The most prominent Tibetan kings
Table of Contents
- 1 - The rise of the Tibetan Empire
- 2 - The collapse of the Tibetan Empire
- 3 - Prominent Tibetan kings
The rise of the Tibetan Empire
The Tibetan kingdom was centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songtsen Gampo, in the 7th century.
The empire further expanded under the 38th king, Trisong Detsen.
The 821–823 treaty concluded between the Tibetan Empire and the Tang dynasty delineated the former as being in possession of an area larger than the Tibetan Plateau, stretching east to Chang’an, west beyond modern Afghanistan, and south into modern India and the Bay of Bengal.
The collapse of the Tibetan Empire
The Era of Fragmentation was a period of Tibetan history in the 9th and 10th centuries. During this era, the political centralization of the earlier Tibetan Empire collapsed.
The late 10th century and 11th century saw a revival of Buddhism in Tibet.
During the 13th century Tibet was incorporated into the Mongol Empire, retaining nominal power over religious and regional political affairs, while the Mongols managed a structural and administrative rule over the region.
With the decline of the Yuan dynasty, Central Tibet was ruled by successive families from the 14th to the 17th centuries, to be succeeded by the Dalai Lama’s rule in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Tibet would be de facto independent from the mid-14th century on, for nearly 400 years.
Prominent Tibetan kings
This is a non-exhaustive list of Tibetan Kings who ruled over the Tibetan empire for centuries.
Tsangpa was a dynasty that dominated large parts of Tibet from 1565 to 1642.
It was the last Tibetan royal dynasty to rule in own name.
The regime was founded by Karma Tseten, a low-born retainer of the prince of the Rinpungpa Dynasty and governor of Shigatse in Tsang since 1548.
Wangchen Tenzin, King of Lingtsang, also Lingtsang Gyalgenma, was the King of Lingtsang in Kham, a tertön, a ngagpa and a kīla master of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
He was said to be an incarnation of King Gésar of Ling and was known for his kindness and his siddhis linked to his kīla practice.
Rinpungpa was a Tibetan regime that dominated much of Western Tibet and part of Ü-Tsang between 1435 and 1565.
During one period around 1500 the Rinpungpa lords came close to assemble the Tibetan lands around the Yarlung Tsangpo River under one authority, but their powers receded after 1512.
Mangyül Gungthang, simplified Chinese: 芒域贡堂; traditional Chinese: 芒域貢堂; pinyin: mángyù gòngtáng) alternatively known as Ngari Me is the name of a Tibetan kingdom established under Sakya overlordship in Southwest Tibet around 1265. Historically it lies in an area that was an important transit point between the north and south Himalayas, and it was through this route that Padmasambhava and Śāntarakṣita arrived in Tibet. It was founded by a descendant of the Tibetan royal house, Bumdegon (1253–1280) It was one of the thirteen myriarchies ruled by a Sakya lama viceroy appointed by the Yuan court of China.
Chote Chaba was a Tibetan lama, the 12th incarnation of the Migyur Khutughtu, and the 18th king of Muli. At the time, Muli was a small princely state on the border between Tibetan and Han Chinese civilisation; it now forms the Muli Tibetan Autonomous County in southwestern Sichuan province.
Namri Songtsen, also known as “Namri Löntsen” (570?–618?/629) was, according to tradition, the 32nd King of Tibet of the Yarlung Dynasty, which until his reign ruled only the Yarlung Valley. He expanded his kingdom to rule the central part of the Tibetan Plateau. His actions were decisive in the setting up of the Tibetan Empire, to which he can be named co-founder with his son, Songtsen Gampo.
The Phagmodrupa dynasty or Pagmodru was a dynastic regime that held sway over Tibet or parts thereof from 1354 to the early 17th century.
It was established by Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen of the Lang family at the end of the Yuan dynasty.
The dynasty had a lasting importance on the history of Tibet; it created an autonomous kingdom after Mongol rule, revitalized the national culture, and brought about a new legislation that survived until the 1950s.
Nevertheless, the Phagmodrupa had a turbulent history due to internal family feuding and the strong localism among noble lineages and fiefs.
Its power receded after 1435 and was reduced to Ü in the 16th century due to the rise of the ministerial family of the Rinpungpa. It was defeated by the rival Tsangpa dynasty in 1613 and 1620, and was formally superseded by the Ganden Phodrang regime founded by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1642.
In that year, Güshi Khan of the Khoshut formally transferred the old possessions of Sakya, Rinpung and Phagmodrupa to the “Great Fifth”.
Sonom was a king of the Gyalrong people in China. He was the lord-lama of Greater Jinchuan. He was executed after his January 1776 defeat in the Jinchuan campaigns.
Lha Thothori gNyan bTsan was the 28th King of Tibet according to the Tibetan legendary tradition.
Buddhism came to Tibet during the reign of King Thothori Nyantsen (245-364 A.D.,)
Lha “divine, pertaining to the gods of the sky” is an honorary title and not a part of his proper name.
The Upper Mongols, also known as the Köke Nuur Mongols or Qinghai Mongols, are ethnic Mongol people of Oirat and Khalkha origin who settled around Qinghai Lake in so-called Upper Mongolia. As part of the Khoshut Khanate of Tsaidam and the Koke Nuur they played a major role in Sino–Mongol–Tibetan politics during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Upper Mongols adopted Tibetan dress and jewelry despite still living in the traditional Mongolian ger and writing in the script.
Yeshe-Ö was the first notable lama-king in Tibet. Yeshe-Ö was a monk-king in western Tibet. Born Khor-re, he is better known as Lhachen Yeshe-Ö, his spiritual name. He was the second king in the succession of the kingdom of Guge in the southwestern Tibetan Plateau. The extent of the kingdom was roughly equivalent to the area of the kingdom Zhangzhung that had existed until the 7th century. Yeshe-Ö abdicated the throne c. 975 to become a lama. In classical Tibetan historiography, the restoration of an organized and monastic tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is attributed to Yeshe-Ö. He built Tholing Monastery in 997 when Tholing was the capital of Guge. Yeshe-Ö’ sponsored noviciates, including the great translator Rinchen Zangpo.