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Encyclopedia > Liu Bang
Emperor Gao of Han
Birth and death: 256 BC/247 BC–Jun. 1, 195 BC
Family name: Liu (劉)
Given name: Ji (季), later Bang4 (邦)
Courtesy name (字): Ji5 (季)
Dates of reign: Feb. 28, 202 BC6–Jun. 1, 195 BC
Temple name: Taizu7 (太祖), later Gaozu8 (高祖)
Posthumous name:
Emperor Gao (高帝)
Posthumous name:
Emperor Gao (高皇帝)
General note: Dates given are in the proleptic Julian calendar.
1. This is the birth year reported by Huangfu Mi (皇甫謐) (215-282),
the famous author of acupuncture books.
2. This is the birth year reported by Chen Zan (臣瓚) around AD 270
in his comments of the Book of Han
(漢書) .
3. Name meaning "the youngest one". Liu Bang was the third son of his
father, his oldest brother was called Bo
(伯) , i.e. the "First one", and his
second older brother was called Zhong
(仲) , i.e. the "Middle one".
4. Had his name changed into Bang, meaning "country", either when he
was made Prince of Han, or when he ascended the imperial throne.
5. Ji was the courtesy name according to Sima Qian in his
Records of the Grand Historian. It may be that Liu Bang, after he
changed his name into Bang, kept his original name Ji as his courtesy
name. However, some authors do not think that "Ji" was ever used as
the courtesy name of Liu Bang.
6. Was already Prince of Han (漢王) since March 206 BC, having been
enfeoffed by the rebelled leader Xiang Yu. Liu Bang was proclaimed
emperor on February 28, 202 BC after defeating Xiang Yu.
7. Meaning "supreme ancestor". Was apparently the original temple name
of Emperor Gao. Taizu, in the most ancient Chinese tradition, going back
to the Shang Dynasty, was the temple name of the founder of a dynasty.
8. Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian referred to Emperor
Gao as "Gaozu", meaning "high ancestor", perhaps a combination of the
temple name and posthumous name of the emperor (doubts still remain
about why Sima Qian used "Gaozu" instead of "Taizu", and what the exact
nature of this name is). Following Sima Qian, later historians most often
used "Han Gaozu" (漢高祖), and this is the name under which he is still
known inside China. Furthermore, it seems that in the Later Han Dynasty
"Gaozu" had replaced "Taizu" as the temple name of Emperor Gao.

Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BCJune 1, 195 BC), commonly known inside China as Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC until 195 BC, and one of only two dynasty founders who emerged from the peasant class (the other one being Zhu Yuanzhang founder of the Ming Dynasty). Before becoming an emperor, he was also called Lord Pei (沛公) after his birthplace.


He was born into a peasant family in Pei (present Pei County in Jiangsu Province), and was once one of the leaders of the peasant insurrections in the late Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC).

In the years following the death of Qin Shi Huang, Liu Bang found himself in revolt for a curious reason. He was in charge of transporting several prisoners, but was delayed by the weather. Although the delay was due to circumstances beyond his control, under Qin law, the penalty for the delay was death. Having nothing to lose, he decided to rebel against the Qin dynasty with his prisoners as the nucleus of his army.

However, Liu Bang's actions and fame were the source of Xiangyu's envy. Xiangyu wanted to become the next emperor, with control over the entire country. When Xiangyu proclaimed himself the King of Chu, Liu Bang realized that he was inferior to Xiangyu and adopted the suggestions of Xiaohe to move to Hanzhong (present Hanzhong in Shaanxi Province) with the title "King of Han" which was conferred by Xiangyu.

In Hanzhong, Liu Bang focused his efforts on developing agriculture and training an army, through which he reinforced his resource accumulation and military power. Before long, Liu Bang left Hanzhong and stationed in the Central Shaanxi Plain, where he launched a war now known as the Chu-Han War, against Xiangyu.

The war lasted four years (206–202 BC) and ended with Liu Bang's victory. Having defeated Xiangyu, Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty in 202 BC and made Chang'an (present city of Xi'an) his capital city. Liu Bang became historically known as Emperor Gaozu.

After Liu Bang came into power, he re-centralised China based on Qin's model. He gradually replaced the original vassals, granting their lands to his relatives. Since the economy had been devastated by the war following the demise of the Qin Dynasty, he reduced taxes and corve, developed agriculture and restricted spending. However, in response to what he saw as the decadence of Qin merchants, he restricted commerce by levying heavy taxes and legal restrictions on merchants. He also made peace with the Xiongnu. Under Gaozu's reign, Confucian thought gradually replaced Legalist thought; Confucian scholars were welcomed into his government, while the harsh Legalist laws were lessened. Emperor Gaozu's efforts laid a solid foundation for the over four-hundred-year reign of the Han Dynasty.

Liu Bang's affection for Concubine Qi inflamed Empress Dowager L, who tortured Qi and her son Liu Yuyi (Prince Ruyi of Zhao) after his death.

Personal information

  • Father: Liu Zhijia (劉執嘉) (3rd son of)
  • Mother: Wang Hanshi (王含始)
  • Wife: Empress L, who later became Empress Dowager L
  • Major concubines:
    • consort Cao
    • consort Zhao
    • consort Zhang
    • consort Wei
    • consort Qi
    • consort Bo
  • Children: 8 sons including:
    • Emperor Hui and Princess Luyuan from Empress L
    • Prince Ruyi of Zhao from consort Qi
    • Emperor Wen from consort Bo
    • Prince Fei of Qi from consort Cao

See also

Preceded by:
(dynasty established)
Western Han Dynasty
202 BC195 BC
Succeeded by:
Emperor Hui of Han
Preceded by:
none (civil war)
Emperor of China
202 BC195 BC

  Results from FactBites:
Millennial Fair – Liu Bang (256 - 195 BC) (1715 words)
Liu Bang (memorable name Wei) was born to peasant parents in Pei County of Jiangsu Province during the late Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).
Liu Bang knew that his military was not strong enough to defeat the northern tribes, so he bribed the Xiong Nu with food and clothing in exchanged for a peace treaty.
Liu Bang plotted the assassination of Empress Lü and his oldest son but died at the age of sixty-one, when he suffered a relapse from his former injuries, the order for the assassination was therefore never sent out.
Chu-Han contention: Information from Answers.com (4162 words)
Liu Bang himself was pursued by Chu troops and was so frightened that he attempted to abandon his two children, later Emperor Hui of Han and Princess Yuan of Lu to lighten his chariot.
It has been known that when Liu Bang's wife and father was taken hostage by Xiang Yu, he threatend to kill and eat them, unless Liu Bang agrees to have a single hand to hand duel (Xiang Yu is famous in single combat and weaponry).
Liu Bang is respected in Chinese history because he created the Han Dynasty which is considered a golden age period for China, militarily.
  More results at FactBites »



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