Liu Bang - Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty
Emperor Gaozu of the Han, Liu Bang, lived between 256 and 195 BC and was a legendary hero in the Chinese history. He was the first emperor of the Western Han Dynasty, also a famous statesman and military commander of ancient China.
Liu Bang was born into an ordinary family in Peixian County (now Fengxian County of Jiangsu Province). At the end of the Qin Dynasty, people were suffering social turbulences. Liu Bang rose in rebellion against the Qin Dynasty. Later, his army kept expanding and became the main force against the Qin Dynasty along with Xiang Yu's army. In 206 BC, Liu Bang led his army to the central Shaanxi plain and overthrew the Qin Dynasty. Shortly afterwards, Xiang Yu also fought his way to the central Shaanxi plain after defeating the Qin army. Xiang Yu planned to kill Liu Bang to seize power. Faced with the crisis, Liu Bang was aware that he was in no position to beat Xiang Yu, so he personally went to Hongmen to meet Xiang Yu and conceded defeat, indicating that he had no ambition to usurp power. Later, Liu Bang accepted the title of "the King of Han" granted by Xiang Yu. At the same time, Liu Bang made efforts to consolidate his own force and to strengthen military training, ready to take power.
In October of 206 BC, leading the Han army, Liu Bang captured the central Shaanxi plain again, restarting the power-seizing battle with Xiang Yu, thus beginning the prelude to the four-year-long war between the Chu and Han. Liu Bang knew all too well how to choose the right person for the right job and gained the assistance of Xiao He and Han Xin etc. Meanwhile, he was willing to accept the constructive suggestions from those under his command. He was also good at using strategies and received widespread support from the people. In the end, Liu Bang won the Chu-Han war and Xiang Yu had no choice but to commit suicide at the Wujiang River after being defeated.
In 202 BC, Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty and made Xi'an the capital, starting the 400-plus reign of the Han Dynasty. Liu Bang thus became the first emperor of humble origin in the Chinese history.
After ascending the throne, Liu Bang destroyed the imperial separatist regimes headed by people with different surnames like Han Xin, Peng Yue and Ying Bu etc and appointed many dukes who had the same surname Liu, strengthening his centralized feudal empire. At the same time, he adopted policies of giving the people peace and security, which stressed agriculture and tightened control on commercial activities, in order to restore the strength of the state. In addition, he carried on the political system of the Qin Dynasty and formulated the nine-chapter Decrees of Han based on Decrees of Qin. All these measures gave a boost to the economic development and the might of the Han Dynasty kept growing.