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|Emperor Wu of Han ruled for 54 years - a record not broken for over 1,800 years. As a military campaigner, he led Han China through its greatest territorial expansion. At its height, the Empire's borders spanned from modern Kyrgyzstan in the west, to Korea in the east, and to northern Vietnam in the south. He created a strong and centralized state, adopted the principles of Confucianism as the state philosophy and code of ethics, and started a school to teach administrators the Confucian classics. His reforms have influenced the culture of China and its neighbors even to today. His effective governance made the Han dynasty one of the most powerful nations in the world. Emperor Wu is considered one of the greatest Chinese emperors.|
|Minted during the lifetime of Jesus! |
Wang Mang was a Han Dynasty official and consort kin who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty, ruling 9-23 A.D. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow, and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty (before Xin) and Eastern Han Dynasty (after Xin). Some historians have traditionally viewed Wang as a usurper, while others have portrayed him as a visionary and selfless social reformer. Though a learned Confucian scholar who sought to implement the harmonious society he saw in the classics, his efforts ended in chaos. In October 23 A.D., the capital Chang'an was attacked and the imperial palace ransacked. Wang Mang died in the battle. The Han dynasty was reestablished in 25 A.D. when Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu) took the throne.
|Huizong, one of the most famous Song Dynasty emperors, spent most of his life surrounded by luxury, sophistication, and art, but ended in tragedy. An artist, Huizong neglected the army, and Song China became increasingly weak. On Jan 18, 1126, after the forces of the Jin had crossed the Yellow River and came in sight of the Song capital, Kaifeng, Huizong abdicated in favor of his son Emperor Qinzong. The Jin entered Kaifeng on Jan 9, 1127, and many days of looting, rapes, and massacre followed. Huizong and Qinzong were captured and demoted to commoner. Huizong was deported to northern Manchuria, where he spent the last eight years of his life as a captive.|
|The history of Yan began in the Western Zhou in the early first millennium B.C. After the authority of the Zhou king declined in the 8th century B.C., Yan survived and became one of the strongest states in China. Its capital was Ji (now Beijing). During the Warring States period, the court was also moved to another capital at Xiadu at times. Despite the wars, Yan survived through the Warring States period. In 227 B.C., with Qin troops on the border after the collapse of Zhao, Crown Prince Dan sent an assassin to kill the king of Qin, hoping to end the threat. The mission failed. Surprised and enraged by such a bold act, the king of Qin determined to destroy Yan. The Yan army was crushed at the frozen Yi River, Ji fell the following year and King Xi fled to the Liaodong Peninsula. In 222 B.C., Liaodong fell and Yan was totally conquered by Qin. Yan was the third to last state to fall, and with its destruction the fates of the remaining two kingdoms were sealed. In 221 B.C., Qin conquered all of China, ending the Warring States period and founding the Qin dynasty. Yan experienced a brief period of independence after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 207 B.C., but was eventually absorbed by the victorious Han.|
|A nephew of the last Nguyen lord who ruled southern Vietnam, at age 15, Nguyen The To (also known as Nguyen Anh) was forced into hiding when his family was slain in the Tay Son revolt. After several changes of fortune in which his loyalists regained and again lost Saigon, he befriended the French Catholic priest Pigneau de Behaine. Pigneau recruited volunteers to help him take the throne. From 1789, he advanced north, defeating the Tay Son, reaching the Chinese border 1802, and reuniting all Vietnam, from China down to the Gulf of Siam, after centuries of feudal warfare. He took the regnal name Gia Long, moved the capital from Hanoi to Hue, and reinstated Confucian education and civil service. In return for French support, he tolerated Catholic missionaries, which was increasingly restricted under his successors. Using French expertise, he modernized Vietnam's military, gained dominance in Indochina, and made Cambodia into a vassal state.|