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Wang Mang Monetary Reform


The Bronze reform of Wang Mang

It was the monetary reforms of Wang Mang (王莽)(6/9-23AD), who made a move to establish his own dynasty, Xin, intending to replace the Han. The economy went into a chaotic period between 7 and 14AD. This centered once again upon the introduction of a new coin that was overvalued dramatically relative to its metal content. In the year 10 AD, Wang Mang was desperate for money and he instituted an unprecedented tax—the income tax first such record of any direct tax of this nature. The rate was 10 percent of profits, for professionals and skilled labor. Previously, all taxes were either poll tax (head tax) or property tax. Wang Mang was thus the founder of a short-lived Xin (Hsin) Dynasty (9-23AD). His father’s half-sister had become the empress of China during the Han Dynasty. Upon the death of the Emperor, she became the Empress Dowager which meant prestige for her family.

Her son was weak and showed little interest in governing the empire. Wang Mang was his first cousin. In 8BC, Wang Mang was appointed regent. The emperor died 6-7BC without an heir. The new Emperor Ai was not related to the family of Wang Mang and thus accepted his resignation. Yet Emperor Ai died about 1BC. The Empress Dowager summoned Wang Mang and appointed him regent. Wang Mang installed his own daughter as Empress with the new Emperor pIing. On February 3rd, 6AD, pIing died. Some now accused Wang Mang of poisoning him. Wang now selected the youngest of potential heirs, a boy who had just been born in SAD and was not actually enthroned, and Wang Mang assumed the position of acting emperor. He now claimed that heaven was directing that a new dynasty should reign and he officially declared his Xin (Hsin) Dynasty on January 10th, 6/9AD.

Nature conspired against Wang Mang for in 11AD, the Yellow River flooded killing many that caused a great famine and a plague. This led to civil unrest as a sign of heaven. Peasants migrated south and banded into larger groups. One of these groups rose, known as the Red Eyebrows, they were strong enough that they defeated one of Wang’s armies. This led to widespread rebellions even in the capital. They stormed the palace and in a grand last stand, about 1,000 palace guards defended Wang to the last man. The rebels then killed Wang Mang bringing an end to his brief dreams of creating a dynasty.

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Wang Mang

China Wáng Măng (born 45 BC—died 23AD) founder of the Xin dynasty (AD 9–25) and the Usurper during the Han Dynasty