The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China

Emperor Chin or Shi Huangdi [246-210 BC], is known as the Tiger of Qin, and the unifier of all China who ruled between 221 and 210 BC. Emperor Qin built much of the Great Wall of China, but is best known in archaeological circles for his legendary tomb. In 1974, workmen discovered the tomb of Shi Huangdi near the city of Xi'an in the modern Shensi province. Among the treasures found there is a marvelous army of terracotta soldiers and horses, consisting of nearly 8,000 life sized individual statues that were sculpted from clay and fired.

Qin Shi Huang conquered all opposing states and unified China in 221 BC, establishing the Qin Dynasty. His intention was to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he ordered the destruction of the wall sections that divided his empire along the former state borders. 

To protect the empire against intrusions by the Xiongnu people from the north, he ordered the building of a new wall to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire's new northern frontier. 

There are no surviving historical records indicating the exact length and course of the Qin Dynasty walls. Most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. 

It is estimated that over 1 million workers died building the wall.

Here is a video about the Great Wall of China, 长城 Cháng chéng=Great Wall

Qin Shi Huang as a Great Reformer – His Achievements

  • Though Qin Shi Huang expected his empire to last forever, Qin Dynasty survived 15 years with two reigns only. However, Qin Shi Huang had the greatest and longest-lasting influence among all rulers in Chinese history.
  • He ordered the unification of Chinese characters, currency, weights and measures, not only benefited economic development and cultural exchanges, but have had a strong and long-lasting influence on China.
  • He was the pioneer in implying legal system in Chinese history.
  • He ordered the construction of road system which eventually played an extremely important role in ancient transportation and economic exchanges.
  • He standardized the length of the axles of carts, so every cart could run smoothly in the ruts of the new roads.
  • He ordered the building and restoration of the Great Wall of China.

Qin Shi Huang as a Tyrant Ruler – His Brutal Ruling

  • Extremely severe penal codes. For example, if one person was guilty, he would be killed along with his family, his extended family as well as his fellow classmates, villagers, teachers, friends and acquaintances.
  • Burden people with endless demands in wars, building of the Great Wall and building of his Mausoleum, Terra Cotta Army, palaces and roads.
  • Burnt almost all classic books, excluding those of medicine, divination and agriculture.
  • Ordered to bury 460 scholars alive.
  • Confiscated all weapons from the general public.
  • Forced people (especially rich people) to migrate to the newly built capital Xianyang (next to Xian).


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