The Han Empire (206 BC-220 AD) – Documentary

The Han Empire (206 BC-220 AD) – Documentary The reign of the Han Empire lasted more than 400 years. Emperor Wu (Liu Che 156 BC – 87 BC) of the Western Han Dynasty was considered as one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history. Achievements during his reign included territorial expansion and the development of a strong and centralized state through governmental reorganization and promotion of Confucian doctrines. In the fields of historical social and cultural studies, Emperor Wu is recognized for his initiatives on religious innovations and patronage of the poetic and musical arts, including the development of the Imperial Music Bureau into a prestigious entity. It was also during his reign that cultural contacts with western Asia and Europe were greatly increased. The most important of all achievements made by the Han Empire was the annihilation of the Xiongnu, which led to the peaceful development of the Hexi Corridor that made it possible for the establishment of the Silk Road to promote trade and cultural exchanges for centuries. The Han dynasty and the Xiongnu confederated state were at war from 133 BC to 89 AD. During the reign of Emperor Wu, the Xiongnu often intruded into the northern borders of the Han Empire. Emperor Wu changed from a relatively passive foreign policy to an offensive strategy. In 133 BC, the conflict escalated to a full-scale war when the Xiongnu realized that the Han was about to ambush them at Mayi. The Han court decided to deploy several military expeditions to the regions in the Ordos Loop, Hexi Corridor, and Gobi Desert in a successful attempt to conquer it and expel the Xiongnu. Hereafter, the war progressed further to the many smaller states of the Western Regions. The nature of the battles varied through time with many casualties during the changes of possession or loss of actual control over the western states near the frontier regions. Regional alliances also tended to shift or get broken forcibly depending on the situation as one party gained the upper hand in a certain territory over the other. The Han empire’s political influence expanded deep into Central Asia. As the situation deteriorated for the Xiongnu, civil war befell and weakened the confederation. Eventually, the Southern Xiongnu submitted to the Han empire while the Northern Xiongnu continued to resist. Marked by significant events involving the conquests over various smaller states for control and many large-scale battles, the war resulted in the total victory of the Han empire over the Xiongnu state by 89 AD. In 111 BC, after Xiongnu was repelled by the Han forces, four command posts were established by the imperial court of Han empire in the Hexi Corridor. They were Jiuquan, Zhangyi, Dunhuang, and Wuwei. The administrative and courier systems spread all over the Hexi region. The sphere of influence of the Han Dynasty also expanded to the Western Regions through the Hexi Corridor. Through the introduction of Xuanquanzhi, a posthouse in Dunhuang Command post, Marquis Changluo Chang Hui made outstanding achievements in the Western Regions and the Hexi Corridor and played a significant role in Han’s management of the Western Regions as a strategic area. Until the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty later, the trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations for about 1,600 years. . Though silk was the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, and religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies also spread along the Silk Road. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural exchanges among the civilizations in the area.

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