The Early Han Dynasty
206 BCE - 9 AD
From the turbulent Ch'in dynasty a rebel leader, Liu Pang, arose to seize control of the former Ch'in empire. He proclaimed himself emperor in 206 BCE. He established the Han dynasty which would become the most durable dynasty of the imperial age. The Han empire was established using what the Ch'in had already set up. The only difference is that some of the policies were modified, especially those that had caused the Ch'in collapse. Taxes were also reduced drastically, while the government played a smaller role in the economic policies.
One of important contributions of the Han was the establishment of Confucianism as the official ideaology over Legalism. The Confucianism was not the pure studies of Confucius, but a conglomeration of various other philosphies and superstitions to augment the complex and sparse teachings of Confucius. This changed the way that the empire was run. Before, emperors appointed people to positions regardless of thier competence. Now, the emperors chose the people they thought were the best suited for the job based on merit. Written examinations were used to identify the best qualified people for the job. In the 2nd cnetury BCE, an imperial university was established to teach students the five classics of the Confucian school to prepare them to become bureaucrats.
The height of the Han empire was under the rule of Emperor Wu Ti, who ruled the Han empire from 140 to 87 BCE. Emperor Wu wanted to expand his kingdom and did, but at a price. The once abundent coffers of the Han kingdom, collected in the days when the government was hands off regarding the economy, were empty. This led to the re-establishing of the legalist philosophy; taxes and old policies were reinstated. This did not go well with the people and large land owners opposed the centeral government by refusing to pay taxes. The government overlooked the large land cases and over-taxed the peasants. The peasants did not like the change and a revolt ensued.
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