Wednesday, November 14

Reading:   The Reigns of the Early Han Emperors

On Wednesday, we'll begin an overview of the course of the early Han.  Your reading covers the reigns of the first four Han emperors, including two periods when government control was actually in control of a strong Imperial widow.

Reign of Gao-di (Liu Bang) 202-195
        Maintenance of Qin structures
        Restoration & attenuation of feudalism
        appeasement policy
Era of Empress L (reign of Hui-di, 194-188) 194-180
        The L family
        Construction of Chang-an
Wen-di 179-157
        austerity policies & laissez faire
        further attenuation of feudalism (& under Jing-di)
        restoring appeasement policies
        the rise of Huang-Lao ideology
Jing-di & Empress Dou 156-141

The reigns of the Han founder, Gao-di (whom we initially met as the commoner, Liu Bang), and of his son and infant grandchildren - fully dominated by his widow, Empress L, lay down the foundation of the Han state and set its general policy direction. The eras of Wen-di and his son Jing-di, who was strongly influenced by his mother, constitute an era in which basic Han policy is reconciled with a Legalist-Daoist hybrid ideology, known as "Huang-Lao." This period of Huang-Lao influence - one in which the Confucian worldview has yet to take hold on the governmental level - will take us up to the pivotal era of the Han Dynasty, the long reign of Wu-di (140-87). Before we turn the page and explore that era, we will pause for two classes to consider the intellectual environment of the early Han, including Huang-Lao ideology and cosmological theories that reflected the ongoing influence of pre-Qin Naturalism.