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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Han Dynasty and Gaozu, First Ruler of the Han

The Han Dynasty
Liu Bang, the founder of the Han dynasty came from a peasant background. Unlike the nobles of the time, Liu Bang wanted the kingdoms of China to be united under one government. As the first ruler of the Han dynasty he achieved this goal and more. The dynasty he founded lasted for more than 400 years, from 206 B.C. until A.D. 220.

Gaozu, First Ruler of the Han
After claiming control of China, Liu Bang took the name of Han Gaozu (GOW»ZOO), or "High Ancestor." He located his capital city at Chang'an (CHANG«AHN) in the valley of the Wei River, not far from the old Qin capital of Xianyang. Gaozu made sure that his government differed from that of Shi Huangdi. He feared that the Chinese people would turn against him if he set up a Legalist government. In place of Legalism, Gaozu turned to Confucianism.

Gaozu also hoped to win the support of the nobles of China. To do this, Gaozu did away with the provinces of the Qin and restored the kingdoms of the Zhou dynasty. He appointed nobles as rulers of these kingdoms. The later Han dynasty emperors took back the kingdoms Gaozu had given to the nobles and appointed government officials to rule them. The officials reported only to the emperor. In this way, the Han formed a bureaucracy like the Qin dynasty.

Han government began to use both Confucian and Legalist ideas. While Han leaders believed that a ruler should set an example for the people, they also saw a need for strong central government and an all-powerful leader.

The Han dynasty emperors came to be as feared and respected as Shi Huangdi had been. Yet they did not use the detailed laws of the Qin. Instead, they relied on the Confucian idea that people should obey their rulers in the same way that children obey their parents.

Who was the founder of the Han dynasty?


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