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The Han dynasty wis the seicont imperial dynasty o Cheenae, precedit bi the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) an succeedit bi the Three Kinricks period (220–280 AD). Spannin ower fower centuries, the Han period is conseedert a gowden age in Cheenese history. Tae this day, Cheenae's majority ethnic group refers tae themsels as the "Han Cheenese" an the Cheenese script is referred tae as "Han chairacters". It wis foondit bi the rebel leader Liu Bang, kent posthumously as Emperor Gaozu o Han, an briefly interruptit bi the Xin dynasty (9–23 AD) o the umwhile regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han dynasty intae twa periods: the Wastren Han or Umwhile Han (206 BC – 9 AD) an the Eastren Han or Later Han (25–220 AD).
The emperor wis at the pinnacle o Han society. He presidit ower the Han govrenment but shared pouer wi baith the nobility an appyntit meenisters that cam lairgely frae the scholarly gentry cless. The Han Empire wis dividit intae auries directly controlled bi the central govrenment uisin an innovation inheritit frae the Qin kent as commanderies, an a nummer o semi-autonomous kinricks. Thir kinricks gradually lost aw vestiges o thair unthirldom, pairteecularly follaein the Rebellion o the Seiven States. Frae the ring o Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BC) onwart, the Cheenese coort offeecially sponsored Confucianism in eddication an coort politics, synthesised wi the cosmology o later scholarts sic as Dong Zhongshu. This policy endured till the faw o the Qing dynasty in 1911 AD.