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Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang is the first emperor in Chinese history who established the first centralised, unified and multi-ethnic state in 221 BC. He played an important role in the development of Chinese history.

Qin was one of the vassal states during the Warring States Period and King Ying Zheng (259 - 210 BC) inherited the throne as the King of Qin from his father King Zhuangxiang. Assisted by Shang Yang's reform, Qin had emerged as one of the seven most powerful states in China. The king was a man of great talent and bold vision. From 230 BC, he lead his army, vanquished Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan and Qi one after another, and united the whole of China in 221 BC. Thus, he called himself "the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty" (Qinshihuang). 


In order to consolidate his rule, Qinshihuang enacted a sweeping series of reforms which would prove to have profound historic significance in Chinese history. 


Linear measures were different from state to state in the past. Hence Qinshihuang set unified standards for length, volume and weight. He also issued a uniform currency; round coins with a square hole in the middle. This reformation proved to be extremely important in promoting economic prosperity and setting the pattern for the coins of later dynasties at the same time. 


The reformation of communication and culture coincided with the standardisation of Chinese characters. In order to strengthen his ideological control of the people, the prime minister Li Si had all the books, except for those on medicine and agriculture, burned in 213 BC. What's more, to quell the dissent, 460 Confucian scholars were buried alive. Based on the seal script (zhuan) that once was frequently used by Qin people during the Warring States Period, Li Si devised the clerical script (lishu) and took it as the official standard font.


In politics, he standardised the regulation of the administrative body. The prime minister took over the day-to-days affairs. The Yushidafu ranked above the bureaucracy and the Taiwei managed the overall situation of the army. They were all appointed and discharged by the emperor himself, while the imperial throne was inherited to his male heir, which was the typical divine right of the king. The whole country was divided into 36 prefectures (later increased to over 40), which later divided into counties. Both the prefectures and counties' local administers were also appointed and discharged by the emperor himself.

 

Chinese old states used to build walls to defend the outside invasion. Based on the already existing defensive walls, the Qin Dynasty constructed the Great Wall to defend the invasions of the Hun (Xiongnu) nomads in the north. Due to the constructed productive forces, the construction of the Great Wall was a huge project at the time, which had used a large amount of labourers and many people devoted their whole life to this job.


The Qin Dynasty embraced over 20 million people. Its boarder reached the Pacific in the east, Longxi (west of the Longshan Mountains) in the west, the Great Wall in the north and the South China Sea in the south. However, to achieve this, Qinshihuang had adopted some tyrannical methods, which had brought him both positive and negative appraise in history.