China’s Qin Dynasty 221-207 b.c.e. The Rise of the Qin State. 24oo years ago, the Qin (pronounced “chin”) state—one of the many “ Warring States ”— became wealthy by giving land to peasants and allowing private farming. This increased productivity and lessened the power of the landlords.
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24oo years ago, the Qin (pronounced “chin”) state—one of the many “Warring States”— became wealthy by giving land to peasants and allowing private farming. This increased productivity and lessened the power of the landlords.
The Qin rulers also promoted the mining of iron to create better weapons.
Under the leadership of the “First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi”(Pronounced “Chin Shee-Hwong-Dee”), the Qin state attacked the others one-by-one starting with the ones with the best military resources such as iron.
Unable or unwilling to unite in opposition, the other Warring States fell easily and were absorbed into the Qin Dynasty’sunited China.
The Qin created a centralized bureaucracy by employing officers to make sure policies from the Qin capital at Xi’an (pronounced “Shee-ahn”) were communicated and followed.
The Qin eliminated regional
armed forces, built roads, and
constructed defensive walls.
They also introduced standard
coins, made sure all Chinese were
using the same written language,
and created a unified code of laws
used throughout China.
To discourage nomads from
attacking, to assert his power, and to find work for all the prisoners he took, Qin Shihuangdi’s most lasting construction is the earliest version of the Great Wall of China.
Earlier Chinese leaders had built defensive walls, so the idea was not new, but the Qin were the first to link these sections into a single wall.
Construction was so difficult and its workers were treated so badly that it is said (albeit greatly exaggerated) that one life was lost for each brick in the wall.)
The Great Wall of China built by the Qin was made of mud, stone, bricks, and the bones of those who died during its construction.
The modern wall as we know it was rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty 1,500 years later.
Using strict Legalism, the First Emperor was able to draft laborers by the hundreds of thousands.
To eliminate challenges, he ordered the burning of Confucian and Daoist books, ordered the execution of 460 Confucian scholars, and was ruthless in areas that dared to criticize his harsh rule.
When Qin Shihuangdi died in 210 b.c.e., his son took over but lasted fewer than three years.
The Qin had united China…in their hatred of the Qin’s Legalism. A new dynasty (The Han) took over with little resistance. It would rule China for the next 400 years.
Although hated in their time, the Qin created a united China that (despite a few short breaks) has existed under a dynasty for 2,300 years with a standardized written script and centralized rule under powerful emperors.
In 1974 the world learned that 2,184 years after his death, Qin Shihuangdi had one more surprise for us….
His tomb was found, and it contained bronze statues of military equipment, rivers of mercury, and an entire army comprised of thousands of statues of soldiers made of terra cotta—each one completely different.
Less than a third of it has been excavated—in part because it is believed to be booby-trapped.