Emperor Wu of Han
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Emperor Wu of Han (156 – 29 March 87BC), formally enshrined as Emperor Wu the Filial (), born Liu Che (劉徹) and
courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China China, officially the People's R ...
Tong (通), was the seventh
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
of the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
of
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the '' Book of Documents'' (early chapt ...
, ruling from 141 to 87 BC. His reign lasted 54 years – a record not broken until the reign of the
Kangxi Emperor The Kangxi Emperor (4 May 1654– 20 December 1722), also known by his temple name Emperor Shengzu of Qing, born Xuanye, was the third emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper China proper, I ...
more than 1,800 years later and remains the record for
ethnic Chinese The Chinese people or simply Chinese, are people or ethnic groups identified with Greater China, China, usually through ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation. Chinese people are known as Zhongguoren () or as Huaren () by ...
emperors. His reign resulted in a vast expansion of
geopolitical Geopolitics (from Ancient Greek, Greek γῆ ''gê'' "earth, land" and πολιτική ''politikḗ'' "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usu ...
influence for the Chinese civilization, and the development of a strong
centralized state A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative division Administrative division, administrative un ...
via governmental policies, economical reorganization and promotion of a hybrid Legalist
Confucian Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
doctrine. In the field of historical social and cultural studies, Emperor Wu is known for his religious innovations and patronage of the poetic and musical arts, including development of the Imperial Music Bureau into a prestigious entity. It was also during his reign that cultural contact with western Eurasia was greatly increased, directly and indirectly. During his reign as Emperor, he led the Han dynasty through its greatest territorial expansion. At its height, the Empire's borders spanned from the
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in the west, to northern
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in the east, and to
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in the south. Emperor Wu successfully repelled the nomadic
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation of nomads, nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese historiography, Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Modu Chanyu, ...
from systematically raiding northern China, and dispatched his envoy
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...
into the
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in 139 BC to seek an alliance with the Greater Yuezhi and
Kangju Kangju (; Eastern Han Chinese Eastern Han Chinese or Later Han Chinese is the stage of the Chinese language Chinese (, especially when referring to written Chinese) is a group of languages spoken natively by the ethnic Han Chinese ma ...
, which resulted in further diplomatic missions to
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. Although historical records do not describe him as being aware of
Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
, emphasizing rather his interest in
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, the cultural exchanges that occurred as a consequence of these embassies suggest that he received Buddhist statues from Central Asia, as depicted in the murals found in the
Mogao Caves The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, form a system of 500 temples southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu p ...
. Emperor Wu is considered one of the greatest emperors in
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the '' Book of Documents'' (early chap ...
due to his strong leadership and effective governance, which made the Han dynasty one of the most powerful nations in the world.
Michael Loewe Michael Arthur Nathan Loewe (born 2 November 1922) is a British Sinologist, historian, and writer who has authored dozens of books, articles, and other publications in the fields of Classical Chinese as well as the history of History of Chin ...
called the reign of Emperor Wu the "high point" of "Modernist" (classically justified Legalist) policies, looking back to "adapt ideas from the pre-Han period." His policies and most trusted advisers were Legalist, favouring adherents of
Shang Yang Shang Yang (; c. 390 – 338 BC), also known as Wei Yang () and originally surnamed Gongsun, was a Chinese jurist, philosopher, and politician.Antonio S. Cua (ed.), 2003, p. 362, ''Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy'"The fifth important legali ...
. However, despite establishing an autocratic and centralised state, Emperor Wu adopted the principles of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
as the state philosophy and code of ethics for his empire and started a school to teach future administrators the
Confucian classics Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the " Four Books and Five Classics" of the Neo-Confuc ...
. These reforms had an enduring effect throughout the existence of imperial China and an enormous influence on neighbouring civilizations.


Names

The personal name of Emperor Wu was Liu Che (劉徹). The use of "Han" ( ) in referring to emperor Wu is a reference to the Han dynasty of which he was a part. His family name is "Liu"; the ruling family or clan of the Han dynasty shared the family name of "Liu", the family name of
Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in ...
, the founding father of the Han dynasty. The character "Di" ( ) is a title: this is the Chinese word which in imperial history of China means "emperor". The character "Wu" ( ) literally means "martial" or "warlike", but is also related to the concept of a particular divinity in the historical Chinese religious pantheon existing at that time. Combined, "Wu" plus "di" makes the name "Wudi", the emperor's posthumous name used for historical and religious purposes, such as offering him posthumous honours at his tomb. The emperor's temple tablet name is Shizong (世宗)


Regnal years

One of Han Wudi's innovations was the practice of changing reign names after a number of years, as deemed auspicious or to commemorate some event. Thus the practice for dating years during the reign of Wudi was represented by the ''nth'' year of the eign Year Name(where ''nth'' stands for an ordinal integer) and "Reign Year Name" for the specific name of that regnal year.


Early years

Liu Che was the 11th son of Liu Qi, the oldest living son from
Emperor Wen of Han Emperor Wen of Han (; 203/202 – 6 July 157 BCE), born Liu Heng (), was the fifth emperor of China, emperor of the Western Han dynasty in China from 180 to his death in 157 BCE. The son of Emperor Gaozu of Han, Emperor Gao and Empress Dowager B ...
. His mother Wang Zhi (王娡) was initially married to a commoner named Jin Wangsun (金王孫) and had a daughter from that marriage. However, her mother Zang Er (臧儿) (a granddaughter of one-time Prince of Yan, Zang Tu, under Emperor Gao) was told by a soothsayer that both Wang Zhi and her younger sister would one day become extremely honoured. She then got the idea to offer her daughters to the then
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The female form of the title is crown princess, which may refer either to an heiress apparent or, especially in earlier times, to the wife ...
Liu Qi, and forcibly divorced Wang Zhi from her then husband. After being offered to Liu Qi, Wang Zhi bore him three daughters – Princess Yangxin, Princess Nangong (南宫公主) and Princess Longlü. On the day of Liu Qi's accession to the throne as
Emperor Jing of Han Emperor Jing of Han (Liu Qi (劉啟); 188 BC – 9 March 141 BC) was the sixth emperor of China, emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty from 157 to 141 BC. His reign saw the limiting of the power of the feudal kings/princes which resulted in the Re ...
(upon the death of his father Emperor Wen in 156 BC), Wang Zhi gave birth to Liu Che, and was promoted to a
consort __NOTOC__ Consort may refer to: Music * "The Consort" (Rufus Wainwright song), from the 2000 album ''Poses'' * Consort of instruments A consort of instruments was a phrase used in England during the 16th and 17th centuries to indicate an instru ...
for giving birth to a royal prince. While she was pregnant, she claimed that she dreamed of a sun falling into her womb. Emperor Jing was ecstatic over the divine implication, and made the young Liu Che the Prince of Jiaodong (胶东王) in 153 BC. An intelligent boy, Liu Che was considered to be Emperor Jing's favourite son from a very young age.


Crown prince

Emperor Jing's formal wife, Empress Bo, was childless. As a result, Emperor Jing's oldest son
Liu Rong Liu Rong (Chinese language, Chinese: ) (died 148 BC) was the eldest son of Emperor Jing of Han, Emperor Jing of the Han dynasty. His mother was Lady Li (栗姬). He was made taizi, crown prince of the empire under the formal title Crown Prince Li () ...
, born to Lady Lì (栗姬, Emperor Jing's favorite concubine and mother of three of his first four sons), was made crown prince in 153 BC. Lady Li, feeling certain that her son would become the future emperor, grew arrogant and intolerant, and frequently threw
tantrum A tantrum, temper tantrum, lash out, meltdown, fit or hissy fit is an emotion Emotions are mental states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses, and ...
s at Emperor Jing out of jealousy over him bedding other women. Her lack of tact provided the opportunity for Consort Wang and the young Liu Che to gain the emperor's favour. When Emperor Jing's older sister, Eldest Princess Guantao (馆陶长公主) Liu Piao (刘嫖), offered to
marry Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouses. It establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between t ...
her daughter with the Marquess of Tangyi Chen Wu to Liu Rong, Lady Li rudely rejected the proposal out of her dislike of Princess Guantao, who often procured new concubines for Emperor Jing and was diffusing the favor received by Lady Li. Insulted by the rejection, Princess Guantao then approached the next favorite of Emperor Jing's concubines – none other than Consort Wang, who had been observing these developments quietly from the sidelines. Guantao offered to marry her daughter to the consort's young son, Liu Che, then aged only 5. Seizing the opportunity, Consort Wang accepted the offer with open arms, securing a crucial political alliance with Princess Guantao. Princess Guantao's daughter
Chen Jiao Empress Chen of Wu (孝武陳皇后), was empress#China, empress of the Han dynasty and the first wife of Emperor Wu of Han (Liu Che). She was also known as Chen Jiao () or as her milk name Chen A'Jiao (陈阿娇). She was born to Chen Wu (Weste ...
, also known by the milk name A'Jiao (阿嬌), was of
marriageable age Marriageable age (or marriage age) is the general age, as a legal age or as the minimum age subject to parental, religious or other forms of social acceptance, social approval, at which a person is legitimately allowed for marriage. Age and othe ...
(which was legally marked at the time by
menarche Menarche ( ; ) is the first menstrual cycle, or first Menstruation, menstrual bleeding, in female humans. From both social and medical perspectives, it is often considered the central event of female puberty, as it signals the possibility of f ...
), making her at least eight years older than the young prince. Due to this age difference, Emperor Jing initially did not approve of this union. According to the Wei-Jin era fable ''Hanwu Stories'' (漢武故事 / 汉武故事 also called ''Stories of Han Wudi''), during a subsequent royal gathering, Princess Guantao held the 5-year-old Liu Che in her arms and asked the nephew whether he wanted to marry his
first cousin Most generally, in the lineal kinship system used in the English-speaking world, a cousin is a type of Kinship, familial relationship in which two relatives are two or more familial generations away from their most recent common ancestor. Com ...
A'Jiao. The young prince boasted that he would "build a golden house for her" if they were married. Princess Guantao then used the boy's response as a divine sign to convince Emperor Jing to finally agree to the
arranged marriage Arranged marriage is a type of marital union where the bride and groom are primarily selected by individuals other than the couple themselves, particularly by family members such as the parents. In some cultures a professional matchmaker may be us ...
between Liu Che and Chen Jiao. This inspired the Chinese idiom "putting Jiao in a golden house" (). Now sealed in the
marriage alliance A marriage of state is a diplomatic marriage or union between two members of different nation-states or internally, between two power blocs, usually in authoritarian societies and is a practice which dates back into ancient times, as far back as ear ...
with Consort Wang, Princess Guantao began incessantly criticising Lady Li in front of Emperor Jing. Over time, Emperor Jing started to believe his sister's words, so he decided to test out Lady Li. One day he asked Lady Li whether she would happily foster-care the rest of his children if he were to pass away, only to have her rudely refuse to comply. This made Emperor Jing angry and worried that if Liu Rong were to inherit the throne and Lady Li to become
empress dowager Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) () is the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of ...
, many of his concubines might suffer the tragic fate of Consort Qi in the hands of Empress Lü. Princess Guantao then began to openly praise her
son-in-law Son-in-Law (22 April 1911 – 15 May 1941) was a British Thoroughbred The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing Horse racing is an equestrianism, equestrian performance sport, typically involving tw ...
-to-be to her royal brother, further convincing Emperor Jing that Liu Che was a far better choice for
heir apparent An heir apparent, often shortened to heir, is a person who is first in an order of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person; a person who is first in the order of succession but can be displaced by the b ...
than Liu Rong. Taking advantage of the situation, Consort Wang put in place the final step to defeat Lady Li — she persuaded a minister to officially advise Emperor Jing that he make Lady Li empress, as Liu Rong was already the crown prince. Emperor Jing, already firm in his view that Lady Li must not be made empress, was enraged and believed that Lady Li had conspired with government officials. He executed the clan of the minister who had made that proposal, and deposed Liu Rong from the crown prince to the Prince of Linjiang (臨江王) and exiling him from the capital city
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an. The site had been settled since Neolithic times, during which the Yangshao culture was established in Banpo, in the city's suburbs. Furthermore, in the northern vicinity of modern Xi'an, Qin Shi ...
in 150 BC. Lady Li was stripped of her titles and placed under
house arrest In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home detention, or, in modern times, Electronic monitoring in the United States, electronic monitoring) is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to their Hous ...
; she died of depression not long after. Liu Rong was arrested two years later for illegal seizure of imperial shrine lands and committed suicide while in custody. As Empress Bo had been deposed one year earlier in 151 BC, the position of empress was left open and Emperor Jing made Consort Wang empress four months later. The seven-year-old Liu Che, now legally the oldest son of the Empress, was made crown prince in 149 BC. In 141 BC, Emperor Jing died and Crown Prince Liu Che ascended to the throne as Emperor Wu at the age of 15. His grandmother Empress Dowager Dou became the grand empress dowager, and his mother became Empress Dowager Wang. His cousin-wife A'Jiao from the
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...
child marriage Child marriage is a marriage or Domestic partnership, similar union, formal or informal, between a child under Age of majority, a certain age – typically 18 years – and an adult or another child. * * * * The vast majority of child marriages ...
officially became Empress Chen.


Early reign and reform attempt

The Han dynasty up to this point was run according to a
Taoist Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
''
wu wei ''Wu wei'' () is an ancient Chinese concept literally meaning "inexertion", "inaction", or "effortless action". ''Wu wei'' emerged in the Spring and Autumn period, and from Confucianism, to become an important concept in Chinese statecraft and Ta ...
'' ideology, championing
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debates as well as in the philosophy of economics. One approach to economic freedom comes from the Ec ...
and government decentralization. With regard to foreign policy-wise, periodic ''
heqin ''Heqin'', also known as marriage alliance, refers to the historical practice of Chinese sovereign, Chinese monarchs marrying princesses—usually members of minor branches of the ruling family—to rulers of neighboring states. It was often adopt ...
'' was used to maintain a ''
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'' "peace" with the powerful
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation of nomads, nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese historiography, Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Modu Chanyu, ...
confederacy to the north. These policies were important in stimulating economic recovery following the post-Qin dynasty civil war, but had their drawbacks. The
non-interventionist Non-interventionism or non-intervention is a political philosophy or national foreign policy doctrine that opposes interference in the domestic politics and affairs of other countries but, in contrast to isolationism, is not necessarily opposed t ...
policies resulted in loss of monetary regulation and political control by the central government, allowing the
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
vassal states to become powerful and unruly, culminating in the
Rebellion of the Seven States The Rebellion of the Seven States or Revolt of the Seven Kingdoms () took place in 154 BC against the Han dynasty of China by its Kings of the Han dynasty, regional semi-autonomous kings, to resist the emperor's attempt to centralize the governm ...
during Emperor Jing's reign.
Nepotism Nepotism is an In-group favoritism, advantage, privilege, or position that is granted to Kinship, relatives and friends in an occupation or field. These fields may include but are not limited to, business, politics, academia, entertainment, s ...
among the
ruling class In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class who set and decide the political and economic agenda of society. In Marxist philosophy, the ruling class are the capitalist social class who own the means of production and by exten ...
also stagnated
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and encouraged nobles' rampant disregard of laws, leading to the rise of local despots who bullied and oppressed the population. The ''heqin'' policy also failed to protect the Han borders against
nomadic A nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, Nomadic pastoralism, pastoral nomads (owning livestock), tinkers and Merchant, trader nomads. In t ...
raids, with Xiongnu cavalries invading as close as 300 ''li'' (100 miles, 160 km) from the capital during Emperor Wen's reign, and over 10,000 border residents abducted or enslaved during Emperor Jing's reign. Prominent politicians like Jia Yi and
Chao Cuo Chao Cuo (, ca. 200–154 BC) was a Chinese philosopher, politician, and writer. He was a political advisor and official of the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), renowned for his intellectual capabilities and foresight in martial and politic ...
had both previously advised on the necessity of important policy reforms, but neither Emperor Wen nor Emperor Jing was willing to risk implementing such changes. Unlike the emperors before him, the young and vigorous Emperor Wu was unwilling to put up with the ''status quo''. Only a year into his reign in late 141 BC, Emperor Wu took the advice of
Confucian Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
scholars and launched an ambitious reform, known in history as the Jianyuan Reforms (建元新政). The reforms included: #Officially endorsing Confucianism as the national philosophy (乡儒术). Previously, the more
libertarian Libertarianism (from french: libertaire, "libertarian"; from la, libertas, "freedom") is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core value. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, and Minarchism, minimize the ...
Taoist Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
ideals were held in esteem; #Forcing noblemen back to their own fiefdoms (令列侯就国). A large number of noblemen were living in the capital Chang'an, lobbying court officials while exploiting the central government's budget to cover their expenses despite already having gained great wealth from their own feudal
land tenure In Common law#History, common law systems, land tenure, from the French verb "tenir" means "to hold", is the legal regime in which land owned by an individual is possessed by someone else who is said to "hold" the land, based on an agreement bet ...
taxation. Emperor Wu's new policy dictated that they could no longer live off the government's spending and must leave the capital if lacking any justifiable reason to keep staying; #Removing checkpoints that were not sanctioned by the central government (除关). Many lords of vassal states had established checkpoints along main state roads that went through their territory with the purpose of collecting tolls and restricting traffic. Emperor Wu wanted to seize the control of transportation from local authorities and return that control back to the central government; #Encouraging the reporting and prosecution of criminal activities by nobles (举谪宗室无行者). Noblemen engaged in illegal activities would be impeached and punished and their assets or lands could be confiscated back as state property; #Recruiting and promoting talented commoners in government positions (招贤良) in order to reduce the administrative monopoly by the noble class. However, Emperor Wu's reforms threatened the interests of the nobles and were swiftly defeated by his powerful grandmother Grand Empress Dowager Dou, who held real political power in the Han court and supported the conservative factions. Most of the reformists were punished: Emperor Wu's two noble supporters Dou Ying (窦婴) and Tian Fen (田蚡, Empress Dowager Wang's
half-brother A sibling is a relative that shares at least one parent with the subject. A male sibling is a brother and a female sibling is a sister. A person with no siblings is an only child. While some circumstances can cause siblings to be raised separat ...
and Emperor's uncle) lost their positions, and his two mentors Wang Zang (王臧) and Zhao Wan (赵绾) were impeached, arrested and forced to commit suicide in prison. Emperor Wu, deprived of any allies, was now the subject of conspiracies designed to have him removed from the throne. For example, his first wife Empress Chen Jiao was unable to become pregnant. In an attempt to remain his first love, she had prohibited him from having other concubines. Emperor Wu's political enemies used his childlessness as an argument to seek to depose him, as the inability of an emperor to propagate a royal bloodline was a serious matter. These enemies of Emperor Wu wished to replace him with his uncle
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
, the King of Huainan, who was renowned for his expertise in Taoist ideology. Even Emperor Wu's own maternal uncle Tian Fen switched camps and sought Liu An's favor, as he predicted the young emperor would not be in power for long. Emperor Wu's political survival now relied heavily on the lobbying of his influential aunt / mother-in-law, Princess Guantao (Liu Piao), who served as a mediator in seeking the Emperor's reconciliation with his powerful grandmother. Princess Guantao took every opportunity to influence the Grand Empress and also constantly made demands on behalf of her nephew / son-in-law. Emperor Wu, already unhappy with his lack of an heir and Empress Chen's spoiled behavior, was further enraged by her mother Princess Liu Piao's greed, that she took a lot from him in everything she did for him. However, Emperor Wu's mother, Empress Dowager Wang, convinced him to tolerate Empress Chen and Liu Piao for the time being, as his aging grandmother was declining physically and would soon die. He spent the next few years pretending to have given up any political ambition, playing the part of a docile hedonist, often sneaking out of the capital Chang'an to engage in hunting and sightseeing and posing as an ordinary nobleman.


Solidifying power

Knowing that the conservative noble classes occupied every level of the Han court, Emperor Wu changed his strategy. He secretly recruited a circle of young loyal supporters from ordinary backgrounds and promoted them to middle-level positions in order to infiltrate executive ranks in the government. These newly established officials, known as the "insider court" (内朝), took orders and reported directly to Emperor Wu. They had real influence over the operation of government affairs though lower in rank. They became a powerful counter against the "outsider court" (外朝) made up of the
Three Lords and Nine Ministers The Three Lords and Nine Ministers system () was a central administrative system adopted in ancient China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencie ...
that, at the time, were mostly composed of anti-reformists. Furthermore, Emperor Wu sent out nationwide edicts appealing to
grassroots A grassroots movement is one that uses the people in a given district, region or community as the basis for a political or economic movement. Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to effect change at t ...
scholars such as
Gongsun Hong Gongsun Hong (公孫弘; Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a ...
to enrol in government services in an attempt to break the stranglehold that the older-generation noble class had on the nation's levers of power. In 138 BC, the southern autonomous state of
Minyue Minyue () was an ancient kingdom in what is now the Fujian province in southern China. It was a contemporary of the Han dynasty, and was later annexed by the Han empire as the Southward expansion of the Han dynasty, dynasty expanded southward. ...
(in modern-day
Fujian Fujian (; postal romanization, alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a provinces of China, province on the southeastern coast of China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, Guangdong to the south, and ...
) invaded the weaker neighbouring state of
Dong'ou Dong'ou () also known as Ouyue (), was an ancient Ancient Chinese states, kingdom in modern Wenzhou and Taizhou, Zhejiang, Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, China. The realm of Dong'ou was given to Zou Yao by Emperor Gaozu of Han in 192 BC. During the ...
(in modern-day
Zhejiang Zhejiang ( or , ; , also romanized as Chekiang) is an eastern, coastal province of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countri ...
). After their king Zuo Zhenfu (驺贞复) died on the battlefield, the battered Dong'ou desperately sought help from the Han court. After a heated court debate over whether to offer military intervention for such a distant vassal state, Emperor Wu dispatched a newly promoted official Yan Zhu (严助) to Kuaiji (then still located in
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; Suzhounese: Romanization of Wu Chinese, ''sou¹ tseu¹'' , Standard Mandarin, Mandarin: ), postal romanization, alternately romanized as Soochow, is a major city in southern Jiangsu province, East China. Suzhou is the largest city ...
, rather than
Shaoxing Shaoxing (; ) is a prefecture-level city A prefecture-level city () or prefectural city is an administrative division of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC), ranking below a province of China, province and above a Counties of th ...
) to mobilize the local garrison. However the tiger tally, which was needed to authorize any use of armed forces, was in Grand Empress Dowager Dou's possession at the time. Yan Zhu, as the appointed imperial ambassador, circumvented this problem by executing a local army commander who refused to obey any order without seeing the tiger tally and coerced the governor of Kuaiji to mobilize a large naval fleet to Dong'ou's rescue. Seeing that superior Han forces were on the way, Minyue forces became fearful and retreated. This was a huge political victory for Emperor Wu and set the precedent of using the Emperor's
decree A decree is a law, legal proclamation, usually issued by a head of state (such as the President (government title), president of a republic or a monarch), according to certain procedures (usually established in a constitution). It has the force of ...
s to bypass the tiger tally, removing the need for cooperation from his grandmother; Of course, this did not mean that Grand Empress Dowager Dou's influence and intervention would disappear, she was a serious and insurmountable obstacle and competing authority in administration for Emperor Wu until the end of her life. But now with the military firmly in his control, Emperor Wu's political survival was assured, and his grandmother or anyone else could no longer threaten to dethrone him as directly, easily and quickly as before. In the same year, Emperor Wu's newly favoured concubine
Wei Zifu Wei Zifu (; died 91 BC), posthumous name, posthumously known as Empress Si of the filial piety, Filial Wu () or Wei Si Hou (衛思后, "Wei the Thoughtful Empress"), was an empress consort during ancient China's Han dynasty. She was the second w ...
became pregnant with his first child, effectively clearing his name and silencing any political enemies who had schemed to use his alleged infertility as an excuse to have him removed. When this news reached the state of Huainan,
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
, who was hoping the young Emperor Wu's infertility would allow him to ascend to the throne, went into a state of denial and rewarded anyone who told him that Emperor Wu was still childless. In 135 BC, Grand Empress Dowager Dou died, removing the last major obstacle against Emperor Wu's ambition for reform.


Imperial expansion


Conquest of the south

After the death of Grand Empress Dowager Dou in 135 BC, Emperor Wu had full and unrivaled control of the government. While his mother, Empress Dowager Wang, and his uncle Tian Fen were still heavily influential, they also benefited from the death of the old woman, especially the mother of Emperor Wu, but they lacked the ability to restrain the Emperor's actions. Emperor Wu began military campaigns focused on territorial expansion. This decision nearly destroyed his empire in its early stages. Reacting to border incursions by sending out the troops, Emperor Wu sent his armies in all directions but the sea.


Conquest of Minyue

Following the successful manoeuvre against Minyue in 138 BC, Emperor Wu resettled the people of Dang'an into the region between the
Yangtze The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ; ) is the longest list of rivers of Asia, river in Asia, the list of rivers by length, third-longest in the world, and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in th ...
and Huai Rivers. In 135 BC, Minyue saw an opportunity to take advantage of the new and inexperienced king of
Nanyue Nanyue (), was an ancient kingdom ruled by Chinese monarchs of the Zhao family that covered the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi Guangxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangj ...
,
Zhao Mo ; , posthumous name = ; vi, Triệu Văn Đế , predecessor = Zhao Tuo , successor = Zhao Yingqi , birth_date = 175 BC , death_date = 124 BC (aged 51) , dynasty = Nanyue } Zhao Mo (; vi, Triệu Hồ) was the gr ...
. Minyue invaded its south-western neighbour and Zhao Mo sought help from the Han court. Emperor Wu dispatched an amphibious expedition force led by Wang Hui (王恢) and Han Anguo (韩安国) to address the Minyue threat. Again fearing the Han intervention, Luo Yushan (雒余善), the younger brother of Minyue's King Ying, orchestrated a coup with other Minyue nobles, killed his brother with a spear,
decapitated Decapitation or beheading is the total separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is invariably fatal to humans and most other animals, since it deprives the brain of oxygenated blood Blood is a body fluid in the circulatory ...
the corpse and sent the severed head to Wang. Following the campaign, Minyue was split into a dual monarchy: Minyue was controlled by a Han proxy ruler, Zou Chou (驺丑), and Dongyue (东越) was ruled by Luo Yushan. As Han troops returned from the Han–Nanyue War in 111 BC, the Han government debated military action against Dongyue. Dongyue, under King Lou Yushan, had agreed to assist the Han campaign against Nanyue, but the Dongyue army never reached there, blaming the weather while secretly relaying intelligence to Nanyue. Against the advice of General Yang Pu (杨仆), Emperor Wu rejected a military solution, and the Han forces arrived home without attacking Dongyue, though border garrisons were told to prepare for any military conflicts. After King Yushan was informed of this, he became overly confident and proud and responded by revolting against the Han, proclaiming himself emperor and assigned his "Han-devouring generals" (吞汉将军) to invade neighbouring regions controlled by the Han. Enraged, Emperor Wu sent a combined army led by generals Han Yue (韩说), Yang Pu, Wang Wenshu (王温舒) and two marquesses of Yue ancestry. The Han army crushed the rebellion, and the Dongyue kingdom began to fragment after King Yushan stubbornly refused to surrender. Elements of the Dongyue army defected and turned against their ruler. Eventually, the king of the other Minyue state, Zou Jugu (驺居股), conspired with other Dongyue nobles to kill King Yushan before surrendering to the Han forces. The two states of Minyue and Dongyue were then completely annexed under the Han rule.


Conquest of Nanyue

In 135 BC, when Minyue attacked
Nanyue Nanyue (), was an ancient kingdom ruled by Chinese monarchs of the Zhao family that covered the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi Guangxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangj ...
, Nanyue also sought assistance from Han even though it probably had enough strength to defend itself. Emperor Wu was greatly pleased by this gesture, and he dispatched an expedition force to attack Minyue, over the objection of one of his key advisors,
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
, a royal relative and the Prince of Huainan. Minyue nobles, fearful of the massive Chinese force, assassinated their king Luo Ying (骆郢) and sought peace. Emperor Wu then imposed a dual-monarchy system on Minyue by creating kings out of Luo Ying's brother Luo Yushan (雒余善) and nobleman Zou Chou (驺丑), thus ensuring internal discord in Minyue . Although initially launched as a punitive expedition by Emperor Wu against the autonomous kingdom of
Nanyue Nanyue (), was an ancient kingdom ruled by Chinese monarchs of the Zhao family that covered the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi Guangxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangj ...
, the entire Nanyue territory (which includes modern
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternatively romanized as Canton or Kwangtung, is a coastal province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. With a population of 126.01 million (as of 202 ...
,
Guanxi ''Guanxi'' () is a term used in Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse ...
, and
North Vietnam North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV; vi, Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa), was a socialist state supported by the Soviet Union (USSR) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Southeast Asia that existed f ...
) had been conquered by the Emperor's military forces and annexed into the Han Empire by 111 BC.


War against the northern steppes

Military tension had long existed between China and the northern "
barbarians A barbarian (or savage) is someone who is perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive. The designation is usually applied as a generalization A generalization is a form of abstraction whereby common properties of specific instances are ...
", mainly because the fertile lands of the prosperous agricultural civilization presented attractive targets for the poorer but more militaristic horseback nomads. The threat posed to the Xiongnu by the northward expansion of the Qin Empire ultimately led to the consolidation of the many tribes into a confederacy. Following the end of the Chu-Han Contention,
Emperor Gao of Han Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning in 202–195 BC. His temple name was "Taizu" while his posthumous name was Emper ...
realized that the nation was not yet strong enough to confront the Xiongnu. He therefore resorted to the so-called "marriage alliance", or ''
heqin ''Heqin'', also known as marriage alliance, refers to the historical practice of Chinese sovereign, Chinese monarchs marrying princesses—usually members of minor branches of the ruling family—to rulers of neighboring states. It was often adopt ...
'', in order to ease hostility and buy time for the nation to "rest and recover" (休养生息). Despite the periodic humiliation of appeasement and providing gifts, the Han borders were still frequented by Xiongnu raids for the next seven decades. Following the death of his powerful grandmother, Emperor Wu decided that Han China had sufficiently recovered enough to support a full-scale war. He first ended the official policy of peace with the
Battle of Mayi The Battle of Mayi (), also known as the Scheme of Mayi (馬邑之謀) or the Encirclement at Mayi (馬邑之圍), was an abortive ambush An ambush is a long-established military tactics, military tactic in which a combatant uses an advan ...
in 133 BC, which involved a failed plan to trick a force of 30,000 Xiongnu into an ambush of 300,000 Han soldiers. While neither side suffered any casualties, the Xiongnu retaliated by increasing their border attacks, leading many in the Han court to abandon the hope for peace with the Xiongnu. The failure of the Mayi operation prompted Emperor Wu to switch the Han army's
doctrine Doctrine (from la, Wikt:doctrina, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification (law), codification of beliefs or a body of teacher, teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given ...
from the traditionally more defensive
chariot A chariot is a type of cart driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. The oldest known chariots have been found in burials of the Sintashta culture in modern-day Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, dated to c. 2000  ...
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
warfare to a highly mobile and offensive cavalry-against-cavalry warfare. At the same time, he expanded and trained officers from his royal guards. After a series of defeats by
Wei Qing Wei Qing (died 106 BC), courtesy name Zhongqing, born Zheng Qing in Linfen, Shanxi, was a Chinese military general and politician of the Western Han dynasty who was acclaimed for his Han-Xiongnu War, campaigns against the Xiongnu, and his rags ...
(the half-brother of Emperor Wu's favourite concubine) and Wei's nephew,
Huo Qubing Huo Qubing (140 BC – 117 BC) was a Chinese military general and politician of the Western Han dynasty during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han. He was the nephew of the general Wei Qing and Empress Wei Zifu (Emperor Wu's wife), and the half-b ...
between 127 and 119 BC, the Xiongnu were expelled from the
Ordos Desert The Ordos Desert () is a desert/steppe region in Northwest China, administrated under the prefectures of China, prefecture of Ordos City in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (centered ca. ). It extends over an area of approximately , and ...
and
Qilian Mountains The Qilian Mountains (, also romanized as Tsilien; Mongghul: Chileb), together with the Altyn-Tagh (Altun Shan) also known as Nan Shan (, literally "Southern Mountains"), as it is to the south of Hexi Corridor, is a northern outlier of the Kunlu ...
. As a result of these territorial acquisitions, the Han Dynasty successfully opened up the
Northern Silk Road The Northern Silk Road is an Ancient history, ancient trackway in northern China originating in the early capital of Xi'an and extending north of the Taklamakan Desert to reach the ancient monarchy, kingdoms of Parthia, Bactria and eventually Persi ...
, allowing direct access to trade with Central Asia. This also provided a new supply of high-quality horse breeds from Central Asia, including the famed
Ferghana horse Ferghana horses () were one of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of Chin ...
(ancestors of the modern
Akhal-Teke The Akhal-Teke ( or ; from Turkmen language, Turkmen ''Ahalteke'', ) is a Turkmen horse breed. They have a reputation for speed and endurance, intelligence, and a distinctive metallic sheen. The shiny coat of the breed led to their nickname, ...
), further strengthening the Han army. Emperor Wu then reinforced this strategic asset by establishing five commanderies and constructing a length of fortified wall along the border of the Hexi Corridor, colonizing the area with 700,000 Chinese soldier-settlers. The
Battle of Mobei The Battle of Mobei () was a military campaign A military campaign is large-scale long-duration significant military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. De ...
(119 BC) saw Han forces invade the northern regions of the
Gobi Desert The Gobi Desert ( Chinese: 戈壁 (沙漠), Mongolian: Говь (ᠭᠣᠪᠢ)) () is a large desert or brushland region in East Asia, and is the sixth largest desert in the world. Geography The Gobi measures from southwest to northeast an ...
. The two generals led the campaign to the
Khangai Mountains The Khangai Mountains ( mn, Хангайн нуруу, Hangain nuruu, ); form a range in central Mongolia Mongolia; Mongolian script: , , ; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia" () is a landlocked country in Eas ...
where they forced the Chanyu to flee north of the Gobi Desert, and then out of the Gobi Desert. The Xiongnu, destabilized and worried about further Han attacks, retreated further north into the
Siberian Siberia ( ; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive region, geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a ...
regions where they suffered starvation due to livestock loss from harsh climates. The battle was however also costly for the Han forces, which lost almost 80% of their warhorses. The cost of the war led the central Han government to introduce new levies, increasing the burden on average peasants, and the
population census A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring, recording and calculating information about the members of a given Statistical population, population. This term is used mostly in connection with Population and housing censuses by country, n ...
of the empire showed a significant drop from famines and people fleeing to avoid having to pay the taxes.


Invasion of the Korean Peninsula

Emperor Wu carried out an invasion of the northern
Korean Peninsula Korea ( ko, 한국, or , ) is a peninsular region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, with North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) comprising its northern half and Sout ...
and established the Commandery of Canghai, but abandoned it in 126 BC. Some of the military colonies established at that time survived into the 4th century, leaving behind various particularly well-preserved funerary artefacts. After the conquest of Nanyue in 111 BC, Emperor Wu launched a second invasion of the Korean peninsula and by 108 BC completed the Han conquest of Gojoseon in what is now modern-day
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
. Han Chinese colonists in the Xuantu and
Lelang The Lelang Commandery was a Commandery (China), commandery of the Han dynasty established after it had conquered Wiman Joseon in 108 BC and lasted until Goguryeo conquered it in 313. The Lelang Commandery extended the rule of the Four Commander ...
commanderies of northern Korea would later fight against frequent raids by the
Goguryeo Goguryeo (37 BC–668 AD) ( ) also called Goryeo (), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula and the southern and central parts of Northeast China. At its peak of power, Goguryeo controlled most ...
and
Buyeo Buyeo or Puyŏ (Korean language, Korean: 부여; Korean pronunciation: Help:IPA/Korean, u.jʌ or 扶餘 ''Fúyú''), also rendered as Fuyu, was an ancient kingdom that was centered in northern Manchuria in modern-day northeast China. It ...
kingdoms. However, they would engage in mostly peaceful trade relations with surrounding Korean peoples over the centuries, the latter of whom became gradually and significantly influenced by
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying gre ...
.


Diplomacy and exploration

The exploration into Xiyu was first started in 139 BC, when Emperor Wu commissioned
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...
to seek out the Kingdom of
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (;) were an ancient people first described in Chinese histories as nomadic pastoralists living in an arid grassland area in the western part of the modern Chinese province of Gansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternate ...
, which had been expelled by Xiongnu from the modern
Gansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a provinces of China, province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, in the southeast part of the province. The seventh-largest administrative dis ...
region. Zhang was to entice the kingdom to return to its ancestral lands with promises of Han military assistance, with the intention that Yuezhi forces would fight against the Xiongnu. Zhang was immediately captured by Xiongnu once he ventured into the desert, but was able to escape around 129 BC and eventually made it to Yuezhi, which by then had relocated to
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top:Registan square, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, view inside Shah-i-Zinda, ...
. While Yuezhi refused to return, it and several other kingdoms in the area, including
Dayuan Dayuan (or Tayuan; ; Middle Chinese ''dâiC-jwɐn'' < Eastern Han Chinese, LHC: ''dɑh-ʔyɑn'') is the Chinese exonym for a country that existed in Ferghana valley in Central Asia, described in the Chinese literature, Chinese historical works of ...
(
Kokand Kokand ( uz, Qo‘qon/Қўқон/قوقان, ; russian: Кока́нд; fa, خوقند, Xuqand; Chagatai: خوقند, ''Xuqand''; ky, Кокон, Kokon; tg, Хӯқанд, Xöqand) is a city in Fergana Region in eastern Uzbekistan, at the s ...
) and
Kangju Kangju (; Eastern Han Chinese Eastern Han Chinese or Later Han Chinese is the stage of the Chinese language Chinese (, especially when referring to written Chinese) is a group of languages spoken natively by the ethnic Han Chinese ma ...
, established diplomatic relations with Han. Zhang was able to deliver his report to Emperor Wu when he arrived back in the capital
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an. The site had been settled since Neolithic times, during which the Yangshao culture was established in Banpo, in the city's suburbs. Furthermore, in the northern vicinity of modern Xi'an, Qin Shi ...
in 126 BC after a second and shorter captivity by Xiongnu. After the Prince of Hunxie surrendered the Gansu region, the path to Xiyu became clear and regular embassies between Han and the Xiyu kingdoms commenced. Another expansion plan, this one aimed at the south-west, was aimed at the eventual conquest of Nanyue, which was viewed as an unreliable vassal. The plan was to first obtain submission of the south-western tribal kingdoms—the largest of which was Yelang (modern Zunyi,
Guizhou Guizhou (; formerly Kweichow) is a landlocked province in the southwest region of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries ...
)—so that a route for a potential back-stabbing attack on Nanyue could be made. The Han ambassador Tang Meng (唐蒙) was able to secure the submission of these tribal kingdoms by giving their kings gifts; Emperor Wu established the Commandery of Jianwei (犍为, headquarters in modern Yibin,
Sichuan Sichuan (; zh, c=, labels=no, ; zh, p=Sìchuān; Postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan; formerly also referred to as "West China" or "Western China" by Protestantism in Sichuan, Protestant missions) is a Prov ...
) to govern over the tribes, but eventually abandoned it after being unable to cope with local revolts. Later, after Zhang Qian returned from the western region, part of his report indicated that embassies could more easily reach Shendu (
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
) and Anxi (
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in northeastern Greater Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes ...
) by going through the south-western kingdoms. Encouraged by the report, Emperor Wu sent ambassadors in 122 BC to try to persuade Yelang and Dian (modern eastern
Yunnan Yunnan , () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is ...
) into submission again.


Religion

Han Gaozu, founder of the Han dynasty, had installed shaman cultists from the area of the former state of Jin (in the area of the modern province of
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', wh ...
) as official religious functionaries of his new empire. Emperor Wu worshiped the divinity Tai Yi (or, Dong Huang Tai Yi), a deity to whom he was introduced by his shaman advisers, who were able to provide him with the experience of having this god (and other spiritual entities, such as the Master of Fate, Si Ming) summoned into his presence; the emperor even went so far as to construct a "House of Life" (''shou gong'') chapel at his Ganquan palace complex (in modern
Xianyang Xianyang () is a prefecture-level city in central Shaanxi province, situated on the Wei River a few kilometers upstream (west) from the provincial capital of Xi'an. Once the capital of the Qin dynasty, it is now integrated into the Xi'an metrop ...
,
Shaanxi Shaanxi (alternatively Shensi, see #Name, § Name) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, E), Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichu ...
) specifically for this purpose, in 118 BC. One of the religious rituals that Emperor Wu organized was the Suburban Sacrifice, and the nineteen hymns entitled ''Hymns for Use in the Suburban Sacrifice'' were written in connection with these religious rites and published during Wu's reign. It was also during this time that Emperor Wu began to show a fascination with
immortality Immortality is the concept of eternal life. #Biological immortality, Some modern species may possess biological immortality. Some scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some sugges ...
. He began to associate with magicians who claimed to be able to, if they could find the proper ingredients, create divine pills that would confer immortality. However, he himself punished others' use of magic severely. In 130 BC, for example, when the witch Chu Fu tried to approach Empress Chen to teach her sorcery and love spells to curse Consort Wei and regain Emperor Wu's affections, he dispatched Zhang Tang to execute Chu Fu for witchcraft, which was illegal at the time.


Despotism at home

Around the same time, perhaps as a sign of what would come to be, Emperor Wu began to trust governing officials who were harsh in their punishment, believing that such harshness would be the most effective method to maintain social order and so placing these officials in power. For example, one such official, Yi Zong (义纵), became the governor of the Commandery of Dingxiang (part of modern
Hohhot Hohhot,; abbreviated zh, c=呼市, p=Hūshì, labels=no formerly known as Kweisui, is the capital Capital may refer to: Common uses * Capital city, a municipality of primary status ** List of national capitals, List of national capital ...
,
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the China, People's Republic of China. Its border includes most of the length of China's China–Mongolia border, border wit ...
) and executed 200 prisoners, even though they had not committed capital crimes; he then executed their friends who happened to have been visiting. In 122 BC,
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
, the Prince of Huainan (a previously trusted adviser of Emperor Wu, and closely enough related to have imperial pretensions) and his brother Liu Ci (刘赐), the Prince of Hengshan, were accused of plotting treason. They committed suicide; their families and many alleged co-conspirators were executed. Similar action was taken against the other vassal Princes, and by the end of the reign, all the vassal kingdoms had been political and militarily disabled. A famous wrongful execution happened in 117 BC, when the minister of agriculture Yan Yi (颜异), was falsely accused of committing a crime, though he was actually targeted because he had previously offended the emperor by opposing a plan to effectively extort double tributes out of princes and marquesses. Yan was executed for "internal defamation" of the emperor, and this caused the officials to be fearful and willing to flatter the emperor.


Further territorial expansion, old age, and paranoia

Starting about 113 BC, Emperor Wu began to display further signs of abusing his power. He began to incessantly tour the commanderies, initially nearby
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an. The site had been settled since Neolithic times, during which the Yangshao culture was established in Banpo, in the city's suburbs. Furthermore, in the northern vicinity of modern Xi'an, Qin Shi ...
, but later extending to much farther places, worshipping the various gods on the way, perhaps again in search of
immortality Immortality is the concept of eternal life. #Biological immortality, Some modern species may possess biological immortality. Some scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some sugges ...
. He also had a succession of magicians whom he honoured with great things. In one case, he even made one a marquess and married his daughter, the Eldest Princess Wei, to him; that magician, Luan Da, was later exposed as a fraud and executed. Emperor Wu's expenditures on these tours and magical adventures put a great strain on the national treasury and caused difficulties on the locales that he visited, twice causing the governors of commanderies to commit suicide after they were unable to supply the emperor's entire train. In 112 BC, a crisis in the Kingdom of
Nanyue Nanyue (), was an ancient kingdom ruled by Chinese monarchs of the Zhao family that covered the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi Guangxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangj ...
(modern
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternatively romanized as Canton or Kwangtung, is a coastal province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. With a population of 126.01 million (as of 202 ...
,
Guangxi Guangxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih, italics=yes), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic ...
, and northern
Vietnam Vietnam or Viet Nam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,., group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia, at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of and population of 96 million, making it ...
) erupted, leading to military intervention. At that time, the King
Zhao Xing ; , posthumous name = ; vi, Triệu Ai Vương , predecessor = Zhao Yingqi , successor = Zhao Jiande , dynasty = Triệu dynasty } Zhao Xing (Chinese language, Chinese: wikt:趙, 趙wikt:興, 興, ''pinyin'': ''Zhào Xīng'', ...
and his mother Queen Dowager Jiu (樛太后) – a Chinese woman whom Zhao Xing's father
Zhao Yingqi ; , posthumous name = ; vi, Triệu Minh Vương , predecessor = Zhao Mo , successor = Zhao Xing , dynasty = Nanyue } Zhao Yingqi (; Vietnamese language, Vietnamese: ''Triệu Anh Tề'', ? – 115 BC) was the son of Zhao ...
had married while he served as an ambassador to Han – were both in favor of becoming incorporated into Han. This was opposed by the senior prime minister, Lü Jia (吕嘉), who wanted to maintain the kingdom's independence. Queen Dowager Jiu tried to goad the Chinese ambassadors into killing Lü, but the Chinese ambassadors were hesitant to do so. When Emperor Wu sent a 2,000-man force led by Han Qianqiu (韩千秋) and Queen Dowager Jiu's brother Jiu Le (樛乐) to try to assist the king and the queen dowager, Lü staged a
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for 'stroke of state'), also known as a coup or overthrow, is a seizure and removal of a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In ...
and had the king and the queen dowager killed. Lü then made another son of Zhao Yingqi,
Zhao Jiande ; , temple name = , predecessor = Zhao Xing , successor = ''none'' , dynasty = Triệu dynasty , death_date = 111 BC } Zhao Jiande (, Vietnamese language, Vietnamese: ''Triệu Kiến Đức'', ?–111 BC) was the l ...
, king and went on to annihilate the Han forces under Han and Jiu. Several months later, Emperor Wu commissioned a five-pronged attack against Nanyue. In 111 BC, the Han forces captured the Nanyue capital Panyu (番禺, modern
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton () and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in southern China. Located on the Pearl River about north-northwest of Hong K ...
) and annexed the entire Nanyue territory into Han, establishing ten commanderies. That same year, one of the co-kings of
Minyue Minyue () was an ancient kingdom in what is now the Fujian province in southern China. It was a contemporary of the Han dynasty, and was later annexed by the Han empire as the Southward expansion of the Han dynasty, dynasty expanded southward. ...
(modern
Fujian Fujian (; postal romanization, alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a provinces of China, province on the southeastern coast of China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, Guangdong to the south, and ...
), Luo Yushan, was fearful that Han would attack his kingdom next and made a pre-emptive attack against Han, capturing a number of towns in former Nanyue and in the other border commanderies. In 110 BC, under Han military pressure, Luo Yushan's co-king Luo Jugu (骆居古) assassinated him and surrendered the kingdom to Han. However, Emperor Wu did not establish commanderies in Minyue's former territory; instead, he moved its people to the region between the
Yangtze The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ; ) is the longest list of rivers of Asia, river in Asia, the list of rivers by length, third-longest in the world, and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in th ...
and Huai Rivers. Later that year, Emperor Wu, at great expense, carried out the ancient ceremony of the Feng and Shan sacrifices ''fengshan'' (封禅) at
Mount Tai Mount Tai () is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai'an. It is the highest point in Shandong Shandong ( , ; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal Prov ...
; this involved the worship of heaven and earth and presumably a secret petition to the gods of heaven and earth to seek immortality. He then decreed that he would return to Mount Tai every five years to repeat the ceremony, but only did so once in 98 BC. Many palaces were built for him and the princes to accommodate the anticipated cycles of the ceremony. It was around this time that, in reaction to the large expenditures by Emperor Wu that had exhausted the national treasury, his agricultural minister
Sang Hongyang Sang Hongyang (Chinese language, Chinese: ; c. 152–80 BC) was a Chinese politician. He was a prominent official of the Han dynasty, Han Dynasty, who served Emperor Wu of Han and his successor Emperor Zhao of Han, Emperor Zhao. He is famous fo ...
conceived of a plan that many dynasties would repeat later: creating national monopolies for salt and iron. The national treasury would further purchase other consumer goods when the prices were low and sell them when the prices were high at profit, thus replenishing the treasury while at the same time making sure the price fluctuation would not be too great. In 109 BC, Emperor Wu started yet another territorial expansion campaign. Nearly a century earlier, a Chinese General named Wiman had taken the throne of
Gojoseon Gojoseon () also called Joseon (), was the first kingdom on the Korea, Korean Peninsula. According to Korean mythology, the kingdom was established by the legendary founder named Dangun. Gojoseon possessed the most advanced culture in the Kor ...
and had established
Wiman Joseon Wiman Joseon (194–108 BC) was a dynasty of Gojoseon. It began with Wiman of Gojoseon, Wiman's (Wei Man) seizure of the throne from Gija Joseon's Jun of Gojoseon, King Jun and ended with the death of Ugeo of Gojoseon, King Ugeo who was a grand ...
at Wanggeom-seong, (modern
Pyongyang Pyongyang (, , ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of North Korea, where it is known as the "Capital of the Revolution". Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River about upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea. According to the 2 ...
), which became a nominal Han vassal. When Wiman's grandson King Ugeo refused to permit Jin's ambassadors to reach China through his territories, Emperor Wei sent an ambassador She He (涉何) to Wanggeom to negotiate a right of passage with King Ugeo, but King Ugeo refused and had a general escort She back to Han territory. When they got close to Han borders, She assassinated the general and claimed to Emperor Wu that he had defeated Joseon in battle. Emperor Wu, unaware of his deception, made him the military commander of the Commandery of Liaodong (modern central
Liaoning Liaoning () is a coastal provinces of China, province in Northeast China that is the smallest, southernmost, and most populous province in the region. With its capital at Shenyang, it is located on the northern shore of the Yellow Sea, and i ...
). King Ugeo, offended, made a raid on Liaodong and killed She. In response, Emperor Wu commissioned a two-pronged attack (one by land and one by sea) against Joseon. Initially, Joseon offered to become a vassal, but peace negotiations broke down by the Chinese forces' refusal to let a Joseon force escort its crown prince to
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an. The site had been settled since Neolithic times, during which the Yangshao culture was established in Banpo, in the city's suburbs. Furthermore, in the northern vicinity of modern Xi'an, Qin Shi ...
to pay tribute to Emperor Wu. Han took over the Joseon lands in 108 BC and established four commanderies. Also in 109 BC, Emperor Wu sent an expeditionary force against the Kingdom of Dian (modern eastern
Yunnan Yunnan , () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is ...
), planning on conquering it. When the King of Dian surrendered, it was incorporated into Han territory with the King of Dian being permitted to keep his traditional authority and title. Emperor Wu established five commanderies over Dian and the other nearby kingdoms. In 108 BC, Emperor Wu sent general Zhao Ponu (赵破奴) on a campaign to Xiyu, and he forced the Kingdoms of Loulan on northeast border of the
Taklamakan Desert The Taklimakan or Taklamakan Desert (; zh, s=塔克拉玛干沙漠, p=Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò, Xiao'erjing: , dng, Такәламаган Шамә; ug, تەكلىماكان قۇملۇقى, Täklimakan qumluqi; also spelled Taklimakan and Te ...
and Cheshi (modern
Turpan Turpan (also known as Turfan or Tulufan, , ug, تۇرپان) is a prefecture-level city located in the east of the Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of Xinjiang, People's Republic of China, China. It has an area of and a population ...
,
Xinjiang Xinjiang, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; formerly romanized as Sinkiang (, ), officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest ...
) into submission. In 105 BC, Emperor Wu gave a princess from a remote collateral imperial line to Kunmo (昆莫), the King of
Wusun The Wusun (; Eastern Han Chinese Eastern Han Chinese or Later Han Chinese is the stage of the Chinese language Chinese (, especially when referring to written Chinese) is a group of languages spoken natively by the ethnic Han Chines ...
( Issyk Kol basin) in marriage, and she later married his grandson and successor Qinqu (芩娶), creating a strong and stable alliance between Han and Wusun. The various Xiyu kingdoms also strengthened their relationships with Han. An infamous Han war against the nearby Kingdom of
Dayuan Dayuan (or Tayuan; ; Middle Chinese ''dâiC-jwɐn'' < Eastern Han Chinese, LHC: ''dɑh-ʔyɑn'') is the Chinese exonym for a country that existed in Ferghana valley in Central Asia, described in the Chinese literature, Chinese historical works of ...
(
Kokand Kokand ( uz, Qo‘qon/Қўқон/قوقان, ; russian: Кока́нд; fa, خوقند, Xuqand; Chagatai: خوقند, ''Xuqand''; ky, Кокон, Kokon; tg, Хӯқанд, Xöqand) is a city in Fergana Region in eastern Uzbekistan, at the s ...
) erupted in 104 BC. Dayuan refused to give in to Emperor Wu's commands to surrender its best horses, Emperor Wu's ambassadors were then executed when they insulted the King of Dayuan after his refusal. Emperor Wu commissioned
Li Guangli Li Guangli (died 88 BC) was a Chinese military general of the Western Han dynasty and consort kin, a member of the Li family favoured by Emperor Wu of Han. His brother Li Yannian (musician), Li Yannian was also close to Emperor Wu. With the suici ...
, the brother of concubine Lady Li, as a general to direct the war against Dayuan. In 103 BC, Li Guangli's army of 26,000 men (20,000 Chinese & 6,000 steppe cavalry), without adequate supplies, suffered a humiliating loss against Dayuan, but in 102 BC, Li with a new army of 60,000 men, was able to put a devastating siege on its capital by cutting off water supplies to the city, forcing Dayuan's surrender 3,000 of its prized horses. This Han victory further intimidated the Xiyu kingdoms into submission. Emperor Wu also made attempts to try to intimidate Xiongnu into submission, but even though peace negotiations were ongoing, Xiongnu never actually submitted to becoming a Han vassal during Emperor Wu's reign. In 103 BC, Chanyu Er surrounded Zhao Ponu and captured his entire army – the first major Xiongnu victory since Wei Qing and Huo Qubing nearly captured the chanyu in 119 BC. Following Han's victory over Dayuan in 102 BC, however, Xiongnu became concerned that Han could then concentrate against it, and made peace overtures. Peace negotiations failed when the Han deputy ambassador Zhang Sheng (张胜) was discovered to have conspired to assassinate Chanyu Qiedihou (且鞮侯). The ambassador, the later-famed
Su Wu Su Wu (; 140 BC - 60 BC ) was a Chinese diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanization, romanized ''diploma'') is a person appointed by a state (polity), state or an intergovernmental institution such as the United Nations o ...
, would be detained for two decades. In 99 BC, Emperor Wu commissioned another expedition force aimed at crushing Xiongnu, but both prongs of the expedition force failed. Li Guangli's force became trapped but was able to free itself and withdraw, while
Li Ling Li Ling (, died 74 BC), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China ...
, Li Guang's grandson, surrendered at the end after being surrounded by Xiongnu forces. One year later, receiving a report that Li Ling was training Xiongnu soldiers, Emperor Wu had Li's clan executed. Moreover, Emperor Wu already bore a grudge against the famed historian
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
because Sima's ''
Shiji ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600– ...
'' was not as flattering to Emperor Wu and his father Emperor Jing as Emperor Wu wanted, so Emperor Wu had Sima Qian castrated. In 106 BC, in order to further better organize the territories, including both the previously-existing empire and the newly conquered territories, Emperor Wu divided the empire into 13
prefectures A prefecture (from the Latin ''Praefectura'') is an administrative jurisdiction traditionally governed by an appointed prefect. This can be a regional or local government subdivision in various countries, or a subdivision in certain international ...
(''zhou'', 州), but without governors or prefectural governments. Rather, he assigned a supervisor to each prefecture, who would visit the commanderies and principalities in the prefecture on a rotating basis to investigate corruption and disobedience with imperial edicts. In 104 BC, Emperor Wu built the luxurious Jianzhang Palace (建章宮) – a massive structure that was intended to make him closer to the gods. He later resided at that palace exclusively, rather than the traditional Weiyang Palace, which
Xiao He Xiao He (257 BC–193 BC) was a Chinese politician of the early Western Han dynasty. He served Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao), the founder of the Han dynasty, during the insurrection against the Qin dynasty, and fought on Liu's sid ...
had built during the reign of Emperor Gao. About 100 BC, due to the heavy taxation and military burdens imposed by Emperor Wu's incessant military campaigns and luxurious spending, there were many
peasant revolt This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial farmworker, agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, pa ...
s throughout the empire. Emperor Wu issued an edict that was intended to suppress the peasant revolts: he made officials whose commanderies saw unsuppressed peasant revolts liable with their lives. However, this edict had the exact opposite effect, since it became impossible to suppress all of the revolts, officials would merely cover up the existence of the revolts. He executed many people who made fake coins. In 96 BC, a series of witchcraft persecutions began. Emperor Wu, who was paranoid over a nightmare of being whipped by tiny stick-wielding puppets and a sighting of a traceless assassin (possibly a hallucination), ordered extensive investigations with harsh punishments. Large numbers of people, many of them high officials, were accused of witchcraft and executed, usually along with their entire clans. The first trial began with Empress Wei Zifu's elder brother-in-law Gongsun He (公孫賀, the Prime Minister at the time) and his son Gongsun Jingsheng (公孫敬聲, also an imperial official, but arrested under corruption charges), quickly leading to the execution of their entire clan. Also caught in this disaster were Crown Prince Ju's two elder sisters Princess Yangshi (陽石公主, who was said to have a romantic relationship with her cousin Gongsun Jingsheng) and Princess Zhuyi (諸邑公主), as well as his cousin Wei Kang (衛伉, the eldest son of the deceased general
Wei Qing Wei Qing (died 106 BC), courtesy name Zhongqing, born Zheng Qing in Linfen, Shanxi, was a Chinese military general and politician of the Western Han dynasty who was acclaimed for his Han-Xiongnu War, campaigns against the Xiongnu, and his rags ...
), who were all accused of witchcraft and executed in 91 BC. These witchcraft persecutions later became intertwined in succession struggles and erupted into a major catastrophe.


Crown Prince Ju's revolt

In 94 BC, Emperor Wu's youngest son
Liu Fuling Emperor Zhao of Han (Liu Fuling 劉弗陵; 94 BC – 5 June 74 BC) was the emperor of China, emperor of the Western Han dynasty from 87 to 74 BC. Emperor Zhao was the youngest son of Emperor Wu of Han. By the time he was born, Emperor Wu was alr ...
was born to a favorite concubine of his, Lady Gouyi (Consort Zhao). Emperor Wu was ecstatic in having a child at such an advanced age (62 years old), and because Consort Zhao purportedly had a pregnancy that lasted 14 months (the same as the mythical
Emperor Yao Emperor Yao (; traditionally c. 2356 – 2255 BCE) was a legendary Chinese ruler, according to various sources, one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Ancestry and early life Yao's ancestral name is Yi Qi () or Qi (), clan name ...
), he named Consort Zhao's palace gate "Gate of Yao's mother." This led to speculation that the emperor, due to his favor of Consort Zhao and Prince Fuling, wanted to make Liu Fuling the crown prince instead. While there was no evidence that he actually intended to do anything as such, over the next few years, conspiracies against Crown Prince Ju and his mother Empress Wei arose that were inspired by such rumors. Up to this point, there had been a cordial but somehow fragile relationship between Emperor Wu and his crown prince, who perhaps was not as ambitious as his father wished. As he grew older, the Emperor came to be less attracted to Ju's mother, Empress Wei Zifu, though he continued to respect her. When he left the capital, the Emperor would delegate authority to Crown Prince Ju. Eventually, however, the two began to have disagreements over policy, with Ju favoring leniency and Wu's advisers (harsh and sometimes corrupt officials) urging the opposite. After
Wei Qing Wei Qing (died 106 BC), courtesy name Zhongqing, born Zheng Qing in Linfen, Shanxi, was a Chinese military general and politician of the Western Han dynasty who was acclaimed for his Han-Xiongnu War, campaigns against the Xiongnu, and his rags ...
's death in 106 BC and Gongsun He's execution, Prince Ju had no strong allies left in the government. The other officials then began to publicly defame and plot against him. Meanwhile, Emperor Wu was becoming more and more isolated, spending time with young concubines, often remaining unavailable to Ju or Wei. Conspirators against Prince Ju included Jiang Chong (江充), the newly appointed head of secret intelligence, who had once had a run-in with Ju after arresting one of his assistants for improper use of an imperial right of way. Another conspirator was Su Wen (蘇文), chief eunuch in charge of caring for imperial concubines, who had previously made false accusations against Ju, claiming he was joyful over Wu's illness and had an adulterous relationship with one of the junior concubines. Jiang and others made many accusations of witchcraft against important people in the Han court. Jiang and Su decided to use witchcraft as the excuse to move against Prince Ju himself. With approval from Emperor Wu who was then at the Ganquan Palace, Jiang searched through various palaces, ostensibly for witchcraft items, eventually reaching Prince Ju's and Empress Wei's palace. While completely trashing the palaces up with intensive digging, he secretly planted witchery dolls and pieces of cloth with mysterious writings. He then announced that he had found the items there during the search. Prince Ju was shocked, knowing that he was framed. His teacher Shi De (石德), invoking the story of Ying Fusu of the Qin dynasty and raised the possibility that Emperor Wu might already be dead, suggesting that Prince Ju start an uprising to fight the conspirators. Prince Ju initially hesitated, wanting to speed to Ganquan Palace to defend himself before his father. But, when he found out that Jiang's messengers were already on their way, he decided to follow Shi's suggestion. Prince Ju sent an individual to impersonate a messenger from Emperor Wu to lure and arrest Jiang and the other conspirators. Su escaped, but Ju accused Jiang of sabotaging his relationship with his father, and personally killed Jiang. With the support of his mother, Ju enlisted his guards, civilians, and prisoners in preparation to defend him. Su fled to Ganquan Palace and accused Prince Ju of treason. Emperor Wu, not believing it to be true and correctly (at this point) believing that Prince Ju had merely been angry at Jiang, sent a messenger back to Chang'an to summon Prince Ju. The messenger did not dare to proceed to Chang'an, but instead returned and gave Emperor Wu the false report that Prince Ju was conducting a coup. Enraged, Emperor Wu ordered his nephew, Prime Minister Liu Qumao (刘屈犛), to put down the rebellion. The two sides battled in the streets of
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an. The site had been settled since Neolithic times, during which the Yangshao culture was established in Banpo, in the city's suburbs. Furthermore, in the northern vicinity of modern Xi'an, Qin Shi ...
for five days, but Liu Qumao's forces prevailed after it became clear that Prince Ju did not have his father's authorization. Prince Ju was forced to flee the capital following the defeat, accompanied only by two of his sons and some personal guards. Apart from a grandson Liu Bingyi, who was barely a month old and thrown into prison, all other members of his family were left behind and killed. His mother, Empress Wei, committed suicide when Emperor Wu sent officials to depose her. Their bodies were carelessly buried in fields without proper tomb markings. Prince Ju's supporters were brutally cracked down on and civilians aiding the crown prince were exiled. Even Tian Ren (田仁), an official city gatekeeper who did not stop Prince Ju's escape, and Ren An (任安), an army commander who chose not to actively participate in the crackdown, were accused of being sympathizers and executed. Emperor Wu continued to be enraged and ordered that Prince Ju be tracked down. After a junior official, Linghu Mao (令狐茂), risked his life to speak on Prince Ju's behalf, Emperor Wu's anger began to subside. However, he waited to issue a pardon for Prince Ju. Prince Ju fled to Hu County (湖縣, in modern
Sanmenxia Sanmenxia (; Postal romanization, postal: Sanmenhsia) is a prefecture-level city in the west of Henan, Henan Province, China. The westernmost prefecture-level city in Henan, Sanmenxia borders Luoyang to the east, Nanyang, Henan, Nanyang to the sou ...
,
Henan Henan (; or ; ; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (), which literall ...
) and took refuge in the home of a poor peasant family. Knowing that their good-hearted hosts could never afford the daily expenditure of so many people, the Prince sought help from an old friend who lived nearby. However, this move exposed their whereabouts, and he was soon tracked down by local officials eager for a reward. Surrounded by troops and seeing no chance of escape, the Prince hung himself. His two sons and the family housing them died with him after the government soldiers eventually broke into the yard and killed everyone. The two local officials who led the raid, Zhang Fuchang (張富昌) and Li Shou (李寿), wasted no time in taking the Prince's body to Chang'an to claim a reward from the emperor. Emperor Wu, although greatly saddened to hear the death of his son, had to keep his promise and rewarded the officials.


Late reign and death

Even after Jiang Chong and Prince Ju both died, the witchhunt continued and combined with Wei Zifu's jealousy led to the execution of the Li family on accounts of treason. General
Li Guangli Li Guangli (died 88 BC) was a Chinese military general of the Western Han dynasty and consort kin, a member of the Li family favoured by Emperor Wu of Han. His brother Li Yannian (musician), Li Yannian was also close to Emperor Wu. With the suici ...
caused unnecessary losses with his military incompetence. In 90 BC, while Li was assigned to a campaign against Xiongnu, a eunuch named Guo Rang (郭穰) exposed how Li and his political ally, Prime Minister Liu Qumao, were conspiring to use witchcraft on Emperor Wu. Liu and his family were immediately arrested and later executed. Li's family was also taken into custody and later executed after the traitor Li Ling also defected to the Xiongnu. Li, after learning the news, used risky tactics to attempt a standoff against Emperor Wu, but failed when some of his senior officers mutinied. On his retreat, he was ambushed by Xiongnu forces. He defected to Xiongnu and Emperor Wu executed the Li clan for
treason Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplo ...
soon after. Even within the Xiongnu, Li himself also fought with other Han traitors, especially Wei Lü (衛律), who was extremely jealous of the amount of
Chanyu Chanyu () or Shanyu (), short for Chengli Gutu Chanyu (), was the title used by the supreme rulers of Inner Asian nomads for eight centuries until superseded by the title "''Khagan''" in 402 CE. The title was most famously used by the ruling L ...
's favor that Li gained as a new, high-profile defector. By this time, Emperor Wu realized that the witchcraft accusations were often false accusations, especially in relation to the crown prince rebellion. In 92 BC, when Tian Qianqiu, then the superintendent of Emperor Gao's temple, wrote a report claiming that Emperor Gao told him in a dream that Prince Ju should have only been whipped at most, not killed, Emperor Wu had a revelation about what had led to his son's rebellion. He had Su burned and Jiang's family executed. He also made Tian prime minister. Although he claimed to miss Prince Ju greatly (he even built a palace and an altar for his deceased son as a sign of grief and regret), he did not at this time rectify the situation where Prince Ju's only surviving progeny, Liu Bingyi, languished in prison as a child. With the political scene greatly changed, Emperor Wu publicly apologized to the whole nation about his past policy mistakes, a gesture known to history as the Repenting Edict of Luntai (輪台悔詔). The Prime Minister Tian he appointed was in favor of retiring the troops and easing hardships on the people. Tian also promoted agriculture, with several agricultural experts becoming important members of the administration. Wars and territorial expansion generally ceased. These policies and ideals were those supported by Crown Prince Ju, and were finally realised years after his death. By 88 BC, Emperor Wu had become seriously ill. With Prince Ju dead, there was no clear heir. Liu Dan, the Prince of Yan, was Emperor Wu's oldest surviving son, but Emperor Wu considered both him and his younger brother Liu Xu, the Prince of Guangling, to be unsuitable, since neither respected laws. He decided that the only suitable heir was his youngest son, Liu Fuling, who was only six at that time. He therefore also chose a potential regent in
Huo Guang Huo Guang (; died 68 BC), courtesy name Zimeng (子孟), was a Chinese military general and politician who served as the dominant state official of the Western Han dynasty from 87 BCE until his death in 68 BCE. The younger half-brother of the re ...
, whom he considered to be capable and faithful, and entrusted Huo with the regency of Fuling. Emperor Wu also ordered the execution of Prince Fuling's mother Consort Zhao, out of fear that she would become an uncontrollable empress dowager like the previous Empress Lü. At Huo's suggestion, he made ethnic Xiongnu official Jin Midi and general Shangguang Jie co-regents. He died in 87 BC, shortly after making Prince Fuling crown prince. Crown Prince Fuling then succeeded to the throne as Emperor Zhao for the next 13 years. Empress Chen Jiao and Empress Wei Zifu were the only two empresses during Emperor Wu's reign. Emperor Wu did not make anyone empress after Empress Wei Zifu committed suicide, and he left no instruction on who should be enshrined in his temple with him. He lies buried in the Maoling mound, the most famous of the so-called
Chinese pyramids The term Chinese pyramids refers to pyramidal shaped structures in China, most of which are ancient mausoleums and burial mounds built to house the remains of several early emperors of China and their imperial relatives. About 38 of them are locat ...
.
Huo Guang Huo Guang (; died 68 BC), courtesy name Zimeng (子孟), was a Chinese military general and politician who served as the dominant state official of the Western Han dynasty from 87 BCE until his death in 68 BCE. The younger half-brother of the re ...
sent 500 beautiful women there for the dead emperor. According to folk legend, 200 of them were executed for having sex with the guards. Huo's clan was later killed and the emperor's tomb was looted by
Chimei The Red Eyebrows () was one of the two major peasant rebellion movements against Wang Mang's short-lived Xin dynasty, the other being Lülin. It was so named because the rebels painted their eyebrows red. The rebellion, initially active in the ...
.


Legacy

Historians have treated Emperor Wu with ambivalence, and there are certainly some contradictory accounts of his life. He roughly doubled the size of the Han empire of China during his reign, and much of the territory that he annexed is now part of modern China. He officially encouraged
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
, yet just like
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dynasty, Shang an ...
, he personally used a legalist system of rewards and punishments to govern his empire. Emperor Wu is said to have been extravagant and superstitious, allowing his policies to become a burden on his people. As such he is often compared to
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dynasty, Shang an ...
. The punishments for perceived failures and disloyalty were often exceedingly harsh. His father saved many participants of
Rebellion of the Seven States The Rebellion of the Seven States or Revolt of the Seven Kingdoms () took place in 154 BC against the Han dynasty of China by its Kings of the Han dynasty, regional semi-autonomous kings, to resist the emperor's attempt to centralize the governm ...
from execution, and made some work in constructing his tomb. Emperor Wu had killed thousands of people and their families over the
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
affair, Hengshan, his prosecution of witchcraft, and the Prince Ju revolt. He used some of his wives' relatives to fight Xiongnu, some of whom become successful and famous generals. There is evidence to suggest that the two of them, Wei Qing and Huo Qubin, may have been his lovers. Wei Qing was buried in the Emperor's mausoleum. He forced his last queen to commit suicide. His lover, Han Yuan, whom he had known since childhood, was executed on the Queen Dowager's orders for having an affair with a palace maid. Out of the twelve prime ministers appointed by Emperor Wu, three were executed and two committed suicide while holding the post; another was executed in retirement. He set up many special prisons (詔獄) and incarcerated nearly two hundred thousand individuals in them. Emperor Wu's political reform resulted in the strengthening of the Emperor's power at expense of the prime minister's authority. The post of ''Shangshu'' (court secretaries) was elevated from merely managing documents to that of the Emperor's close advisor, and it stayed this way until the end of the imperial era. In 140 BC, Emperor Wu conducted an imperial examination of over 100 young scholars. Having been recommended by officials, most of the scholars were commoners with no noble background. This event would have a major impact on Chinese history, marking the official start of the establishment of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
as official imperial doctrine. This came about because a young Confucian scholar,
Dong Zhongshu Dong Zhongshu (; 179–104 BC) was a Chinese people, Chinese philosopher, politician, and writer of the Han Dynasty. He is traditionally associated with the promotion of Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. He app ...
, was evaluated to have submitted the best essay in which he advocated the establishment of Confucianism. It is unclear whether Emperor Wu, in his young age, actually determined this, or whether this was the result of machinations of the prime minister Wei Wan (衛綰), who was himself a Confucian. However, the fact that several other young scholars who scored highly on the examination (but not Dong) later became trusted advisors for Emperor Wu would appear to suggest that Emperor Wu himself at least had some actual participation. In 136 BC, Emperor Wu founded what became the Imperial University, a college for classical scholars that supplied the Han's need for well-trained bureaucrats.


Poetry

Various important aspects of
Han poetry Han poetry as a style of poetry resulted in significant poems which are still preserved today, and whose origins are associated with the Han dynasty era of China, 206 BC – 220 AD, including the Wang Mang interregnum (9–23 AD). The final years ...
are associated with Emperor Wu and his court, including his direct interest in poetry and patronage of poets. Emperor Wu was also a patron of literature, with a number of poems being attributed to him. As to the poetry on lost love, some of the pieces attributed to him are considered of well-done, there is some question to their actual authorship. The following work is on the death of one of his
concubines Concubinage is an interpersonal relationship, interpersonal and Intimate relationship, sexual relationship between a man and a woman in which the couple does not want, or cannot enter into a full marriage. Concubinage and marriage are often reg ...
: Emperor Wu facilitated a revival of interest in
Chu ci The ''Chu ci'', variously translated as ''Verses of Chu,'' ''Songs of Chu'', or ''Elegies of Chu'', is an ancient anthology of Chinese poetry including works traditionally attributed mainly to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States period ...
, the poetry of and in the style of the area of the former Chu kingdom during the early part of his reign, in part because of his near relative
Liu An Liú Ān (, c. 179–122 BC) was a Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynas ...
. Some of this Chu material was later anthologized in the ''
Chu Ci The ''Chu ci'', variously translated as ''Verses of Chu,'' ''Songs of Chu'', or ''Elegies of Chu'', is an ancient anthology of Chinese poetry including works traditionally attributed mainly to Qu Yuan and Song Yu from the Warring States period ...
''. The ''Chuci'' genre of poetry from its origin was linked with Chu shamanism, and Han Wudi both supported the Chu genre of poetry in the earlier years of his reign, and also continued to support shamanically-linked poetry during the later years of his reign. Emperor Wu employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances and also patronized choreographers and shamans in this same connection for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was quite fond of the resulting lavish ritual performances, especially night time rituals where the multitudinous singers, musicians, and dancers would perform in the brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The '' fu'' style typical of
Han poetry Han poetry as a style of poetry resulted in significant poems which are still preserved today, and whose origins are associated with the Han dynasty era of China, 206 BC – 220 AD, including the Wang Mang interregnum (9–23 AD). The final years ...
also took shape during the reign of Emperor Wu in his court, with poet and official
Sima Xiangru Sima Xiangru ( , ; c. 179117BC) was a Chinese musician, poet, and politician who lived during the Han dynasty#Western Han, Western Han dynasty. Sima is a significant figure in the history of Classical Chinese poetry, and is generally regarded a ...
as a leading figure. However, Sima's initial interest in the ''chu ci'' style later gave way to his interest in more innovative forms of poetry. After his patronage of poets familiar with the ''Chu ci'' style in the early part of his reign, Emperor Wu later seems to have turned his interest and his court's interest to other literary fashions. Another of Emperor Wu's major contribution to poetry was through his organization of the Imperial
Music Bureau The Music Bureau (Traditional Chinese character, Traditional Chinese: 樂府; Simplified Chinese character, Simplified Chinese: 乐府; Pinyin, Hanyu Pinyin: ''yuèfǔ'', and sometimes known as the "Imperial Music Bureau") served in the capacity o ...
(''yuefu'') as part of the official governmental bureaucratic apparatus: the Music Bureau was charged with matters related to music and poetry, as lyrics are a part of music and traditional Chinese poetry was considered to have been chanted or sung, rather than spoken or recited as prose. The Music Bureau greatly flourished during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, who has been widely cited to have founded the Music Bureau in 120 BCE. However, it seems more likely that there was already a long-standing office of music and that Emperor Wu enlarged its size as part of his governmental reorganization, changing its scope and function and possibly renaming it and thus seeming to have established a new institution. The stated tasks of this institution were apparently to collect popular songs from different and adapt and orchestrate these, as well as to develop new material. Emperor Wu's Music Bureau not only collected folk songs and ballads from where they originated throughout the country, but also collected songs reportedly based on
Central Asian Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a subregion, region of Asia that stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to western China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. It includes t ...
tunes or melodies, with new lyrics which were written to harmonize with the existing tunes, and characterized by varying line lengths and the incorporation of various nonce words. In any case, he is widely held to have used the Music Bureau as an important part of his religious innovations and to have specifically commissioned
Sima Xiangru Sima Xiangru ( , ; c. 179117BC) was a Chinese musician, poet, and politician who lived during the Han dynasty#Western Han, Western Han dynasty. Sima is a significant figure in the history of Classical Chinese poetry, and is generally regarded a ...
to write poetry. Because of the development and transmission of a particular style of poetry by the Music Bureau, this style of poetry has become known as the "Music Bureau" style, or ''
yuefu ''Yuefu'' are Chinese poetry, Chinese poems composed in a folk song style. The term originally literally meant "Music Bureau", a reference to the imperial Chinese governmental organization(s) originally charged with collecting or writing the lyr ...
'' (and also in its later development referred to as "new ''yuefu''", "imitation", or "literary ''yüeh-fu''").


Era names

*Jianyuan (建元) 140 BC – 135 BC *Yuanguang (元光) 134 BC – 129 BC *Yuanshuo (元朔) 128 BC – 123 BC *Yuanshou (元狩) 122 BC – 117 BC *Yuanding (元鼎) 116 BC – 111 BC *Yuanfeng (元封) 110 BC – 105 BC *Taichu (太初) 104 BC – 101 BC *Tianhan (天漢) 100 BC – 97 BC *Taishi (太始) 96 BC – 93 BC *Zhenghe (征和) 92 BC – 89 BC *Houyuan (後元) 88 BC – 87 BC


Family

Consorts and Issue: * Empress Chen, of the Chen clan (; 166/165–c. 110 BC), first cousin, personal name Jiao () * Empress Xiaowusi, of the Wei clan (; d. 91 BC), personal name Zifu () ** Eldest Princess Wei () *** Married Cao Xiang, Marquis Pingyang (; d. 115 BC), and had issue (one son) *** Married Luan Da, Marquis Letong (; d. 112 BC) in 112 BC ** Princess Zhuyi (; d. 91 BC) ** Princess Shiyi (; d. 91 BC) **
Liu Ju Liu Ju (; 128–91 BC), formally known as Crown Prince Wei (衛太子) and posthumously as Crown Prince Li (戾太子, literally "the Unrepentant Crown Prince", where Li is an unflattering name) was a Western Han Dynasty crown prince. He was th ...
, Crown Prince Wei (; 128–91 BC), first son * Lady Li, of the Li clan (), personal name Yan () ** Liu Bo, Prince Ai of Changyi (; d. 88 BC), fifth son * Lady Guoyi, of the Zhao clan (; 113–88 BC) **
Liu Fuling Emperor Zhao of Han (Liu Fuling 劉弗陵; 94 BC – 5 June 74 BC) was the emperor of China, emperor of the Western Han dynasty from 87 to 74 BC. Emperor Zhao was the youngest son of Emperor Wu of Han. By the time he was born, Emperor Wu was alr ...
, Emperor Xiaozhao (; 94–74 BC), sixth son * ''Furen'', of the Wang clan (; d. 121 BC) ** Liu Hong, Prince Huai of Qi (; 123–110 BC), second son * ''Furen'', of the Yin clan (夫人 尹氏) * Lady, of the Xing clan (邢氏), personal name Xing'e (娙娥) * Lady, of the Li clan () ** Liu Dan, Prince La of Yan (; d. 80 BC), third son ** Liu Xu, Prince Li of Guangling (; d. 54 BC), fourth son *''Gongren'', of the Li clan (宫人 丽氏), personal name Juan (娟) * Unknown **
Princess Eyi Princess Eyi (year of birth unknown - died 80 BC), was a Chinese princess, daughter of Emperor Wu of Han and sister of Emperor Zhao of Han. Life Her birth date and mother is unknown. She is foremost known for her political involvement, and figure ...
(; d. 80 BC) *** Married, and had issue (one son) ** Princess Yangshi (阳石公主, d. 92) ** Princess Yi'an ()


Ancestry


Cultural depictions

Emperor Wu is one of the most famous emperors of ancient China and has made appearances in quite a lot of Chinese television dramas, examples include: * '' The Prince of Han Dynasty'' * '' The Emperor in Han Dynasty'' * '' Beauty's Rival in Palace'' * '' The Virtuous Queen of Han'' Emperor Wu is also a major character in Carole Wilkinson's novel '' Dragonkeeper'' and its sequels, '' Garden of the Purple Dragon'' and '' Dragon Moon''. The three novels, which center on the journeys of a former slave girl and the
dragons A dragon is a reptile, reptilian legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but European dragon, dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages hav ...
in her care, loosely depict the first years of Emperor Wu's reign and includes a number of references to his quest for immortality. In the 1991 film "The Addams Family" Morticia Addams donates "a finger trap from the court of Emperor Wu" to a charity auction.


See also

*
Family tree of the Han dynasty This is a family tree of Chinese monarchs from the foundation of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE until the end of the Sixteen Kingdoms period. Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty (秦朝) was established in 221 BCE after Qin Shi Huang, King of Qin, conquer ...


Notes


References

* See also * * * * * * * Footnotes


Further reading

*
Ban Gu Ban Gu (AD32–92) was a Chinese historian, politician, and poet best known for his part in compiling the ''Book of Han The ''Book of Han'' or ''History of the Former Han'' (Qián Hàn Shū,《前汉书》) is a history of China fi ...
. '' Han Shu''
Biography of Han Wudi
*
Sima Guang Sima Guang (17 November 1019 – 11 October 1086), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cult ...
. ''
Zizhi Tongjian ''Zizhi Tongjian'' () is a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084 AD during the Northern Song dynasty in the form of a chronicle recording Chinese history from 403 BC to 959 AD, covering 16 dyna ...
'' (''Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government''): Modern Chinese Edition edited by
Bo Yang Bo Yang (; 7 March 1920 – 29 April 2008), sometimes also erroneously called Bai Yang, was a Chinese people, Chinese historian, novelist, philosopher, poet, and politician based in Taiwan. He is also regarded as a social critic. According to h ...
(Taipei, 1982–1989). * Wu, John C. H. (1972). ''The Four Seasons of Tang Poetry''. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle. * Yap, Joseph P. (2009). ''Wars With The Xiongnu, A Translation from
Zizhi tongjian ''Zizhi Tongjian'' () is a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084 AD during the Northern Song dynasty in the form of a chronicle recording Chinese history from 403 BC to 959 AD, covering 16 dyna ...
''. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. . Chapters 3–7. *
Xun Yue Xun Yue (148–209), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China ...
.
Han Ji
'.


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Wu Of Han, Emperor Western Han dynasty emperors 2nd-century BC Chinese monarchs 1st-century BC Chinese monarchs 156 BC births 87 BC deaths Chinese reformers