A universal guide for China studies
Chinese History - Han Dynasty 漢朝 (206 BC-220 AD)
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Han Dynasty:Western or Former Han 西漢,前漢 (206 BC- 8 AD)
Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty 王莽新朝 (8-22 AD)
Eastern or Later Han 東漢,後漢 (25-220 AD)
|period before (Qin)|
-- Prelude: Chu-Han
-- Interlude: Wang Mang
next period (Sanguo)
|After centuries of political division, the adventurer Liu Bang 劉邦 (Han Gaozu 漢高祖) succeeded in founding a new empire, following the tradition of the former kings of Zhou 周 (11th cent. BC-221 BC ) and the Warring States 戰國 and walking in the footsteps of the First Emperor of Qin 秦始皇 (221-206 BC). But unlike the short-lived Qin empire, the Han Dynasty should last for four centuries. |
Fundamental changes took place during this time and helped to build up what we now call the Chinese culture. It was not only the governmental system with its huge state bureaucracy that took more concrete shape; the second important event was the rise of Confucianism as the main state doctrine, while popular belief in Daoist deities and practices by both aristocracy and the peasants were very widespread. And for the first time in history, China had contact with the West through the Silk Road.
The Western Han period can be divided into the time of consolidation (Emperors Han Gaozu, Wendi 漢文帝, Zhaodi 漢昭帝, Jingdi 漢景帝), the zenith with the expansion into Inner Asia (Emperor Han Wudi 漢武帝) and the centralization of power, and the time of replacement of the imperial power by the mighty consort clan of the Wang 王 (emperors Yuandi 漢元帝, Chengdi 漢成帝).
Wang Mang 王莽 tried to replace the Han Dynasty but his reforms to shape an ideal Confucian government failed, and the Han Dynasty was restored as Eastern Han.
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