The Collapse of China's Later Han Dynasty, 25-220 CE: The Northwest Borderlands and the Edge of Empire, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Collapse of China's Later Han Dynasty, 25-220 CE

The Northwest Borderlands and the Edge of Empire, 1st Edition

By Wicky W. K. Tse


168 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-07-03
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In the Later Han period the region covering the modern provinces of Gansu, southern Ningxia, eastern Qinghai, northern Sichuan, and western Shaanxi, was a porous frontier zone between the Chinese regimes and their Central Asian neighbours, not fully incorporated into the Chinese realm until the first century BCE. Not surprisingly the region had a large concentration of men of martial background, from which a regional culture characterized by warrior spirit and skills prevailed. This military elite was generally honoured by the imperial centre, but during the Later Han period the ascendancy of eastern-based scholar-officials and the consequent increased emphasis on civil values and de-militarization fundamentally transformed the attitude of the imperial state towards the northwestern frontiersmen, leaving them struggling to achieve high political and social status. From the ensuing tensions and resentment followed the capture of the imperial capital by a northwestern military force, the deposing of the emperor and the installation of a new one, which triggered the disintegration of the empire. Based on extensive original research, and combining cultural, military and political history, this book examines fully the forging of military regional identity in the northwest borderlands and the consequences of this for the early Chinese empires. 

Table of Contents


List of Tables

List of Maps


The Emperors of the Two Han Dynasties

1 Introductory Orientations: The Later Han, Its Northwestern Frontier & Regional Identity

2 Opening New Territories & Partitioning the Space: Natural and Administrative Geographies of the Early Imperial Northwest

3 Being Peripheralized: The Northwesterners in the Later Han Empire

4 The Others Within: The Qiang Wars and the Abandonment of the Northwest

5 Epilogue: The Beginning of the End



About the Author

Wicky W K Tse is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese Culture at Hong Kong Polytechnic University

About the Series

Asian States and Empires

The importance of Asia will continue to grow in the twenty-first century, but remarkably little is available in English on the history of the polities that constitute this critical area.  Most current work on Asia is hindered by the extremely limited state of knowledge of the Asian past in general, and the history of Asian states and empires in particular.  Asian States and Empires is a book series that will provide detailed accounts of the history of states and empires across Asia from earliest times until the present.  It aims to explain and describe the formation, maintenance and collapse of Asian states and empires, and the means by which this was accomplished, making available the history of more than half the world’s population at a level of detail comparable to the history of Western polities.  In so doing, it will demonstrate that Asian peoples and civilizations had their own histories apart from the West, and provide the basis for understanding contemporary Asia in terms of its actual histories, rather than broad generalizations informed by Western categories of knowledge.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General