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Han Dynasty

Like the Zhou Dynasty, the Han dynasty is divided into two phases; the Western Han and the Eastern Han. The Western Han's capital was situated in what is now known as Xi'an, while the Eastern Han moved it to Luoyang in AD 25. The emperor and his chancellors, having witnessed the sudden collapse of the Qin dynasty, realized that it wasn't feasible to rule a vast kingdom solely on a strict legal system. The monarch relaxed the system and allowed the economy, destroyed by war, to recover. Emperor Wudi, one of the early Han emperors, was both ambitious and talented & his reign saw many achievements. During his reign, the Han dynasty was a thriving and powerful empire. One of his most enduring legacies was promoting Confucianism as the official ideology and applying it to the bureaucracy. Ministers were selected based on their knowledge of the Confucian classics, a system that was continued in succeeding dynasties up until the end of the Qing dynasty. He was also able to centralise power, thus removing the threat of powerful nobles rising in rebellion. On the economic side, new trade routes were established between China and Central Asia. Chinese silk was exported along these routes, which would become known as the Silk Road.

Under the Eastern Han dynasty, power was further centralised, the economy continued to prosper and cultural achievements reached a peak; this era is considered one of China's golden ages. Paper was also invented during this time. Although samples of paper have been found dating back to the Western Han, it was during the Eastern Han when improved papermaking techniques made it practical to manufacture. With the discovery of paper, the dissemination of information and spread of learning increased China's cultural influence.