Emperor Gaozu of Han

Emperor Gaozu of Han
A portrait of Emperor Gaozu
Emperor of China
Reign28 February 202 BCE – 1 June 195 BCE
SuccessorEmperor Hui of Han
King of Han (漢王)
ReignMarch 206 BCE – 28 February 202 BCE
Born256 BCE[1] or 247 BCE[2]
Feng Town, Pei County, State of Chu[3]
Died1 June 195 BCE
(aged 60-61 / 51–52)
Chang'an, Han Empire
Spousesee Family
Issuesee Family
Full name
Family name: Liu (劉)
Given name: Bang (邦)
Courtesy name: Ji (季)
Posthumous name
Emperor Gao (高皇帝)
Temple name
Taizu (太祖)[4]
Gaozu (高祖)[5]
HouseHouse of Liu
FatherLiu Taigong
MotherLiu Ao
Emperor Gaozu of Han
Traditional Chinese漢高祖
Simplified Chinese汉高祖
Literal meaning"High Ancestor of Han"
Liu Bang
(personal name)
Traditional Chinese劉邦
Simplified Chinese刘邦

Emperor Gaozu of Han (Chinese: 漢高祖; 256 BCE – 1 June 195 BCE), born Liu Bang (劉邦), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning from 202 – 195 BCE. He was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who was born in a peasant family. [6]

Before coming to power, Liu Bang initially served as a minor patrol officer for the Qin dynasty in his home town Pei County, within the conquered state of Chu. With the First Emperor's death and the Qin Empire's subsequent political chaos, Liu Bang renounced his government position and became an anti-Qin rebel leader. He won the race against fellow rebel leader Xiang Yu to invade the Qin heartland and forced the surrender of the last Qin ruler in 206 BCE.

After the fall of the Qin, Xiang Yu, as the de facto chief of the rebel forces, divided the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms, and Liu Bang was forced to accept the poor and remote Bashu region (parts of present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) with the title "King of Han" (Chinese: 漢王; pinyin: Hàn Wáng). Within the year, Liu Bang broke out with his army and conquered the Three Qins, starting a civil war known as the Chu–Han Contention as various forces battled for supremacy over China.

In 202 BCE, Liu Bang emerged victorious following the Battle of Gaixia, unified most of China under his control, and established the Han dynasty with himself as the founding emperor. During his reign, Liu Bang reduced taxes and corvée, promoted Confucianism, and suppressed revolts by the lords of non-Liu vassal states, among many other actions. He also initiated the policy of heqin to maintain a de jure peace between the Han Empire and the Xiongnu after losing the Battle of Baideng in 200 BCE. He died in 195 BCE and was succeeded by his son, Liu Ying.

Birth and early life

In imperial Han myth, Liu Bang was a descendant of the mythical Emperor Yao, who descended from the Yellow Emperor.[7] It was a common practice among many ancient Chinese noble families to claim descent from the mythical Yellow Emperor, in order to proclaim divine ruling legitimacy.[8]

Liu Bang was born to a peasant family in Fenyu Village (枌榆社), Zhongyang Township (中陽里), Feng Town (丰邑), Pei County (沛郡) in the state of Chu during the late years of the Warring States period.[3] His parents' names were not recorded in history; they were simply referred to as "Liu Taigong" (劉太公; lit. "Old Sir Liu") and "Liu Ao" (劉媪;[9] lit. "Old Madam Liu"). According to legend, before Liu Bang's birth, his mother was caught in a rainstorm and took shelter under a bridge. At that moment, lightning struck and the sky darkened. Liu Bang's father went to fetch his wife home and saw a dragon hovering above her. She became pregnant and later gave birth to Liu Bang.[10]

It was subsequently recorded that the young Liu Bang was outspoken, charismatic and of great generosity and forbearance. However, he enjoyed loafing, disliked reading, showed no interest in farming and manual labour and frequently ran into trouble with the law, hence his father often called him a "little rascal" for his lazy lifestyle. Liu Bang persisted in his idling ways and depended on his brother's family for food and lodging. When he grew older, he became a good friend and live-in companion of a former retainer of Lord Xinling named Zhang Er (Chinese: 張耳, ? — 202 BCE), who, at the time, was the magistrate of the nearby Waihuang County.

After Qin conquered Chu, Zhang Er went into hiding, and Liu Bang returned to his own home town. He was later recommended and appointed as the local sheriff at Sishui Pavilion (泗水亭) in the neighbouring Pei County, working under the supervision of his close friends Xiao He and Cao Shen, who often helped cover up his delinquent behaviours. He nevertheless forged close relationships with most of the local county bureaucrats, and earned himself a small reputation in the district. Liu Bang was once sent for statute labour in the capital Xianyang, and encountered the First Emperor going on an inspection tour around the nation. Awed by the majestic sight of the royal convoy, he exclaimed, "Wow, this is how a great man should be! (嗟乎,大丈夫當如此也)"

One day, Lü Wen (呂文; also called Lü Gong 吕公), a wealthy and influential member of the gentry from Shanfu County, who had recently moved to Pei County, was putting on a feast to host the local elites. Xiao He, who was in charge of helping Lü Wen collect gifts from the visitors, announced that "those who do not offer more than 1,000 coins worth of gifts shall be seated outside the hall". Liu Bang went there without bringing any money and said, "I offer 10,000 coins." Lü Wen saw Liu Bang and was so impressed with him on first sight, that he immediately stood up and welcomed Liu into the hall to sit beside him, despite Xiao He telling him that Liu Bang was not being serious. Lü Wen chatted with Liu Bang, and said, "I used to predict fortunes for many people but I have never before seen someone so exceptional like you." He then offered his daughter Lü Zhi's hand in marriage to Liu Bang. After they were wed, Lü Zhi bore Liu Bang a son Liu Ying (the future Emperor Hui) and a daughter (the future Princess Yuan of Lu).

Other Languages
asturianu: Liu Bang
Bân-lâm-gú: Lâu Pang
беларуская: Лю Бан
български: Хан Гаодзу
བོད་ཡིག: ལིའུ་པང་།
čeština: Kao-cu (Chan)
Deutsch: Han Gaozu
español: Liu Bang
Esperanto: Liu Bang
français: Han Gaozu
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Liû Pâng
한국어: 전한 고제
hrvatski: Gaozu
Bahasa Indonesia: Kaisar Gaozu dari Han
lietuvių: Liu Bang
Malagasy: Han Gaozu
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Làu Băng
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Han Gaozu
Nederlands: Han Gaozu
日本語: 劉邦
norsk: Han Gaozu
polski: Han Gaozu
русский: Лю Бан
Simple English: Emperor Gaozu of Han
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Car Gaozu od Hana
suomi: Han Gaozu
svenska: Liu Bang
Türkçe: Gaozu (Han)
українська: Лю Бан
Tiếng Việt: Hán Cao Tổ
吴语: 刘邦
粵語: 劉邦
中文: 刘邦