First Emperor of China

Qinshihuang

Qinshihuang

qinshihuang (秦始皇 259 BC to 210 BC) is one of the most talked-about emperors in the Chinese history.

One of the reasons that people like to talk about him is because he was the first emperor china, who established the qing dynasty.

The imperial system introduced by him became the main form of government for China for 2,000 years, untill 1911 when the Qing Dysnaty was overthrown by the revolutionaries.

Imperial System

Under the imperial system, the country was under the command of one man – an emperor.   Although no longer in existence, the system is so deeply rooted in the culture it is almost impossible to eradicate. 

Even today, frequent references are made to it in daily conversations.  For example, people in power -- such as bosses of companies -- are often described as emperors.

A Controversial Figure

This is, nevertheless, being the first emperor of china is not the only reason that people like to talk about him.

qin shi huang is a highly controversial figures.  There have been debates as to whether he was a tyrant or a hero.

A Hero

Let's begin with his good deeds. 

First and foremost, he united China

This is very important, as China had been deeply divided with wars fought among the states big and small. China could never have its glorious days had the country remained in turbulence and divided.

Second, he standardized:

  1. Written Chinese
  2. Currency, and
  3. System of measurements.

These are critical for the economic and cultural development in the country.

Third, he built infrastructure.

Among the infrastructures he built included one of the Seven Wonders of the World -- the Great Wall of China -- that defended the country from invasion. There was also a massive national network of roads and canals, which were essential to the country's economy.

From the administration points of view, his greatest achievement was the introduction of the centralized bureaucracy. The imperial China system became the administrative structure for ruling the country over the next 2000 years -- until the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

qin dynasty

A Tyrant

But people also talk negatively about him.

He was ruthless as a leader.   Gigantic construction projects like the Great Wall, the city-sized mausoleum where he was buried, and the massive road system, were carried out at the expense of many lives.

In order to consolidate his control, in addition to outlawing Confucianism, he also had the Confucius books burnt, and hundreds of Confucius scholars buried alive.

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