Time: 206B.C.-220 A.D.
Location of Capital: Chang an, in today's Xian, Shannxi Province
Emperors: Han Wudi, Wendi, Jingdi
Replaced by: Three Kingdoms
Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BC – 1 June 195 BC), commonly known within China by his temple name, Gaozu (Chinese: 高祖; pinyin: Gāozǔ, Wade-Giles: Kao Tsu), personal name Liu Bang (Wade-Giles: Liu Pang), was the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC to 195 BC. Liu Bang was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who emerged from the peasant class (another major example being Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty).
In the early stage of his rise to prominence, Liu was addressed as "Duke of Pei", with the "Pei" referring to his hometown of Pei County. He was also granted the title of "King of Han" by Hegemon-King of Western Chu Xiang Yu, when Xiang split the former Qin empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms, and he was known by this title before becoming Emperor of China.
Liu Bang was born in a peasant family in Zhongyang, Fengyi, Pei County (沛縣豐邑中陽里; present-day Feng County, Jiangsu province). His parents' names were not recorded in history and they were referred to as "Liu Taigong" (劉太公; Old Sir Liu) and "Liu Ao" (劉媼; Old Madam Liu). Before Liu Bang's birth, his mother was taking a nap one day when she dreamt of a divine being. Just then, there was lightning and thunder and the sky darkened. Liu's father went to see his wife and saw a dragon beside her. Shortly after that, Liu's mother became pregnant and gave birth to Liu Bang. Liu had a high nose, nice whiskers and a beard, bearing some resemblance to a dragon in appearance. He had 72 dark spots on his left leg as well. The young Liu Bang was outspoken, charismatic and of great forbearance and tolerance.
However, Liu enjoyed loafing, disliked reading and showed no interest in farming, hence his father often chided him as a "little rascal". Liu persisted in his idling ways and depended on his brother's family for food and lodging. When he grew older, he was appointed as a patrol officer and forged close relationships with the officials in the county office, earning himself a little reputation in his hometown. While having drinks with his friends in the local taverns, they would notice a silhouette of a dragon on him whenever he was drunk. The tavern owners felt that Liu Bang was an extraordinary person and provided him with drinks each time free of charge. One day back in his hometown, a respectable man known as Lord Lü, who had recently moved to Pei County, was visited by the most famous men in town.
Xiao He, who was in charge of helping Lord Lü collect the gifts from the visitors, announced, "Those who do not offer more than 1,000 coins in gifts shall be seated outside the hall." Liu Bang went there without bringing a single cent and said, "I offer 10,000 coins." Lord Lü saw Liu Bang and was impressed with Liu on first sight, that he immediately stood up and welcomed Liu into the hall to sit beside him. Xiao He told Lord Lü that Liu was not serious, but Liu ignored him and chatted with Lü. Lü said, "I used to predict fortunes for many people but I've never seen someone so exceptional like you before." Lord Lü then offered his daughter Lü Zhi's hand-in-marriage to Liu Bang and they were wed. Lü Zhi bore Liu Bang a son (future Emperor Hui of Han) and a daughter (future Princess Luyuan).