45 BC - AD 23
Chinese Statesman

Wang Mang was the founder of a short-lived dynasty replacing the Western Han dynasty.

After the expansive reign of emperor Han Wu-ti the disparity between the wealth of the landowners and poverty of the peasants grew. Towards the end of the 1st century BC a series of peasant revolts threatened to overthrow the state.

Wang Mang, born into a distingui-shed Chinese family, became regent to the throne in 8 BC. He was soon dismissed but was able to out-maneuvre members of the Imperial Han family and ascended the throne himself in AD 9. He is known in Chinese history as the 'Usurper'

Wang Mang realized that the greatest threat to security was the excessive power of the landowners. To combat this, he claimed all land for the state, and distributed it among the peasants, forbidding its sale or purchase. But the landowners resisted and as many civil servants were themselves landowners, there was no one to put the reforms into effect.

The peasants again revolted, the most dangerous that of the 'Red Eyebrows', so called because they colored their eyebrows red to mark their membership in a secret society. Widespread destruction followed, but the combined forces of landowners and supporters of the Han dynasty suppressed the rebellion and restored the Han to power in AD 25.

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