lama.
British annexation of Sikkim; battles between British and Tibet continue several years.
Younghusband Expedition to Lhasa; flight of 13th Dalai Lama to Mongolia, then his visit to Peking; Anglo-Tibetan treaty.
Sino-British treaty on Tibet.
Chao Ehr-feng's troops occupy Lhasa; Dalai Lama escapes to India.
Surrender of Chinese garrison in Lhasa. End of Ch'ing dynasty. Mongolia declares independence.
Dalai Lama, on his return to Tibet from India, declares Tibet independent.
Chinese soldiers in Lhasa deported to China via India. On January 11, the Tibeto-Mongolian Treaty of mutual recognition is signed.
Simla Convention between Britain, China and Tibet.
Death of 13th Dalai Lama; Rwa sgreng appointed Regent; fall of Lung shar and his reformist party; mission of General Huang Mu-sung to Lhasa.
Birth of the present 14th Dalai Lama.
Rwa sgreng resigns as Regent, succeeded by Stag sgra.
India undertakes to continue the British relationship with Tibet; the Rwa sgreng conspiracy; revolt of the Se ra Byes College.
Tibetan Trade mission to China, US and UK.
PRC Rule (1950s-present)
Chinese People's Liberation Army invades Tibet; assumption of power by the young 14th Dalai Lama; appeal to the UN.
Seventeen Point Agreement allows Chinese protection, but internal autonomy (guarantees of no interference with traditional political system and religion).
Flight of 14th Dalai Lama to India, followed by about 80,000 Tibetans. In following years the number of refugees would total about 200,000.
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