The Western Han Dynasty

China’s first imperial Dynasty was the Qin Dynasty. The Qin Dynasty had unified the Chinese warring states by conquest, but their empire became unstable after the death of the first emperor Qin Shihuang. In 209BC, the last period of Qin, because of the harsh government decrees and heavy taxes, Chen Sheng and Wu Guang launched an uprising which was put down but paved the way for more rebellion.

In 206BC, Xiang Yu from the state of Chu, defeated the main force of the Qin’s army at the Battle of JuLu. Together Liu Bang and Xiang Yu overthrew the Qin Dynasty however both want to become the emperor and so a war broke out between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. This war decided who would become emperor of China and it lasted for 4 years. Although Xiang Yu was a capable commander, Liu Bang defeated him at the battle of Gai Xia.

In 202BC, Liu Bang made himself Emperor and established the Han Dynasty. It was the first powerful and stable dynasty in Chinese history.

The Western Han was a strong and prosperous period in the Han Dynasty, with a fast development of its politics, economy and culture.

After ascending to the throne, Liu Bang drew a lesson from the destruction of the Qin Dynasty; he renewed old laws and rite. In agriculture, he encouraged production, reduced conscript labor and cut many taxes. In politics, he initially gave noble titles and kingdoms to helpful ministers, such as Han Xin, Peng Yue, Yin Bu. Then once the dynasty had been stabilized, he abolished their titles and executed them with many different crimes. At the start of this Dynasty because of long-term wars, the nation was weak. After Liu Bang was defeated in Bai Deng when he led his army to attack the Huns, Liu Bang adopted the ‘Peace-making Marriage’ policy to pacify the invasion of the Huns.

When Liu Bang was alive, he wanted to appoint his son Ru Yi as his successor, but ministers and Empress Lv Zhi opposed him. After Liu Bang’ death, Liu Ying inherited the throne and was named Emperor Hui. The Empress Lv Zhi killed Ru Yi and appointed her relatives to powerful position, which resulted in a revolt.

After the revolt, Liu Qi was made emperor by the ministers, and was named Emperor Wen. Liu Qi continued to follow Liu Bang’s policy.This led to a stable period, the economy prospered, and the people lived happy and peaceful lives. The period was named the enlightened administration of the ‘WenJing period’.

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