Establishment of the Later Han
Liu Zhiyuan was military governor of Bingzhou, an area around Taiyuan in present-day Shanxi that had long been a stronghold of the sinicized Shatuo. However, the Later Jin he served was weak and little more than a puppet of the expanding Khitan empire to the north. When the Later Jin finally did decide to defy them, the Khitan sent an expedition south that resulted in the destruction of the Later Jin.
The Khitan force made it all the way to the Yellow River before the emperor decided to return to his base in present-day Beijing, in the heart of the contentious Sixteen Prefectures. However, following constant harassment from the Chinese on the return route, he died of an illness in May 947. The combination of the fall of the Later Jin and the succession crisis among the Khitan resulted in a power vacuum. Liu Zhiyuan was able to fill that void and founded the Later Han.
Sources conflict as to the origin of the Later Han and Northern Han Emperors, some indicate Shatuo ancestry while another claims that the Emperors claimed patrilineal Han Chinese ancestry.