In the early Han Dynasty, Emperor Liu Bang appointed some people of Liu’s family to various parts of China as the dukes, hoping to remain the country in Liu’s family. Some of the dukes were very powerful; they could have armies in their jurisdiction and had the rights of collecting rents and taxes, forging cash and appointing and removing officials. Later, these dukes were so powerful that they seriously threatened the governance of the central government.
After Emperor Wudi came into power, he allowed these dukes divide their fiefs to their offspring to establish new vassal states. This was called “Decree of Promoting Imperial Beneficence.” When one vassal state was divided into several smaller ones, the direct fief became smaller and the duke would have no power to threat the central government. Later, Emperor Wudi removed the ranks of nobility of many dukes. After long-term struggle, the threats of the vassal states to the central government disappeared and the system of centralization was strengthened.
During the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, the Confucian Dong Zhongshu further expanded the Confucianism in order to meet the demands of political centralization.
First, he announced that the heaven was the master of everything and the emperor was the son of the heavy. The son of the heavy ruled the people on behalf of the heavy. Thus, all the people should be subject to the emperor’s ruling and dukes should also obey the orders of the emperor. This was known as “Great Unification.”
Second, he proposed the suggestion of following only the Confucianism while banning all other thoughts. Confucianism was made the only thought in the country and all other ideologies were forbidden from spreading so as to unify ideology and consolidate political rules.
Emperor Wudi of Han Dynasty adopted Dong Zhongshu’s idea and many Confucianism in the government were promoted to be senior officials and the Confucianism gradually became the ruling ideology of the feudal society.