Three Kingdoms History: Liu Heng (Wendi)

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Liu Heng (Wendi)
Ruled (179-157 BC)

Han Ruler and Emperor Biographies
Authoring and Translation by

After the death of Empress Lu and her family, relatives of Liu Bang took back the rule of the Kingdom. A son of Liu Bang born to a concubine became Emperor. His name was Liu Heng, better known as Wen-di (Emperor Wen).

Though the Han’s authoritarian rule did not fully benefit the people of China, Emperor Wen’s short rule came with many blessings. He was an able ruler who always looked out for the welfare of his subjects.
When famine occurred, Wen-di provided famine relief. He provided pensions for the aged, freed many slaves and abolished China’s cruellest ways of execution.

Wen-di considered economic matters and ordered his officials to study about the subject. He helped economic growth by reducing restrictions on copper mining, by spending money frugally and by reducing taxes that were imposed on the peasantry.

Under Wen-di’s rule, the people of China enjoyed internal peace and unprecedented prosperity. With these came amazing works of art that would dazzle people in modern days.

In addition, with this prosperity China’s population began to increase. New lands were claimed, which were cleared and cultivated for further use.

The gentry class, which was established by Liu Bang, benefited greatly from the economic boom, and many left the countryside to live in the city. The gentry wanted to become like the nobles and created a renaissance in scholarship, by attempting to recreate books that were burned during the Qin Dynasty.

Attracted by Confucianst respect for authority and proper behaviour, gentry intellectuals became predominantly Confucian.

Wen-di Promoted Confucian scholars to his government’s highest offices, he was the first Chinese Emperor who openly adopted Confucian teachings; as Confucius had dreamed and Emperor would. But the rise in Confucianism did not save China from political and social disaster.

Wen-di ruled for thirty-seven years and was succeeded by his son Liu Qi in 156 BC.

Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Major Sources: Shi Ji (Sima Qian)
Ancient Chinese History and Emperors (Brian Williams)
with notes from William Ho and Quentin Tran