Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BC – 1 June 195 BC), commonly known by his temple name Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, courtesy name Ji, was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty. He ruled China from 202–195 BC. He was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who emerged from the peasant class. Liu Bang initially served as a minor patrol officer in his hometown, Pei County (in present-day Xuzhou, Jiangsu), under the Qin dynasty. Sometime in the 210s or 200s BC, he rebelled against the Qin government by releasing a group of convicts he was supposed to escort to Mount Li to construct Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum, after which he and his followers took refuge as outlaws on Mount Mangdang. In 208 BC, when rebellions erupted throughout China to overthrow the Qin dynasty, Liu Bang formed his own army and participated in the insurrection. He was titled "Duke of Pei" and was one of the most prominent rebel leaders. After the fall of Qin in 206 BC, Xiang Yu, the de facto chief of the rebel forces, divided the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms. He declared himself the king of Western Chu and appointed 17 of the former rebel leaders, including Liu Bang, as the rulers of the other kingdoms. Liu Bang was the "King of Han" and his domain was in the remote Bashu region (parts of present-day Sichuan). Later that year, Liu Bang led his forces out of Bashu and attacked and conquered the Three Qins, three of the Eighteen Kingdoms which were nearest to his domain. From 206–202 BC, Liu Bang engaged Xiang Yu in a long power struggle, historically known as the Chu–Han Contention, for supremacy over China, while concurrently invading and subjugating the other kingdoms. In 202 BC, the war concluded with victory for Liu Bang, who succeeded in unifying most of China under his control. Liu Bang established the Han dynasty and was proclaimed Emperor that year. During his reign, Liu Bang reduced taxes and corvée, promoted Confucianism, and suppressed revolts by the rulers of some vassal states, among other things. He also initiated the policy of heqin to maintain peace between the Han Empire and the Xiongnu after he lost to the Xiongnu at the Battle of Baideng in 200 BC. Liu Bang died in 195 BC and was succeeded by his son Liu Ying (Emperor Hui).
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