Lifecycle of an Empire: The Han Dynasty

Topics: Han Dynasty, Confucianism, China Pages: 3 (910 words) Published: February 24, 2013

Lifecycle of an Empire
Melissa Mize
World Civilizations to 1500

Dynasties or empires have a natural life span just like humans and usually only last three generations. There are many reasons as to the decline; bureaucratic corruption, inequitable economic burdens, costly technology, moral decline or even external enemies to name a few (Upshur, Terry, Holoka, Goff, & Cassar, 2002, p. 171). Whatsoever the reason, what an empire leaves behind can be contributed to the spread of ideas and practices across many continents (lecture notes, 2009). Lifecycle of an Empire

The Han Dynasty is one such declining empire. It was ruled by the family known as the Liu clan who had peasant origins. The reign started in 206 B.C.E. and lasted 400 years until 220 C.E. Having lasted longer than the usually life span, China considers it to be one of their greatest and most influential periods in history (Han Dynasty, 2009). During this dynasty, there were three periods—first was the Western or Former (206 B.C.E.-8 C.E.), second was the Wang Mang’s Xin (8 C.E.-22 C.E.), and third was the Eastern Later Han Dynasty (25 C.E.-220 C.E.). With each period, new leadership brought new clans and factions into the inner power circle of the empire (ChinaKnowledge, 2000). By all accounts, this dynasty was considered to be successful and durable for the following reasons: 1. It had a centralized leadership and an efficiently run government. 2. It was headed by a stable hierarchy bolstered by social and political elite. 3. Uniform currency and standards of weights and measures that simplified tax collection, finance, and very important aspect, trade. Silk was a prized trade commodity and was used as currency and as state gifts. 4. It recruited at least some officials on the basis of merit, education, and efficiency ratings; not birth. 5. It...

References: About China. (September 24, 2003). In (Ed.), China Culture. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from
ChinaKnowledge. (2000). In (Ed.), Chinese History-Han Dynasty. Retrieved January 28, 2009, from
Grand Canyon University Lecture Notes 4, (2009). Electronically retrieved on January 26, 2009, from
Han Dynasty. (2009). In (Ed.), Wikipedia. Retrieved January 28, 2009 from
Upshur, J. L., Terry, J. J., Holoka, J. P., Goff, R. D., & Cassar, G. H. (2002). World History Before 1600: The Development of Early Civilization (fourth Ed.). Boston, Ma: Thompson/ Wadsworth.
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