Emperor Qin Shi Huang was born Ying Zheng in 259 BC. He was a prince of the Qin province, one of the seven major provinces of ancient China.
This era was called the “Warring States Period” because the seven provinces were constantly fighting each other. Zheng spent his childhood learning about these politics.
Zheng became king aged 13 when his father (King Zhuangxiang) died. Although Zheng was helped to rule by advisors at first, he was very ambitious and planned to conquer the other provinces and end the war. People tried to assassinate him but failed.
In 230 BC, Zheng began to conquer the other provinces. The first province to be conquered was Han. He then won Zhao, Yan, Wei and then Chu in 223 BC.
The last province was Qi, in the far east. Zheng was sneaky and invaded Qi from the north, when all the army was in the west.
He captured the king and took over the province. With all of China unified, Zheng named himself Shi Huang, meaning First Emperor, to show he was more than just a king.
Qin became the first emperor of China in 221 BC and started the Qin dynasty as well as the era of Imperial China.
He created changes to unify the provinces while stopping them rebelling. Anybody who disagreed was killed.
- Government: Qin divided China into 36 small provinces, with two heads of each.
These were also divided multiple times, and everything was watched over by a strong, central government.
This let Qin spy on people and stop rebellion.
- Standardisation: Qin made it so there was only one of everything in China.
He created one currency, one set of laws, one language, and one set way of weighing and measuring.
Qin created groups of enforcers to make sure people obeyed him.
- Powerful People: Qin took land away from the nobility to reduce their power and wealth and stop them rebelling.
He also burned any books that were not about agriculture, medicine or prophecy.
He though anything else wasted time and people should be focusing on helping China, not learning.
- Peasants: Qin assigned peasants to grow food or harvest silk. The could do nothing else.
He let a select few build new bridges, roads and canals. If anyone was slow or lazy, they were killed or sent to work on the Great Wall.
Qin thought he was a good person as his dictatorship and rules stopped millions of people dying from famine or war.
However, when he died in 210 BC, his son (the new emperor) was overthrown by a peasant revolt. The peasant leading the revolution became the first emperor of the Han dynasty.
- Ying Zheng was the prince of Qin during the Warring States.
- Zheng conquered the other provinces and united them as one.
- Zheng renamed himself Qin Shi Huang, meaning the First Emperor of Qin, and started the Qin dynasty.
- Qin divided China into 36 small areas which were governed by two people equally.
- Qin stopped rebellion by recruiting spies and creating an enforcer group.
- Qin standardised money, language, law and trade across China.
- Qin took power from the rich and censored teachers and books to stop rebellion.
- Peasants were made to grow food or silk or build infrastructure.
- Anyone who defied Qin was put to death or made to work on the Great Wall.
- Why did Ying Zheng rename himself after conquering China?
Qin Shi Huang meant First Emperor and showed he was above the old kings.
- How did Qin stop rebellion?
He took land and power away from the nobility and spied on everyone in government.
- Why did Qin censor books and teachers?
He wanted peasants to concentrate on helping China grow, not to learn about arts.
- What was the Great Wall?
A huge wall surrounding China that Qin built. People were forced to work on it if they disobeyed him.