Eastern Han Dynasty

Last updated by chinatravel at 2014/10/19

Emperor Ying Zheng in Qin Dynasty founded the first autarchy with the centralization of state power in Chinese History . Compared with that of Western Dynasty, the Eastern Han Dynasty was more tyrannized. Guangwu Di, the then emperor, conducted reforms on governance and distributed more power to the Department of State Affairs. Therefore, the power of the emperor was reduced and helped prevent extreme tyranny. However, if the emperor happened to be fatuous or incapable on governance, the Department of State would monopolize the Affairs. Unfortunately it did happen in the history of late Eastern Dynasty. The new emperor ascended the throne when he was very young. The Queen Mother therefore held court behind a screen, controlling the power behind the throne. Nobles, who were relatives of the Queen Mother, monopolized the state. The balance of power between the emperor and the central department under the system of concentrated state power in imperial autarchy was totally destroyed. When relatives of the Queen Mother came into power, there must be disasters of eunuch who supported the emperor. Later Eastern Han Dynasty failed to have its real imperial offspring to ascend the throne; the Queen Mother had no blood relationship with the puppet emperor on the throne; and thus relatives of the Queen Mother carried out autarchy themselves. When the young emperor grew up, he would determine to get back his due power and there must be conflicts between him and his relatives-in-law. Then the emperor would plot with the eunuchs to get rid of the obstacles on his road. Therefore the strife between eunuchs and his relatives-in-law would begin both openly and secretly.

Diplomacy in East Han Dynasty reached long term development. Ban Chao, a famous general, managed to persuade more than 50 countries in the west to submit to the empire of Eastern Han Dynasty and send their hostages to worship the then emperor. At the same time, an ambassador called Gan Ying was assigned by Ban Chao to visit the Ancient Rome Empire, but unfortunately cheated by an Arab on the road. He only reached the Mediterranean instead of his destination.

In 57 AD, Japan sent its first ambassador to China. From then on the two countries started to exchange with each other.

In 64 AD, Ming Di, the emperor of Eastern Han Dynasty, heard there were immortals in the west and they were called Buddha. Soon he assigned Cai An, Vice Minister, to Tianzhu (today’s India) to learn Buddhism. In 67 AD, Cai An came back to Luoyang and brought with him some Buddhist scriptures. Also along with him were Shemoteng and Zhu Falan whom Cai An invited to China. In the next year Emperor Ming Di ordered the built up of Baima Temple, where Shemoteng and Zhu Fahu could live and translate the Forty-two Chapters of Buddhist Scriptures. After that Buddhism began to spread in China.

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