The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2

By Cathal J. Nolan | Go to book overview

Suggested Reading:
Brian Urquart, Hammarskjöld (1972, 1984).
Han (Chinese).SeeHakka;Han dynasty.
Han dynasty/Han Empire (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.). The Han—the dominant people in modern China, comprising the vast majority of its population—trace their ancestry to the Han dynasty, which followed the unification of China under the Qin. The Han settled the great grain- and rice-growing regions of interior and coastal China, inside the infertile crescent of Inner Asia. They took direct control of western China in 206 B.C.E., but ruled through ten vassal kingdoms in eastern China. By consensus, the most effective Han ruler was Han Wudi, the “martial emperor” (r. 140–87 B.C.E.), who conquered parts of Manchuria, Korea (128), and northern Vietnam (111). Han Wudi replaced an earlier policy of appeasement of the Inner Asian tribes on the border with one of conquest of some and intimidation of the rest. The expansion of China under the Han brought conflict on the western and northern frontiers with Turkic nomads. The Han responded with a multipronged approach of punishing raids and alliance with one group of nomads to fight another, but also occasional appeasement. That set the pattern for China’s management of barbarians (“foreigners”) for 2,000 years. The Han governed perhaps 60 million Chinese, but terminal decline set in as regional gentry rose to de facto independence in the provinces, pulling away from the Han imperial center. That slow process was aggravated by heavy barbarian military pressure. It was also accompanied by the arrival of Buddhism, which undermined Confucian centralism as the foundation ideology of the Han dynasty. Nor did internal disunion help. In 9 C.E. Wang Mang, nephew of an earlier emperor, usurped the Qin throne, which he retained to 23 C.E. as the sole representative of the Xin (“New”) dynasty. In the end, he was deposed and killed by a successful rebellion. His brief reign also coincided with a massive shift in the course of the Yellow River, which affected large landholdings and sharply undercut food production. The famine this produced sparked a massive peasant rebellion (“Red Eyebrows”), which appeared to confirm that Wang Mang did not enjoy the mandate of heaven.

The Han dynasty was restored, recovered, moved its capital to Luoyang, and ruled China for another 200 years. The consolidation of Han rule in the first century C.E. had ramifications for all of Asia, not least in its displacement of many peoples of Inner Asia, including those who invaded India and set up Shaka states there and the wilder tribes of horse-borne soldiers who pushed against the borders of the Roman Empire. Han fell in 220 C.E. only after a progressive corruption of the court by powerful eunuchs, continuation of border pressure from the Xiongnu to the north, a succession of minor emperors and regencies, an ideological challenge in the form of Daoism, and finally a

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The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • F 530
  • Suggested Reading: 534
  • Suggested Readings: 547
  • Suggested Reading: 548
  • Suggested Reading: 557
  • Suggested Readings: 571
  • Suggested Readings: 572
  • Suggested Reading: 573
  • Suggested Reading: 582
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  • Suggested Readings: 590
  • Suggested Readings: 591
  • G 601
  • Suggested Reading: 604
  • Suggested Reading: 618
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  • Suggested Reading: 636
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  • H 681
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  • I 752
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  • J 846
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  • K 884
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  • L 927
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