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Early Han Dynasty was, in fact, a restoration of Zhou Dynasty's feudal system. Numerous independent statelets were in existence. Chen Sheng & Wu Guang rebellion against Qin resulted in restoration of some of the ex-Zhou principalities. General Xiang Yu would declare himself the 'Hegemony King of Western Chu Principality', in addition to conferrals of 18 kings. During and after the Chu-Han Wars, Han Emperor Gaozu or Gaodi (Liu Bang) had conferred kingship to numerous generals who contributed to the overthrow of Qin Empire and the later campaigns against General Xiang Yu.
Early Han Dynasty, however, was also commented to have inherited Qin's cruel system and layout without any fundamental changes or reforms. Han Emperor Gaozu had an official called Xiao He who had once served as an ex-Qin clerk in a county. Xiao He, being conferred the post of 'xiangguo', i.e., prime minister, would be responsible for maintaining the existing layout of the Qin system. Three branches of ex-Qin governance were utilized, namely, chief counselor (chengxiang or xiangguo), grand marshal (taiwei), and censor-in-chief or inspector-in-chief (yushi dafu). Chief Counselor was supposed to rule over nine chief ministers (jiu qing) and thirteen departments. By Emperor Wudi's times, censor-in-chief was in charge of inspecting on 13 circuits (zhou or fu) with circuit inspector (cishi) in charge, 100 commandaries and 1200 counties.
Qin's cruel laws began with reformer-legalist Shang Yang and got much more crueler under Li Si. In early Han times, cutting off feet, peeling off noses as well as inscribing black ink marks on faces were still common. Criminal law reform would begin with Han Emperor Wendi (reign 179-157 BC). In 167 BC, a famous doctor called Chunyu Yi offended some powerful patient and was sentenced for 'bodily penalty'. Since Chunyu Yi once served as a county magistrator in Taicang County, he was sent to the nation's capital for incarceration ('bodily penalty'). Chunyu Yi had five daughters, with the youngest one called Tiying. Tiying submitted a request to Emperor Wendi, saying she would be willing to be sold to the government as a slave for substituting her father's bodily punishment. Hence, Emperor Wendi was moved by Tiying and decreed that 'bodily penalty' be abolished.
The domain of early Han China was not as extensive as Qin Empire. Independent statelets would be the Nan-yue Statelet, Min-yue Statelet and Dong-yue Statelet. Non-Chinese statelets would include Dian-Yue, Yelang and etc. After being defeated by the Huns, Han Emperor Gaozu or Gaodi adopted a pacifying policy by supplying Han princess for inter-marriage with the Huns. Emperor Huidi and Empress Luhou as well as Emperor Wendi and Emperor Jingdi followed through with old policies. It would be during the times of Han Emperor Wudi (reign 140-87 BC) that Han China's territories would expand in all directions. Wudi would launch offensives against the Huns, retake control of southern China, and invade Manchuria and Korea.
Han Dynasty's notable deeds would be the restoration of Confucianism as the creed for ruling the nation. (This compliment, widely quoted by historians, should be looked at through a different perspective. As Lin Yutang said, Chinese practiced Legalism in essence while Confucianism on surface. More than that, Daoism had much more effect than the former two. See Confucianism versus Daoism below.) At the times of Wudi, around 124 BC, 'Tai Xue', i.e., university or Grand School, was created for attracting talents and Five Classics became the official moral and political ideology of the state. 50 doctoral students were enrolled. By 50 BC, the palace school had 3000 students enrolled, and by 1 AD, the graduates would staff the bureaucracy. Wudi, meaning "Martial Emperor", was also credited with inception of the emperial eras. The definition of the Chinese New Year, the second New Moon after the winter solstice, could be dated from the inception of the Taichu Era in 103 BC. 'Recommendation System' was adopted for purpose of having talented people sent to the prefecture capitals and the nations's capital as a reserve for officialdom. Han Dynasty's 'Tai Xue' would be the model for Western Jinn Dynasty's 'Guo Zi Xue', Toba Wei Dynasty's 'Si Meng Xue', and Sui-Tang and Yuan's 'Guo Zi Jian'.
Serving under Wudi would be the historian Sima Qian (Szu-ma Ch'ien, 145-86 BC) who, having undergone castration for offending Wudi on the matter of absolving Li Ling's surrender to the Huns, would live with humiliation in order to finish his history book, Shi Ji ["Historian's Records"]. Sima Qian underwent castration for lack of financial resources. Han Dynasty usually allowed people to either pay money or undergo castration in exchange for absolving from death penalty. Also note that in ancient China, death row convicts would be absolved from execution during the year a new emperor was enthroned. It is called 'imperial amnesty'. Death convicts were usually executed in the autumn of the year, i.e., autumnal executions. (Shi Ji was not officially sanctioned. Later, during the times of Latter Han Dynasty, another historian, Cai Yong, was executed by Wang Yun for sake of stopping him from compilation of history book.)
Han Dynasty possessed the typical characteristics as far as the pattern of power corruption was concerned. There would appear 'empress power' ('in-law power'), 'eunuch power' and 'warlord power'. Gradually, the tripartitie functions lost their influences, and the departments like 'shangshu sheng' (state affairs) and 'zhongshu sheng' (secretariat) would weign on the emperors. The influence from people in palace, 'empress power', led to the demise of the Western Han. Wang Mang, who usurped Western Han and founded Xin Dynasty, derived his power from Empress Wang. All three forms of power corruption led to the demise of Eastern Han. We would touch on this in the sections below.
Confucianism vs Daoism During Early Han Dynasty
Mr Lin Yutang proposed during early 20th century the notion that 'ancient Chinese were Confucian superficially, Daoist innerside, and legalist in governance.' A careful perusal of early Han Dynasty history will show the kind of interwining nature of the three schools of thought in governance and philosophy.
Han Dynasty founder (Han Emperor Gaodi, Liu Bang) was never fond of Confucians. When receiving a 60-year-old confucian by the name of Li Yiji, Gaodi deliberately had two maids wash his feet; when Li Yiji challenged Gaodi on the matter of not showing respect for the old confucian, Liu Bang called the name of 'shu ru' (i.e., damned confucian); Liu Bang did not show respect for Li Yiji till Li Yiji cited successes and failures in history as examples for Liu Bang to win the war against Qin Empire.
At the time of Emperor Jingdi (reign 156-141 BC), a Confucian, by the name of Dong Zhongshu, was made into a so-called 'bo shi', i.e., doctor, for his research into Confucius' book Springs & Autums. In 140 BC, when Emperor Wudi got enthroned at the age of 16, he would make a decree that local governors send in learned persons to the capital, and over one hundred intelligentsia, include Dong Zhongshu of Guangchuan, Gongsun Hong of Zichuan, and Yan Zhu of Kuaiji, came to the capital. Wudi disapproved of the old officialdom policy which was to have officials (worthy of a pay of 2000 units of grains) recommend their sons and nephews for various posts. The new decree, 'advocating thrift people and recomemending filial people', discounted the family origin. A good story about Wudi would be his assigning Yan Si (an old man who went through two prior emperors' rule without any promotion) for the post of du wei (governing captain) of Kuaiji Commandary. Wudi was impressed by Dong Zhongshu's article which advocated Confucianism as the creed for ruling a nation. Wudi conferred Dong a post as prime minister for King of Jiangdu (Liu Fei).
Prime Minister Wei Guan suggested to Wudi that only few Confucian intelligentsia like Gongsun Hong and Yan Zhu should be retained while the rest non-Confucians could be sent back to their homes. After Wudi replaced Wei Guan with Dou Ying (nephew of Dowager Empress Doutaihou), Dou Ying and Tian Fen would locate two Confucians for Wudi: Zhao Guan and Wang Zang. Zhao Guan and Wang Zang were two of the thousand students of an eighty-year-old Shen-gong of ex-Chu Principality. Shen-gong was renowned for his research into ancient Shi Jing [classics of poems]. Shen-gong was invited to the capital by Wudi, but Shen-gong somehow performed modestly for sake of avoiding palace struggles. Dowager Empress Doutaihou, who previously intended to kill 'bo shi' Yuan Gu who served under Emperor Jingdi, would force Wudi into having Zhao Guan and Wang Zang arrested for propagation of Confucianism. Doutaihou was fond of Daoism and hated Yuan Gu, Zhao Guan and Wang Zang for advocating Confucianism. Zhao Guan and Wang Zang, who offended Doutaihou for advising Wudi on prevention of empress intervention in politics, would commit suicide inside the prison. Under the pressure of Doutaihou, Wudi deprived Dou Ying and Tian Fen of their posts. Shen-gong claimed illness and went home. Confucianism did not get developed until much later.
After the death of Dowager Empress Doutaihou, Tian Fen was assigned the post as prime minister. Dong Zhongshu, who was conferred a post as prime minister for King of Jiangdu (Liu Fei), would be impeached by an official called Zhufu Yan in 135 BC. Han General Guan Fu tried to mediate over the relationship of Tian Fen and Dou Ying, but he offended Tian Feng in a marriage banquet in 131 BC. With the help of Dowager Empress Wangtaihou, Tian Feng made Wudi order that both Guan Fu and Dou Ying be executed. Guan Fu's whole family were exterminated.
Wudi's brother, King of Lu, discovered some surviving books hidden by the 8th generation grandson of Confucius (Kong Zixiang) inside of the walls of Confucius' house. Zhang Tang, a censor or inspector under Wudi and a cruel criminal law official, would order 'bo shi' scholars to research into Shang Shu and Shi Jing. (Zhang Tang was notorious for his childhood article 'Interrrogating Mice' on which occasion he caught and interrogated mice after digging through mice's underground caves to catch the mice for mice's stealing his family's grains.) In 130 BC, at the age of 80, Gongsun Hong, who claimed illness after returning from the Huns as an emissary, was recommended to the court again. Yuan Gu was over the age of 90 by that time. Gongsun Hong was conferred the post as yushi dafu, i.e., censor-in-chief.
Zhufu Yan, using Jia Yi's ideas, proposed to Wudi to have various Liu kings divide their domain into smaller fiefs among their brothers and sons so that various Liu kings would not be strong enough to pose a threat to the central government. Zhufu Yan also proposed pacifying policies with the Huns; but, after General Wei Qing and General Li Xi defeated the Hunnic kings in Loufan and Baiyang and took over the Hetao land south of the Yellow River in 127 BC, Zhufu Yan changed his mind and proposed to Wudi to have a castle built on the north bank of the North Yellow River Bend in the same way as Qin Emperor Shihuangdi did. Gongsun Hong advised against Zhufu Yan's proposal by citing the futile attempts of Qin Shihuangdi in mobilizing 300,000 people for building the castle. Wudi concurred with Zhufu Yan in relocating over 100,000 people to the north bank. Zhufu Yan impeached King of Yan for his lasciviousness, and King Yan was ordered by Wudi to commit suicide. Zhufu Yan was dispatched to King of Qi as prime minister. Angry that his daughter could not be married over to King Qi, Zhufu Yan impeached King Qi for King Qi's affairs with a sister. King Qi committed suicide. Gongsun Hong impeached Zhufu Yan for King Qi's death, and Wudi ordered Zhufu Yan and his family be executed. Wudi deprived Xue Ze of the prime minister post; Gongsun Hong was conferred the post of prime minister (the post that belonged to three so-called 'san gong' or three duke-equivalents) and the title of Marquis Pingjin in 124 BC. Gongsun Hong, following the practice of eminent princes of Warring States time period, set up several guest houses for attracting talents and counsellors. Gongsun Hong appeared thrifty and pious, but jealous of talents and extravagent inside. Dong Zhongshu had criticisms of Gongsun Hong. Gongsun Hong somehow inhibited Wudi's attempt to recall Dong Zhongshu.
With Gongsun Hong as prime minister, Wudi instituted the position of wu jing bo shi, i.e., Five Classics Doctorals and ordered that prefectures and various Liu kingdoms dispatch learned youths to the capital as doctoral students. Confucius' ninth generation grandson, Kong An'guo, was among the doctorals teaching the students.
Gongsun Hong recommended Ji An for the post of rightside nei shi and recommended Dong Zhongshu for the post of prime minister for King of Jiaoxi (Liu Rui), in the attempt of ridding the two political enemies by means of 'borrowed knife'. Dong Zhongshu resigned his post for retirement shortly thereafter and then finished a 100,000 character book entitled Chunqiu Fanlu (miscellaneous dews from Spring & Autumn era).
Zhang Tang was conferred the post of ting wei (court captain). Zhang Tang and Gongsun Hong colluded with each other, and Ji An refused to show respect for the two. Zhang Tang had under his service a learned doctoral student called Ni Kuan; Ni Kuan was known to Wudi for his article that Zhang Tang submitted to Wudi. In 124 BC, Wei Qing was conferred the post of Da Jiangjun (Grand General or Generalissimo) for defeating Hunnic 'rightside virtuous king' and capturing 150,000 Huns; Wei's three babies and his generals were conferred marquisdom titles; Wei Qing married with 40 year old widow, Princess Pingyang. Though, Ji An still showed no respect for Wei Qing. The next year, Wei Qing led 6 columns against Huns. General Zhao Xin surrendered to Huns. General Huo Qubing, however, had a small victory. Wudi, to enrich the depleted royal savings spent on campaigns against the Huns, would decree that officialdom could be bought with money.
King of Huainan, Liu An, hired eight elderly intelligentsia and completed the alchemy and legends book, Huai Nan Zi. King of Huainan committed suicide when his attempt to rebel against Wudi was exposed, and Zhang Tang tried accomplices and exterminated the families of people involved. Huainan fief was reduced to Jiujiang Commandary. King of Hengshan, Liu Ci, followed the suit of Liu An. Hengshan fief was reduced to a commandary. Seven year old prince was made a crown prince. Marquis Bowang-hou (Zhang Qian) was dispatched to the west again.
Also notable would be a figure called Dongfang Shuo who, per research of some scholar, had been recorded to have travelled to the Arctic area more than 2000 years ago. The basis of this claim would be Dongfang Shuo's writings in regards to 'extreme darkness' and 'extreme daylight' for six months, respectively.
Demise Of Qin & Chu-Han Wars
Emperor Shi Huangdi, Qin's First Emperor, was enthroned at the age of 13. During the 26th year of his reign, by 221 BC, Shihuangdi completed the unification of China and he established the so-called 'Jun-Xian System', namely, commandary-county system, at the advice of his prime minister, Li Tsu. Shihuangdi re-zoned his country into 36 commandaries in lieu of conferring dukes and kings onto his sons. In the next 11 years, Shihuangdi would be responsible for attacking the Huns in the Hetao and Ordos areas, building the Great Wall, standardizing writing system, coins and measures, paving the highways across the country, and digging canals to link up the water system.
But, three years after Shihuangdi's death, by 207 BC, rebellions, touched off by Chen Sheng & Wu Guang Rebellion of 209 BC, would overthrow Qin rule. In 207 BC, Qin's ennuch prime minister, Zhao Gao, would kill the second emperor, Hu Hai, in an attempt to negotiate peace with rebel Liu Bang. Liu Bang declined the request to divide Qin land into two parts. Prince Zi Ying would succeed as the third emperor, and he, with the help of two sons, killed Zhao Gao. In this year, 206 BC, Zi Ying surrendered to Liu Bang after being on the throne for 46 days. Liu Bang was able to take over Qin's capital because General Xiang Yu had entangled major Qin armies in former Zhao Principality territories. Xiang Yu would enter Qin's capital, Xian'yang, and killed Qin's last emperor, Zi Ying and Qin's royal family members.
Chen Sheng & Wu Guang Rebellion
In 209 BC, 900 recruits from Yangcheng in ex-Chu Principality area were on the way of being dispatched to the northern post of Yuyang (near today's Beijing). However, rainy season stopped them from going further. Fearing Qin's punishment of death penalty for missing schedules, two team leaders, Chen Sheng & Wu Guang, killed two Qin captains and declared an uprising in the name of restoring Chu.
Chen Sheng & Wu Guang took over Qixian County, Hubei Province soon. Chen Sheng sent someone called Ge Ying on a campaign to the east, and Chen himself went to attack Chenxian County with tens of thousands of rebels he assembled in a matter of months. Two Confucians, Zhang Er & Chen Yu, came to see Chen Sheng and recommended that Chen Sheng restore ex-Zhou descendants as kings of various principalities. Chen Sheng, however, declared himself King of 'Zhang-Chu', namely, king of expanding Chu. Chen Sheng dispatched Wu Guang as 'proxy king' on a northward campaign against Henan Province. Zhang Er & Chen Yu requested with Wu Guang for 3000 soldiers to attack ex-Zhao territories, and Wu Guang sent Wu Chen as the head of this expedition into north of the Yellow River. When Ge Ying arrived at Jiujiang, on the Jiangxi side of the Yantze River, he met an ex-Chu royal descendant, Xiang Jiang, and Ge Ying enthroned him as King of Chu. Hearing that Chen Sheng already declared himself King of Zhang-Chu, Ge Ying killed Xiang Jiang. But Ge Ying still got executed by Chen Sheng for his mistake. Chen Sheng sent Deng Zong to Jiujiang, instead, and he also sent Zhou Shi to ex-Wei territories to fight Qin armies. Wu Guang, failing to take Yingyang of Henan Province, would take advice from someone called Cai Ci and sent Zhou Wen on a western expedition against Qin capital in Shenxi Province. On the road to Qin capital, Zhou Wen was joined by tens of thousands of people. Confucius' 8th generation grandson, Kong Fu, recommended to Chen Sheng that he should make preparations for bitter fights with Qin armies. Wu Chen, after cossing the Yellow River at Baimajin, took over more than 30 towns and counties in a matter of months and occupied ex-Zhao capital of Handan. Zhang Er & Chen Yu pursuaded Wu Chen into declaring himself King of Zhao Principality. Wu Chen, against Chen Sheng's order to go west to aid Zhou Wen, would send Han Guang to ex-Yan territories in the northeast, Li Liang to Changshan of northern Shanxi, and another general to Shangdang of Shanxi Province. Qin Emperor Huhai would take the advice of Zhang Han in arming the convicts on Lishan Mountains. Zhang Han faced up with Zhou Wen and drove Zhou Wen out of Hanguguan Pass.
In Peixian County, Jiangsu Province, 48 year old Liu Bang, an ex-Qin county official who was hiding in Mount Dangshan (in today's Anhui Province) for setting free Lishan-destined convicts, would answer Chen Sheng's uprising by killing the county magistrate. In the Yangtz Delta, Xiang Liang and his nephew, Xiang Yu, would kill governor Yin Tong of Kuaiji Commandary and they assembled an army of 8000 men, the later so-called 'brother-soldiers from east of the Yangtze River'. (In ancient times, Wu-Yue people around the Yangtze Delta were famous for carrying swords and their belligerency, similar to Japanese samurai.)
Zhou Shi attacked the ex-Wei city of Dicheng. An ex-Qi royal descendant, Tian Dan, would kill the county sheriff and declare himself King of Qi Principality. Tian Dan went on to drive Zhou Shi away. Zhou Shi, rejecting request from his soldiers to be a king, sought from Chen Sheng (the Zhang-Chu King) an ex-Wei royal descendant, Prince Jiu, as King of Wei Principality. Wu Chen's general, Han Guang, would declare himself King of Yan Principality after defeating Qin armies in ex-Yan territories. By this time, Chu-Zhao-Qi-Wei-Yan statelets were restored.
After Li Liang took over Changshan of Shanxi, King Zhao, i.e., Wu Chen, would order his general to attack Taiyuan of Shanxi. Qin armies played a trick of dissension. Li Liang killed Zhao King (Wu Chen). Zhang Er & Chen Yu located an ex-Zhao royal descendant, Zhao Xie, and made him the new King of Zhao Principality. Li Liang, after being defeated by the new Zhao king, would surrender to Qin General Zhang Han. Qin General Zhang Han had earlier defeated the western expedition led by Zhou Wen, and Zhou Wen committed suicide after a defeat. Proxy King Wu Guang was still encircling Yingyang at this time, but he refused to listen to opinions from two of his generals. Hearing of Zhou Wen defeat, the two generals under Wu Guang would kill Wu Guang with a pretext of an order from King Chen Sheng. Soon, the two generals (Tian Zang and Li Gui) were defeated by Qin General Zhang Han and got killed. Qin General Zhang Han went on to attack Chen Sheng. Chen Sheng was killed by his driver, Zhuang Jia, after being a king for 6 months. Chen Sheng's general, Lü Chen, would bury Chen Sheng on Mount Dangshan. (Later, Han Emperor Liu Bang would order 30 families to guard Chen Sheng's tomb, and Chen Sheng was treated as the 'father of revolution'.)
After the death of Chen Sheng, someone called Qin Jia would locate an ex-Chu royal descendant and make him King of Chu. Lü Chen met a rebel called Qiong Bu (Ying Bu). Together, they retook Chenxian County from Qin armies. Hearing that Xiang Liang & Xiang Yu crossed the Yantze River, Qiong Bu went to join their camp. Xiang army, numbering 8000, was cheated across the Yangtze by a Zhang-Chu general who issued an order in the name of dead King Chen Sheng. Chen Ying, an ex-Qin clerk of Dongyang County, combined forces with Xiang Liang. Together with Chen Ying & Qiong Bu, Xiang army swelled to 40-50,000 men. Another rebel, by the name of General Pu(3), led 10-20,000 people to the Xiang camp. Xiang armies went on to route the new Chu king at Pengcheng. Xiang army then had a first battle with Qin army, but Xiang Liang was defeated by Zhang Han. Xiang Liang then attacked Xiecheng. At this time, Liu Bang, together with Zhang Liang whom he met on route, came to Xiang Liang to borrow soldiers. Xiang Liang invited Liu Bang to a meeting for selection of a new Chu king. An old man called Fan Zeng would recommend finding an ex-Chu royal for the post. The grandson of Chu King Huaiwang, a shepherd at the time, was enthroned and he was entitled Chu King Huaiwang. Zhang Liang proposed to Xiang Liang for restoration of Haan Principality. Zhang Liang located an ex-Haan royal called Cheng and restored Haan(2) Principality.
Qin General Zhang Han would attack the rebels in Wei Principality. Qi-Chu joint armies went to the relief. Zhang Han would kill Qi's King (Tian Dan) as well as Wei General Zhou Shi. Wei King (Prince Jiu) commited suicide. Xiang Yu rescued Jiu's brother, Prince Bao. Zhang Han went on to attack Qi city which was guarded by Tian Rong. Qi people enthroned Tian Jia, the brother of pre-Qin-era ex-Qi King Jian, as the new king. Tian Dan's brother, Tian Rong, did not obey to the new Qi king. Xiang armies helped Tian Rong in defeating the Qin armies. But Tian Rong would not follow Xiang Yu in pursuit of Qin armies. Tian Dan family enthroned the son of the dead Qi King (Tian Dan) as another new Qi king. Xiang Liang army went on to take over Dingtao City and killed Qin General Li You (son of dead Qin prime minister Li Tsu). In an ensuing battle, Xiang Liang would be defeated by Zhang Han and got killed. Hence, Xiang Yu and Liu Bang retreated towards the south and moved Chu King Huaiwang to Pengcheng. Hearing that Zhang Han went northward to attack Zhao territories, King Huaiwang sent Prince of Wei, Bao, to retake Wei territories. King Huaiwang decreed that whoever entered Qin capital would be conferred the title of King of Qin Principality. Both Liu Bang and Xiang Yu requested for the task to attack Qin. Zhao King Xie, being attacked by Qin General Zhang Han, requested for relief. Hence, Xiang Yu was eager to go to Zhao territories to fight Zhang Han for sake of avenging his uncle's death. Liu Bang campaigned towards the Qin capital.
The Demise of Qin
In the land of Zhao Principality, Zhang Er, Zhao's prime minister, was unhappy that his blood-brother pal (Chen Yu) did not send enough relief army to him. The two would become feuds after the war, and Chen Yu would desert Zhao Principality for the mountains. Zhang Er's son, Zhang Ao, would come to Julu to aid Zhao Principality. Once General Xiang Yu arrived in Julu, allied armies began to battle with Qin armies. Qin General Wang Li was captured, and Qin General Zhang Han and his 200,000 army surrendered to Xiang Yu after the mediation of Sima Xin. (Sima Xin had once rescued Xiang Liang from Qin's prison dozens of years ago.) Xiang Yu, on the way westward, would kill the 200 thousand Qin prisoners of war.
Liu Bang was able to take over Qin's capital because General Xiang Yu had entangled major Qin armies in Zhao Principality. Earlier, on the road, Liu Bang was joined by Peng Yue and his thousands of rebels. An old Confucian called Li Yiji came to serve Liu Bang. Li Yiji would use a trick in taking over the crossroad town of Chenliu, and Li Yiji's brother (Li Shang) would lead 4000 men to attack Kaifeng. Zhang Liang would come to join Liu Bang at this time. Hearing that Zhao General Sima Mao had crossed the Yellow River to attack Qin, Liu Bang would hasten his war efforts for sake of being the first to enter Qin capital. Liu Bang went south to attack Luoyang first, and then Nanyang of Henan Province. Then, Liu Bang went westward, taking over Wuguan Pass (Danfeng of Shenxi Prov). Qin Prime Minister, Zhao Gao, would kill Qin Second Emperor Hu-Hai in order to negotiate a peace with Liu Bang's Chu army. Liu Bang declined the request to divide Qin land into two parts. Qin Prince Zi-Ying, a grandson of Qin Shihuangdi, would succeed as the third emperor, and he, with the help of two sons, killed Zhao Gao when Zhao Gao came to Zi-ying's home for inviting Zi-ying as the new emperor. In this year, 206 BC, Zi-Ying surrendered to Liu Bang after being on the throne for 46 days.
When General Xiang Yu arrived at Hanguguan Pass, he met with Liu Bang's soldiers who refused to allow him to enter Qin's land. Xiang Yu, with soldiers four times more than Liu Bang, would order Ying Bu (Qiong Bu) to attack Hanguguan. Liu Bang, using the tips from Zhang Liang, would bribe Xiang Yu's uncle, Xiang Bo, for reconciliation. There was a banquet called Hongmen Banquet from which Liu Bang slipped away alive. Xiang Yu would enter Qin's capital, Xian'yang, and he killed Qin's last emperor (Zi Ying) and Qin's royal family members. After pillaging Qin's "Er Pang Gong Palace" which ran for 300 Chinese li distance, Xiang Yu ordered that the palace be burnt. The fire went on for three months. Xiang Yu sent soldiers to Lishan Mountain to dig Qin Emperor Shihuangdi's tomb as well. The lootings took one month to move to Xian'yang. Then, Xiang Yu would make Chu King Huaiwang the so-called Emperor Yidi and proclaim himself the King of Xichu Ba Wang, namely, the hegemony king of Western Chu Principality. General Xiang Yu would rezone the country into the following vassalages:
King of Yong for Zhang Han, with domains covering west of ex-Qin capital, Xianyang;
King of Sai for Sima Xin, with domain covering the areas between east of Xianyang and the Yellow River;
King of Di for Dong Yi, with domain covering Shangjun;
King of Xiwei (Western Wei) for King Bao of Wei, with domain moved to the east of Yellow River;
King of Henan for Shen Yang, with domain covering Luoyang city, Henan Province;
King of Haan for King Cheng of Haan, with domain at Yangdi city;
King of Yin for Sima Mao, with domain inside of the Yellow River Bend;
King of Dai for King Xie of Zhao, with domain around Dai Prefecture;
King of Changshan for Zhao Er, with domain at ex-Zhao Principality;
King of Qiujiang for Qiong Bu, with domain around Dangyang;
King of Hengshan for Wu Rui, with domain in the middle Yangtze River areas;
King of Linjiang for Gong Ao, with domain covering Jiangling, Hubei Province;
King of Liaodong (eastern Liaoning Province) for King Han Guang of Yan Principality, with domain moved to southern Manchuria;
King of Yan for Zang Tu, with domain covering Beijing, Hebei Province;
King of Jiaodong for King Tian Shi of Qi Principality, with domain relocated to eastern Shandong Province;
King of Qi for Tian Du, with domain covering ex-Qi principality;
King of Jibei for Tian An, with domain covering northern Shandong Province.
Liu Bang's Han Dynasty would come from the title of King of Han(4). General Xiang Yu, after pillaging the Qin capital, left for Pengcheng. On the way, Xiang Yu took King of Haan(2), Haan Cheng, into custody for his allowing Zhang Liang to escort Liu Bang westward. Xiang Yu killed King Cheng of Haan(2) shortly thereafter. King of Yan, Han Guang, refused to relocate to eastern Liaoning Province, and King Zang Tu expelled Han Guang and chased him to death at Wuzhongshan Mountain. Xiang Yu conferred Zang Tu the Liaoning land as well. King of Jiaodong, Tian Shi, was killed by his general Tian Rong. Tian Rong sent army to defeat King of Qi, Tian Du. Tian Rong further killed King of Jibei, Tian An, and declared himself King of Three Qi Lands ('San Qi'). Tian Rong then conferred the seal of a general on Peng Yue and ordered Peng Yue to attack the Liang (Wei) places. Chen Yu would come out of seclusion and request for aid from Tian Rong in attacking King of Changshan, Zhao Er, his one time blood brother. Chen Yu welcomed King of Dai (previously King Xie of Zhao) back to Zhao, and King Xie conferred Chen Yu the kingship of Dai.
Liu Bang, at Xiao Heh's recommendation, would use Haan Xin as 'Da Jiangjun', i.e., grand marshal. Haan Xin, pretending that Han(4) armies were busy repairing the so-called 'zhan dao', wood and bamboo roads carved in the middle of the cliffs, would circumvent to Nanzheng. (The 'zhan dao' road was burnt by Zhang Liang earlier to show to Xiang Yu that Liu Bang had no ambition for the east.) Haan Xin would soon arrive at Chencang and defeat King of Yong, Zhang Han. Zhang Han committed suicide. Within one month, King of Sai (Sima Xin) and King of Di ( Dong Yi) both surrendered, and Liu Bang retook the old Three Qin Lands ('San Qin').
Xiang Yu would order that Zheng Chang be the new King of Haan(2) for sake of countering Liu Bang's Han(4) armies. Xiang Yu also ordered a campaign against Peng Yue. Thinking that Peng Yue received the backing from Tian Rong of Qi, he would concentrate on fighting Qi armies first. Liu Bang would dispatch an ex-Haan(2) royal called Xin to the old Haan(2) land as the new King of Haan(2). Liu Bang conferred Marquis Chengxin-hou onto Zhang Liang; Liu Bang dispatched Li Shang on a campaign against Shangjun and Beidi commandaries. In 205 BC, Liu Bang dispatched a column to fetch his father and wife, but the contingent was stopped by Xiang Yu's army. Xiang Yu ordered that Emepror Yidi leave Pengcheng so that he could come back to the city, and thereafter ordered that King of Qiujiang (Ying Bu) send assasins to kill Emepror Yidi. King of Haan(2) Haan Xin defeated Zheng Chang. King of Henan (Shen Yang) surrendered to Liu Bang. Liu Bang devised the 'three elderly' system for each county he occupied. After pacifying Shenxi Province, Liu Bang crossed the Yellow River at Linjin-guan Pass and arrived at He-nei land. King of Yin (Sima Mao) was defeated and he fled to his capital Chaoge. Liu Bang dispatched Fan Kuai against Chaoge. In Shandong Province, Xiang Yu defeated Tian Rong; Tian Rong fled his capital Chengyang for Pingyuan where he was killed by civilians; Xiang Yu erected Tian Jia as the new king of Qi. Qi people located Tian Heng (Tian Rong's brother) as their king, drove off Tian Jia and retook Chengyang. At Chaoge, Han2 Xin tricked Sima Mao out of the city by pretending a retreat and then ordered that Fan Kuai, Guan Ying and Zhou Bo ambush Sima Mao. Sima Mao was captured, and he surrendered to Liu Bang. A Chu du wei, Chen Ping, fled to Han camp and was recommended to Liu Bang by General Wei Wuzhi. Chen Ping first answered Chen Sheng's rebellion and then joined the ranks of Xiang Yu. Chen Ping proposed that Liu Bang lead a surprise attack at Pengcheng by taking advantage of Xiang Yu's entanglement in Shandong Province. Chen Ping was conferred the post of hujun zhongwei, i.e., captain for pacifying army. Upon arriving Luoyang of Henan Prov, Liu Bang met an elderly called Dong-gong who proposed that Liu Bang uphold the slogan that his army was to fight Xiang Yu on behalf of Emperor Yidi assasinated by Xiang Yu. Liu Bang ordered that his army mourned Yidi for three days and sent decrees across the nation.
King of Wei, Bao, answered Liu Bang's decree. King of Zhao followed. Liu Bang assembled an army of 500-600,000, comprising of soldiers from Sai, Di, Haan, Wei, Yin, Zhao and Henan principalities. When Peng Yue reported that he had defeated Chu army, Liu Bang ordered that Peng Yue be the prime minister for King of Wei. Liu Bang took over Pengcheng without a fight.
Remnants fled to Chengyang to report to Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu personally led 30,000 men back to Pengcheng. Xiang Yu drove Liu Bang out of Pengcheng. Altogether over 100,000 Han army were destroyed by Xiang Yu, and another 300-400,000 fled. Chu army chased Han army to Sui-shui River of Anhui Prov, and another 100,000 were drowned in the river. Liu Bang barely escaped after begging two Chu generals for mercy. Liu Bang's family members at Fengxiang were captured by Xiang Yu. While passing through a village, Liu Bang met an old man by the name of Qie, and Qie married his daughter to Liu Bang. (Concubine Qie would be tortured to death by Empress Lühou later.) Liu Bang converged with his General Xiahou Ying, and the two met two of Liu Bang's children. When chased by Chu General Ji Bu, Liu Bang tried to rid his children of the chariot. Xiahou Ying rescued the two children and carried them on his horseback. Liu Bang converged with the army led by Lü Ze, the brother of Lühou. King Yin, Sima Mao, died in this battle; King Sai (Sima Xin) and King Di (Dong Yi) surrendered to Xiang Yu. King Zhao etc fled home. Liu Bang's father, Taigong, and wife Lü-shi, were both captured by Xiang Yu.
Zhang Liang proposed that Liu Bang confer the lands east of Hanguguan Pass onto Haan Xin, Peng Yue and Chu General Ying Bu for sake of fighting Xiang Yu. Liu Bang dispatched emissary for seeking alliances with Peng Yue. Then, Liu Bang relocated to Yingyang for re-organization. Xiang Yu arrested the mother of a Han general called Wang Ling; Wang Ling's mother committed suicide for sake of having his son serve under Liu Bang instead of surrendering to Xiang Yu. Haan Xin led relief army to Yingyang, and Xiao He dispatched homeland soldiers to the aid of Liu Bang, too. Haan Xin took charge and defeated Chu army at Yingyang, Nanjing and Suocheng. Liu Bang conferred crown prince on his five year old son, Liu Ying, and ordered that Xiao He and crown prince guard homeland inside of Hanguguan Pass. King Wei, Bao, requested for going home on the pretext that his mother was ill; Liu Bang released Bao; Bao rebelled against Liu Bang upon return to Pingyang; Liu Bang dispatched Haan Xin against King Wei Bao. Haan Xin deliberately prepared ships at Linjin to attract the attention of Wei army, while he secretly made wooden cauldron, crossed the river at Xiayang and defeated Wei army at Dongzhang. Han General under Haan Xin, Cao Can, defeated Wei General Wang Xiang and took over the city of Anyi. At Quyang, Haan Xin and Cao Can fought with King Wei and captured Wei Bao. Then, Han army went to take over the capital of Pingyang. Wei Bao's family was sent to Liu Bang, and Liu Bang took over Bao's concubine (Bo-shi) as his own and bore Liu Huan (i.e., later Han Emperor Wendi). (Wei Bao was said to have rebelled against Liu Bang because an necromancer stated to Bao and Bo-shi that Bo-shi's son would be an emperor in the future.)
Haan Xin requested for 30,000 men for sake of fighting Zhao principality. Haan intended to take over Zhao, Yan and Qi one by one before fighting Xiang Yu. At Pingyang, Haan Xin was joined by Zhang Er. Chen Yu, prime minister for Zhao, rebelled against Han because he heard that his feud Zhang Er (one time blood brother) was serving Han. Haan Xin went on to attack Dai, the land conferred onto Chen Yu. Three columns led by Cao Can, Guan Ying and Zhang Er defeated Dai prime minister and took over Daicheng city. Cao Can was recalled by Liu Bang. Haan Xin recruited more soldiers locally and then went to fight Zhao army of 200,000 at Jingjingkou Pass. A Zhao counsellor, Li Zuoche, proposed to lead an army of 30,000 to cut off Han army's grain supply. Chen Yu failed to adopt the advice. The road to Jingjingkou Pass was said to be so narrow that only one chariot could pass at one time. Haan Xin secretly ordered that qi duwei Jin Xi circumvent to the back of the pass, that zuo qi jiang Fu Kuan and Zhang Cang (tai shou of Changshan) set up an ambush near the front of the pass, and a column of army stand against the bank of a river. In early morning, Haan Xin told soldiers that they could have breakfast after finishing off Zhao army. When Zhao army came out of the pass to fight Haan Xin, Haan Xin pretended to flee towards the river. For the whole morning, the two armies fought bitterly near the bank. When Chen Yu called for a retreat, he was ambushed by Fu Kuan and Zhang Cang near the pass. Jin Xi took over the pass and captured King Zhao Xie. Chen Yu (Prince Cheng'an-jun) was defeated and killed by Han armies. Haan Xin ordered that Zhao King be executed. Haan Xin gave an reward to have Li Zuoche captured, and Li Zuoche proposed to Haan Xin that he should send a messenger to Yan for pacifying King Yan (i.e., Zang Tu) instead of driving weakened soldiers to Yan land and that Han army could then go to the east to fight Qi Principality. King of Yan surrendered to Haan Xin.
Liu Bang then ordered that Zhang Er be the new Zhao king and that Haan Xin fight Qi. At Qiujiang, Han emissary, Sui He, successfully pursuaded Ying Bu into an alliance with Liu Bang against Xiang Yu.
Han Emperor Gaozu continued the practice of General Xiang Yu by conferring kingships to non-Liu generals and ministers. For example, King Lu Wan of Yan Principality, was one of the non-Liu kings. At one time, Lu Wan sent his general Zhang Sheng to Modu (Hunnic king) in the attempt of stopping Modu from aiding Chen Xi. But, Zhang Sheng, incited by the son of ex-Yan king Zang Tu who had been seeking asylum with the Huns, had decided to go againt Lu Wan's will. King Lu Wan acquiesced when he thought to himself that the non-Liu kings had now been reduced to only two, himself and King of Changsa Principality while Han Emperor Liu Bang had conferred 8 king titles to his own kinsmen (6 being Liu Bang's own sons and 2 the sons of his two brothers). The 8 kings would be for Qi, Chu, Dai, Wu, Zhao, Liang, Huaiyang and Huainan. Han Emperor sent his general Fan Kuai to campaign against King Lu Wan when he heard of the Yan Principality's collusion with the Huns. Han Emperor passed away shortly. King Lu Wan, hearing about the emperor's death, led his people northward and surrendered to King Modu. King Lu Wan was conferred the title of 'Eastern Hun Ru King'. By that time, only one non-Liu king was in existence.
Non-Chinese Southern Statelets
Among the non-Chinese statelets would be the Nan-yue or Nan Yue Statelet led by Zhao Tuo, an ex-Qin general. Here, the prefix 'Nan' means southern. Also in existence would be Min-yue Statelet and Dong-yue Statelet. Among the southern nomads, the Yelang Statelet, located in the southwestern mountains of today's Sichuan Province, was the biggest of all. Further to the west will be a statelet called Dian-yue, located in today's Yunnan Province. North of Dian-yue would be a statelet called Qiongdu. Half a dozen small statelets existed to the southwest of Sichuan Province at that time.
TO BE CONTINUED !
Written by Ah Xiang
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