Dynasties or empires have a natural life span just like humans and usually only last three generations. There are many reasons as to the decline; bureaucratic corruption, inequitable economic burdens, costly technology, moral decline or even external enemies to name a few (Upshur, Terry, Holoka, Goff, & Cassar, 2002, p. 171). Whatsoever the reason, what an empire leaves behind can be contributed to the spread of ideas and practices across many continents (lecture notes, 2009).
Lifecycle of an Empire
The Han Dynasty is one such declining empire. It was ruled by the family known as the Liu clan who had peasant origins. The reign started in 206 B.C.E. and lasted 400 years until ...view middle of the document...
7. It retained many of the legalistic, harsh codes and laws, and administrative developments of the dynasty before—Ch’in and other countries based their legal system on this code but it also softened it with Confucian beliefs of moral development and Taoism beliefs of compassion, moderation and humility.
8. Built elaborate public works such as roads—the Silk Road is linked to Han.
9. Patronized learning, expressed in literature, art, philosophy, and writing of history.
(Upshur et al., 2002, p. 119-120)
To answer the question of did this empire make specific mistakes or was its decline a natural part of the lifecycle of an empire, it would have to be a natural decline. The Han Dynasty had weathered many leadership changes; 26 to be exact, but it wasn’t until the dynasty fell into corruption and political power struggle among three groups of individuals—eunuchs, empresses’ clan, and Confucian scholar officials that ended the dynasty. Harsh conditions of the peasants under the wealthy landholding families spurred insurgents to overthrow the Liu clan and consequently, the power fell into the hands of the local warlords (Han Dynasty, 2009).
According to Upshur et al. (2002), there are nine reasons for the decline of an empire; dynastic succession, bureaucratic corruption, inequitable economic burdens, decline or martial spirit, costly technology, moral decline, escapist or otherworldly religions, external enemies, and regional, racial or ethnic tensions (Upshur et al., 2002, p. 170-172). Each of these was present in the Han downfall.
A society can not dramatically or quickly change because it will lose the elements that initially gave it purpose and success. Change is inevitable and the Han Empire lasted 400 years until its downfall but...