Emperors of Qin Dynasty
Through a series of wars of annexation and conquest (mostly between 230 and 221 BC), King Zheng of Qin unified all of China and proclaimed the Qin Empire in 221 BC. He created the Chinese title of Huang-Di (皇帝), equivalent to the “emperor” of the West and with greater divinity and prestige, and updated his own title from a “king” to “始皇帝Shi-Huang-Di”. The character “始shi” means “first, beginning”. The Emperor had set the titles for his heirs – “the Second Emperor of Qin”, “the Third Emperor of Qin”, and so on. He wished that the throne could be passed down endless generations. Ironically enough, however, the Qin Empire was to collapse only too quickly.
Emperor Qin-Shi-Huang’s reign lasted until 210 BC upon his death, and the throne passed on to Emperor Qin-Er-Shi. Revolts soon erupted under Qin-Er-Shi’s incompetent leadership. A period of civil unrest and war toppled Qin rule nationwide. Qin-Er-Shi was forced by eunuch Zhao Gao to commit suicide, and replaced by Ziying, a nephew of his. The latter failed to resist the advance of Liu Bang, later the founding emperor of Han Dynasty, and surrendered in 206 BC.
Controversy, Mystery, and Secrets about Emperor Qin-Shi-Huang
The first to assume the title of “emperor” in China, Emperor Qin-Shi-Huang is a historical figure surrounded by much controversy, mystery and riddle.
On the credit side, he unified all of China under a unitary system of government, defended successfully against the Huns in the north, and introduced reforms such as legal code, written language system, standardizing measurement and currency, all proving beneficial to the exchanges between different regions of the country. On the debit side, however, his reign is remembered as a notorious period with extremely strict legal code, penalty, harsh taxation and arbitrary exaction of conscript labour. Though with a high efficiency, (for example huge projects like the construction of the Great Wall and a nationwide highway network were both accomplished), his governance drained the people of energy and resources. Public discontent simmered and exploded into uprisings soon after his death.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered to build a national highway network (at the cost of heavy conscript labour, though).
Much of the road network are still in use today. The roads were hard compacted and wide (average 20 m).
A mystery centers on his birth. Later historians who were hostile to Qin-Shi-Huang suspected him of being not the actual son of King ZhuangXiang of Qin, but the son of Lu Buwei, the prime minister. Qin-Shi-Huang’s mother had originally been a concubine of the latter, but was “given away” to King Zhuangxiang of Qin.
Like many later Chinese emperors, Qin-Shi-Huang was much given to seeking immortality. In an effort to seek the fabled “elixir of life” from the mystical Penglai Mountain, he sent Xu Fu to explore into the sea with ships carrying hundreds of young men and women. The commission never returned, however. Some legends would claim that they made it to Japan and colonized there.
A statues group placed in Yantai, where Xu Fu set out on his voyage seeking "exlir of life" for Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Whether Xu Fu's team made it to Japan is one of the mysteries about Qin Shi Huang.
The Mausoleum of Qin-Shi-Huang, at Lishan Mountain 30 km from Xi’an, remains another place of interest and mystery. According to historical records, it took 700,000 men to construct it. Though the very location of the main tomb has been fixed by archeologists, it has yet to be opened. Evidently, the tomb has remained intact from grave robbers thanks to its highly effective defense system (e.g., automatic crossbows and excessive quantity of mercury).
Part of the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is the Terra Cotta Warriors, one of the greatest wonders of the world.
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