Emperor Gaozu of Han

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  • Birth: 247 BCE
  • Death: 195 BCE
  • Reign: 202 BCE - 195 BCE
  • Other Names: (Liu Bang)
  • Chinese: 高皇帝 (Gao huangdi) or 漢高祖 (Han Gaozu)

Liu Bang, also known as Emperor Gao, or Gaozu of Han, was the founder of China's Han Dynasty.

Liu Bang emerged originally as a leader of uprisings against the Qin Dynasty; gaining followers and eventually defeating not only the Qin but also the chief rival rebel leader, Xiang Yu (233-202 BCE) of the State of Chu, he seized control of China and established a new dynasty which was to last, with some interruption, for the better part of 400 years.

Establishing his capital at Chang'an, Gaozu found that the empire was too large to be managed centrally, and so he gave out large territories as rewards to his top generals. He is said to have then regretted the decision, realizing the threat these generals could now pose to his rule; by one means or another, he regained control of the territory, but then gave out some eastern parts of the empire again to his sons and grandsons, a return to the more feudal organization of the empire under the Zhou Dynasty, prior to the unification by the Qin.


  • Conrad Schirokauer, et al, A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations, Fourth Edition, Cengage Learning (2012), 52-53.