Han Ruler and Emperor Biographies
Authoring and Translation by
Liu Xiu – Han-Guang Wu Di. During the Xin Dynasty reign under Wang Mang, rebellions broke out throughout China. One of the factions battling for power was under the command of the Han Prince Liu Xiu.
In the year AD 23, Wang Mang was killed in Chang An, and a violent war for control of the land ensued. Liu Xiu surrounded himself with scholars and he became very popular with his troops. His army was the only force that did not plunder when capturing towns; this won him the hearts and respect of the peasantry.
Liu Xiu moved his forces into the desolate area of Chang An and in the year AD 25, restored the Han Dynasty. This dynasty was better known as the Eastern Han Dynasty or the Late Han Dynasty. He moved the capital to Luo Yang, east of Chang An. For the next eleven years, Liu Xiu fought against the remaining Red Eyebrow rebels. He absorbed some factions of the rebels into his army, and his army killed a great number of other Red Eyebrow rebels.
What Wang Mang could not achieve through reforms was accomplished through violence; so many had died during the civil war that the land had become available to anyone who wanted it, and with many money lenders being dead, a lot of peasants were free of debt.
Liu Xiu helped rebuild the destroyed economy by lowering taxes as much as he thought possible, to a tenth or thirteenth of one’s harvest or profit.
Furthermore, Liu Xiu abolished inappropriate laws and introduced new laws concerning the release of slaves from Vietnam and Korea. Liu Xiu saw to it that irrigation structures were rebuilt, promoting a quick recovery and development in agriculture.
During his rule, Liu Xiu promoted scholarship and put restrictions on eunuchs and members of the Imperial family in an attempt to stabilize rule for future Emperors.
Liu Xiu defended China’s western and northern borders by launching successful campaigns against the Xiong Nu and Korean liberalists. He was able to take control of Xin Jiang (northwest China) which where the Xiong Nu lived. He also tightened his grip on the areas around the river Liao and Korea.
Liu Xiu was able to expand his control over China and was successful in restoring the power of the Han Dynasty. It seemed that after a long period of reform and struggle, China had finally regained its Mandate of Heaven.
In the year AD 57, Liu Xiu died and was given the posthumous title of Guang Wu-di.
Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Major Sources: Hou Han shu (Fan Ye)
Ancient Chinese History and Emperors (Brian Williams)
with notes from William Ho and Quentin Tran