Friday, April 13, 2012

Early Reign of Han Zhao Di

Han Zhao Di, who reigned over the Han Dynasty of Seres for many years, has been regarded by many historians as one of the greatest men to ever rule that country.  Born in the year 660 AUC (94 BC) as Liu Fuling, his father was Han Wu Di, Emperor of Seres at that time.  Wu Di was advanced in his years, at that time, already 62.  Between this and several heartening omens associated with the birth, the young boy quickly gained favor with his father.  Thus, when Wu Di died in 668 AUC (86 BC), the young prince was elevated to the throne.

During Zhao's early years, there were three regents who advised him: Huo Guang, a prominent statesman, Jin Midi, a former Xiognu prince, and Shangguan Jie, commander of the imperial guard.  The three men were able to effectively govern the vast empire as Zhao matured.  Their regency was exemplified by the frequent debates between two major factions in court politics: the modernists, who supported the various government monopolies, and the reformists, who opposed them.  Huo Guang and the Imperial Secretary, Sang Hongyang, were instrumental in the support of the monopolies, which were, for the most part continued throughout the regency.

It was in 670 AUC (84 BC) that one of the co-regents, Shangguan Jie, would die of illness.  Upon his death, Jin Midi suggested that Huo Guang assume sole responsibility as regent for the young Emperor, so as to avoid the potential for conflict between himself and Huo.  Huo declined, citing Jin's humility and propriety as insurance against a rivalry ever forming between the two.  Demonstrating his admiration for Jin, Huo orchestrated Zhao's marriage to Jin's granddaughter, a marriage that would prove fruitful and loving.  Jin Midi himself would not live to the end of the regency, dying of illness in 673 AUC (81 BC).  A few years after that that Zhao was prepared to assume the responsibilities of ruling in his own right.

Retaining Huo as an advisor, Emperor Zhao set about about reforming the economy of Seres.  His father had aggressively prosecuted many wars, straining the economy.  To foster growth and alleviate the burden on the people, Zhao lowered taxes throughout Seres.  He also instituted a two-tiered form of taxation; one based on property and one based on income (such that it could be called income).  The tax on income was much lower than the property tax, shifting a greater share of the burden on the landed elites, while alleviating the lot of the poor.  His early reforms were staunchly opposed by the landed gentry, members of whom were responsible for two attempted palace coups against him.  The vigorous reprisals against the conspirators cowed many in the gentry for the time being.  By 680 AUC (74 BC), Zhao's reforms were firmly in place, as was his position as Emperor of Seres.


Not a very meaty update, I admit.  Of course, Rome will be the centerpiece of this timeline.  However, I do have more detailed proceedings intended for China in the future of the timeline.

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