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Liu Bang (刘邦)

Chinese. Name of a commoner and local sheriff in his birthplace of the Han Kingdom, who after the death of China's first Emperor Qin Shi Huang Ti, emerged as the new leader of a unified China and became the first ruler of the Han Dynasty under the name Emperor Han Gao Zu (高祖). When after the demise of Shi Huang Ti, the third and last Qin ruler, Zi Ying (子嬰), in 206 BC unconditionally surrendered to rebel forces, the Qin state began to fall apart into Eighteen Kingdoms that once again began to war among themselves and the chaos from the time before unification returned. When Liu Bang was ordered to bring a group of slaves to the construction site of Shi Huang Ti's tomb, some managed to escape and fearing punishment he decided to also release the other slaves and became a rebel fighting against the Qin Empire instead, with most of the slave joining him out of gratefulness and soon entered the service of a rebel king, fighting what remained of the Qin Empire with Liu Bang showing extraordinary skill on the battlefield, eventually capturing the Qin city of Xianyang for the rebellion and was crowned its king as a reward. The civil wars raged on, full of complicated alliances and rivalries, until finally only two major contending powers remained, i.e. Liu Bang and his rival, rebel leader Xiang Yu (项羽), a nobleman of Chu State. Some of the other kingdoms also waged war among themselves but these were largely insignificant compared to the main conflict between Chu and Han, known as the Chu–Han War. These two warlords by 203 BC divided all the lands of China between them, east and west along the great water course of the Hong Canal, in a treaty known as the Treaty of the Hong Canal. Shortly after, however, as Xiang Yu was retreating eastwards, Liu Bang renounced the treaty and led his forces to attack Western Chu. The war ended in 202 BC with a total Han victory at the Battle of Gaixia, where Xiang Yu fled to Wujiang and committed suicide. Liu Bang subsequently proclaimed himself Emperor and established the Han Dynasty as the ruling dynasty of China. In China, to this day, the two sides of a xiang qi chess board are referred to as Chu and Han, after the Chu–Han Contention.