The Xin dynasty – interregnum of Wang Mang

The Xin dynasty – interregnum of Wang Mang

Wang Mang was a nephew of Emperor Yuan Di’s consort and from 1 C.E. was the underage Emperor’s regent. In 9 C.E. he took the imperial title himself and founded the Xin dynastie (xin = renewal). He tried to curb the rising power and wealth of the landowners by nationalizing all estates and serfs. He wished to divide the land among the peasants.

His goal was the introduction of the nine-field system propagated by Menzius. According to it, eight families received a square of land in which nine fields lay. Each family worked one field for itself; the ninth was tended by all eight families, and the crop belonged to the State. Wang Mang caused new coins to be minted, created a state banking monopoly, and created new titles to go with his new dynasty; his reforms instantly kindled resistance on the part of influential landowners, whose uprisings were promptly suppressed. Wang Mang could nonetheless not effect the annexation and redistribution of land.

Wang Mang’s reign was finally ended by peasant revolts. He had conscripted the peasantry for his planned field maneuvers and required large supplies of grain, which triggered discontent. The uprisings had their origins along the Yellow River, whose flooding had changed its own course, leaving many farming families homeless. There was founded the secret organization “red eyebrow.”

The emperor could not bring sufficient force to bear against the united peasant and landowner uprisings. After his death in 23 C.E., Liu Xiu (a descendant of the Han and influential landowner) took over and renewed the Han dynasty. He was able to reinstate the centrally-administered government, for even the rich landowners had been weakened by the conflicts. There was hardly any resistance against him. He took the name Han Guang Wu and reigned from 23 – 57 C.E.

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