Ch'in(Qin) Dynasty, China Culture

The Ch'in Dynasty is the one which gave its name to China. The first Ch'in emperor, in 221 BC, was Ch'in Shih Huang Ti. He started out as the king of a smaller state, but he was able to force all the other states to accept his rule too, so then he became the emperor of all China. To show that he was the emperor, and more important than the other kings, he built big palaces and had very elaborate court ceremonies in his capital city of Xianyang. And, to show that China was all one empire now, Ch'in made everyone use the same letters to write with and use the same kinds of weights to measure things with, all over the empire.

China Culture
Ch'in didn't trust the other kings whom he had conquered, so he didn't let them run anything. Instead, he chose his own assistants and sent them out as governors and judges for each part of his empire. And, so that he could keep an eye on the kings and their families, he made them leave their homes and come live in the capital city with him, and help him there. That way they couldn't revolt against him.


Much of what came to constitute China Proper was unified for the first time in 221 B.C. In that year the western frontier state of Qin, the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states. (Qin in Wade-Giles romanization is Ch'in, from which the English China probably derived.) Once the king of Qin consolidated his power, he took the title Qin Shi Huang (First Emperor), a formulation previously reserved for deities and the mythological sage-emperors, and imposed Qin's centralized, nonhereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire. In subjugating the six other major states of Eastern Zhou, the Qin kings had relied heavily on Legalist scholar-advisers. Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. To silence criticism of imperial rule, the kings banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books. Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south. To fend off barbarian intrusion, the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a 5,000-kilometer-long great wall. What is commonly referred to as the Great Wall  is actually four great walls rebuilt or extended during the Western Han, Sui, Jin, and Ming periods, rather than a single, continuous wall. At its extremities, the Great Wall reaches from northeastern Heilongjiang Province to northwestern Gansu. A number of public works projects were also undertaken to consolidate and strengthen imperial rule. These activities required enormous levies of manpower and resources, not to mention repressive measures. Revolts broke out as soon as the first Qin emperor died in 210 B.C. His dynasty was extinguished less than twenty years after its triumph. The imperial system initiated during the Qin dynasty, however, set a pattern that was developed over the next two millennia.


Ch'in also got together a huge army to keep the kings from revolting against him. And when he didn't need it for revolts, he kept the army busy defending the empire and making it bigger and bigger. Soon China reached from Mongolia in the north to Vietnam in the south. The biggest danger to China was the people who lived in Mongolia and Siberia, who often tried to invade China. A lot of the kings in northern China had already built walls along their kingdoms to keep out these invaders. Ch'in ordered his army to join up all these little walls to make the Great Wall of China. The wall ended up being 1,500 miles long (2400 kilometers)!


Kings / Kingdoms

Events In China

Comments / Worldwide Events

Qin Dynasty (221 205 B.C.)

Historical Sites

Qin Shi Huang Di (246 210 B.C.)

Shi Emperor order Xu Fudong to look for the fountain of youth. Xu asked for thousands of children and sailed eastward. Many believe that Xu landed in Japan and populated the island (219 B.C.). Zhang Liang (?-186 B.C.) ambused Shi Emperor at Bo Lang Sha (218 B.C.). Shi Emperor attacked the Huns (Hungarians) (215 B.C.) , conquered the south (214 B.C.), built the Great Wall. Prohibited the reading of books and burnt books (as suggested by Li Si, 213 B.C.), and buried alive 460 scholars in Xian Yang (212 B.C.). A Terra Cotta Army was built to guard the Emperor's Tomb (210 B.C.)


Qin Er Shi

(209 207 B.C.)

Zhao Gao, the prime minister plotted to take Er Shi's throne. Rise of Liu Bang and Xian Yu (209 B.C.). Chen Sheng and Wu Guang Xiang rebelled against Qin and were killed.

Qin San Shi

(207 206 B.C.)

Death of Zhao Gao (207 B.C.). Xian Yu defeated Qin. Qin Er Shi was killed and Zi Yin succeeded him (207 B.C.)

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