Monday, November 1, 2010

Qin Shi Huangdi, China's First Emperor

Qin Shi Huangdi, literally First Emperor Qin, is known by many names. Ch'in Shi Hunagti, was a common version of his title in the 20th Century. Born Ying Zhang, he was heir to the throne of the kingdom of Ch'in/Qin during the Waring States period.

Through force of arms, he one by one conquered each of the independent kingdoms and in 221 BCE, created one unified empire that forever took his name Ch'in(a). Qin Shi Huangdi not only unified the Empire, he reformed the laws, and created the form of Imperial government that was to last the next 2000 years. The written language of Chinese was reworked as well. He is even credited with completion of the first Great Wall of China (at the cost of perhaps a million lives).
Today he is most famous in the West for his life size army of terra cotta warriors. Thousands of these works of art were buried to guard the tomb of the First Emperor.

>These are modern 1/3 size copies of some of the soldiers of the Qin Army.

His force of will remade China,but his dynasty barely out lived Qin Shi Hungdi. Oppressive leadership, ruinous taxes, palace intrigue and his early death, in 210 BCE, left the Empire ripe for revolt. After a brief fifteen years, the Qin Dynasty died at the hands of the Han Dynasty in 206 BCE. Short lived or not, Qin Shi Huangdi changed for ever the history of the Middle Kingdom.

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