Wang Mang

From Academic Kids

Wang Mang (王莽, pinyin: Wng Măng) (45 BCOctober 6, 23) was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded Xin (or Hsin) Dynasty (新朝, meaning "new dynasty"), ruling AD 823. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow, and historians have traditionally viewed Wang as a "usurper," while some 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.

Wang was born in a distinguished family, but his father died when he was young and he held minor posts until being made a marquis in 16 BC. His father's half sister was the powerful Grand Empress Dowager Wang who had been the consort of Emperor Yuan and mother of Emperor Cheng. In 8 BC he was appointed regent for Emperor Cheng, but Emperor Cheng died in 7 BC or 6 BC and was succeeded by Emperor Ai, who was not related to Empress Dowager Wang. Wang Mang thus resigned.

However, in 1 BC, Emperor Ai died and Empress Dowager Wang immediately had Wang Mang appointed regent for the new Emperor Ping. Wang consolidated his power by having his daughter made the consort of Emperor Ping. Ping died as a child in AD 6 and Wang Mang chose to his advantage as Emperor Ping's successor Emperor Ruzi, who had only been born in AD 5. During this time, Wang engaged in a propaganda campaign to convince others that the Han dynasty no longer held the mandate of heaven and was to be replaced. Finally, in January of AD 10, he ascended to the throne and declared the Xin Dynasty.

As a regent, Wang had gained a reputation as a competent administrator and his accession was at first seen in good light. He sought to refill the imperial coffers by instituting government monopolies and restoring the well-field system. His decision to nationalize gold and keep issuing new currency caused hardship and discontent among merchants. In AD 9 he decreed that all large estates, which had gradually grown larger and threatened imperial power, be dissolved and there lands distributed among tax-paying peasants. This did not sit well with the aristocracy, which forced Wang to rescind his decree in AD 12.

Between AD 2 and AD 5 and again in AD 11, the Yellow River changed course to flow south (instead of north) of the Shandong Peninsula, causing famine, epidemics, and migration among the peasants. Peasants banded together and led larger and larger rebellions. In October of AD 23, the capital Chang'an was attacked and the imperial palace ransacked. Wang Mang and his 1,000 courtiers made their last stand and fought until they were completely obliterated. Wang Mang died in the battle.

Much of the Han bureaucracy was destroyed and the Han dynasty was restored in AD 25 when Liu Hsiu-Emperor Guangwu took to the throne.

Xin Dynasty Sovereigns
Personal name Period of reign Era names (年號) and their according range of years
Wang Mang 9-23

Shijianguo (始建國 shi3 jian4 guo1, "Start to establish a nation") 9- 13
Tianfeng (天鳳 tian1 feng1, "Heavenly Feng") 14-19
Dihuang (地皇 di4 huang2, "Earthly Emperor") 20-23

et:Wang Mang nl:Wang Mang ja:王莽 zh:王莽 de:Wang Mang


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