Confucianism: Han Dynasty and Liu Bang Essay

Submitted By shmilygirl123
Words: 1239
Pages: 5

Han Dynasty was a strong and united empire established by Gaozu Liu bang in 202 B.C. The empire prior to Han, also the first empire in the history of China, Qin Dynasty was established and governed based on the ideology of legalists. Under the reign of Qin Shi Huang, legalists’ ideology was spread and executed across the entire empire. Without any doubt, legalists ideology made Qin a very powerful empire, as legalists ideology gave Qin a very disciplined army and a very centralized bureaucratic system, but legalists ideology was also a major factor that contributed to the fall of Qin Dynasty, as this ideology was rigid and harsh, bringing strong discontent from both government officials and ordinary citizens to the ruler. Therefore, Han Gaozu Liu Bang, learned the lesson from Qin Dynasty, founded the Han on the basis of Confucianism. Hence, in my point of view, Han Dynasty, especially early Han dynasty, was dominated by the Confucianism. I have two points to demonstrate my argument.
First and foremost, Ren (benevolence) is one of five fundamental concepts of Confucianism, and Ren zheng (a benevolent government), brought up by Mencius, is a concept of government that is benevolent to the people. “Ren Zheng” advocates that a ruler should treat his officials and his people with benevolence and tolerance. Mencius believes that a great emperor should regard its people as priority, then the state, and last the emperor himself. Mencius states that an emperor should often implement benevolent policies that benefit his people in order to ensure the prosperity and the stability of his empire.
“Ren Zheng” was the Confucian concept that Han Gao Zu Liu Bang adopted to rule his people and run his newly established empire. Liu Bang learned the important lesson from Qin Shi Huang that the harsh and rigid legalist government system would not promise his empire a bright future, so he decided to govern his country from a different angle by implementing “Ren Zheng” in his empire. When Liu Bang united China and received the throne, he lowered peasants’ tax right away. He also proposed and implemented many similar policies that benefit these poor and lower-middle peasants. In addition, Liu Bang freed all the slaves, making them the rightful citizens to live in his empire. Although the Qin’s military rewarding system was still carried out in his empire, Liu Bang gave his soldiers more benefits such as allowing them to go home after a certain period of service. In addition, unlike Qin Shi Huang who casted his royal family out in order to prevent them from revolting, Liu Bang generously appointed his nine family members as dukes and gave them land to rule. Liu Bang also showed great tolerance to the heirs of the royal families of the six states, by inviting them back to live in China. By spreading and implementing “Ren Zheng”, Liu Bng was practicing Confucianism to rule his country.
Second evidence that can prove Han Dynasty was an empire dominated by Confucian ideology could be found from the greatest emperor in Han Dynasty, Han Wu Di Liu Che. Han Wu Di is the seventh emperor in Han Dynasty, and he is also the great-grandson of Liu Bang. During his reign, Han defeated the Xiong Nu people, the biggest enemy of Han, and Han Empire annexed Korean Peninsula as a part of Han’s territory. In addition to Han’s military success, Han also achieved Cultural breakthrough, as Han Wu Di initiated cultural exchange by sending commissioners travel to the Western civilizations. Under his rule, Han Empire achieved its heyday of prosperity and glory. All these great achievements would unlikely to be achieved without the practice of Confucian ideology, as Han Wu Di Liu Che himself was an emperor who regarded and ordered Confucianism as the one and only one school of thought that was plausible and practical.
Just like his great grandfather, Han Gao Zu Liu Bang, Han Wu Di continued to carry out Confucian practices to rule his empire, except his approach to…