Episode 34 Companion: Rebels, Pretenders, and Sovereigns

A quick recap of the end of 31…

The Battle of Kunyang (June-July, 23 CE)
Battle of Kunyang
Xin Imperial Army: ~430,000 troops

Above: A typically-outfitted Han imperial soldier

Lülin Rebel forces: ~10,000 insurgents
Red Eyebrow Map

Above: The Lülin base of operations (dark) and the remaining areas still controlled by Xin, and later, Han (tan), and the regions occupied by the Red Eyebrows (light pink).  The chaos of Wang Mang’s reign had vastly reduced the Empire’s sphere of control.

Result: decisive Lülin victory, shattering of royal army, and overthrow of the Xin Dynasty…

Death of Wang Mang

Above: The death of Wang Mang.

They would seat Liu Xuan on the throne, declaring him 更始帝, the Gengshi Emperor of the restored Han Dynasty:


These guys also helped overthrow the Xin Dynasty, the Red Eyebrows (赤眉, Chìméi):

Red Eyebrow Uprising

The Red Eyebrow military leader, General Fan Chong:

Fan Chong 3

Dissatisfied with the unfulfilled promises of Gengshi, Fan would lead the Red Eyebrows in a second rebellion against the restored Han, declaring their own emperor (the 14-year-old stableboy Liu Penzi), and raiding and pillaging the countryside.

Fan CHong in battle

In 25 CE, Liu Xiu – previously one of Gengshi’s officials – realized the ineptitude of regime and set himself again the throne, declaring himself Emperor Guangwu (光武帝) of Eastern Han: 


Guangwu’s trusted general and close friend, Deng Yu:


Guangwu’s army chases the Red Eyebrows around the capital Chang’an…

Battle Map 2

Guangwu would be successful in his campaign to reclaim the throne of Han:

But the task of reuniting the Chinese Empire was still far from done.  Vast regions had grown autonomous in the chaos:


Guangwu would spend much of his reign putting down the rebellious regional warlords.


In his old age, the Eastern Han would at last be reunited and know internal peace, though campaigns again Vietnam and some scuffles with Xiongnu were still to come…

Guangwu old

Guangwu would die March 29, 57 CE, at age age 52.  His successor would (at last) be his son, Crowned Prince Zhuang, who would reign as Ming of Han.


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