After decades of scheming, a few setbacks and a healthy dose of murder; the Xin dynasty was founded with Wang Mang as it’s first (and only) emperor. After receiving some very convenient heavenly messages suggesting he should be the new emperor, it seemed Wang Mang had the blessings of the gods, and he was going to use every last bit of that good-will to realise his vision of what he wanted China to be.
This vision, it turned out, would be almost that of a communist utopia. He declared that every single person in China would own their own piece of land, and was free to use it to feed themselves (although it would technically still belong to the government, of course). However, with no mass communication, telling the average Chinese citizen this rule change was tricky, and required that the people who’s land was being given away would accept the loss and inform the masses… something that, predictably, not many people did. The very same wealthy and powerful people who refused to pass on that message eventually were able to pressure Wang Mang to rethink this decision anyway, making the whole plan a pretty disappointing failure.
But it didn’t stop there, in an effort to incentivise hard work, or perhaps just save some money; Wang Mang ordered that the budget for each area of the country be decided by how well they produce crops or other wealth. This meant however that if an area suffered a disaster of some kind, the effects would be doubled, as failed crops would be followed by huge budget cuts.
One of these disasters later and suddenly there were a lot of rumours that maybe the gods had turned on Wang Mang… or maybe those messages from the gods weren’t the real deal in the first place.
This combined with the Xin dynasty constantly offending neighbouring countries and regions with their poor diplomacy skills resulted in a lot of angry people and just as many angry armies.
After an extremely flawed 14 years in power, what was left of the Han families came back for their throne and beheaded the emperor.
Who exactly killed Wang Mang is unclear, however, as his attackers (all eager to take credit for the kill) immediately began to attack each too, resulting in 10 of them dying. After some time spent displayed on the city walls, Wang Mang’s head was kept by the Han as a novelty trinket.
Wang Mang was many things, but he wasn’t very creative. When deciding a name for his new dynasty he finally settled on ‘Xin’ (新), which simply means ‘new’. So, perhaps it was destiny that his dynasty would never get the chance to grow old.