Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang

Overview
Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), personal name Ying Zheng (嬴政), was king of the Chinese State of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

. He became the first emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 of a unified China in 221 BC. He ruled until his death in 210 BC at the age of 49.

Calling himself the First Emperor (始皇帝) after China's unification, Qin Shi Huang is a pivotal figure in Chinese history, ushering nearly two millennia of imperial rule.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Qin Shi Huang'
Start a new discussion about 'Qin Shi Huang'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Quotations

To have a great peace, the state must be united. The King do what it must to fulfill his responsible as a king.

I have collected all the writings of the Empire and burnt those which were of no use.

Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 15
Encyclopedia
Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), personal name Ying Zheng (嬴政), was king of the Chinese State of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

. He became the first emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 of a unified China in 221 BC. He ruled until his death in 210 BC at the age of 49.

Calling himself the First Emperor (始皇帝) after China's unification, Qin Shi Huang is a pivotal figure in Chinese history, ushering nearly two millennia of imperial rule. After unifying China, he and his chief advisor Li Si
Li Si
Li Si was the influential Prime Minister of the feudal state and later of the dynasty of Qin, between 246 BC and 208 BC. A famous Legalist, he was also a notable calligrapher. Li Si served under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, king of Qin and later First Emperor of China—and his son, Qin Er Shi...

 passed a series of major economic and political reforms. He undertook gigantic projects, including the first version of the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

, the now famous city-sized mausoleum
Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

 guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

, and a massive national road system, all at the expense of numerous lives. To ensure stability, Qin Shi Huang outlawed and burned many books and buried some scholars alive
Burning of books and burying of scholars
Burning of the books and burying of the scholars is a phrase that refers to a policy and a sequence of events in the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 206 BC. During these events, the Hundred Schools of Thought were pruned; legalism survived...

.

Name of Shi Huangdi



Title meaning


During the preceding Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 (700 BCE-221 BCE), later rulers of the independent states of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 by convention used the title “King
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

” . Following his defeat of the last of the Warring States in 221 BC
221 BC
Year 221 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Asina and Rufus/Lepidus...

, King Zheng of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 became de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

ruler of all China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. To celebrate this achievement and consolidate his power base, King Zheng created a new title calling himself the First Sovereign Qin Emperor , often shortened to Qin Shi Huang .
  • The character (始) means “first”. The first emperor's heirs would then be successively called "Second Emperor", "Third Emperor" and so on down the generations.
  • The characters "皇帝" come from the mythical Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors Era  (3rd century BC), from which the two characters (皇帝) are extracted. By adding such a title, Qín Shǐ Huángdì hoped to appropriate some of the previous Yellow Emperor
    Yellow Emperor
    The Yellow Emperor or Huangdi1 is a legendary Chinese sovereign and culture hero, included among the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Tradition holds that he reigned from 2697–2597 or 2696–2598 BC...

    's (黃帝) divine status and prestige.
  • Additionally, the character "Huáng" (皇) literally means "shining" or "splendid" and was "most frequently used as an epithet of Heaven."

Usage


Both names, "Qin Shi Huangdi" (秦始皇帝) and "Qin Shi Huang" (秦始皇), appear in the Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

written by Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

. The longer name "Qin Shi Huangdi" (秦始皇帝) appears first in chapter 5, though the shorter name "Qin Shi Huang" (秦始皇) was the name of chapter 6 (秦始皇本紀). However, the name Qin Shi Huangdi is believed to be the correct one since Ying Zheng joined together the words Huang (Imperial) and Di (ruler), to create Huangdi (emperor).

Family history and birth


A rich merchant in the State of Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

, named Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei , Lord Wenxin 文信侯 was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the State of Qin. He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

, met Master Yiren (公子異人). Lü Buwei's manipulation helped Yiren become King Zhuangxiang of Qin
King Zhuangxiang of Qin
King Zhuangxiang of Qin , personal name Yiren , later renamed to Zichu , was the ruler of the Qin state during the 3rd century BC in the Warring States Period of Chinese history.-Biography:...

. At the time, King Zhuangxiang of Qin was a prince of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 blood, who took residence at the court of the State of Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 as a hostage to guarantee an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 between the two states.

According to the Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

, the first emperor was born in 259 BC as the eldest son of King Zhuangxiang of Qin
King Zhuangxiang of Qin
King Zhuangxiang of Qin , personal name Yiren , later renamed to Zichu , was the ruler of the Qin state during the 3rd century BC in the Warring States Period of Chinese history.-Biography:...

. King Zhuangxiang of Qin saw a concubine belonging to Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei , Lord Wenxin 文信侯 was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the State of Qin. He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

, and she bore the first emperor. At birth, he was given the personal name Zheng (政). Because Zheng was born in Handan
Handan
Handan is a prefecture-level city located in the southwestern part of Hebei Province of China.- History :Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao during the Warring States period , after the capital moved from Zhongmu. The city was conquered by the State of Qin after the virtual annexation of...

, capital of the enemy state of Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 (趙), he thus had the name Zhao Zheng. Zhao Zheng's ancestors are said to have come from Gansu province.

Birth controversy


According to the Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

, written by Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

 during the next dynasty and avowedly hostile to Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor was not the actual son of King Zhuangxiang of Qin. By the time Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei , Lord Wenxin 文信侯 was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the State of Qin. He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

 introduced the dancing girl Zhao Ji (趙姬, or the Concubine from Zhao) to the future King Zhuangxiang of Qin, she was allegedly Lü Buwei's concubine and had already become pregnant by him. According to translations of the Annals of Lü Buwei
Lüshi Chunqiu
The Lüshi Chunqiu is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BCE under the patronage of the Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lü Buwei...

 the woman gave birth to the future emperor in the city of Handan
Handan
Handan is a prefecture-level city located in the southwestern part of Hebei Province of China.- History :Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao during the Warring States period , after the capital moved from Zhongmu. The city was conquered by the State of Qin after the virtual annexation of...

 in 259 BC, the first month of the 48th year of King Zhaoxiang of Qin. The idea that the emperor was an illegitimate child added to the negative view of him for most of the next 2000 years after his death. Today there is skepticism amongst some scholars about this claim as recorded by Sima Qian. There is some inconsistency between the date of birth and the theory of Lü Buwei being the real father of the first emperor. In the view of some scholars, the length of the pregnancy, lasting a full year if the accusation is true, is impossible according to modern medicine. Professors John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel, in their translation of Lü Buwei's Spring and Autumn Annals
Lüshi Chunqiu
The Lüshi Chunqiu is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BCE under the patronage of the Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lü Buwei...

, call the story "patently false, meant both to libel Lü and to cast aspersions on the First Emperor."

Teenage years


In 246 BC, when King Zhuangxiang died after a short reign of just three years, he was succeeded to the throne by his 13-year-old son. At the time, Zhao Zheng was still young, so Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei
Lü Buwei , Lord Wenxin 文信侯 was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the State of Qin. He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China...

 acted as the regent prime minister of the State of Qin , which was still waging war against the other six states
Seven Warring States
The Seven Warring States or Seven Kingdoms refers to the seven warring states in China during the Warring States period of Chinese history...

.

Lao Ai's attempted coup


As King Zheng grew older, Lü Buwei became fearful that the boy king would discover his liaison with his mother Zhao Ji (趙姬). He decided to distance himself and look for a replacement for the queen dowager. He found a man named Lao Ai (嫪毐). According to the Record of Grand Historian, Lao Ai was disguised as a eunuch
Eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

 by plucking his beard. Later Lao Ai and queen Zhao Ji got along so well they secretly had two sons together. Lao Ai then became ennobled as Marquis
Marquis
Marquis is a French and Scottish title of nobility. The English equivalent is Marquess, while in German, it is Markgraf.It may also refer to:Persons:...

 Lao Ai, and was showered with riches. Lü Buwei's plot was supposed to replace King Zheng with one of the hidden sons. But during a dinner party drunken Lao Ai was heard bragging about being the young king's step father. In 238 BC the king was traveling to the ancient capital of Yong
Fengxiang County
Fengxiang County is a county administered by Baoji City, western Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China. The county covers an area of and as of 2004 had a population of 510,000...

 (雍). Lao Ai seized the queen mother's seal and mobilized an army in an attempt to start a coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 and rebel.

A price of 1 million copper coins
Chinese currency
The Renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China . It is the legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong and Macau. It is abbreviated as RMB, and the units for the Renminbi are the Yuan , Jiao , and Fen : 1 Yuan = 10 Jiao = 100 Fen. Fen have almost disappeared, so...

 was placed on Lao Ai's head if he was taken alive or half a million if dead. Lao Ai's supporters were captured and beheaded
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

; then Lao Ai was tied up and torn to five pieces by horse carriages, while his entire family was executed to the third degree. The two hidden sons were also killed, while mother Zhao Ji was placed under house arrest until her death many years later. Lü Buwei drank a cup of poison wine and committed suicide in 235 BC. Ying Zheng then assumed full power as the King of the Qin state. Replacing Lü Buwei, Li Si
Li Si
Li Si was the influential Prime Minister of the feudal state and later of the dynasty of Qin, between 246 BC and 208 BC. A famous Legalist, he was also a notable calligrapher. Li Si served under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, king of Qin and later First Emperor of China—and his son, Qin Er Shi...

 was also now the new chancellor
Chancellor of China
The Chancellor , variously translated as Prime Minister, Chancellor of State, Premier or Chief Councillor, was a generic name given to the highest-ranking official in the imperial government in ancient China...

.

Jing Ke's assassination mission



King Zheng and his troops continued to take over different states. The state of Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 was small, weak and frequently harassed by soldiers. It was no match for the Qin state. So Crown Prince Dan of Yan
Crown Prince Dan of Yan
Crown Prince Dan of Yan was a crown prince of the state of Yan during the Warring States Period in China. Originally a hostage in the State of Qin, he was sent back to Yan in 232 BC. He sent Jing Ke to assassinate Qin Shi Huang, then Emperor of China, but he failed...

 plotted an assassination attempt to get rid of King Zheng, begging Jing Ke
Jing Ke
Jing Ke was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state, who later became China's first emperor...

 to go on the mission in 227 BC. Jing Ke
Jing Ke
Jing Ke was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state, who later became China's first emperor...

 was accompanied by Qin Wuyang
Qin Wuyang
Qin Wuyang was a young man who followed Jing Ke when the latter went on the mission to assassinate Ying Zheng, the king of Qin. Both Jing and Qin were first disguised as envoys from Yan and were there to present the severed head of "Fan Yuqi", a Qin turncoat, and a map of Dukang...

 in the plot. Each was supposed to present a gift to King Zheng, a map of Dukang and the decapitated
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 head of Fan Wuji.

Qin Wuyang first tried to present the map case gift, but trembled in fear and moved no further towards the king. Jing Ke continued to advance toward the king, while explaining that his partner "has never set eyes on the Son of Heaven
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

", which is why he is trembling. Jing Ke had to present both gifts by himself. While unrolling the map, a dagger
Dagger
A dagger is a fighting knife with a sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations...

 was revealed. The king drew back, stood on his feet, but struggled to draw the sword to defend himself. At the time, other palace officials were not allowed to carry weapons. Jing Ke pursued the king, attempting to stab him, but missed. King Zheng drew out his sword and cut Jing Ke's thigh. Jing Ke then threw the dagger, but missed again. Suffering eight wounds from the king's sword, Jing Ke realised his attempt had failed. Both Jing Ke and Qin Wuyang would be killed afterwards. The Yan state was conquered by the Qin state five years later.

Gao Jianli's assassination mission



Gao Jianli was a close friend of Jing Ke
Jing Ke
Jing Ke was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state, who later became China's first emperor...

, who wanted to avenge his death. As a famous lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 player, one day he was summoned by King Zheng to play the instrument. Someone in the palace who had known him in the past exclaimed, "This is Gao Jianli". Unable to bring himself to kill such a skilled musician, the emperor ordered his eyes put out. But the king allowed Gao Jianli to play in his presence. He praised the playing and even allowed Gao Jianli to get closer. As part of the plot, the lute was fastened with a heavy piece of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

. He raised the lute and struck at the king. He missed, and his assassination attempt failed. Gao Jianli was later executed.

First unification of China


In 230 BC, King Zheng unleashed the final campaigns of the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

, setting out to conquer the remaining independent kingdoms, one by one.

The first state to fall was Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

 (韓; sometimes called Hann to distinguish it from the Han 漢 of Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

), in 230 BC. Then Qin took advantage of a natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

, the 229 BC Zhao state earthquake, to invade and conquer Zhao where Qin Shi Huang had been born. He now avenged his poor treatment as a child hostage there, seeking out and killing his enemies.

Qin armies conquered the state of Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 in 228 BC, the northern country of Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 in 226 BC, the small state of Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

 in 225 BC, and the largest state and greatest challenge, Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

, in 223 BC.

In 222 BC, the last remnants of Yan and the royal family were captured in Liaodong in the northeast. The only independent country left was now state of Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

, in the far east, what is now the Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 peninsula. Terrified, the young king of Qi sent 300,000 people to defend his western borders. In 221 BC, the Qin armies invaded from the north, captured the king, and annexed Qi.

For the first time, all of China was unified under one powerful ruler. In that same year, King Zheng proclaimed himself the "First Emperor" (始皇帝), no longer a king in the old sense and now far surpassing the achievements of the old Zhou Dynasty rulers.

In the South, military expansion continued during his reign, with various regions being annexed to what is now Guangdong
Guangdong
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

 province and part of today's Vietnam
Nanyue
Nanyue was an ancient kingdom that consisted of parts of the modern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan and northern Vietnam. Nanyue was established in 204 BC at the final collapse of the Qin Dynasty by Zhao Tuo, who was the military commander of Nanhai Commandery at the time, and...

.

Division and politics



In an attempt to avoid a recurrence of the political chaos of early imperial China, the conquered states were not allowed to be referred to as independent nations. The empire was then divided into 36 commanderies (郡), later more than 40 commanderies. The whole of China was now divided into administrative units: first commanderies, then districts (縣), counties
Townships of the People's Republic of China
Townships formally township level divisions is the basic level of political divisions in China. They are similar to municipalities and communes in other countries and in turn may contain village committees and villages...

 (鄉) and hundred-family units (里). This system was different from the previous dynasties, which had loose alliances and federations. People could no longer be identified by their native region or former feudal state, as when a person from Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

 was called "Chu person" (楚人). Appointments were now based on merit instead of hereditary rights.

Economy


Qin Shi Huang and Li Si
Li Si
Li Si was the influential Prime Minister of the feudal state and later of the dynasty of Qin, between 246 BC and 208 BC. A famous Legalist, he was also a notable calligrapher. Li Si served under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, king of Qin and later First Emperor of China—and his son, Qin Er Shi...

 unified China economically by standardizing the Chinese units of measurement
Chinese units of measurement
Chinese units of measurement are the customary and traditional units of measure used in China. In the People's Republic of China, the units were re-standardised during the late 20th century to make them approximate SI units. Many of the units were formerly based on the number 16 instead of 10...

s such as weights and measures
Units of measurement
A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude of a physical quantity, defined and adopted by convention and/or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same physical quantity. Any other value of the physical quantity can be expressed as a simple multiple of the unit of...

, the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

, the length of the axle
Axle
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to its surroundings, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle...

s of cart
Cart
A cart is a vehicle designed for transport, using two wheels and normally pulled by one or a pair of draught animals. A handcart is pulled or pushed by one or more people...

s to facilitate transport on the road system. The emperor also developed an extensive network of roads and canals connecting the provinces to improve trade between them. The currency of the different states were also standardized to the Ban liang coin
Banliang
The banliang was the first unified currency of the Chinese empire, introduced by the first emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BCE. It was round with a square hole in the middle...

 (半兩). Perhaps most importantly, the Chinese script
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 was unified. Under Li Si, the seal script
Seal script
Seal script is an ancient style of Chinese calligraphy. It evolved organically out of the Zhōu dynasty script , arising in the Warring State of Qin...

 of the state of Qin was standardized through removal of variant forms within the Qin script itself. This newly standardized script was then made official throughout all the conquered regions, thus doing away with all the regional scripts to form one language, one communication system for all of China.

Identification


Qin Shi Huang also followed the school of the five elements, earth, wood, metal, fire and water. It was believed that the royal house of the previous dynasty Zhou
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 had ruled by the power of fire, which was the color red. The new Qin dynasty must be ruled by the next element on the list, which is water, represented by the color black. Black became the color for garments, flags, pennants. Other associations include north as the cardinal direction
Cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...

, winter season and the number six. Tallies and official hats were six inches long, carriages six feet wide, one pace
Chinese units of measurement
Chinese units of measurement are the customary and traditional units of measure used in China. In the People's Republic of China, the units were re-standardised during the late 20th century to make them approximate SI units. Many of the units were formerly based on the number 16 instead of 10...

 (步) was 6 ft (1.8 m).

Zhang Liang's assassination attempt



In 230 BC, the state of Qin had defeated the state of Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

. A Han aristocrat named Zhang Liang swore revenge on the Qin emperor. He sold all his valuables and in 218 BC, he hired a strongman
Strongman (strength athlete)
In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength or circus performers of similar ilk who displayed feats of strength such as the bent press , supporting large amounts of...

 assassin and built him a heavy metal cone weighing 120 jin
Catty
The catty , symbol 斤, is a traditional Chinese unit of mass used across East and Southeast Asia, notably for weighing food and other groceries in some wet markets, street markets, and shops. Related units include the picul, equal to 100 catties, and the tael, which is of a catty. A stone is a...

 (roughly 160 lb or 97 kg). The two men hid among the bushes along the emperor's route over a mountain. At a signal, the muscular assassin hurled the cone at the first carriage and shattered it. However, the emperor was actually in the second carriage, as he was traveling with two identical carriages for this very reason. Thus the attempt failed. Both men were able to escape in spite of a huge manhunt.

North: Great wall



The Qin fought nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic tribes to the north and northwest. The Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

 tribes were not defeated and subdued, thus the campaign was tiring and unsuccessful, and to prevent the Xiongnu from encroaching on the northern frontier any longer, the emperor ordered the construction of an immense defensive wall. This wall, for whose construction hundreds of thousands of men were mobilized, and an unknown number died, is a precursor to the current Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

. It connected numerous state walls which had been built during the previous four centuries, a network of small walls linking river defenses to impassable cliffs. A great monument of China to this day, the Great Wall still stands, open to the public to challenge its million steps.

South: Lingqu canal



A famous South China quotation was "In the North there is the Great wall, in the South there is the Lingqu canal" (北有長城、南有靈渠). In 214 BC the Emperor began the project of a major canal to transport supplies to the army. The canal allows water transport between north and south China. The canal, 34 kilometers
Kilometre
The kilometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres and is therefore exactly equal to the distance travelled by light in free space in of a second...

 in length, links the Xiang River
Xiang River
The Xiang River , in older transliterations as the Siang River or Hsiang River, is a river in southern China...

 which flows into the Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 and the Li Jiang
Lijiang River
The Li River or Lijiang River is a river in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China.-Background:The Li River originates in the Mao'er Mountains in Xing'an County and flows in the general southern direction through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle....

, which flows into the Pearl River
Pearl River (China)
The Pearl River or less commonly, the "Guangdong River" or "Canton River" etc., , is an extensive river system in southern China. The name Pearl River is usually used as a catchment term to refer to the watersheds of the Xi Jiang , the Bei Jiang , and the Dong Jiang...

. The canal connected two of China's major waterways and aided Qin's expansion into the southwest. The construction is considered one of the three great feats of Ancient Chinese engineering, the others being the Great Wall and the Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan is an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Min River in Sichuan province, China, near the capital Chengdu. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region...

.

End of hundred schools of thought


While the previous Warring States era was one of constant warfare, it was also considered the golden age of free thought. Qin Shi Huang eliminated the Hundred Schools of Thought
Hundred Schools of Thought
The Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophers and schools that flourished from 770 to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period , an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China...

 which incorporated Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and other philosophies. After the unification of China, with all other schools of thought banned, legalism
Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
In Chinese history, Legalism was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was invented in the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought....

 became the endorsed ideology of the Qin dynasty. Legalism was basically a system that required the people to follow the laws or be punished accordingly.

Book burning period


Beginning in 213 BC, at the instigation of Li Si and to avoid scholars' comparisons of his reign with the past, Qin Shi Huang ordered most existing books to be burned with the exception of those on astrology, agriculture, medicine, divination, and the history of the State of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

. This would also serve the purpose of furthering the ongoing reformation of the writing system by removing examples of obsolete scripts. Owning the Book of Songs or the Classic of History
Classic of History
The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient history of China. It is also commonly known as the Shàngshū , or simply Shū...

was to be punished especially severely. According to the later Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

, the following year Qin Shi Huang had some 460 scholars buried alive for owning the forbidden books. The emperor's oldest son Fusu
Fusu
Fusu was the first son of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and hence the heir apparent. He believed that society would be impeccably run if everyone shared perfect knowledge ....

 criticised him for this act. The emperor's own library still had copies of the forbidden books but most of these were destroyed later when Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

 burned the palaces of Xianyang in 206 BC.

Other achievements


After the unification, Qin Shi Huang moved out of Xianyang palace (咸陽宮), and began building the gigantic Epang palace (阿房宫) south of the Wei river
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

, Epang is the most loved concubine of Qin Shi Huang. Other achievements such as the 12 bronze colossi
12 Jin Ren
12 Jin Ren were 12 huge bronze Colossi made by the order of Shihuangdi, the first Emperor of China, by collecting the weapons and casting them, after he had conquered the other six states....

 were also made from the melted-down collected weapons.

Elixir of life


Later in his life, Qin Shi Huang feared death and desperately sought the fabled elixir of life
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

, which would supposedly allow him to live forever. He was obsessed with acquiring immortality and fell prey to many who offered him supposed elixirs. He visited Zhifu Island
Zhifu Island
Zhifu Island or North Island , is an islet with historical significance in Shandong Province, China. The name of the islet Chefoo was generalized to mean the entire Yantai region in older western literature.* Area: 11.5 km²* Coast line: 22.5 km...

 three times in order to achieve immortality.
In one case he sent Xu Fu
Xu Fu
Xú Fú ; was born in 255 BC in Qi, and served as a court sorcerer in Qin Dynasty China. He was sent by Qin Shi Huang to the eastern seas twice to look for the elixir of life. His two journeys occurred between 219 BC and 210 BC. It was believed that the fleet included 60 barques and around 5,000 crew...

, a Zhifu islander, with ships carrying hundreds of young men and women in search of the mystical Penglai mountain. They were sent to find Anqi Sheng
Anqi Sheng
Anqi Sheng was a legendary Chinese immortal, said to be already 1,000 years old at the time of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor.He was said to inhabit Mount Penglai. Anqi appears to have been a magician, and possessed the power of rendering himself visible or invisible at pleasure...

, a 1,000-year-old magician whom Qin Shi Huang had supposedly met in his travels and who had invited him to seek him there. These people never returned, perhaps because they knew that if they returned without the promised elixir, they would surely be executed. Legends claim that they reached Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and colonized it. It is also possible that the book burning, a purge on what could be seen as wasteful and useless literature, was, in part, an attempt to focus the minds of the Emperor's best scholars on the alchemical quest. Some of the executed scholars were those who had been unable to offer any evidence of their supernatural schemes. This may have been the ultimate means of testing their abilities: if any of them had magic powers, then they would surely come back to life when they were let out again.
Since the great emperor was afraid of death and, "evil spirits", he had workers build a series of tunnels and passage ways to each of his palaces (over 200 were owned by him), because these would keep him safe from the evil spirits, as he traveled unseen.

Death


In 211 BC a large meteor
METEOR
METEOR is a metric for the evaluation of machine translation output. The metric is based on the harmonic mean of unigram precision and recall, with recall weighted higher than precision...

 is said to have fallen in Dongjun (東郡) in the lower reaches of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

. On it, an unknown person inscribed the words "The First Emperor will die and his land will be divided." When the emperor heard of this, he sent an imperial secretary to investigate this prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

. No one would confess to the deed, so all the people living nearby were put to death. The stone was then burned and pulverized.

The emperor died during one of his tours of Eastern China, on September 10, 210 BC (Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

) at the palace in Shaqiu prefecture
Prefecture
A prefecture is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.-Antiquity:...

 (沙丘平台), about two months away by road from the capital Xianyang
Xianyang
Xianyang is a former capital of China in Shaanxi province, on the Wei River, a few kilometers upstream from Xi'an. It has an area of...

. Reportedly, he died due to ingesting mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

 pills, made by his court scientists and doctors. Ironically, these pills were meant to make Qin Shi Huang immortal.

After the emperor's death Prime Minister Li Si, who accompanied him, became extremely worried that the news of his death could trigger a general uprising in the empire. It would take two months for the government to reach the capital, and it would not be possible to stop the uprising. Li Si decided to hide the death of the emperor, and return to Xianyang. Most of the imperial entourage accompanying the emperor was left ignorant of the emperor's death; only a younger son, Ying Huhai, who was traveling with his father, the eunuch Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao was the chief eunuch during the Qin Dynasty of China. He played an instrumental role in the downfall of the Qin Dynasty.- Early life :...

, Li Si, and five or six favorite eunuchs knew of the death. Li Si also ordered that two carts containing rotten fish be carried immediately before and after the wagon of the emperor. The idea behind this was to prevent people from noticing the foul smell emanating from the wagon of the emperor, where his body was starting to decompose severely as it was summertime. They also pulled down the shade so no one could see his face, changed his clothes daily, brought food and when he had to have important conversations they would act as if he wanted to send them a message.

Second emperor conspiracy


Eventually, after about two months, Li Si and the imperial court reached Xianyang, where the news of the death of the emperor was announced. Qin Shi Huang did not like to talk about his own death and he had never written a will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

. After his death, the eldest son Fusu
Fusu
Fusu was the first son of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and hence the heir apparent. He believed that society would be impeccably run if everyone shared perfect knowledge ....

 would normally become the next emperor.

Li Si and the chief eunuch
Eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

 Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao was the chief eunuch during the Qin Dynasty of China. He played an instrumental role in the downfall of the Qin Dynasty.- Early life :...

 conspired to kill Fusu because Fusu's favorite general was Meng Tian
Meng Tian
Meng Tian was a general of the Qin Dynasty who distinguished himself in campaigns against the Xiongnu and in the construction of the Great Wall of China. He was the elder brother of Meng Yi. He descended from a great line of military generals and architects...

, whom they disliked and feared; Meng Tian's brother, a senior minister, had once punished Zhao Gao. They believed that if Fusu was enthroned, they would lose their power. Li Si and Zhao Gao forged a letter from Qin Shi Huang saying that both Fusu and General Meng must commit suicide. The plan worked, and the younger son Huhai became the Second Emperor, later known as Qin Er Shi
Qin Er Shi
Qin Er Shi , literally Second Emperor of Qin Dynasty, personal name Huhai, was emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China from 210 BC until 207 BC.-Name:...

 or "Second Generation Qin."

Qin Er Shi, however, was not as capable as his father. Revolts quickly erupted. His reign was a time of extreme civil unrest, and everything built by the First Emperor crumbled away within a short period. One of the immediate revolt attempts was the 209 BC Daze Village Uprising led by Chen Sheng
Chen Sheng
Chen Sheng , also known in some sources as Chen She , was the leader of the first rebellion, known as Daze Village Uprising, against the Qin Dynasty during the reign of Qin Er Shi.-Start of the rebellion:...

 and Wu Guang
Wu Guang
Wu Guang was a leader of the first rebellion against Qin Dynasty during the reign of Qin Er Shi, following the death of Qin Shi Huang. Less is known about him than Chen Sheng.-Biography:Wu was born in Yangxia...

.

Mausoleum of the First emperor


The Chinese historian Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

, writing a century after the First emperor's death, wrote that it took 700,000 men to construct it. The British historian John Man points out that this figure is larger than any city of the world at that time and calculates that the foundations could have been built by 16,000 men in two years. While Sima Qian never mentioned the terracotta army, the statues were discovered by a group of farmers digging wells on March 29, 1974. The soldiers were created with a series of mix-and-match clay molds and then further individualized by the artists' hand. Han Purple was also used on some of the warriors.

Qin Shi Huang's tomb


One of the first projects the young king accomplished while he was alive was the construction of his own tomb. In 215 BC Qin Shi Huang ordered General Meng Tian
Meng Tian
Meng Tian was a general of the Qin Dynasty who distinguished himself in campaigns against the Xiongnu and in the construction of the Great Wall of China. He was the elder brother of Meng Yi. He descended from a great line of military generals and architects...

 with 300,000 men to begin construction. Other sources suggested he ordered 720,000 unpaid laborers to build his tomb to specification. Again, given John Man's observation regarding populations of the time (see paragraph above), these historical estimates are debatable. The main tomb (located at 34°22′52.75"N 109°15′13.06"E) containing the emperor has yet to be opened and there is evidence suggesting that it remains relatively intact. Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

's description of the tomb includes replicas of palaces and scenic towers, "rare utensils and wonderful objects", 100 rivers made with mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

, representations of "the heavenly bodies
Astronomical object
Astronomical objects or celestial objects are naturally occurring physical entities, associations or structures that current science has demonstrated to exist in the observable universe. The term astronomical object is sometimes used interchangeably with astronomical body...

", and crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

s rigged to shoot anyone who tried to break in. The tomb was built on Li Mountain, which is only 30 kilometers away from Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

. Modern archaeologists have located the tomb, and have inserted probes deep into it. The probes revealed abnormally high quantities of mercury, some 100 times the naturally occurring rate, suggesting that some parts of the legend are credible. Secrets were maintained, as most of the workmen who built the tomb were killed.

Family of Qin Shi Huang



The following are some family members of Qin Shi Huang:
  • Parents
    • King Zhuangxiang of Qin
    • Lady Zhao
  • Half siblings:
    • Chengjiao, Lord of Chang'an
    • Two half-brothers born to Lady Zhao and Lao Ai
  • Children:
    • Fusu
      Fusu
      Fusu was the first son of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and hence the heir apparent. He believed that society would be impeccably run if everyone shared perfect knowledge ....

      , Crown Prince
    • Gao
    • Jianglü
    • Huhai
      Qin Er Shi
      Qin Er Shi , literally Second Emperor of Qin Dynasty, personal name Huhai, was emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China from 210 BC until 207 BC.-Name:...

      , later Qin Er Shi
      Qin Er Shi
      Qin Er Shi , literally Second Emperor of Qin Dynasty, personal name Huhai, was emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China from 210 BC until 207 BC.-Name:...



Qin Shi Huang had about 28 children, but most of their names are unknown. He had numerous concubines
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

.

Historiography of Qin Shi Huang



In traditional Chinese historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

, the First Emperor of the Chinese unified states was almost always portrayed as a brutal tyrant who had obsessive fear of assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. Ideological antipathy towards the Legalist State of Qin was established as early as 266 BC, when Confucian philosopher Xun Zi
Xun Zi
Xun Zi was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States Period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought. Xun Zi believed man's inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, counter to Mencius's view that man is innately good...

 disparaged it. Later Confucian historians condemned the emperor who had burned the classics and buried Confucian scholars alive. They eventually compiled a list of the Ten Crimes of Qin
Ten Crimes of Qin
Confucian historians condemned the emperor Qin Shi Huang in the Ten Crimes of Qin, a list that was compiled to highlight his tyrannical actions. The famous Han poet and statesman Jia Yi concluded his essay The Faults of Qin with what was to become the standard Confucian judgment of the reasons for...

to highlight his tyrannical actions.

The famous Han poet and statesman Jia Yi
Jia Yi
Jia Yi was a Chinese poet and statesman of the Han Dynasty.- Life:Jia Yi was born in 201 BCE in Luoyang....

 concluded his essay The Faults of Qin (過秦論) with what was to become the standard Confucian judgment of the reasons for Qin's collapse. Jia Yi's essay, admired as a masterpiece of rhetoric and reasoning, was copied into two great Han histories and has had a far-reaching influence on Chinese political thought as a classic illustration of Confucian theory. He attributed Qin's disintegration to its failure to display humanity and righteousness or to realise that there is a difference between the power to attack and the power to consolidate.

In more modern times, historical assessment of the First Emperor different from traditional Chinese historiography began to emerge. The reassessment was spurred on by weakness of China in the latter half of 19th century and early 20th century, and Confucian traditions at that time began to be seen by some as an impediment to China's entry into the modern world, opening the way for changing perspectives.

At a time when Chinese territory was encroached upon by foreign nations, leading Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 historian Xiao Yishan emphasized the role of Qin Shi Huang in repulsing the northern barbarians, particularly in the construction of the Great Wall.

Another historian, Ma Feibai (馬非百), published in 1941 a full-length revisionist
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 biography of the First Emperor entitled Qin Shi Huangdi Zhuan (秦始皇帝傳), calling him "one of the great heroes of Chinese history". Ma compared him with the contemporary leader Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 and saw many parallels in the careers and policies of the two men, both of whom he admired. Chiang's Northern Expedition of the late 1920s, which directly preceded the new Nationalist government at Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 was compared to the unification brought about by Qin Shi Huang.
With the coming of the Communist Revolution
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 in 1949, new interpretations again surfaced. The establishment of the new, revolutionary regime prompted another re-evaluation of the First Emperor, this time in accordance with Maoist
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

 thought. The new interpretation given of Qin Shi Huang was generally a combination of traditional and modern views, but essentially critical. This is exemplified in the Complete History of China, which was compiled in September 1955 as an official survey of Chinese history. The work described the First Emperor's major steps toward unification and standardisation as corresponding to the interests of the ruling group and the merchant
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

 class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, not the nation or the people, and the subsequent fall of his dynasty as a manifestation of the class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

. The perennial debate about the fall of the Qin Dynasty was also explained in Marxist terms, the peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

 rebellions being a revolt against oppression – a revolt which undermined the dynasty, but which was bound to fail because of a compromise with "landlord
Landlord
A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, or real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant . When a juristic person is in this position, the term landlord is used. Other terms include lessor and owner...

 class elements".

Since 1972, however, a radically different official view of Qin Shi Huang has been given prominence throughout China. The re-evaluation was initiated by Hong Shidi's biography Qin Shi Huang. The work was published by the state press as a mass popular history, and it sold 1.85 million copies within two years. In the new era, Qin Shi Huang was seen as a farsighted ruler who destroyed the forces of division and established the first unified, centralized state in Chinese history by rejecting the past. Personal attributes, such as his quest for immortality, so emphasized in traditional historiography, were scarcely mentioned. The new evaluations described how, in his time (an era of great political and social change), he had no compunctions against using violent methods to crush counter-revolutionaries, such as the "industrial and commercial slave owner" chancellor Lü Buwei. However, he was criticized for not being as thorough as he should have been, and as a result, after his death, hidden subversives under the leadership of the chief eunuch Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao
Zhao Gao was the chief eunuch during the Qin Dynasty of China. He played an instrumental role in the downfall of the Qin Dynasty.- Early life :...

 was able to seized power and used it to restore the old feudal order.

To round out this re-evaluation, a new interpretation of the precipitous collapse of the Qin Dynasty was put forward in an article entitled "On the Class Struggle During the Period Between Qin and Han" by Luo Siding, in a 1974 issue of Red Flag, to replace the old explanation. The new theory claimed that the cause of the fall of Qin lay in the lack of thoroughness of Qin Shi Huang's "dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 over the reactionaries, even to the extent of permitting them to worm their way into organs of political authority and usurp important posts."

Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

, chairman of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, was reviled for his persecution of intellectuals. On being compared to the First Emperor, Mao responded: "He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive... You [intellectuals] revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold."

Works of Fiction

  • During the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

    , the play Song of the Yi River was produced. The play was based on the attempted assassination of the king by Jing Ke. In the play, Ying Zheng was portrayed as a cruel tyrant and an aggressor and invader of other states. In contrast, Jing Ke was a chivalrous
    Chivalry
    Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

     warrior who said that "tens of thousands of injured people are all my comrades." A huge newspaper ad for this play proclaimed: "Invasion will definitely end in defeat; peace must be won at a price." The play portrayed an underdog fighting against a cruel, powerful foreign invader with help from a sympathetic foreign volunteer.

  • Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

     (1899–1986), the Argentine
    Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

     writer, wrote an acclaimed essay on Qin Shi Huang, "The Wall and the Books" ("") in the 1952 collection Other Inquisitions (). It muses on the opposition between large-scale construction of the Great Wall and destruction book-burning that defined his reign.

  • The 1956 book Lord of the East is a historical romance about the favorite daughter of Qin Shi Huang, who runs away with her lover. The story uses Qin Shi Huang to create the barrier for the young couple.

  • The 1984 book Bridge of Birds
    Bridge of Birds
    Bridge of Birds is a fantasy novel by Barry Hughart, first published in 1984. It is the first of three novels in the The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox series...

    (by Barry Hughart
    Barry Hughart
    Barry Hughart in Peoria, Illinois, is an American author of fantasy novels.- Background :Hughart was born in Peoria, Illinois on March 13, 1934. His father, John Harding Page, served as a naval officer. His mother, Veronica Hughart, was an architect.Hughart was educated at Phillips Academy...

    ) portrays Qin Shi Huang as a power-hungry megalomaniac who achieved immortality by having his heart removed by an "Old Man of the mountain".

  • The Chinese Emperor, by Jean Levi, appeared in 1984. This work of historical fiction
    Historical fiction
    Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional...

     moves from discussions of politics and law in the Qin state to an exploration of Qin Shi Huang's psychology, in which his terracotta army were actually automata
    Automata
    Automata is the plural form of automaton, a self-operating machine. It may also refer to:* "Automata", a short story by E. T. A. Hoffmann* "Automata", a hardboiled science fiction crime series by Penny Arcade...

     created to replace fallible humans.

  • In the 1985 Contact (novel)
    Contact (novel)
    Contact is a science fiction novel written by Carl Sagan and published in 1985. It deals with the theme of contact between humanity and a more technologically advanced, extraterrestrial life form. It ranked No. 7 on the 1985 U.S. bestseller list....

    (by Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

    ), the character Xi Qiaomu—who had been involved in excavations of the tomb of Emperor Qin during the Cultural Revolution—is visited by a personified alien in the form of the Emperor Qin.

  • In the Area 51
    Area 51 novels
    The Area 51 novels are a series of science fiction novels by American author Robert Mayer, under the pseudonym Robert Doherty.-Plot:In the opening book of the series, it is revealed that in the late 1940s, two flying saucers and a mile long spacecraft with an interstellar drive were discovered in...

    book series, Qin Shi Huang is revealed to be an alien exile stranded on Earth during an interstellar civil war. The Great Wall is actually designed to display the symbol for 'help' in his language, and he orders it built in the hope that a passing spaceship would notice it and rescue him.

  • In Hydra's Ring, the 39th novel in the Outlanders
    Outlanders
    Outlanders is a long-running series of science-fiction novels created by Mark Ellis and published by Gold Eagle, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises.- Plot :...

    series, Qin Shi Huang is revealed to be still alive in the early 23rd century through extraterrestrial nano-technology that has bestowed a form of immortality.

  • In the Magic Tree House book series, one book is titled Day of the Dragon King, named for Qin Shi Huangdi.

  • Ten Dragon Tails by Candy Taylor Tutt contains "The Wall", a historical fiction short story based on the building of the Great Wall.

  • Emperor!: A Romance of Ancient China by Lanny Fields centers around Qin Shi Huang and a former Roman soldier named Marcus Lucius Scipio, whom Qin Shi Huang befriends after Marcus Scipio saves his life on multiple occasions. This fictional account is told through the eyes of the historian Sima Qian, who writes about Marcus Scipio after he travels from Rome to China.

  • In Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times, the wizard, Rincewind, discovers a suit of armor owned by a previous emperor which gives him control of a terracotta army. As with most of Pratchett's Discworld series, this book is a play on a real-world concept. In this case, the model is Emperor Qin Shi Huang's cultural impact on modern-day China.

  • The Tiger Warrior by David Gibbins (Bantam; June 2009) weaves in the history of Qin Shi Huang and his quest for immortality with Roman legionnaires, Indian tribes, Victorian-era British soldiers and a modern archaeological-adventure story.

  • In the Wraith: the Oblivion
    Wraith: The Oblivion
    Wraith: The Oblivion is a role-playing game set in the afterlife of White Wolf Game Studio's World of Darkness. In the game, players take on characters who are recently dead and are now ghosts...

     roleplaying game books, the ghost of "Qin Shihuang" continues to rule despotically over the afterlife of China to this day, assisted by an army of nigh-invincible ghost soldiers based on the terracotta army.

Films

  • Shin No Shikoutei (1963) - The film portrays Qin Shi Huang as a battle-hardened emperor with his roots in the military. Despite his rank, Qin Shi Huang is shown lounging around a campfire with common men. A female character, Lady Chu, serves as a foil who questions whether Qin Shi Huang's cause is just. Qin Shi Huang converts her from an enemy to a loyal concubine.

  • Big Trouble in Little China
    Big Trouble in Little China
    Big Trouble in Little China is a 1986 American martial arts comedy film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi rescue Wang's green-eyed fiancee from bandits in San Francisco's Chinatown...

    (1986) - The film mentions Qin Shi Huang's name twice as the person who imposed the curse of no flesh on Lopan in 272 BC.

  • The Emperor's Shadow
    The Emperor's Shadow
    The Emperor's Shadow is a 1996 Chinese historical film directed by Zhou Xiaowen and starring Jiang Wen, Ge You, Xu Qing and Ge Zhijun. It was the most expensive Chinese film produced at the time of its release.-Plot:...

    (1996) - The film focuses on Qin Shi Huang's relationship with the musician Gao Jianli
    Gao Jianli
    Gao Jianli was a citizen of Yan, a Chinese state during the Warring States Period, and a player of the zhu . After Jing Ke was killed in his assassination attempt on Qin Shi Huang, Gao changed his name and became an assistant in a wine shop as Qin Shi Huang retaliated against all friends of Jing Ke...

    , a friend of the assassin Jing Ke
    Jing Ke
    Jing Ke was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state, who later became China's first emperor...

    . Gao played the Song of Yishui for Jing Ke before the latter embarked on his assassination mission.

  • The Emperor and the Assassin
    The Emperor and the Assassin
    The Emperor and the Assassin, also known as The First Emperor, is a 1998 Chinese historical romance film based primarily on Jing Ke's assassination attempt on the King of Qin, as described in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. The film was directed by Chen Kaige and stars Gong Li, Zhang...

    (1999) - The film centers on the identity of Qin Shi Huang's father, his supposed heartless treatment of his officials, and a betrayal by his childhood lover, paving the way for Jing Ke's assassination attempt. Director Chen Kaige
    Chen Kaige
    Chen Kaige is a Chinese film director and a leading figure of the fifth generation of Chinese cinema. His films are known for their visual flair and epic storytelling.-Early life:...

     sought to question whether Qin Shi Huang's motives were meritorious. A major theme in this film is the conflict between Qin Shi Huang's dedication to his vows and to his lover, Lady Zhao.

  • Hero
    Hero (2002 film)
    Hero is a 2002 wuxia film directed by Zhang Yimou. Starring Jet Li as the nameless protagonist, the film is based on the story of Jing Ke's assassination attempt on the King of Qin in 227 BC....

    (2002) - The film starred Jet Li
    Jet Li
    The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce...

    , a nameless assassin who plans an assassination attempt on the King of Qin (Chen Daoming
    Chen Daoming
    Chen Daoming is a famous Chinese actor known for his flexibility and longevity. He has been branded the Emperor of Chinese drama, having starred in all types of dramas and films....

    ). Both the king and the assassin may be references to Qin Shi Huang and Jing Ke respectively.

  • The Myth (2005) - The film starred Jackie Chan
    Jackie Chan
    Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE is a Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts...

     as Meng Yi
    Meng Yi
    Meng Yi was a minister who served Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, during the Qin Dynasty.-Biography:Meng Yi was the younger brother of the general Meng Tian. During the later years of Qin Shi Huang's reign, he became the closest and most trusted of the emperor's advisors...

    , a military general serving under Qin Shi Huang. Meng is reincarnated into the present-day as an archaeologist. Kim Hee-sun co-starred as a Korean princess who was forced to marry the emperor.

  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
    The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
    The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a 2008 American action adventure film and sequel to The Mummy and The Mummy Returns . The film stars Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Luke Ford, and Jet Li, and was released on August 1, 2008 in the United States...

    (2008) - The film starred Jet Li
    Jet Li
    The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce...

    , the resurrected mummy called the "Han Emperor" and may be a reference to Qin Shi Huang. The emperor's role is highly fictionalised as he possesses magical powers.

Television

  • Rise of the Great Wall
    Rise of the Great Wall
    Rise of the Great Wall is a 1986 Hong Kong television series based on the biography of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China and founder of the Qin Dynasty...

    (1986) - a 63 episode TV series chronicling the events from the emperor's birth until his death. It was produced by Hong Kong's ATV
    Asia Television Limited
    Asia Television Limited is one of the two free-to-air television broadcasters in Hong Kong, the other being rival Television Broadcasts Limited . It launched in 1957 under the name Rediffusion Television as the first television station in Hong Kong...

    . The lyrics of the opening theme song summarized most of the story: "The land shall be under my foot; nobody shall be equal to me."

  • Histeria!
    Histeria!
    Histeria! is a 1998 American animated series created by Tom Ruegger and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Unlike other animated series produced by Warner Bros. in the 1990s, Histeria! stood out as the most explicit edutainment program in order to meet FCC requirements for...

    (1998–1999) - an animated series. Pepper Mills wants Shi Huang Di's autograph, thinking he was Scooby Doo.

  • The Not-So-Great Wall Of China (1999) - one of the episodes of History Bites
    History Bites
    History Bites was a television series on the History Television network that ran from 1998-2003. Created by Rick Green, History Bites explored what would be on television if the medium had been around for the last 5,000 years of human history. Typically, a significant historical event was chosen...

    . Bob Bainborough
    Bob Bainborough
    Bob Bainborough is a Canadian actor. He is known for playing the role of Dalton Humphrey in the Canadian comedy series The Red Green Show, and appearances on History Bites...

     played Qin Shi Huang.

  • My Date with a Vampire
    My Date with a Vampire
    My Date with a Vampire is a 1998 Hong Kong television series produced by ATV. It was followed by My Date with a Vampire II and My Date with a Vampire III . The drama starred Eric Wan and Joey Meng in the leading roles. The plot is based on future events of the story in Vampire Expert, a similar...

     II
    (1999) - a Hong Kong supernatural-fantasy TV series. There is a flashback scene showing Qin Shi Huang being deceived into believing that turning into a vampire is the key to attaining immortality.

  • A Step into the Past
    A Step Into The Past
    A Step into the Past is a 2001 Hong Kong historical-science fiction television series produced by TVB and based on Huang Yi's novel of the same Chinese title. The series tells the story of a 21st century Hong Kong VIPPU officer who travels back in time to the Warring States Period of ancient China...

    (2001) - a Hong Kong TVB
    Television Broadcasts Limited
    Television Broadcasts Limited, commonly known as TVB, is the second over-the-air commercial television station in Hong Kong. It commenced broadcasting on 19 November 1967...

     production based on a science fiction
    Science fiction
    Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

     novel by Huang Yi
    Huang Yi
    Huang Zuqiang , better known by his pen name Huang Yi , is a Hong Kong writer of wuxia and science fiction novels. He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and once worked as the Assistant Chairperson of Hong Kong Museum of Art.In the 1990s, after its...

    . It starred Raymond Lam
    Raymond Lam
    Raymond Lam Fung is a Hong Kong actor and singer contracted to the television station TVB and EEG's Music Plus label. He has been famous with his "choking" look.-Early years:Raymond Lam was born into a wealthy family...

     as Zhao Pan, a man of the Zhao state
    Zhao (state)
    Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

     who took on his new identity of Ying Zheng and rose to power as Qin Shi Huang. He is assisted by Xiang Shaolong, a time travel
    Time travel
    Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

    ler from the 21st century.

  • Qin Shi Huang
    Qin Shi Huang (2001 TV series)
    Qin Shi Huang is a Chinese television series based on the life story of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor who unified China under the Qin Dynasty. The series was filmed between 1999 and 2000 and was first released in 2001 in Hong Kong and Thailand, and in 2002 in Singapore...

    (2002) - a mainland Chinese TV series production. It features a semi-fictionalized story of the emperor's life, from his childhood until his death. Zhang Fengyi
    Zhang Fengyi
    Zhang Fengyi is a Chinese actor most famous for his role in Farewell My Concubine, as a Chinese stage actor dealing with China's changing political climate and the affections of his singing partner...

     starred as Qin Shi Huang.

  • Martin Mystery
    Martin Mystery
    Martin Mystery may refer to:*Martin Mystère, an Italian comic book published in the U.S. as Martin Mystery*Martin Mystery, a television animation series inspired by the comic character...

    (2003–2006) - an animated series. The protagonist finds that the Terracotta Army was actually created to keep the First Emperor inside his tomb and not to help him in the spiritual world.

  • First Emperor: The Man Who Made China (2006) - a drama-documentary special about Qin Shi Huang. James Pax
    James Pax
    James Pax is best known as an actor. He has acted in Hollywood, Hong Kong and Japan.-Early years and education:He earned a degree in business from New York University and later studied film production/directing at the University of Southern California. He has lived and worked around the globe...

     played the emperor. It was shown on Channel 4
    Channel 4
    Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

     in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     in 2006.

  • Secrets of China's First Emperor, Tyrant and Visionary (2006) - a documentary by National Geographic. It provided an in-depth look at the magnificent and controversial ruler.

  • China's First Emperor
    China's First Emperor
    China's First Emperor was a documentary aired on The History Channel on 2008.It tells the story of Qin Shi Huang's career as a military leader and ruthless ruler and how he unified China during the Qin Dynasty.He is played by Xu Peng Kai....

    (2008) - a special three-hour documentary by The History Channel
    The History Channel
    History, formerly known as The History Channel, is an American-based international satellite and cable TV channel that broadcasts a variety of reality shows and documentary programs including those of fictional and non-fictional historical content, together with speculation about the future.-...

    . Xu Pengkai played Qin Shi Huang.

  • The Myth
    The Myth (TV series)
    The Myth is a 2010 Chinese television series based on the 2005 Hong Kong film of the same title. Jackie Chan, who starred in the original film, was credited as producer for the series, while Stanley Tong, the director of the film, was creative director for the series. The series was first aired on...

    (2010) - a Chinese TV series produced by Jackie Chan
    Jackie Chan
    Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE is a Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts...

     and based on the 2005 film of the same title. Two men are accidentally transported back in time
    Time travel
    Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

     to the Qin Dynasty period. They take on the new identities of Meng Yi
    Meng Yi
    Meng Yi was a minister who served Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, during the Qin Dynasty.-Biography:Meng Yi was the younger brother of the general Meng Tian. During the later years of Qin Shi Huang's reign, he became the closest and most trusted of the emperor's advisors...

     and Zhao Gao
    Zhao Gao
    Zhao Gao was the chief eunuch during the Qin Dynasty of China. He played an instrumental role in the downfall of the Qin Dynasty.- Early life :...

     and become rivals in the Qin imperial court.

  • Stargate SG-1
    Stargate SG-1
    Stargate SG-1 is a Canadian-American adventure and military science fiction television series and part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Stargate franchise. The show, created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, is based on the 1994 feature film Stargate by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich...

    In the TV series, the system Lord Yu Huang Shang Ti is reportedly based on this Emperor.

Music

  • Qin Shi Huang is the protagonist in the opera The First Emperor
    The First Emperor
    The First Emperor is an opera in two acts with a libretto written in English by Tan Dun and Ha Jin, and music by Tan Dun. The opera received its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center in New York City on 21 December 2006, conducted by the composer and with Plácido Domingo in the...

    .

  • Swedish musician Evert Taube
    Evert Taube
    Evert Axel Taube was a Swedish author, artist, composer and singer. He is best known for his folk songs, and is widely regarded as one of Sweden's most respected musicians.-Biography:...

     explores Qin Shi Huang's actions and motives in his song "Muren Och Böckerna" ("The Wall And The Books").

Video games

  • The 1995 video game Qin: Tomb of the Middle Kingdom
    Qin: Tomb of the Middle Kingdom
    Qin: Tomb of the Middle Kingdom is a Myst-like graphic adventure computer game developed by Learn Technologies Interactive published by Time Warner Interactive and released for DOS, Windows, and Macintosh systems.-Plot:...

    depicts a fictional archaeological mission to explore the First Emperor's burial site. The emperor is featured in several voice-overs in Mandarin Chinese.

  • In the 2002 computer game Prince Of Qin, the user plays Qin Shi Huang's first son Fusu, who was forced to commit suicide. But in this game, Fusu does not die, he will fight for his birth right to inherit the throne and seek the truth of Qin Shi Huang's death.

  • The 2003 video game Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
    Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
    Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb is an action video game developed by The Collective and published by LucasArts in 2003 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Macintosh and Windows. It features cover art by Drew Struzan. The game is a new adventure of fictional archeologist Indiana Jones. The story is set in...

    portrays Indiana Jones
    Indiana Jones
    Colonel Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr., Ph.D. is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created the character in homage to the action heroes of 1930s film serials...

     entering the tomb of Qin Shi Huang to recover "The Heart of the Dragon".

  • In the 2005 video game Civilization IV
    Civilization IV
    Sid Meier's Civilization IV is a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game released in 2005 and developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of Sid Meier and Meier's studio Firaxis Games. It is the fourth installment of the Civilization series...

    , Qin Shi Huang is one of the two playable leaders of China.

  • In the computer game Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
    Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
    Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom is the sixth title in the City Building Series. BreakAway Games was contracted for Emperor after having previously worked on Queen of the Nile...

    , the Qin Dynasty campaign has the player as the head architect of Qin Shi Huang, in charge of overseeing the construction of the capital, the Lingqu canal, the Great Wall, as well as his tomb and the terracotta army, although the game takes liberties with the time frames in which these events actually took place.

  • The PlayStation
    PlayStation
    The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, .The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. The PlayStation 2 was the console's successor in 2000...

     title Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
    Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
    Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix is an action-adventure game for the PlayStation in 2001. It was developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment and published by Eidos Interactive. Fear Effect 2 is a prequel chronicling the events that lead up to the original Fear Effect...

    deals heavily with the myths of the emperor's tomb, and The Eight Immortals.

  • In Rise of Nations
    Rise of Nations
    Rise of Nations is a real-time strategy computer game, developed by Big Huge Games and published by Microsoft on May 20, 2003. The development of the game was led by veteran Brian Reynolds, of Civilization II and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Concepts taken from turn-based strategy games have been...

    , the player (or enemy) can build the "Terracotta Army" as one of the many "wonders of the world" featured in the game.
  • Qin Shi Huang is also revealed to be the final boss of the video game Shin Sangoku Musou: Multi Raid 2
  • In Assassin's Creed II
    Assassin's Creed II
    Assassin's Creed II is a historical third-person action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It is the second video game installment of the Assassin's Creed series, and is a sequel to the 2007 video...

    it is said that a deceased assassin, Wei Yu, killed Qin Shi Huang with a spear.
  • In Tomb Raider II
    Tomb Raider II
    Tomb Raider II is an action-adventure video game in the Tomb Raider series and is the sequel to the 1996 video game Tomb Raider. Developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive, the game was originally released for PlayStation, Windows 95 in November 1997, Macintosh in 1998 and on the...

    (1997), adventurer Lara Croft
    Lara Croft
    Lara Croft is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Square Enix video game series Tomb Raider. She is presented as a beautiful, intelligent, and athletic British archaeologist-adventurer who ventures into ancient, hazardous tombs and ruins around the world...

     discovers the 'Dagger of Xian' after visiting, among other Chinese sites, the 'Temple of Xian'. This level shows a resemblance with the descriptions of the Tomb of Qin, including a room with a (decorative) terracotta army.

  • Qin Shi Huang is one of the 32 historical figures who appear as special characters in the video game Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI by Koei
    Tecmo Koei
    Tecmo Koei Holdings Co., Ltd. , is a holding company created in 2009 by the merger of Japanese video game developers and publishers Koei and Tecmo....

    . He is addressed by his personal name "Ying Zheng" in the game. He has higher governance stats than all other characters, except Guan Zhong
    Guan Zhong
    Guǎn Zhòng was a politician and statesman during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. His given name was Yíwú . Zhong was his courtesy name. Recommended by Bao Shuya, he was appointed Prime Minister by Duke Huan of Qi in 685 BC.-Achievements:Guan Zhong modernized the Qi State by...

    .

  • The popular MMORPG
    MMORPG
    Massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world....

     Silkroad Online
    Silkroad Online
    Silkroad Online is a fantasy MMORPG set in the 7th century AD, along the Silk Road between China and Europe. The game requires no periodic subscription fee, but players can purchase premium items to customize or accelerate gameplay.- Gameplay :...

     has a Qin-Shi Tomb area. It is available only to players of level 75 or higher.

External links