Collapse of Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty
Late in Wang Mang's reign as the emperor of Xin Dynasty, there were agrarian revolts virtually everywhere in the empire, due to Wang's incompetent rule and the natural disasters of the time. The two largest branches were the Lülin (concentrated in modern southern Henan and northern Hubei) and Chimei (concentrated in modern southern Shandong and northern Jiangsu).
In 22, the most ambitious of the rebels would emerge. Liu Yan, a descendant of a distant branch of the Han imperial clan, who lived in his ancestral territory of Chongling (舂陵, in modern Xiangfan, Hubei), had long been disgusted by Wang Mang's usurpation of the Han throne, and had long aspired to start a rebellion. His brother Liu Xiu, by contrast, was a careful and deliberate man, who was content to be a farmer. Around this time, there were prophecies being spread about that the Lius would return to power, and many men gathered about Liu Yan, requesting that he lead them. He agreed, and further joined forces with the branch of Lülin forces who had entered the proximity, and they began to capture territory instead of simply roving and raiding. (It was said that many of the neighborhood young men were initially hesitant to join the rebels, but when they saw that Liu Xiu, whom they considered wise and careful, joining as well, they agreed to.) In 23, under Liu Yan's leadership, the joint forces had a major victory over Zhen Fu (甄阜), the governor of the Commandery of Nanyang, killing him. They then sieged the important city of Wancheng (the capital of Nanyang Commandery, in modern Nanyang, Henan).