05 February 2010

The Han Dynasty of China

The Han Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 汉朝; traditional Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàn Cháo; Wade-Giles: Han Ch'ao; IPA: [xan tʂʰɑʊ̯]; 206 BCE–220 CE) was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms (220–265 CE). It was founded by the peasant rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty (9–23 CE) of the former regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han into two periods: the Western Han (206 BCE–9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE). Spanning over four centuries, the period of the Han Dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history. When Cao Pi, King of Wei, son of Cao Cao, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, the Han Dynasty ceased to exist.

Shu Han (traditional Chinese: 蜀漢; simplified Chinese: 蜀汉; pinyin: Shǔ Hàn), sometimes known as the Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shǔ) was one of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty, based on areas around Sichuan which was then known as Shu. Some historians argue it was the last Han dynasty because Liu Bei was directly related to the Han sovereignty. The other two states were Cao Wei in central and northern China, and Eastern Wu in southern and southeastern China.

The Han Dynasty was an age of economic prosperity, and saw a significant growth of the money economy first established during the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BCE). The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BCE remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE). To pay for its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the government nationalized the private salt and iron industries in 117 BCE. These government monopolies were repealed during the Eastern Han period, and the lost revenue was recouped through heavily taxing private entrepreneurs. The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the Han government, but shared power with both the nobility and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. From the reign of Emperor Wu onward, the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism in education and court politics, synthesized with the cosmology of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu. This policy endured until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 CE. Science and technology during the Han period saw significant advances, including papermaking, the nautical steering rudder, the use of negative numbers in mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer employing an inverted pendulum.

The Kingdom of Shu-Han was not simply a nation of war. During times of peace, Shu began many irrigation and road-building projects designed to improve the economy. Many of these public works still exist and are widely used. For example, the Nine-Mile Dam (Zipungpu Water Control Project) is still present near Chengdu in Sichuan province. These works helped improve the economy of Southwest China and can be credited with beginning the history of economic activity in the Sichuan area. It also allowed trade with Southern China, ruled by Eastern Wu.

Here are the Han leaders from Liu Bang to the son of Liu Bei:
  1. Emperor GaoZu of Han: Liu Bang
  2. Emperor Hui of Han: Liu Ying
  3. Emperor QianShao of Han: Liu Gong
  4. Emperor HouShao of Han: Liu Hong
  5. Emperor Wen of Han: Liu Heng
  6. Emperor Jing of Han: Liu Qi
  7. Emperor Wu of Han:Liu Che
  8. Emperor Zhao of Han: Liu FuLing
  9. Prince He of ChangYi: Liu He
  10. Emperor Xuan of Han: Liu BingYi
  11. Emperor Yuan of Han: Liu Shi
  12. Emperor Cheng of Han: Liu Ao
  13. Emperor Ai of Han: Liu Xin
  14. Emperor Ping of Han: Liu Kan
  15. Emperor Ruzi of Han: Liu Ying
  16. Emperor GengShi of Han: Liu Xuan
  17. Emperor GuangWu of Han: Liu Xiu
  18. Emperor Ming of Han: Liu Yang
  19. Emperor Zhang of Han: Liu Da
  20. Emperor He of Han: Liu Zhao
  21. Emperor Shang of Han: Liu Long
  22. Emperor An of Han: Lu Hu
  23. Emperor Shao of Han: Liu Yi
  24. Emperor Shun of Han: Liu Bao
  25. Emperor Chong of Han: Liu Bing
  26. Emperor Zhi of Han: Liu Zuan
  27. Emperor Huan of Han: Liu Zhi
  28. Emperor Ling of Han: Liu Hong
  29. Emperor Shao of Han: Liu Bian
  30. Emperor Xian of Han: Liu Xie
  31. Emperor ZhaoLie of Shu-Han: Liu Bei
  32. Emperor Huai of Shu-Han: Liu Shan
*Webcomic webisode from San: The Three Kingdoms Comic

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