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The Han dynasty

The Han dynasty 01 Liu Bang, a minor Qin official who had mobilized armed forces against the Qin regimen, proclaimed himself emperor of Han (one of the states within the Qin empire) in 206 BC.

The Han dynasty ruled for 400 years (206 BC-220 AD) and was the first world’s great empire. Han emerged as a flowering culture with big impetus to push out borders and open them to trade , people and new ideas. Thus was defined the national identity, to such anextent that the most of the Chinese people still style themselves "Han Chinese" after this dynasty. It was the first dynasty to hold the philosophy of Confucianism, which became the ideological supporting of all regimes until the fell of imperial China. Under the Han, China made transcendental progresses in several areas of the arts and sciences.

Liu Bang preserved the Qin model of local government, but stepped up the control in the provinces. Its form of government ensured a period of stability and peace, with efficient taxation financing an increasing civil service. Chang'an (modern Xi’an) was the cosmopolitan capital of the Western Han dynasty.

From 135 to 90 BC, Emperor Wu consolidated the Chinese empire by pushing back the Huns into the steppes of Inner Mongolia. He extended the frontier into Xinjiang and Yunnan and opened up the Silk Road for trade in tea, spices and silk with India, west Asia and Rome. His armies defeated northern tribes, entered to Korea, and colonized the rebellious southern states, including Guangdong and parts of Vietnam.

An increasing necessity of resources and supply lines in all the empire appeared years later; posterior increment of taxes and illegal contributions originated unrest in several parts of Han. Gradually the dynasty became decadent and was constantly destabilized by opponent factions of imperial consorts, until Emperor Wang Mang, in 9 AD, when the Western empire collapsed.

The Han dynasty 02 After fifteen years of chaos, the Han dynasty was re-established with a new capital at Luoyang in the east. Emperor Liu Xiu re-imposed the classical tradition, but after his reign the Eastern Han was gradually damaged by factional intrigue, like the Western.

Internal conflicts caused by an important Taoist influence, and the growing independence of the local governments and landowners, converted the country once again into a land of permanent warring states.

In the middle of this period of disorder and strife, two main schools of philosophy and religion had surfaced to change the Chinese’s life. Confucianism supported the idea of a centralized universal order, and crystallized the imperial authority; and Buddhism, introduced into the country from India, improved aspects of people’s life and thought -especially in arts and literature- merging with their native beliefs.

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