Wang Mang

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Wang Mang

(wäng mäng), 45 B.C.–A.D. 23, Chinese HanHan
, dynasty of China that ruled from 202 B.C. to A.D. 220. Liu Pang, the first Han emperor, had been a farmer, minor village official, and guerrilla fighter under the Ch'in dynasty.
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 dynasty regent who usurped the throne and ruled (A.D. 8–23) as emperor of the Hsin [new] court, carrying out many reforms. Although he portrayed his government as a revival of the idealized state of early ChouChou
, dynasty of China, which ruled from c.1027 B.C. to 256 B.C. The pastoral Chou people migrated from the Wei valley NW of the Huang He c.1027 B.C. and overthrew the Shang dynasty. The Chou built their capital near modern Xi'an in 1027 B.C. and moved it to Luoyang in 770 B.C.
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 times, his reforms were aimed essentially at strengthening the bureaucracy and solving the current financial crisis. To refill the imperial coffers, Wang Mang instituted government monopolies, debased the currency, and introduced agricultural reforms. In his most famous reform he decreed (A.D. 9) that the large tax-free estates be dissolved and that the land be redistributed to the peasants, who were to pay taxes. Pressure from the aristocracy, however, forced him (A.D. 12) to rescind the measure. Wang Mang's control ultimately collapsed in the face of the social disorder and rebellion that spread following a disastrous change in the lower course of the Huang He. He died at the hands of rebels when his capital, Chang'an (Xi'an), was sacked; his centralized bureaucracy was destroyed at the same time. A battle for the throne continued until A.D. 25, when Liu HsiuLiu Hsiu
, A.D. 6–A.D. 57, restorer of the Han dynasty. As first emperor (A.D. 25–A.D. 57) of the Later, or Eastern, Han (A.D. 25–A.D. 200), he curbed the power of the imperial princes and recreated the centralized state administration of the Former, or
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 restored the Han and began the long process of rebuilding the central administration.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wang Mang


Born 45 B.C.; died Oct. 6, A.D. 23. Ancient Chinese statesman who became emperor in A.D. 9.

Wang Mang was descended from the aristocratic Wang family. In 8 B.C. he became “ta ssu ma”—the highest dignitary in the Han empire. In December A.D. 8 he carried out a palace coup and declared himself emperor of the Hsin dynasty. He came to power under conditions of a growing struggle between the popular masses and the big landowners and carried out a number of reforms, such as liquidating private property of land, prohibiting the purchase and sale of land and slaves, ordering that each family be provided with an allotment of land for cultivation, and introducing monopolies for the coinage of money and the mining and river industries. Under pressure from the rich landholders, however, he was obliged in A.D. 12 to abolish the land reform and the ban on the purchase and sale of slaves. Wang Mang’s reforms did not lessen class contradictions. In A.D. 15 there was a popular uprising in the country. When detachments of the rebel army occupied the capital of Ch’angan in A.D. 23, Wang Mang was killed.


Duman, L. I. “Reformy Van Mana.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1940, no. 1.
Stepugina, T. V. “Reformy Van Mana v Kitae v nachale I v. n. e.” Kratkie soobshcheniia In-ta narodov Azii, 1963, issue 61.
Li Ting-fang. Wang Mang. Shanghai, 1957. (In Chinese.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.