Qin Shi Huang
(259 BC – 210 BC)
Qin Shi Huang - Bio
- 259 BC: Born
- 246 BC: Succeeded the throne of the State of Qin
- 221 BC: Defeated the other six warring states and built the first centralized empire in China
- 210 BC: Dead
- 206 BC: Qin Dynasty collapsed
Son of a ‘High-Return Commodity’
Qin Shi Huang – the first Emperor of Qin Dynasty, named Ying Zheng, was born at the period of Warring States. He had completely no chance to become an emperor when he was born. His father Yiren was only the son of an unpopular concubine of the emperor of Qin. Yiren though carried the title of ‘prince’ was more like an unattended orphan. Even worse, he was sent to the State of Zhao as a hostage. Hence Ying Zheng’s childhood was miserable.
The fates of Yiren and Ying Zheng were dramatically changed out of Lu Buwei speculating Yiren as a ‘high-return commodity’. Lu Buwei was an extremely wealthy merchant. When he traded in Zhao, he happened to know Yiren and thought that if he invested on him, his return could be tremendous.
Believe it or not, money could make things happen. With Lu Buwei’s wealth, strategies and human connections, he successfully helped Yiren seized the throne of Qin. Lu Buwei became the prime minister. His return on investment was not only money, but also fame, power and authority.
Mini eBook: The Young Qin Shi Huang
The Young Emperor Named Himself Shi Huang Di
Ying Zheng succeeded the throne at the age of 13. By 21, he overthrew Lu Buwei and gained actual power of an emperor. He bought the idea of Li Si of ruling the country by law. Hence he developed Qin as the strongest state among the seven warring states.
In the year of 221 BC, Ying Zheng defeated the other six warring states and established the first centralized monarchy in China.
Ying Zheng thought he had the greatest achievements ever in history and of course deserved the greatest title. He named himself Shi Huang Di. Shi means ‘beginning’. ‘Huang’ and ‘Di’ were the most respected leaders ever in ancient China. He combined both superior titles of ‘Huang’ and ‘Di’ for himself.
His full title meant he was the First Emperor of Qin and his descendants to be the Second, Third and so on until forever. As he was the first emperor of Qin, historians generally call him Qin Shi Huang. However it won’t be wrong if you call him Qin Shi Huang Di.
Ordered to build his Mausoleum and Terra Cotta Army
Soon after Ying Zheng succeeded the throne, he ordered to build his mausoleum at the foot of Li Mountain in Xian. It is believed that manpower of 700,000 was involved through a period of 40 years. It is quite difficult to imagine a young man in his teenage had planned such a massive project for his after death.
A Great Reformer – His Achievements
Though Qin Shi Huang expected his empire to last forever, Qin Dynasty survived 15 years with two reigns only. However, Qin Shi Huang had the greatest and longest-lasting influence among all rulers in Chinese history.
He ordered the unification of Chinese characters, currency, weights and measures, not only benefited economic development and cultural exchanges, but have had a strong and long-lasting influence on China.
He was the pioneer in implying legal system in Chinese history.
He ordered the construction of road system which eventually played an extremely important role in ancient transportation and economic exchanges.
He standardized the length of the axles of carts, so every cart could run smoothly in the ruts of the new roads.
He ordered the building and restoration of the Great Wall of China.
A Tyrant Ruler – His Brutal Ruling
Extremely severe penal codes. For example, if one person was guilty, he would be killed along with his family, his extended families as well as his fellow classmates, villagers, teachers, friends and acquaintances.
Burden people with endless demands in wars, building of the Great Wall and building of his Mausoleum, Terra Cotta Army, palaces and roads.
Burnt almost all classic books, excluding those of medicine, divination and agriculture.
Ordered to bury 460 scholars alive.
Confiscated all weapons from the general public.
Forced people (especially rich people) to migrate to the newly built capital Xianyang (next to Xian).
Qin Shi Huang was a brutal ruler however with great achievements.
Qin Shi Huang, a brutal but great historical figure, left us with his immense and monumental Qin Mausoleum, the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, creations made of countless broken families and human lives.
Though Qin Shi Huang expected his empire to last forever, Qin Dynasty lasted 15 years only. His Terra Cotta Army however lasted forever unexpectedly. This awesome magnificence of Qin Dynasty represents an era of cruelty and misery, as well as creativity and brilliance.
How much do you know about Qin Shi Huang’s early life? As you know, he went to the throne at the age of 13, the Empire of Qin was actually in the hands of Lu Buwei. To gain the real power and took control of the government was not an easy task.
The story about his early life was extremely fascinating and dramatic. Unfortunately most websites just omit it or over simplify it. I have therefore written a story about the young Qin Shi Huang, from birth to age 21.
This story begins with Lu Buwei speculated on his father Yiren and ends with Ying Zheng suppressed Lu Ai’s coup and forced Lu Buwei to death and took the real reign of Qin at age 21.
This story is based on the facts extracted from the history book Shi Ji (Historical Records) written by the greatest Chinese historian Sima Qian. Shi Ji was written in ancient Chinese grammar which is quiet difficult to be understood nowadays. I study Chinese language and Chinese history at school with great interest and understand the ancient Chinese grammar. I have therefore translated this fascinating story into simple modern English and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it.
I have also included a family chart to help you better understand the relationships among the characters.
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Anna YuenTerra Cotta Warriors
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