Monday, October 22, 2012

Ji and the Qin and Han Dynasties

If you've been following the past two blog posts, you've read about the beginnings of today's city of Beijing through its foundation as Ji state and its rise as the capital of Yan after Ji was crushed and annexed by Yan state. If you've been following these posts, let's continue on with the history of Ji during the Qin and Han Dynasties!

After the state of Yan was defeated by Qin in 222 BCE, it ceased to exist. As a result Ji lost its status as a capital city. However, it remained the most powerful city in northeast China. It was a city of strategic importance and the regional hub for transportation.

A statue of Qin Shi Huang. (Prosopee/Wikimedia Commons)
During Qin rule, Emperor Qin Huangdi (Qin Shi Huang) implemented a commandery system (郡, or 'jun') on the former Zhou vassal states as part of the military occupation. This divided each county in a state into a special adminstrative zone that made the county system of ancient China essentially irrelevant. The 36 commanderies he established (in addition to 12 others in the Qin territories that were created during the Warring States period) each carried their own weight militarily. Ji became the capital of the Guangyang commandery.

After the fall of Qin, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 AD) took possession of Ji, officially renamed the city Fanyang and made it the administrative capital of Youzhou prefecture, which encompassed much of the area around today's Beijing, Hebei province, and Tianjin. Also during this time Ji was transferred to Yuyang commandery and made its capital.

During Han rule, the old states were transformed into "regional kingdoms" by Han Emperor Liu Bang and given a little more autonomy than they had under the Qin. Also, a system of prefectures was also established. Ji was made the capital of Youzhou prefecture.

Ji was involved in a number of conflicts with the surrounding regional powers both inside and outside of China. When the Yellow Turban Revolt broke out in AD 184, Ji came under assault from the revolting peasants who were led by Zhang Jue, leader of the secretive Taoist societies which organized and instigated the revolt.

According to the classical Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in AD 189, Yuyang Commandery was the scene of a dramatic rebellion staged by the rebels Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. The two launched a rebellion against Liu Yu (governor of Youzhou) and the Ten Eunuchs, took control of Yuyang, and organized an army. After Zhang Chun started becoming tyrannical toward his own soldiers, he was murdered by one of his own officers. The rebel army surrendered to Han forces afterwards. Zhang Ju, who at that time was isolated and desperate, commmitted suicide.

After the collapse of the Han Dynasty in the year 220, the ancient city of Ji would undergo keep changing hands and undergo many changes for centuries to come.......


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