Wang Mang’s Rise to Power (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Wang Mang, who rose to power through his aunt, the dowager empress Wang, declared himself emperor of the Xin Dynasty, dividing the Han dynasty in two.
Summary of Event
Wang Mang’s rise to power was due to marriage politics. Up to the mid-first century b.c.e., the Wang clan had produced only minor officials who served in the local government of the Western Han Dynasty (206 b.c.e.-23 c.e.). The clan began its rise to national prominence after Wang Cheng-chun became a concubine of a future emperor, Yuandi (Yuan-ti, r. 49-33 b.c.e.); her longevity, extraordinary for that time, contributed to their success. She was elevated to empress in 51 b.c.e. after the birth of a son, who became emperor as Chengdi (Ch’eng-ti, r. 33-7 b.c.e.). Because Chengdi was only eighteen years old when he came to the throne, his mother, now Dowager Empress Wang, asserted power over him. She entrusted the reins of government to three of her brothers, and after their passing, to her nephew Wang Mang in 16 b.c.e.
The rise of the Wang clan to dominate the government and of Wang Mang, who eventually usurped the throne and established a new dynasty, was largely because of the application of the Chinese concept of filial piety in government. A filial Chinese owes lifelong obedience to his parents. However, because an emperor usually ascends the throne after the death of his father, he can demonstrate his devotion and...
(The entire section is 1624 words.)
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