Han Dynasty Stage IV Essay

Submitted By Jskeean
Words: 495
Pages: 2

The fall of the Han Dynasty was not a sudden event, but rather, a course of about two centuries. Despite the overall prosperity of the Han Empire, China began to face economic difficulty and social tension. Military conquests under the reign of Han Wudi caused severe economic struggle. Campaigns against Xiongnu and the founding of colonies in central Asia were very costly and they quickly consumed China’s surplus wealth. To fund his campaigns, Han Wudi raised taxes considerably and confiscated land and personal property from upper class citizens, sometimes making it seem as though they had violated imperial law. These new influences did not kill commerce and industry, but greatly discouraged investing in manufacturing and trading enterprises, which did have a negative impact on the overall economy. Social tensions between the upper and lower classes became more intense during this period. Upper class citizens donned leather shoes, silk garments, and jewelry crafted from jade and gold, while peasants and lower classes wore simple rough-spun hemp clothing and sandals. Dinner tables at wealthy households exhibited pork, fish, fowl, and fine wines, while a peasant’s diet mostly consisted of grain, rice, and occasionally meat or vegetables. By the first century B.C.E., economic differences caused major social tensions. Another issue was that of land distribution. Personal economic problems forced many landowners to sell their property in unfavorable conditions, or to forfeit it in cancellation of their debts. In harsh cases, families would be forced to sell themselves into slavery to relieve their debts. Wealthier individuals often would increase the size of their estate by absorbing the land from the less fortunate. This led to even more social tension and was the beginning of the end of the Han. Later Han emperors still did not address land distribution, which led to the end of the former Han Dynasty,…