The Peasants Revolt
The new dynasty launched a series of reforms aimed at settling the grievances and resentment felt across the empire. None of the reforms were successful. People resented Wang Mang's evil conducts and cruel suppression, and when natural disasters struck, the bankrupt peasants had nothing left to do but revolt.
Among the first to rise up against the authorities were hungry peasants digging water-chestnuts for food in the wetlands of Jingzhou in AD 17. Under their leader Wang Kuang, the rebels took over Lulin Mountain (today's Dangyang County, Hubei Province), from which they took their name. Before long, the Lulin Rebels gained control over the villages in the vicinity of their base area and within months grew in number to 7,000 to 8,000 soldiers.
The next year saw an uprising ofpeasants under Fan Chong in Juxian County (in today's Shandong Province). The 100,000 insurgents were known as the Red Brow Rebels, owing to the fact that they painted their eyebrows red to distinguish from their enemies in combat.
The government was weak in fighting the insurrection. In one of their encounters, the Lulin Rebels overwhelmed government forces, killing thousands, plundering their supplies and facilities. The rebel forces took advantage of their military success and invaded three counties in Hubei Province, where they set free all the prisoners and opened the government granary to the hungry. Before long the number of rebel soldiers on Lulin Mountain had exceeded 50,000.
In AD 22, Wang Mang commissioned his Prime Minister Wang Kuang and General Lian Dan on a campaign against the Red Brow Rebels. Fan Chong engaged the government forces of 100,000 soldiers in Wuyan, Shandong Province, and destroyed them. Prime Minister Wang Kuang escaped alive with a stab wound in his thigh, while General Lian Dan was killed in the confusion of the battle.
News of the rebel forces defying the government spread far and wide, putting ideas into the heads of desperate peasants elsewhere. Meanwhile, Liu Xiu, a landlord from Chongling, Nanyang (today's Zaoyang County, Hubei Province), built up an army of 7,000 to 8,000 rebels called the Chongling Army. The Chongling Army joined rebel forces from Lulin Mountain and grew even bigger after they defeated several more generals of Emperor Wang Mang. In AD 25, Liu Xiu subdued all opponents and made himself emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), with its capital in Luoyang.