Liu Che - Emperor Wu of Western Han

Emperor Wu of Western Han Dynasty
Liu Che, Emperor Wu 
of Western Han Dynasty

Emperor Wu, or Liu Che, (156 BC-87 BC), was one of the greatest emperors of the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD). As the tenth son of Emperor Jing, he was chosen as prince at the age of seven and was enthroned when he was sixteen years old. At the age of 70, he died on the throne, ending his 54-year rule.

He was an extraordinary emperor with great talent and bold vision. Specifically, he was a super master of military strategy which made him a combative monarch. This accounts for his title Wu which means 'Martial' - military force. Under his reign, the Han Dynasty became the most powerful regime in the world.

The times of Emperor Wu were among the most prosperous periods in Chinese history. At the beginning of his accession to the throne, a stable political situation and favorable national economy paved the way for splendid achievements in politics, economy, foreign affairs and culture.

As an innovative monarch, he took some effective measures in politics. He set up a special system for selecting, appointing, and assessing governmental officials. During that period, talented figures emerged in all occupations. Li Guang, as well as Wei Qing and Huo Qubing were all generals in that period, famous throughout the history of China. In addition, certain measures were carried out to strengthen the centralization of authority to weaken the power of small kingdoms.

Gold coin inscribed with characters
Gold coin inscribed with 
characters "Wu Zhu", Han Dynasty

He adopted many economic reform policies. First, the currency system was changed, establishing the wuzhu coin as the national legal currency. Second, industries such as manufacturing and the selling of salt and iron were monopolized by the national government. All these measures strengthened the financial power of central government and restrained the power of businessmen. In addition, he paid close attention to building water conservancy projects and treating the Yellow River.

As for foreign affairs, a prolonged battle was launched by Emperor Wu to drive out the Huns, an ancient tribe who trespassed on Han territory. With a powerful economy and strong military force, he defeated the Huns and safeguarded northern territory including the Hosi Corridor. At that time, China's territory was vaster than that of any previous dynasties. Meanwhile, Emperor Wu sent the envoy Zhang Qian to the western regions. As a result, an ancient Silk Road was opened up and the economic and cultural exchanges between the central plains and western regions were greatly enhanced.

Xi'an Maoling Mausoleum
Maoling Mausoleum, Tomb of Emperor Wu

Confucianism became the mainstream Western Han ideology under Emperor Wu's reign. Emperor Wu required that all chancellors in the court learn the Confucian classics before they got a promotion. He also set up an educational system of Confucian classics. With 'unification' as its core, Confucianism helped form an important cultural spirit which joined Chinese people's hearts.

In that period, China's first historical record - The Records of the Grand Historian -- was written by Sima Qian (a famous historian in Western Han).

Although Emperor Wu was a warlike emperor, great achievements were accomplished in almost all aspects of society during his reign.

- Last updated on Apr. 08, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Liu Che
Asked by Rachael Broekhuizen from AMERICA | Sep. 15, 2023 04:02Reply
What Hans dynast rulerover saw the most advances in terms like creating paper and things like that?
Answers (1)
Answered by Emma | Sep. 17, 2023 19:30

It should be Emperor He of Easter Han who vigorously promote paper making technology during his reign.
Asked by Hanna from USA | Feb. 04, 2016 19:02Reply
I need information on how Han Emperor Wu's son death an accident?
Answers (1)
Answered by Zhao from CHINA | Feb. 06, 2016 00:05

As far as I know, the stories goes as follow. An official named Jiang Chong had gained the trust of Emperor Wu. He didn't get along well with the emperor's son, prince Liu Ju, and was afraid of being killed after the prince ascended the throne. So Jiang came up with a devilish trap, saying that the prince had made a puppet to curse his father. Whoever did this thing would be sentenced to death in the past. Liu Ju was terrified and dispatched his troop to seize Jiang. However, this move was framed by Jiang to be a rebellion. The emperor went mad and sent a strong army to suppress. At last, Liu Ju was defeated and committed suicide.
Asked by Meghan from AMERICA | Apr. 02, 2015 21:24Reply
How did Emperor Wu die?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mike from KIRGIZSTAN | Apr. 03, 2015 04:29

At his late age, he also seeked the way of how to make himselve live forever. But he failed. It was also his mistake that his son was killed. All these things had a great effect on his health. Finally he passed away naturally.
Asked by shubalabudingdong from NIGER | Nov. 30, 2014 19:10Reply
what is han wudi's biggest problem
Answers (1)
Answered by Steven from INDONESIA | Dec. 01, 2014 00:26

He killed his son by mistake. During the end of his reign, Emperor Wudi was scared because he always believed that some other people used witchcraft against him. Then he ordered to find these people. More than ten thousands of people were killed.

Jiang Chong, one of Emperor Wudi's favorite official framed up Emperor Wudi's son Liu Ju. He claimed that Liu Ju had many puppets in his palace. Liu Ju was afraid that his father would punish him. Therefore, he followed his counsellor's suggestion to kill Jiang Chong. However, he failed. Then Emperor Wudi sent an army to defeat Liu Ju. At the end, Liu Ju committed suicide. Several months later, the truth was revealt. Emperor Wudi killed Jiang Chong and his families.
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