Whether the early people of China and its present and future generation loved or hated him, Qin Shi Huangdi undoubtedly was the man who made China. Born as Yin Zheng in 259 B. C. , China’s first Emperor was the son of Zhao Ji to Zhuang Xing, who was then king’s successor of Qin. Qin was then one of the seven feudal states of China. 1Yin Zheng was thirteen years old when his father assumed kingship in Qin but unfortunately died early leaving his eldest son the responsibility. After he succeeded in unifying the then Warring States, Zheng proudly changed his name to Qin Shi Huangdi.
Believing that his achievements were superior with that of San Huang (Three Emperors) and the Wu Di (The Five Sovereigns) he had thought of coming up with a new and famous name. Hence he came up with Qin (the empire) Shi (meaning “first” as he held himself the first emperor) Huang (emperor) Di (sovereign). Putting together, the he hailed himself as the First Sovereign Emperor of Qin (China). If there is one thing that made Qin Shi Huangdi unique among the great leaders and founders of the nations in the world, it is the emperor’s quest for immortality.
Shi Huangdi was crazy over eternity and that was all because he wanted to reign for eternity. There were documents relative to his life that say that he actually 1sent messengers to look for a potion or anything that will make him immortal and even consulted alchemist for the same purpose. His desire and belief for immortality was obvious in his music as he asked his musicians to write songs of the said theme. However after creating huge things for his empire, he came short of realizing one dream: to reign eternally.
Huangdi died after 37 years in throne in 210 B. C. Qin Shi Huangdi was not just a man of dreams as he also had realized great things for the people of Qin. The emperor was wise enough to order and strictly implement the standardization of their written language. Chinese characters were unified in order to have a common and official written language to be used as a communication tool across the country. It is important to note that the empire was then in a Warring States Period of which Huangdi aimed at reconciling during his reign.
With the standardization of their written language, administrators of every commandery were required to learn to read and write the language. Regardless of his personal purpose, Huangdi had contributed to the development of the Chinese culture through language. Trade and legal tender were also standard during his reign. It was Huandi who developed the famous circular copper coin as their official legal tender. The coin has a unique feature of a rectangular hole in the middle marking the Qin’s dynasty. The coinage system was also used by the emperor in the implementation of the taxation system.
However, both systems were also the emperor’s instruments in accumulating funds for his numerous and huge projects. Although he placed high regard to agriculture and commerce, he forcibly and heavily taxed the peasants aside from forcing them to labor (J. Clark, 1982). Initially out of personal intentions, Huangdi also standardized their measurement system. The huge and numerous constructions required that there be uniform length for example of axles and the width of the ruts on which the axles of the cartwheels are to travel through.
In such way, the construction of roads, irrigation canals and huge palaces was hastened because it was easier to drag cartwheels containing construction materials in the area. Qin Shi Huangdi was a man of strong political and military ability. During the unification process of the Warring States, he used his military strength in invading such states one by one (A. Politte). Not only were the measurement and coinage systems were standardized but also the laws of all the other kingdoms he invaded. With his reign the existing laws of the warring states were destroyed and replaced them with his formulated laws.
A government system called Legalism was officially adopted by the emperor, a system which requires that laws are to be strictly implemented and that loyalty to such laws are to be rewarded while any form of violation thereof should be punished accordingly (A. Claire, 1984). It is important to briefly discuss the nature of this system as this prelude Huangdi’s assassination plots. Qin’s empire was divided into thirty six commanderies further subdivided into counties. Each commandery had a civil governor, a military commander and an imperial inspector as officials.
All the affairs of each commandery have to be reported to the Emperor in writing which was the obvious reason behind the standardization of the written language. It was also because of the implementation of this system which aggravated the anger of the nobles towards the emperor. With this system, the nobility was deprived of their usual power as the absolute power over the people was transferred to the state. With the power given to the emperor by the Legalist government, the nobles’ homes including their properties were brought to the capital for the benefit of the state, at least legally.
Shensi became the dumping site of the nobles Huangdi had moved out so that from there he could watch over them. There were about one hundred and twenty thousand nobles Shi had moved. Huangdi was also intelligent enough to lighten his burden of monitoring the affairs of his people. Every citizen was made guardian of their own countrymen. 3Families were grouped in such a way that each unit was composed of five to ten families which were given the responsibility of monitoring the wrongdoings of every individual in the said group.
Military wise, Qin Shi Huangdi utilized all available resources to strengthen the empire’s defense. There were notes in history which say that Qin was not technically the most culturally advanced of the Warring States but because of Huangdi’s governance, it was regarded as the strongest in terms of military strength (D. Koeller). Cavalry was the most notable technology used by Qin during Huangdi’s reign. Of the many constructions made during the Emperor’s reign, Qin’s dynasty was notable for the Great Walls of China and the Terra Cotta Warriors including the Horses in Xian.
The Great Walls were actually constructed for the purpose of military defense, built in the north of the territory to protect the empire against invasion. The Great Walls as we see it today is the largest man-made object on earth. 1Historical articles suggest that it is the modern version of the original walls ordered by Huangdi to be constructed. There were already existing stone walls before the Emperor’s reign which were said to have been built by states as defense against marauding nomads. What Huangdi did was to have these walls connected through the conscript laborers.
This might have been the sections and branches which made up the 4,000 miles long walls. On the other hand, the Terra Cotta Warriors were secretly constructed during the Emperor’s reign and was discovered only after his death. Terra Cotta was a type of ceramic clay used as primary material in molding the life-size army buried together in the tomb of the Emperor. The clay soldiers varied in height which was modeled according to the ranks of the real armies. The soldiers in three different sized-tombs found by peasants while digging a well in 1974 were divided and piled accordingly where the generals were separately placed in the smallest tomb.
Scholars also said that Huangdi might have done this in his aim of bringing along with him soldiers to defend his empire in the after life. Such way of burial was unique as emperors were traditionally buried along with just women and slaves. The discovery of the Terra Cotta soldiers is indicative of Huangdi’s desire for eternal power that even in the after life he still wanted to reign. Despite his greatness in terms of the cultural and political legacies he left for China, Huangdi’s governance was regarded as a period of terror for the Chinese people.
In order to manage the political affairs of the empire he forced people into obedience. The constructions he made cost millions of lives as he used conscript laborers to finish them. Peasants and convicts were forced to work in the constructions. He never allowed any rebellion as anyone who disobeyed was buried alive. In order to control the people, he did not allow his citizens to be educated and have schools of philosophy been suppressed. He was not satisfied with this and so he resorted to burning all books that freedom and encourage rebellion.
Scholars and protesters were also buried alive. Among those books were those of Confucianism which promote gentleness among people. All of those events contributed to the hatred of the people including the nobles resulting to his three assassination attempts. It is the main reason why Huangdi had built for himself hundreds of palaces. In order to escape death, the emperor travel from different places and spent every night sleeping in different places. He also traveled in disguise using two carriages. Huangdi was probably not afraid of his enemies.
Rather he was afraid of death because death will only be reason he cannot rule for a lifetime. In his travels, he brought along with him musicians who played songs about mortality to bring him to sleep. While on travel, Qui Shi Huangdi finally was defeated not by his enemies but his greatest enemy: death. Huangdi’s reign never ended that easy as his son replaced him in throne after his death. Fu Su, who was supposed to be rightful heir, however was fooled by the deceased emperor’s advisors whom Fu Su hated so much.
He was asked the advisors to commit suicide and made him believe that it was his father’s will. Fu Su obeyed and so his younger brother Er Shi was put in the throne who said to have brutally ordered many people to be killed. His father’s childless concubines were killed and were buried in tombs and anyone whom he saw as threat to his throne. Later the second emperor was forced to commit suicide as one of his powerful advisers threatened him and soon Qin’s dynasty ended in a span of three years.