3 min

-202 to 220

Han Dynasty

by nonoumasy ▲⚬▲⚬

The Han dynasty (Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàncháo) was the second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–206 BC) and a warring interregnum known as the Chu–Han contention (206–202 BC), it was briefly interrupted by the Xin dynasty (9–23 AD) established by the usurping regent Wang Mang, and was separated into two periods—the Western Han (202 BC–9 AD) and the Eastern Han (25–220 AD)—before being succeeded by the Three Kingdoms period (220–280 AD). Spanning over four centuries, the Han dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history, and influenced the identity of the Chinese civilization ever since.[4] Modern China's majority ethnic group refers to themselves as the "Han Chinese", the Sinitic language is known as "Han language", and the written Chinese is referred to as "Han characters".

  Table of Contents / Timeline


Liu Bang conquers the Qin Dynasty.

-206 Jan 1 -

Xianyang, China

Liu Bang, a man of humble birth, leads a rebellion against the repressive policies of the Qin Dynasty. After winning a number of battles, he seizes Xianyang, the capital city of Qin, and ends Qin rule. He establishes the Han Dynasty (further divided into the Western Hanby historians) and renames himself Emperor Gaozu.

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Emperor Gaozu establishes the capital of the Han Dynasty.

-202 Feb 28 -

Xian, China

After defeating the final rebellion against him, Gaozu establishes Chang'an as the capital of the Han Dynasty. The capital is strategically located at the convergence of all major roads.

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Emperor Gaozu dies, sending the empire into internal conflict

-195 Jan 1 -

Louyang, China

After Gaozu's death, his empress takes ruthless measures to confiscate the empire for her own family. The conflict lasts for 15 years.

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Emperor Wen reestablishes control over the empire.

-180 Jan 1 -

Louyang, China

After years of conflict. Emperor Wen, one of Liu Bang's surviving sons, takes the throne and reestablishes the broken lineage. He and his family punish the Lü Zhi clan for their rebellion, killing every family member they can find. As a ruler, Emperor Wen lightens taxes and promotes the development of the empire.

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Zhang Qian begins to open the Silk Road to the west

-138 Jan 1 -

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Sent as an envoy of Emperor Wudi, explorer Zhang Qian begins several expeditions to central Asia. He and his associates establish contact with Hellenistic peoples to the west, ultimately leading to the opening of the Silk Road.

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Emperor Wudi extends the Chinese empire in all directions

-101 Jan 1 -

North Vietnam & Korea

After a series of military campaigns in all directions, Emperor Wudi adds a huge amount of territory to the Chinese empire, including southern China, central Vietnam, and north and central Korea. He consolidates control over his empire in 101 BCE

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Wang Mang


Wang Mang establishes the unsuccessful Xin Dynasty

8 Jan 1 -

Xian, China

When Wang Mang becomes the emperor of the Western Han, he changes the country's name to "Xin." After unsuccessful attempts to reform the aristocratic land ownership system, he is overthrown by a peasant revolt.

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Emperor Guangwu, as depicted by the Tang artist Yan Liben (600 AD–673 AD)


Liu Xiu overthrows Wang Mang and reestablishes the Han Dynasty

23 Jan 1 -

Louyang, China

Liu Xiu, a descendant of Liu Bang, joins the rebellion against the Xin. After defeating the army of Wang Mang, he reestablishes the Han Dynasty, making Luoyang its capital city. This launches the Eastern Han period. He is renamed Emperor Guangwu of Han.

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Cai Lun improves on paper

105 Jan 1 -


The eunuch Cai Lun develops a method of making paper by dipping a screen into a pulp of rice, straw, and tree bark, and pressing and drying the pulpy residue. During Han times, paper is used mainly to wrap fish, not for written documents.

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Missionary An Shigao attracts followers to Buddhism

148 Jan 1 -

Louyang, China

Buddhist missionary An Shigao settles in the capital of Luoyang, where he produces a number of translations of Indian Buddhist texts. He attract a number of followers to Buddhism.

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The Yellow Turban Rebellion

184 Jan 1 -


After years of weak central rule and growing corruption within the government, a large peasant rebellion breaks out. Known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion, it threatens the imperial capital at Luoyang, but the Han ultimately quash the revolt.

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Dong Zhou seizes control of Luoyang

190 Jan 1 -

Louyang, China

Warlord Dong Zhou seizes control of Luoyang and places a child, Liu Xie, as the new ruler. Liu Xie was also a member of the Han family, but real power is in the hands of Dong Zhou, who destroys the imperial capital.

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Han dynasty ends

220 Jan 1 -


Cao Pi forces Emperor Xian of Han to abdicate and declares himself Emperor of the Wei dynasty. Warlords and states vie for power for the next 350 years, leaving the country splintered. Imperial China enters the "Three Kingdoms" period.

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  • Hansen, Valerie (2000), The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600, New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, ISBN 978-0-393-97374-7.
  • Lewis, Mark Edward (2007), The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-02477-9.
  • Zhang, Guangda (2002), "The role of the Sogdians as translators of Buddhist texts", in Juliano, Annette L.; Lerner, Judith A. (eds.), Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, pp. 75–78, ISBN 978-2-503-52178-7.

The End

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