Which Chinese dynasty had the best military?
Han Dynasty, the first great empire in China
The Han Dynasty will be in Chinese 汉朝 called. When the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) was broken, Liu Bang (around 250 BC to 195 BC) declared himself the new emperor. It covered a large area, but the people were impoverished. Perhaps more than half of the population was killed in a short period of time by the Qin conquests, strategies, and consequent rebellions. It is thought that the population of the region has decreased to around 18 million people.
Liu Bang established rules that were less stringent. He allowed more freedoms and lower taxes and he did not seek total power. His successors expanded the area. In a census in the year 2 AD, the population of the empire was 57 million people. The land area was more than twice the size of the original territory. There was a coup against the line of the dynasty in AD 9. An official builds his own dynasty. This divided the Han Dynasty era into three periods called the Western Han Dynasty (206-9 BC), the Xia Dynasty (9-23 AD) and the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-206 AD). During this time, the region grew in population and technical knowledge, but then the Han Empire ended in natural disasters and rebellions and was divided between the three warring kingdoms.
Cultural relics from the Han Dynasty
The silk road
The Yangguan Pass
The Yumenguan Pass
The bells and drum tower in Jiuquan
The Mao mausoleum
The era of the Western Han Dynasty (206-9 BC)
The Western Han Empire was the first large and long-lived empire in the region. It lasted from the year 206 BC to the year 9 AD. When he became emperor, Liu Bang first brought out the rule of the Qin Court, but he allowed more freedom and hired fewer farmers for compulsory labor. He lowered taxes and sought the support of ordinary people by making them less harsh than the Qin leaders. Unlike the first Qin emperors, he did not strive for total power. He allowed other leaders to move their kingdoms to the east and they had most of the territory from the empire, but the imperial court had direct power over the western third of the empire. According to him, during the reign of Emperor Wudi, the territory more than doubled. During the reign of his Western Han successors, art and technology advanced, the empire grew larger and more prosperous, and an administration was established for religion, politics, science and culture.
Liu Bang (250-195 BC)
It is said that Liu Bang comes from a peasant family and that there are crazy stories about dragons and visions and about supernatural phenomena about his origins, birth and personal life. He was a low-ranking official in the Qin Army but then became a hermit. The people and leaders in many parts of the country revolted. Liu Bang became the leader of an army and put down his important rivals in a war to become emperor.
Liu Bang inherited a great empire and the basis of imperial leadership lay with the Qin court. There was a standardized test of written language for the entire empire proclaimed by Li Si. There was also a normal philosophical framework for the empire, as many religions and philosophies were diminished or eradicated to favor legal philosophy and advance science by the leaders of the Qin. Mohism, naive beliefs like Daoism, and an early form of Buddhism were repeatedly attacked by them. The ideas of Confucius and Confucian scholars were also attacked by the Qin court. Later in his reign, Liu Bang had a favorite Confucius teacher who encouraged him to see the need for this philosophy, and he and his successors support this political theory. With this process, Liu Bang inherited the military tactics and technologies that enabled the Qin Dynasty to build an empire.
The first emperor of the Western Han Dynasty was greatly compelled by the external threats and internal enemies. With Liu Bang accepting the administration of the kings in the eastern parts of the empire during his long illness before his death, his doubts about some of its important leaders increased. He viewed you as rivals and they were killed or demoted. After his death, the ruling tribe succeeded in bringing other kings to the positions and exiling the members of the imperial family to their places in about 157 BC. The imperial tribe therefore regained power over the entire empire.
Both the Qin Dynasty and Liu Bang were harshly forced by the invading Xiongnu tribal chief. The Xiongnu were a group of nomadic shepherds who had successfully opposed the Yuezhi and pushed many other people north and west of the Han Empire. They also defeated the Han army in 200 BC, and Liu Bang made a deal and agreed to send silk and other goods.
The Emperor Wudi (156 - 87)
The Emperor Wudi was the seventh emperor in the Han Dynasty of China. It led from the years 141 to 87 BC. During his reign, between the years of about 130 and 110 BC, the ruling Han court and army began to win the first battles and they conquered the territory of the Xiongnu and greatly expanded the emperor's territory to the north and in the west. At the same time, the Han armies crushed other armies and navies in the south, and the empire expanded into what we now call northern Vietnam, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guangdong. In this way, around 100 BC, the Han empire was more than twice as large as it was in the beginning.
During the same period between 130 BC and 100 BC, trade with Western countries brought prosperity to the leaders and the sellers. The court of Emperor Wudi sent convoys to the west and a large market of trade developed on the route of the Silk Road, which included large caravans that circulated between Changan (now Xian), a capital of the empire, and the western countries traveled. In this way, the Han increased their knowledge of the outside world, philosophy and religion, and technology. The technicians made advances in iron mining and the manufacture of weapons on steel and tools during and after his reign. Hence the growth of prosperity, the expansion of the territory and its strength, the Han Empire has achieved great prosperity on its own, but at the end of its life it became more and more of a dispot.
Han Wudi (汉 武帝, 156-87) inherited the newly acquired power over the empire when he was 15. His tribe succeeded in gaining more control in the eastern kingdoms from the empire and had just demoted the authority of the eastern king in 155. He was believed to be an effective director. His campaigns were usually successful in expanding the empire. The empire stretched from central Asia, Korea to Vietnam. He kept the Xiongnu out and established the Silk Road trade by sending Zhang Qian to the Yuezhi in 139 BC. He lived for 54 years and during his long reign he consolidated power in the territory. It was one of the longest governments in dynasty history.
As soon as he began his reign in 141 B.C., he presided over the examination of the Confucian scholars, and the judgment put some of those who passed the examination into official positions. Then the leading courts began to open a Confucian academy. In this way he sat over the institutes of the trials of Confucian imperialism to select people for positions in government. Those who passed the exam were guaranteed to be educated and have a great deal of knowledge of Confucian political philosophy. That was the main way people were selected for government in most of the regional dynasties for the next 2000 years.
In the year 119 he established the northern borders made some peace with the roaming Xiongnu by sending out several armies against the leading tribes of the Xiongnu. Two generals named Wei and Huo made direct attacks against Chanyu Yizhixie's forces, destroying his army and nearly taking him prisoner. Then the Xiongnu wanted peace for a few years.
Anyway, when it came to the end of the government of him, he became corrupt. In response to a bad dream, he accused many people of witchcraft and killed them all. He tries to find magicians who will give him something to prolong his life. He also began to position despotic leaders who simply executed people for no reason. In order to stop a rebellion from the very beginning, he executed people who simply criticized him. He began to spend too much money on palaces and travel and luxury. In order to always get enough money, the court issued the imperial monopoly on salt and iron. Salt was intended as a necessary food, so they could sell it at high prices. Iron was necessary for tools and weapons. He also began to launch far too many conquests against the Koreans and the kingdoms of the south.
Started around 100 years before Christ, during the heavy taxation and military ventures, there were many farmers who revolved through the whole empire through. In an attempt to put down the rebellions, he issued a decree killing the officials who administer in an area where there is a rebellion. The officials responded by trying to hide the news of new rebellions from him.
When he was old, his son revolted. It is said that he started a rebellion because some of the court officials were negotiating a conspiracy against him that his father was unaware of. It is said that Emperor Wudi spent a lot of time with the concubines rather than ruling as emperor. There was a couple of fights and his son was killed by a couple of officials. At the end of his life he realized that the way he was treating people was too strong and that he should stop his wars and allow people to run their land in peace without high taxes. He also noticed that his son had a conspiracy running against him and that his inquisition against the witches was false. He repented of his past to his empire by issuing many misjudgments in a public decree known as the Luntai Repentance Decree. He named Prince Fuling as the next emperor and died in 87 BC. The Crown Prince Fuling led under the title of Emperor Zhao for the next 13 years.
The end of the Western Han Dynasty (86 BC - 9 AD)
The reign of the dynasty ended under the leadership of an empress named Wang Zhengjun (71 BC - 13 AD) and the successor was a brief reign of the emperor named Yuan (49 - 33 BC), Cheng (33rd century BC) - 7) and Ai (7 BC - 1 AD). The emperor Ping became emperor for several years (1 BC - 6 AD). During this time, the relatives were the rulers. The last ruler was Yang Mang. He valued that he had the mandate to lead Heaven, which meant Heaven chose him to be the next emperor.
The Achievements of the Western Han Dynasty
The Western Han Dynasty lasted about 215 years. It was a long time for such a large empire. The Han Empire was economically and politically successful. The population is thought to have grown from about 18 million people recorded in a census to about 57 million people.
The Western Han Dynasty has succeeded in stabilizing the empire, expanding its territory, and building a tradition of government in dynasties formed with Confucian scholars. The Emperor Wudi sat over the institutes of the Imperial Confucian Exam to select the people for positions in government. This was the important way by which the people were selected for government in most of the great regional dynasties for the next two thousand years.
The empire was also economically successful. During the same period of trading on the Silk Road, trading with Western countries brought wealth and information to guides and sellers. The Han court sent caravans to the west and a great deal of trade developed on the Silk Road, which had large caravans traveling between the capital of the Changan Empire and the western countries. In this way, the Han’s knowledge of the outside world, outside philosophy, and religion and technology grew. Technology also developed. Technicians made advances in iron mining and how to make weapons and tools. Iron plows were used. At the end of the dynasty, some of the cities grew to become the largest cities in the world at that time.
The Xin Dynasty (9-23 AD)
Wang Mang (45-23 AD) led the Xin Dynasty and then he was killed. He tried to enforce far-reaching rules. Wang Mang tries to change society by wanting to abolish slavery, redistribute the land and develop a new currency. His reforms were probably too modern. But there were natural disasters and the farmers revolted against him. After he was killed in the year 23 AD, another person became emperor and the city of Luoyang in the east became the new capital. This is how the Eastern Han era began.
The Han Emperor Gengshi (24-25 AD)
For two years after the emperor died, he tried to be the emperor, but he was killed by the Red Eyebrow Rebellion.
The Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220)
After a member of the tribe became emperor again, the Han dynasty continued to rule. The capital of the Han Dynasty was Changan City (present-day Xian) previously, but under the Eastern Han Dynasty the capital was relocated to Luoyang City. Different regions in the empire were in rebellion and other people attacked and rebelled too. The aim of the first emperor was to conquer the area and stop the attacks. After this goal towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the eunuchs began to regain power for themselves. The eunuchs were court officials and rivals to Confucian scholars, regional leaders, and the imperial tribe. A lot of fighting started and then the rebellions and the disasters happened. The Eastern Han Dynasty was divided between the three kingdoms. Hence, in the early 195 years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the empire was very stable at first, but then the rivals began and the empire ended in bad leaders, natural disasters, and internal rebellions.
The Eastern Han Dynasty began when a member of the Han Dynasty came to power. His name in the dynasty was the Emperor Guangwu (5 BC to 57 AD). He ruled from AD 25 to AD 57. Under his long reign, the red eyebrows were lowered and he brought power to the empire together. He put down Goguryeo attacks in AD 30 and a rebellion in Vietnam in AD 43. He struck down the Xiongnu in AD 50. He was known to be a shrewd general who did not rule very sharply. From 88 AD the Han army fought against the Xiongnu and other people who lived in central Asia. They wanted to take the opposition from the Xiongnu who invaded from the leader of the Xia Dynasty court during the crisis.
Introduction of Buddhism
Trade on the Silk Road caused cultural change. The route for trade on the Silk Road went through territories where Buddhism was practiced as the major religion. The Yuezhi people wanted to go to Changan and taught Buddhism around the year 0 BC. It is said that around AD 68 a Han emperor had a dream of a golden figure and Cai Yin was sent to central Asia to learn about the Buddha. He brought the scriptures about Buddha and two Buddhist monks with him. At that time in the year 68 AD, the Yuezhi had a religion in which Buddha was a hall of fame of many deities and Mahayana Buddhism began in this way in the Han Empire.
The end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (166-220)
In the past 54 years of ruling the Eastern Han Dynasty, there has also been confrontation between rival factions in the Imperial Court. The eunuchs took power and the emperors grew weaker. Then it began around 180 AD that natural disasters and revolts began to emerge from the common people at the end of the Han era. The ancient idea about the "Mandate from Heaven" was that natural disasters in general is the end of running a tribe of the dynasty who run an empire in the region. These activities turned out to be true at the end of the Han Empire. During the last decades of the Han Empire, fighting arose between the regional leaders, the Imperial Court, and the armies of farmers and gangs who killed a lot of people. Many people emigrated in order to have more security there. The empire ended in rival courts, bad leaders, natural disasters, and the main war between the three emerging kingdoms before the last leader of the Eastern Han dynasty resigned.
During these last decades, two emperors named Emperor Huan (132-168) and Emperor Ling (156-189) trusted the eunuchs in the leadership. These emperors are said to have been bad emperors in part, who wasted their time with hundreds of concubines and wasted the treasure of the empire during the period of economic crisis. Emperor Huan ruled from 146 to 168. During this time he relied on the eunuchs to oust the powerful officials. The eunuchs increased their power at the court and then in 166 Confucian students protested over the eunuch's conduct and corruption at the court. Emperor Ling (156-189) leads for about twenty years up to the year 189. It is said that the eunuchs auctioned positions of the government and carried them in his place. He called the eunuchs his "caring fathers".
The Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Five Packs of Rice Rebellion around Sichuan began in 184. They were both Daoist-led rebellions. There was a famine in the north that affected a lot of the farmers there, forcing military settlers to go south. There was also flooding from the yellow river. Farmers were hit by high taxes, some of which were used to build prisons. The court was widely known to be corrupt and not accepted, and the famines and floods were taken as a sign that Emperor Ling was also corrupt and had lost Heaven's mandate. The rebellion was widespread and, except for Sichuan, the rebellions were crushed in most of the empire. However, the generals and leaders in the various areas assembled their armies and began to take the lead independently of each other and of the courts.
In 189 two generals attacked and killed the eunuchs in the royal court. It is said that 2000 eunuchs were killed at court. Then Luoyang was destroyed by their army. The capital moved to Changan. After these incidents there were a lot of executions in the Imperial court. In 194 there was a great famine from the locust plague. In 195, Emperor Xian sought refuge with a regional guide named Cao Cao. Emperor Xian lived in Xuchang, which was one of the cities that was in the Cao Cao area. Cao Cao ruled in the name of the emperor and had a title as high commander. Cao Cao brought together an army that included tens of thousands of yellow turbans. There has been a lot of fighting in many places over these decades.
In 200 a Northern Territory leader named Yuan Shao led an army of about 100,000 men to attack Xuchang. Cao Cao met him with an army of 20,000 men on the yellow river. The two armies got stuck for a while, and then Cao Cao's army won, so they attacked Yuan Shao's supporters. In the year 207, Cao Cao had control of the northern area of the Yangtze River. Liu Bei was the leader of the Shu Han area in the southwest around Sichuan and Sun Quan was the leader in the Dong Wu region in the southeast. These three regions of the empire became kingdoms.
The Battle for the Red Cliffs (in 208)
Cao Cao was successful in expanding his territory and smashing rivals up to the battle for the Red Cliffs. In the year 208 he marched south with a large army. His major rivals Sun Quan in Dong Wu and Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang in Shu Han formed an alliance. Cao Cao's army was known to have numbered about 200,000 troops. But he was defeated by about 50,000 men from his rivals. The Cao Cao fleet was set on fire.
The end of the Han Empire (in 220)
Cao Cao died at the age of 64 or 65. Then his son, named Cao Pi, forced Emperor Xian, who lived in their territory, to abdicate. He called himself the new emperor of the Wei Empire. There is evidence that Cao Cao and Cao Pi planned for Cao Pi to make him emperor after his death. In trying to conquer the entire empire, he and his son played the main roles in the end of the Han empire.
The Eastern Han Empire (AD 25-220) ended when the empire was divided between the three rival regional leaders named Cao Cao (AD 155-220) who controlled the north of the Yangtze River, Liu At (161-223) who controlled the inland area including Sichuan in the southwest and Sun Quan (182-252) who controlled the southeast. The north was called Cao Wei (曹魏), the southwest was called Shu Han (蜀漢), and the southeast was called Dong Wu (東吳), which also means the eastern Wu.
The Achievements of the Han Dynasty in Science
The Han Era, both Western Han and Eastern Han, is known as one of the two great ages of advances in science and technology in the region. In 1983 an ancient mathematical book was found that gave an insight into the state of the art in mathematics from the Western Han Dynasty. This text was written on bamboo and was found in a tomb. The date of the text is around 200 BC. It is called the Suan Shu Shu (筭 數 書, Book of Calculations and Numbers). It shows how to solve arithmetic problems that official or people in business need.
An even more advanced book called Jiuzhang Suanshu (the book with the nine chapters on calculation) is considered to be written even later. Da book has a foundation in algebra like finding solids and square shapes. Negative numbers are also used. Another mathematical text written during the Han era is The Classical Arithmetic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven (Zhoubi Suan Jing) on astronomical problems. The text is said to be a mathematical test for the “Gougu Theorem ”has (勾股定理; a2 + b2 = c2), which is also known in the West as the Pythagorean theorem. A method of measuring the distance from the sun to the earth using a right triangle is described there.
The legacy of religion and philosophy
The religious rules of the 400th year of the Han era were the development of Confucianism and Daoism and the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism. During the Western Han era, a religion called Daoism developed which was the main indigenous religion. The important texts were the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi. Within these texts there was a mixture of naive regional beliefs in different gods, rites, geomancy and immortality. The two books were believed to have foreshadowed the Qin book burning era. Confucianism was built up and mixed with other ideas to make a long lasting political philosophy and religion out of it. Daoism and Confucianism are the indigenous religions of the Western Han era and had philosophical influence on the later times.
During the western Han era, an early form of Buddhism developed into what is then called Mahayana Buddhism in the Yuezhi-controlled regions of northern India and central Asia. The Yuezhi from the region with the Tarim Basin and the land bordering the northern Han Empire conquered the Helene regions from the Greek Empire after they were crushed by the Xiongnu. The religion of the Yuezhi, the Greek religion of the people, and Buddhism were mixed together. When trading on the Silk Road opened, the people of the Han Empire learned a lot about these new religions. A third religious rule from the Han Dynasty was the acceptance of Mahayana Buddhism by the western people along the Silk Road. This form of Mahayana Buddhism became popular during the Eastern Han era.
Are you more interested in Chinese history? A private culture trip to China is recommended.
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