Qin Dynasty 秦朝


Chinese Name: 秦朝

English Name: Qin Dynasty; Qin Chao

Other Name: Ying Qin 嬴秦;

Duration: About 221 BC – 207 BC

King: Qin Shi Huang Ying Zheng 秦始皇嬴政; Qin Er Shi Hu Hai 秦二世胡亥;

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
Territory Map in Qin Dynasty 秦朝疆域图

Brief Introduction

The Qin Dynasty 秦朝 (221-207 BC) was the first unified feudal dynasty in Chinese history developed from the Qin State in the Warring States period 战国时期. Dafei, 大费 the ancestor of the Qin people, is the descendant of Zhuanxu 颛顼, the grandson of the Yellow Emperor 黄帝. Shun 舜 gave him the surname Ying 嬴.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
Qin Dynasty 秦朝

During the reign of Duke mu of Qin 秦穆公, he appointed virtuous and capable people, accepted advice with an open mind, destroyed the country for twelve years, opened the land for thousands of miles, and the national strength was growing day by day. In 361 BC, Duck Xiao of Qin 秦孝公 succeeded to the throne and reused Shang Yang’s reforms 商鞅变法, which developed the economy of Qin and continuously strengthened the combat effectiveness of the army. Finally, it developed into the richest and most powerful vassal state in the late Warring States period.

Major Historical Events

Burn Books and Bury the Literati in Pits 焚书坑儒

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
Burn Books and Bury the Literati in Pits 焚书坑儒

The essence of “burning books and pitching Confucianism” is actually a movement to unify ideas. In the early years of the Qin Dynasty, just after the Warring States period, the “hundred schools of thought 百家争鸣” continued, and the ideological field was extremely chaotic. The most important condition for the unity of a country is the extent to which it can form common values, and ideological confusion is the great enemy of forming common values.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
Bury the Literati in Pits 坑儒

Qin Shi Huang adopted Lisi’s 李斯 suggestion and ordered the burning of historical records of other countries other than Qin Ji 秦记. The private collections of Classic of Poetry 诗经 and Book of Documents 尚书 that do not belong to the doctor’s office shall also be handed over and burned within a time limit. Those who dare to talk about Classic of Poetry and Book of Documents will be put to death, and those who criticize today will be exterminated. Private learning is prohibited. Those who want to learn laws and regulations should take officials as teachers. This is called “burning books”.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
Burn Books and Bury the Literati in Pits焚书坑儒

In the 35th year of Qin Shihuang (212 BC), after the failure of alchemists Lu Sheng 卢生 and Hou Sheng 侯生 to seek immortality for Qin Shihuang, they privately talked about Qin Shihuang’s personality, governance, and seeking immortality, and then fled with huge funds for seeking immortality.

Qin Shihuang was furious when he knew about it, so he moved his anger to the alchemist and ordered a search and interrogation in the capital. 460 people were arrested and buried alive.

North Levy the Huns 北征匈奴

The Huns were distributed on the Mongolian Plateau 蒙古高原. Since the end of the Warring States period, they often invaded the south. After the reunification of the whole country, Qin Shi Huang sent Meng Tian 蒙恬 to lead an army of 300000 to fight against the Huns. In the 32nd year of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (215 BC), Meng Tian recovered the land south of Hetao 河套, the so-called “land of Henan 河南地” at that time, and further expelled the Huns the next year.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
The Great Wall of Qin 秦长城

The Qin Dynasty set up 34 counties from Yuzhong 渝中 (east of today’s Lanzhou, Gansu 甘肃兰州, but there are different theories) to the north, east of the Yellow River, and south of Yin Mountain 阴山. The Qin Dynasty also repaired and connected the great wall of Yan 燕国, Zhao 赵国, and Qin 秦国 during the Warring States period, and built the Great Wall, one of the great projects of the ancient world from Lintao 临洮 (now Minxian, Gansu 甘肃岷县) in the west to Liaodong in the East, to protect the agricultural areas in the North. Then Qin relocated tens of thousands of people to Hetao. This has played a positive role in the reclamation of border areas and the strengthening of border defense.

Referring to a Deer as a Horse 指鹿为马

The original meaning of “referring to a deer as a horse” is to point to a deer and say it is a horse. It is a metaphor for deliberately confusing black and white and confusing right and wrong.

In 210 BC, after the death of Qin Shihuang, Hu Hai 胡亥colluded with eunuch Zhao Gao 赵高 to forge an imperial edict, and crown prince Hu Hai inherited the emperor, known as Qin II 秦二世.
Zhao Gao made great contributions to Hu Hai and became the closest senior official of Qin II. Although at this point, Zhao Gao was not satisfied but intended to usurp his position as emperor. He was worried that civil and military officials would not accept it, so he thought of a trick and did an experiment first.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
referring to a deer as a horse 指鹿为马

One day, Zhao Gao brought a deer to Qin II and said it was a thousand-mile horse. Qin II said, “is the prime minister wrong? This is a deer. How can we say it’s a horse?”Zhao Gao ignored Hu Hai’s words and sternly asked the ministers around him. Some ministers are afraid of Zhao Gao’s power and dare not speak; Some lied to Zhao Gao in order to please him, while some ministers were unwilling to go against their conscience and spoke frankly.

Zhao Gao believes that those who tell the truth are unwilling to yield to his command, so he imposes various charges on them, or is expelled from the court or killed.

Important Influences

Unification of Qin Dynasty

The books of the Qin Dynasty are the same, the cars are on the same track, and the weights and measures are unified. It makes people everywhere write the same words, which paves the way for the education system for the whole people.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
The qin dynasty united

The use of wheels of the same size allows transportation to travel unimpeded in the country. The unification of measurement units is an essential requirement to facilitate national statistical data and people’s economic activities Therefore, it makes the country more cohesive as a whole, rather than the patchwork of various regions.

The first centralized state in Chinese history

The establishment of the Qin Dynasty was achieved by means of annexation war. It not only destroyed the decadent central ruling institutions but also ended the separatist regimes among the vassal states whose territory expanded since the Zhou Dynasty.

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
centralized state 中央集权

This makes the remnants of old forces everywhere almost negligible, and the central government can be highly centralized so that the whole of China exists as a country. Therefore, the Qin Dynasty ended the division and turbulence in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States period and established a unified political power.

Establish the system of prefectures and counties

Qin Dynasty 秦朝
prefectures and counties 秦朝郡系图

Compared with the enfeoffment system in the pre-Qin period, the county system in the Qin Dynasty no longer enjoyed too much power and the official position could not be inherited. Therefore, the situation of monopoly and separation of local big families was broken. Through the appointment and removal of local officials, the central government has achieved maximum control, weakened local power, and guaranteed centralization. This will safeguard the stability of the country.

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