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How Qin Shi Huang Founded Qin Dynasty | Mr Art Of War


Qin Dynasty Qin Shi Huang Di
Qin Shi Huang Founded Qin Dynasty

He is the most controversial Emperor of China. He is also the first Emperor of China. His name is Qin Shi Huang or Shi Huang Ti of the Qin Dynasty.


During his reign, he builds the Great Wall of China, Terracotta warriors, Canals, highways for commercial and military use and many more.


Was he a brutal and evil ruler or was he a misunderstood genius ruler?


So let's dive deeper to know more about Who is Qin Shi Huang?


Qin Shi Huang or Shi Huang Ti was his regnal name. His real name was Ying Zheng. Born in 259 BCE.

So, Ying Zheng is the eldest son of Prince Yiren of the State of Qin. And Prince Yiren, his father later would become King Zhuangxiang of Qin.


Prince Yiren at that time was forced to stay at the court of Zhao State, serving as a royal hostage to guarantee no more war between the Qin and Zhao states.


The Rich Merchant that rescued the Prince Yiren


At that time a rich merchant by the name of Lü Buwei from the state of Wei travelled to the state of Zhao.


Upon knowing about Prince Yiren, Lü Buwei met Prince Yiren and told him he will help him.

Through bribes and machinations, Prince Yiren was released as a royal hostage.


There is a high possibility Lü Buwei helped Prince Yiren because he believed he could profit from this favour. Later you will see why. He then introduced a beautiful girl to Prince Yiren and he fell in love with the girl at first sight.


Lü Buwei consented for her to be Yiren's wife, who then became known as Lady Zhao or Zhao Ji.


They gave birth to a son named Prince Ying Zheng who will be the Emperor of Qin Shi Huang


It was widely believed throughout Chinese history that Emperor Prince Ying Zheng was an illegitimate child. However, some modern historians have doubts about the story of this account of his birth. Stories were possibly written back then to slander Shi Huang Ti because he was known to be a cruel emperor.


Prince Yiren became King of Qin


Eventually, with the help of the merchant Lu Buwei, Prince Yiren became the King of Qin in 250 BCE. He was then called King Zhuanxiang of Qin.

Lü Buwei then became the prime minister. Unfortunately, King Zhuanxiang ruled for 3 years and passed away.


Ying Zheng became the King of Qin.

Eventuality Ying Zheng became the King of Qin at the age of 13 years old at 246 BCE. Since King Ying Zheng was still young, his mother Queen Dowager Zhao Ji and prime minister and regent Lü Buwei assist and support him in the country’s administration.


Queen Dowager Zhao's Illicit Affairs


Also during that time King Ying Zheng's mother, Queen Dowager Zhao, was known for many illicit affairs.


During that time Lü Buwei and Queen Zhao were having a secret affair.


Being afraid that their affair might be exposed, Prime Minister Lü Buwei ended the affair and introduced Queen Dowager Zhao to Lao Ai. Lao Ai was known to have a giant penis, being of such size that it could be used as an axle for a wooden carriage. And disguised him as a eunuch for her pleasure.

Lao Ai quickly became Queen Dowager's favourite. So, she then had a secret affair with Lao Ai and they had two illegitimate kids.


And at the same time, Lao Ai was enfeoffed as Marquis of Changxin. It was said Lao Ai then had over one thousand servants serving him.



What does this mean to King Ying Zheng's position?


One day, during a gathering, Lao Ai was drinking and gambling with some ministers and he said loudly that he is the King's stepfather and no one can challenge him.


One of the guests brought this to the attention of King Ying Zheng. This enraged the King and he decided to investigate this matter.


In 238 BCE, following the royal proclamation announcing Lao Ai's status as an imposter lover consorting with the Queen Dowager, with plans to secretly father the next king, Lao Ai was investigated. During this time, he attempted a coup d'état with a small number of followers, using the Queen Dowager's seal to gain legitimacy.


Lao Ai was eventually captured and executed by being dismembered and torn apart by five horses.

The Queen Dowager was imprisoned in her palace and the two kids were killed. And

Lü Buwei was banished. Shortly later he committed suicide by drinking poison.

By the age of 22 years old at 237 BCE, Prince Ying Zheng took full control as the King of Qin state.


The two assassination attempt


The first


King Zheng and his troops at that time already conquered the state of Zhao and Han. They are now moving in to take over the Yan State.


Knowing they have no match with the state of Qin, Crown Prince Dan of Yan plotted an assassination attempt against King Zheng, by recruiting Jing Ke and Qin Wuyang for the mission in 227 BCE.


The assassins gained access to King Zheng by pretending to be diplomats presenting a gift of goodwill. Which is a map of Dukang and the severed head of a traitorous Qin General Fan Wuji.

Qin Wuyang stepped forward first to present the map case but was overcome by fear.


Jing Ke then advanced with both gifts, while explaining that his partner was trembling because "He had never set eyes on the Son of Heaven".


As Jing Ke unrolled the map, he pull out the poisoned dagger from the map and attacked King Ying Zheng.


In defence, he leapt to his feet and struggled to draw his sword to defend himself.

None of his courtiers can help because they were allowed to carry arms in his presence.

Jing Ke stabbed at the king but missed. King Zheng managed to pull out his sword and slashed Jing Ke's thigh.

In desperation, Jing Ke threw the dagger but missed again. He surrendered after a brief fight in which he was further injured. Jing Ke was later then sent for execution. The Yan state was conquered in its entirety five years later.


The Second assassination


Gao Jianli was a close friend of Jing Ke and wanted to seek revenge for his death. As a famous lute player, he was summoned to play for King Zheng. Someone in the palace recognized him and suspected his plans. Reluctant to kill such a skilled musician, the emperor ordered his eyes put out and then proceeded with the performance.


The king praised Gao Jianli's performance and even allowed him closer. The lute had been weighted with a slab of lead, and Gao Jianli swung it at the king but missed. The second assassination attempt failed; Gao Jianli was executed shortly after.


Conquering the Warring States


Once King Ying Zheng gained enough experience, he set his eyes on Conquering the Warring States.


In 230 BCE, Ying Zheng, the King of Qin, with the help of Li Si, and Wei Liao, unleashed the final campaigns to conquer Warring States one by one.


This is done by applying the Art of War methods.


He adopted his chancellor Li Si's strategy that the whole conquest should be carried out based on the art of war principles of "weak first, strong second, close first, and far second".


Always attack the weak or easy and nearest states first.


In 230 BCE, Han, the nearest state to Qin, was conquered.

In 228 BCE, Qin occupied the territory of Zhao.

In 226 BCE, Qin occupied the Yan capital, Ji (now Beijing), and the King of Yan moved his capital to Liaodong.

In 225 BCE, Qin conquered Wei.

223 BCE, Qin conquered Chu.

222 BCE, Qin conquered the rest of Yan and Zhao.

221 BCE, Qin conquered Qi,


and finally, the Qin Dynasty conquered all the warring states and put an end to centuries of political turmoil, constant war and endless bloodshed.


He became the Emperor of the Qin Dynasty at the age of 38.


He then carries the title Qin Shi Huang Ti. Which simply means the First Emperor of Qin. Which is also the first Emperor of China.


Ensuring the success of the unification of the Qin Dynasty


With a ferocious force of character, Shi Huangdi began to mould his diverse territories into a single Chinese empire obedient to his command. He divided the lands into 36 command areas, each supervised by a governor, a military commander, and an imperial inspector, all of whom reported to him.


He relocate hundreds of thousands of influential families from their home provinces to the capital, Xianyang, where he could keep a close eye on them. This is to ensure there are no revolts.


Weapons were all confiscated and melted down.


With the proper management system set up, he went on to develop the country.


1. A new imperial currency was issued. Weights and measures were standardized.


2. Even wagon axles were built according to a certain measure, so they could fit within the ruts in China’s roads.


3. The emperor ordered Chinese writing to be made standardized, such that all words with the same meaning in the country’s varied languages would be represented by the same characters.


4. Building the Great Wall of China to protect from invasion from enemies from the neighbouring countries. The first 5000km was done by Qin Dynasty. There were already existing short walls, what was done was to unify and join the walls.


5. Building the 36.4km Lingqu Canals for transporting grains and irrigation.


6. The “Qin Zhi Dao,” literally the “Qin Direct Path” or “Qin Highway,”. Covering a distance of about 750 kilometres. The north-south highway is about 20-60 meters wide and crosses 14 counties.


Burning of scholars and textbooks


Did Qin Shi Huang Ti order the burning of all the books and burying of so many scholars?

According to the great historian, Sima Qian, in 213 BCE, many textbooks were burned and in 212 BCE, 460 scholars we buried alive. And it was all during the reign of Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty.

The textbooks destroyed were philosophical treatises of the Hundred Schools of Thought, with the goal of strengthening the official Qin governing philosophy of Legalism.

However many modern historians have doubts about whether this event ever took place according to Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. It was likely exaggerated.


As a court scholar, Sima Qian had every reason to denigrate Emperor Qin Shi Huang to flatter his own, as he was a pro-Confucianist.

Some sources say the burning of the books was very likely ordered by Qin Shi Huang's Prime Minister, Li Si.

This is because more empowerment was given to Li Se during this period as the emperor was becoming more reclusive. And he might not be aware of the event.

Modern historians agree that during Qin Shi Huang's reign, many works that were regarded as incorrect or subversive were burned. However, they did order that two copies of books from each school of thought be preserved in the imperial libraries.

Unfortunately, some were destroyed in the fighting following the fall of the dynasty. Yes, he had scholars killed, but not by burying them alive, and the victims were not "Confucians", since that school had not yet been formed as such.


In his later years, you see Qin Shi Huang's quest for immortality


He became obsessed with finding the elixir of life, which would allow him to live forever. The court doctors and alchemists concocted several potions containing mercury, which probably had the ironic effect of hastening the Emperor's death rather than extending it.


Just in case the elixirs did not work, in 215 BCE the Emperor also ordered the construction of a huge tomb for himself. It took 700,000 men to construct the tomb. The tomb includes flowing rivers of mercury, cross-bow booby traps to thwart would-be plunderers, and replicas of the Emperor's earthly palaces. And in the tomb were Terracotta Warriors


They were to guard Qin Shi Huang in the afterworld, and perhaps allow him to conquer heaven as he had the earth. The Emperor had a terracotta army of more than 8,000 clay soldiers placed in the tomb. The army also included terracotta horses, along with real chariots and weapons.


Now let's cover the final years and death of Emperor Qin Shi Huang


The final few years of Qin Shi Huang's life were dominated by an ever-growing distrust and suspicions of his entourage.


And with three known assassination attempts on him, he began to be paranoid and began to isolate himself. He was almost inaccessible in his huge palaces, and the led the life of a semi-divine being and at the same time,


It was also believed that the consumption of his mercury-laced elixir deteriorated his health. There was likely neurological and behavioural disorder that came from the mercury poisoning.

His symptoms were fluctuating mood swings, irritability, and nervousness.


That was probably the cause of the death of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

He eventually died while he was on his imperial tour around the country. With him during the trip were Prime Minister Li Si, Zhao Gao, and the emperor's youngest son, Ying Huhai.


Now comes the Conspiracy,


The emperor's death was kept a secret. While his body was being brought back to the palace and gave enough time for Zhao Gao, Prime Minister Li Si, and the emperor's youngest son, Ying Huhai to change the succession plan.


Which makes Ying Huhai The Second Qin Dynasty emperor.


Originally Qin Shi Huang's eldest son Fusu was the original successor.


So Zhao Gao, Prime Minister Li Si, and the emperor's youngest son, Ying Huhai plot to kill his big brother, Crown Prince Fusu, the rest of the family that opposed Huhai's appointment and those loyal to Fusu like General Meng Tien.


Ying Huhai eventually became the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty and was called Emperor Qin Er Shi.


The end of the Qin Dynasty


Qin Er Shi was very incompetent and easily influenced by ZhaoGao. Qin Er Shi executed many ministers and imperial princes, continued massive building projects (one of his most extravagant projects was lacquering the city walls), enlarged the army, increased taxes, and arrested messengers who brought him bad news.


That created chaos and men from all over China revolted, attacking officials, raising armies, and declaring themselves kings of seized territories.

Zhao Gao eventually forced Qin Er Shi to commit suicide for his failure.


Qin Er Shi ruled from 210 to 207 BCE. Which was only three years.

By the time of his death, the Qin Empire's power had lessened so much that his successor Ziying ruled as a king, not as an emperor. Which lasted for 46 days.


King Ziying surrendered to Liu Pang who was leading to take over the Qin Dynasty.


King Ziying was executed and later Liu Pang who eventually became the new emperor of the Han Dynasty.


Liu Pang was a peasant, to local Sheriff later turned rebel during the Han Dynasty. How he became the next Emperor? That will be another interesting story.

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