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The Life of Qin Shi Huang

Post Date: 2020/04/23 17:40
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Qin Shi Huang, Shi Huangti or Shih Huan-ti was the first emperor of a unified China. Shi Huangdi means `First Emperor’ and is a title, not a proper name. The Qin Dynasty he founded (pronounced `Chin’) gave its name to China and it was he who first initiated the building of the Great Wall and construction of the Grand Canal. 

He was born Ying Zheng (also known as Zhao Zheng), ying surname, Zhao family name, first name zheng (once said the name "zheng"), also known as zu long, the son of a dancing girl named Zhao Ji and King Zhuangxiang of Qin. He was the Ancient Chinese statesman, strategist, reformer, the first politician to complete the unification of China, and the first emperor to be called an emperor in China.


How did he come to the throne?
Qin Shi Huang, born as Ying Zheng in 259 BC, was the son of the king of the Qin State. At the age of thirteen, he succeeded his father's regality. Ying Zheng was very aggressive and ambitious at an early age. He assumed full power at 22 by ridding himself of his premier, Lu Buwei, who acted as regent while he was a minor. 

In 246 BC, his father died after a short reign, making Ying Zheng king at the age of 13. Due to his age, Lu Buwei acted as the regent.

In 238 BC there was an attempted coup by Lao Ai, who had a relationship with Zheng’s mother. The coup was unsuccessful and King Zheng had Lao and his extended family executed. After this attempted coup, Ying Zheng assumed full power as King.

The major political issue of the time was the constant fighting between the different Chinese states. But the Qin state was the most powerful, and gradually they succeeded in conquering neighbouring states, expanding their sphere of influence. Since then, ying zheng encountered two assassinations, all ended in failure.

Between 230 and 222, Ying Zheng successfully oversaw the conquest of other Chinese states such as Hann and the northern country of Yan, Wei, and the largest state Chu in 223. The last state to fall was Qi.

In 221 BC, after the first emperor destroyed the six states, the title of the king is not enough to show its business, is called the emperor. Qin Dynasty was one of the world’s first centralised bureaucracy and many aspects of his government influenced later Chinese states.

After the first emperor abolished the feudal system, he established a system of prefectures, counties and bureaucracies from the central government to the local government. Initially divided into 36 counties, later, with the expansion of land to 46 counties, xianyang (qindu district, xianyang city, shaanxi province) was designated as the capital.

In economics, the currency and units of measurement were unified, and a series of transport links were built, such as roads and the impressive Lingqu canal. The Qin script was also standardised. The biggest public works scheme was strengthening the Great Wall of China – an immense defensive work to keep out Xiongnu tribes from the north.

The cultural reform
Qin Shi Huang also sought to unify philosophical thought; he was distrustful of philosophical texts which he feared may undermine his current power. Many books were banned and burnt, with severe penalties for their ownership. It is said 400 scholars were buried alive for holding onto banned books.

The elderly life
Qin Shi Huang is reported to have had 50 children, with many different concubines. There is no record of an Empress.

Towards the end of his reign, Qin Shi Huang became obsessed with finding the elixir of immortality. He ordered many scholars and young men to seek out potions and secrets which would enable him to gain immortality. He even had secret tunnels built under his palace, because he believed travelling in tunnels enabled him to escape the sight of evil spirits.

His most famous legacy is the Emperor’s Mausoleum, which was discovered in 1976. An estimated 16,000 men (probably slaves from captured territories) would have been needed to build the huge edifice and 6,000 life-sized Terracotta warriors.

Character Evaluation
Chairman Mao said: he was a great emperor, despite his political period, cruel means, oppression of slaves. However, the qin dynasty he founded was the most profound emperor in the history of China. No matter it was politics, military, culture and legal system, it was a model for later generations of China?

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