The Han empire began in 206BC when Liu Bang, prince of the Han, defeated the Qin army in the valley of the Wei. The defeat was part of a larger rebellion that began after the First Emperor's death. The people were dissatisfied with the tyranny of the Qin leaders and their legalist form of government. However, while Chinese history portrays the Han as having implemented many changes to the government, evidence shows that the Han continued to rule in the tradition of the Qin, only gradually incorporating Confucian ideals into their legalist form of government. Economic expansion, changing relationships with the people of the steppes, strengthening the palace at the expense of the civil service, weakening the state''s hold on the peasantry and the rise of the rich and the gentry were all reason that led to the adoption of Confucian ideals.
Under this new form of legalism and Confucianism, rewards and punishments were still used for the common people. However, the administrators were judged according to Confucian principles with the justification for these different sets of standards as they were educated. As a last resort, the ruler could use punishment for both the people and the officials. It was believed that force alone was not sufficient enough to rule, so the emperor needed the help of the Confucians to guide him morally. Evidence of corupt rulers using power to punish is found in records of beheaded officials.
When Liu Bang conquered the Qin, he created his capital at Chang'an. He kept most of the laws and regulations from the Qin, made many of his friends nobles and gave them land. However, the land was still divided into commanderies and prefectures. Even the little pieces of land were treated like commanderies. Han power was based on direct control of people by the state.
Like the Qin before them, the main goal of the Han was to unify China. This goal led to the eventual breakup of the... [continues]
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