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Chinese History
Imperial China - Han
Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD

Han Dynasty
    Western Han
    Xin Dynasty
    Eastern Han

Western Han
The Han Empire was founded when Liu Bang was proclaimed Emperor, in what is today called The Western Han Empire. The vast majority of modern Chinese peoples are ‘Han’ and come from, or were assimilated into this group. The Han brought Confucianism to China, and extended dominion and trade Westwards as far as the Caspian Sea.

Emperor Han Wu consolidated previous gains and pushed back the Xiongnu (Early Hun's), thus establishing dominion over large areas of Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai. Later General Ban Chao extended Han control across the Pamir Mountains. These mountains are important, as they control the main passes through Tajikistan (And neighbouring regions of Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan). They are also the source of Lapis Lazuli, as venerated by the Pharaoh's of Egypt.

Overland trade with the West became commonplace, and these routes were later known as ‘The Silk Road’. They had documented trading relations with the early Roman Empire, such as in 166 BC via the Southern sea route into Canton, and later via The Silk Roads (There are actually four of them - Northern and Southern routes skirting the Taklamakan Dessert, a Southerly route via Burma to India, and of course the sea route via Canton)

The Han ruled an area that can modestly be stated as being the Eastern part of modern China, and as far South as Northern Vietnam, but excluding Tibet. However, religion dictates that modern Buddhism came from Tibet around this time, as evidenced by the Chinese fable ‘Journey To The West’, which you will know simply as ‘Monkey’ - one of 'The Four Great Books of China'

Map of Han Empire
Click for larger scale map
Map courtesy of Wikipedia and released under GNU free licence

Han achievements include the invention of Tofu (150 BC), and the first seismometer (132 BC) - a crude but useful device for measuring earthquakes. Many projects were continued from earlier designs, with the focus on promoting trade and thus earning revenue. Science, Arts and Culture also blossomed, and both mathematics and astronomy in particular saw large increase in knowledge

Xin (New) Dynasty
However, a lot of Chinese history is intertwined with powerful families, and around the turn of the millennia their power had grown so strong that their local taxes were undermining the state machine. A brief rebellion and breakaway Empire was formed by Wang Mang, who founded the New Xin Dynasty. This may be viewed as a popular Dynasty with ordinary people, because it heralded an extensive program of land and economic reforms.

However, this Dynasty was short-lived, but was an early indicator that all was not well. The underlying peasant unrest, coupled with frequent uprisings and inter-family fighting, eventually led to the foundations of the Han Empire crumbling

Eastern Han Empire
Emperor GuangWu defeated the New Xin, and established a new capital city West of Xi'an in Luoyang. However, the saga of land acquisition, invasions, and family wars continued unabated. In 184 AD, The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out, and this gave rise to another period of control by Warlords

Whilst the Han Empire did not officially cease until 220AD, the discontent and un-quelled uprisings gained momentum, so you may consider this Uprising to signal the practical end of the Han Empire. This led to a period known as The Three Kingdoms, but more of that in our next chapter

This information is as supplied by Wikipedia, as dated March 2009 or later, and/or other reliable sources.

Maps (Unless stated otherwise) are provided in association with Thomas Lessman

Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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