Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 汉朝; traditional Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàn Cháo; Wade–Giles: Han Ch'ao; ) (206 BC – 220 AD) was an imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms (220–280 AD). It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty (9–23 AD) of the former regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han into two periods: the Western Han (206 BC – 9 AD) and Eastern Han (25–220 AD). Spanning over four centuries, the period of the Han Dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history. To this day, China's majority ethnic group refers to itself as the "Han people" and the Chinese script is referred to as "Han characters".

The Han Empire was divided into areas directly controlled by the central government, known as commanderies, and a number of semi-autonomous kingdoms. These kingdoms gradually lost all vestiges of their independence, particularly following the Rebellion of the Seven States. The Xiongnu, a nomadic confederation which dominated the eastern Eurasian Steppe, defeated the Han army in battle in 200 BC. Following the defeat, a political marriage alliance was negotiated in which the Han became the de facto inferior partner. When, despite the treaty, the Xiongnu continued to raid Han borders, Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141–87 BC) launched several military campaigns against them. The ultimate Han victory in these wars eventually forced the Xiongnu to accept vassal status as Han tributaries. These campaigns expanded Han sovereignty into the Tarim Basin of Central Asia and helped establish the vast trade network known as the Silk Road, which reached as far as the Mediterranean world. Han forces managed to divide the Xiongnu into two competing nations, the Southern and Northern Xiongnu, and forced the Northern Xiongnu across the Ili River. Despite these victories, the territories north of Han's borders were quickly overrun by the nomadic Xianbei Confederation.

After 92 AD, the palace eunuchs increasingly involved themselves in court politics, engaging in violent power struggles between the various consort clans of the empresses and empress dowagers, causing the Han's ultimate downfall. Imperial authority was also seriously challenged by large Daoist religious societies which instigated the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion. Following the death of Emperor Ling (r. 168–189 AD), the palace eunuchs suffered wholesale massacre by military officers, allowing members of the aristocracy and military governors to become warlords and divide the empire. When Cao Pi, King of Wei, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, the Han Dynasty ceased to exist.

The Han Dynasty was an age of economic prosperity and saw a significant growth of the money economy first established during the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC). The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). To pay for its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the government nationalized the private salt and iron industries in 117 BC. These government monopolies were repealed during the Eastern Han period, and the lost revenue was recouped through heavily taxing private entrepreneurs. The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the Han government but shared power with both the nobility and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. From the reign of Emperor Wu onward, the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism in education and court politics, synthesized with the cosmology of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu. This policy endured until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 AD. Science and technology during the Han period saw significant advances, including papermaking, the nautical steering rudder, the use of negative numbers in mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer employing an inverted pendulum.

Read more about Han DynastyEtymology, Science, Technology, and Engineering

Other articles related to "han dynasty, han, dynasty":

Society And Culture Of The Han Dynasty
... The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) was a period of ancient China divided by the Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE) periods, when the capital cities were located ... It was founded by Emperor Gaozu of Han and briefly interrupted by the regime of Wang Mang (r. 9–23 CE) who usurped the throne from a child Han emperor ...
Society And Culture Of The Han Dynasty - Laws and Customs
... Further information Government of the Han Dynasty and Traditional Chinese law By the Han Dynasty, written law had matured from its archaic form based largely on natural law and social ... However, the Han Dynasty law code established by Chancellor Xiao He (d. 193 BCE) was largely an extension of an existing Qin Dynasty law code ...
Science And Technology Of The Han Dynasty - Weaponry and War Machines
... It was regularly used in sieges during the Han Dynasty, by both besiegers and the besieged ... The most common projectile weapon used during the Han Dynasty was the small handheld, trigger-activated crossbow (and to a lesser extent, the repeating crossbow), first invented in China during the ... mechanism with a buttplate from either the late Warring States Period or the early Han Dynasty made of bronze and inlaid with silver The Han Chinese also employed chemical warfare ...
Late Chinese Empire - Imperial China - Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220) - Eastern Han
... Emperor Guangwu reinstated the Han Dynasty with the support of landholding and merchant families at Luoyang, east of the former capital Xi'an ... Thus, this new era is termed the Eastern Han Dynasty ... of Emperors Ming and Zhang, former glories of the dynasty was reclaimed, with brilliant military and cultural achievements ...
Han Dynasty - Science, Technology, and Engineering - Medicine
... Further information Traditional Chinese medicine and Chinese herbology Han-era medical physicians believed that the human body was subject to the same forces of nature that governed the greater universe ... Thus, Han-era physicians prescribed medicine that was believed to counteract this imbalance ... Besides dieting, Han physicians also prescribed moxibustion, acupuncture, and calisthenics as methods of maintaining one's health ...

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