On one of his periodical journeys the emperor fell ill and died. His death was the signal for the rising of many rebellious elements. Nobles rose in order to regain power and influence; generals rose because they objected to the permanent pressure from the central administration and their supervision by controllers; men of the people rose as popular leaders because the people were more tormented than ever by forced labour, generally at a distance from their homes. Within a few months there were six different rebellions and six different “rulers”. Assassinations became the order of the day; the young heir to the throne was removed in this way and replaced by another young prince. But as early as 206 B.C. one of the rebels, Liu Chi (also called Liu Pang), entered the capital and dethroned the nominal emperor. Liu Chi at first had to retreat and was involved in hard fighting with a rival, but gradually he succeeded in gaining the upper hand and defeated not only his rival but also the other eighteen states that had been set up anew in China in those years.
THE MIDDLE AGES
THE HAN DYNASTY (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)
I Development of the gentry-state
In 206 B.C. Liu Chi assumed the title of Emperor and gave his dynasty the name of the Han Dynasty. After his death he was given as emperor the name of Kao Tsu. The period of the Han dynasty may be described as the beginning of the Chinese Middle Ages, while that of the Ch’in dynasty represents the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages; for under the Han dynasty we meet in China with a new form of state, the “gentry state”. The feudalism of ancient times has come definitely to its end.
[Footnote 4: From then on, every emperor was given after his death an official name as emperor, under which he appears in the Chinese sources. We have adopted the original or the official name according to which of the two has come into the more general use in Western books.]