What did Qin Shi Huang die from?

The death of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is a big mystery. It is known that he died in 210BC in Shaqiu Palace (in today's Guangzong County, Xingtai City, Hebei Province), but no further explicit record can be found. Shaqiu Palace was a desolate place where anything might have happened, which adds more mystery to this riddle. Therefore, since ancient times, people have come up with a variety of theories to explain his death. At present, two theories are favored. The first one is that he died of an illness, and the second one is that he was murdered.

People who support that he died of an illness believe he suffered from overwork. Every day, during his reign, he had to scrutinize a large number of documents and attend to every petty detail personally to ensure the preservation of imperial power. Being the first emperor in Chinese history and the builder of a centralized system, Qin Shi Huang had no precedent to follow but still had full responsibility. Overwork brought on a serious illness to this industrious emperor. In addition he went on five big tours in 12 years. Even taking the most advanced highway "Chi Dao" of the time, he suffered badly from being jolted on the bumpy roads all the time. The luxurious chariot he took cannot be compared with the car, bus and train of the modern world. Therefore, the emperor must have gone through great hardship in his long royal procession. His final trip started during a severe winter and ended in hot summer - the great change of weather might have increased his chance of disease. Also he had more than 10,000 concubines and probably was frequently active in bed, which might have damaged his health.

Kneeling Warrior
Kneeling Warrior

Though the possibility that Qin Shi Huang's died of an illness has been deeply analyzed, some people refute this. The emperor was not weak like many other emperors in history. No historical record on his illness has been found. His successful sprinting escape from Jing Ke's assassination attempt is a good example of his strength. As a result, some people think murder is more likely and mention three people suspected to have been connected with the crime. They are Hu Hai, Zhao Gao and Li Si.

Hu Hai's involvement is doubtful. He was the son of Qin Shi Huang. After learning of his brother Fu Su's succession to the throne, he might have felt dissatisfied and killed his father to vent his anger. But this presumption cannot stand firm because the rescript and royal seal were kept by Zhao Gao, whom Qin Shi Huang trusted most when he was ill. Without Zhao Gao's cooperation, Hu Hai still could not ascend to the throne even though he killed his father. Zhao was always by the side of Qin Shi Huang, therefore had more opportunities to kill the emperor. Li Si, the prime minister of Qin Dynasty, was also more likely to be the murderer, for he could keep his official position by hailing Hu Hai a new emperor after the old emperor died.

In folk legend, Emperor Qin Shi Huang died of a people's curse due to his tyrannical government. Of course, this is the most absurd hypothesis only showing the people's hatred of the emperor. Though the assertions are all logical they are unproved by any historical record or unearthed cultural relics. The death of the first emperor still remains a matter of question.

 Further Reading:
 Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum
Where was Qin Shi Huang buried?
 Why the Emperor Qin Shi Huang did not determine the empress?
 Qin Shi Huang Facts: 10 Things to Know about the First Emperor of China

- Last updated on Feb. 25, 2024 -
Questions & Answers on Death of Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Asked by Willow from USA | Jan. 12, 2022 21:41Reply
What did Qin Shi Huang die from?
I need 3 paragraphs about his death and was they think happen to him
Answers (4)
Answered by Kaylie | Jan. 12, 2022 21:44

he was known to die in 210 BC
Answered by Ari | Jul. 21, 2022 19:50

His people brainwashed him to forget to eat valuable vegetables and they tried to do everything in their power to hide the seaweed.
Answered by Ruth Cheney | Feb. 17, 2023 15:44

Some scientists believe that he wanted immortality and he called his magicians and asked for a potion to make him immortal. They told him to search far and wide to find and that it was a silvery liquid. He searched far and wide and he found mercury. He thought the potion was mercury so he drank it in small portions and died.
Answered by Hinnie | Feb. 25, 2024 16:09

It is possible that he got weakened because of his trip for immortality and caught a sickness
Asked by Shiro from JAPAN | Sep. 04, 2018 16:37Reply
how much clay did the chinese have to have to make the terracotta warriors horses
I need it for my assessment which is due tomorrow!
Answers (2)
Answered by Harry from CANADA | Sep. 05, 2018 18:54

A warrior's weight is about 160 to 180 kg and the clay is including water, so they may need the clay more than 180 kg.
Answered by charlotte | May. 27, 2021 17:33

that is interesting i may use that in humanities thanks.
Asked by Person from A COUNTRY | Jun. 23, 2015 04:24Reply
Was Qin Shi Huang's tomb built before death and finished after death?
Or was the whole tomb finished after death? Like was the tomb and all the terra cotta warriors built after he died or was it built before he died and then they sealed the tomb and made the final adjustments?
Answers (4)
Answered by Cathy from LIBYA | Jun. 23, 2015 22:29

As i know, they are all finished before his death. After his death, the seal work and final judgements were done. i heard that, since at age of 17, he began to plan to built the tomb.
Answered by Jessica from MYANMAR | Aug. 20, 2015 03:59

Over 6000 terra-cotta soldiers were with him. And there were also chariots.
Answered by Vimala Darshani | May. 14, 2021 00:01

The tomb was designed and built before his death in 210 BC which was also when he died, but after completion, he began to chase after a cure for death and became obsessed with immortality. Legends say that he had his tomb envisioned since the age of 17.
Answered by YOUR MOTHER | Feb. 17, 2023 15:46

It was started when he was just a King and was finished after his death.
Asked by xandra from NEW ZEALAND | Jul. 29, 2014 02:43Reply
what was placed in Qin Shi Huang's tomb and why?
Answers (7)
Answered by Nancy from LIBYA | Jul. 29, 2014 04:40

The tomb hasn't been excavated yet, so it's unclear about what placed inside.
Answered by Aman chaudhari from INDIA | Nov. 12, 2014 03:44

Inside the tomb there is body of qin shi huangdi bcoz it is his tomb
Answered by Sesrieiiri from SOUTH KOREA | Jan. 13, 2015 14:57

i believe they said there were terra-cotta soldiers that were all unique that reenact moments from his life
Answered by AsianTwat from THAILAND | Aug. 27, 2015 04:06

We couldn't know what inside since the tomb is not excavated. It is believe that there are traps and hazardous mercury vapor inside his tomb and it's very dangerous. What we found is not his actual tomb. Sorry for any mistake I made.
Answered by milomico from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 05, 2016 03:36

the Terracotta Army because Qin Shi Huangdi wanted other people to show his glory and victory about the army who that triumphed over the other Warring States to unite China
Answered by hijo from AUSTRALIA | Aug. 07, 2016 23:42

the terracotta soldiers were a army for the afterlife
Answered by ALICE from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 08, 2018 00:24

Important scrolls to tell that his was the second king of china after his father death at 13 years old and to tell or remind them of he was fully in control and ruled the 7 states uniting all of china so no one would take over when he was alive
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