Qin Shi Huang

Emperor Qin Shi Huang – First Emperor of China

Statue of Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Statue of Qin Shi Huang

Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 BC - 210 BC) fascinates people when they talk about the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors and Horses - his two greatest achievements. As the first emperor of China, he indeed has a profound influence on Chinese history and culture.

How did he come to the throne?

Qin Shi Huang, born as Ying Zheng in 259 BC, was the son of the king of the Qin State. At the age of thirteen, he succeeded his father's regality. Ying Zheng was very aggressive and ambitious at an early age. He assumed full power at 22 by ridding himself of his premier, Lu Buwei, who acted as regent while he was a minor. He wanted to unify and subjugate all the states like Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan and Qi by the powerful political, economic and military strength of the Qin State. Ying Zheng realized his ambition and built the first feudal and centralized empire in Chinese history in 221 BC. This was what we called - the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC). Ying Zheng was the first emperor of a united China, so he proclaimed himself Qin Shi Huang.

Qin Shi Huang

When Ying Zheng unified China, he considered his achievement surpassing the legendary "San Huang (three emperors)" and "Wu Di (five sovereigns)". He created a new title for himself: "Huangdi" together with "Shi (means the first)", hence get the name "Qin Shi Huang" or "Qin Shi Huangdi", which means he was the first emperor of China. He hoped his descendants would follow in his steps to rule the country for eternity.

Achievements and Defects

Qin Clay Figures
Clay Figure Soldiers in Qinshihuang's Tomb

In order to consolidate the nascent empire, Qin Shi Huang reformed politics, economy and culture. In politics, he abolished the hereditary vassal enfeoffment system and established prefectures and counties, ruled directly by the emperor. Based on the original rules of the Qin State, the emperor adopted some regulations of other rival states to form a workable law of the Qin Dynasty. In economy, he claimed that both the agriculture and commerce were very important. People should have them developed together. Besides, tax system began to function and coinage and metrology were all standardized. In culture, the emperor unified the Chinese characters in writing, which promoted the development of culture. However, he also suppressed scholars who were not to his liking. Consequently, many scholars involved were killed in Xianyang.

The symbol of the Chinese ancient civilization, the Great Wall bears witness to Qin Shi Huang's centralism. He ordered conscript laborers to link together the defensive works against marauding nomads already built by the former states. That was the forerunner of the modern Great Wall. Another world-famous achievement is the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an, which was discovered nearby the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Both are the wonders of China. But during their construction, countless conscripts lost their lives. It's really wasting manpower and resources.

Decline of the First Emperor

Emperor Qin Shihuang''''s Mausoleum
Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum

Qin Shi Huang longed for longevity, so he sent his ministers to go on quests seeking for an elixir of immortality. However, death claimed him before he could find success on that matter. He departed from the world of the living in 210 BC while traveling. The Peasant Uprising led by Chen Sheng and Wu Guang broke out soon after Hu Hai, the second generation, got onto the throne. Accordingly, the Qin Dynasty came to an abrupt end in 206 BC. Qin Shi Huang is truly an epoch-making historic emperor in history.

 Mystery about Emperor Qin Shi Huang
 What did Qin Shi Huang die from?
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

 Two Sons of Emperor Qin Shi Huang
 Fu Su           Hu Hai

- Last updated on Dec. 15, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Asked by eatmypoosi from SAVEAHORSERIDEME | Feb. 29, 2024 12:47Reply
hii did he die in 206 BCE?
Answers (1)
Answered by Helen | Feb. 29, 2024 18:19

It is said he died in 210 BC.
Asked by sugarboomboom from CHINA | Feb. 29, 2024 12:44Reply
how long did he serve over?
Answers (1)
Answered by Andy | Feb. 29, 2024 18:19

It was about 37 years.
Asked by Nicholas La Rosa from USA | Feb. 19, 2024 12:21Reply
Ming dynasty capital
Answers (1)
Answered by Marcy | Feb. 19, 2024 17:11

The capital of the Ming Dynasty is located in today's Beijing.
Asked by china from CHINA | Nov. 07, 2018 15:31Reply
what are peoples thoughts on Qin shi Huang
what do you think is he good or bad???
Answers (12)
Answered by Ivey from USA | Nov. 07, 2018 18:59

He has his failures and achievements and you cannot say he is a bad or good emperor. He is China's first emperor and also the founder of the Chinese emperor system, so that China has entered a multi-ethnic centralized monarchy era. He made the first time that China has completed the political unification, which laid a foundation for subsequent dynasties to seek unity. But since the ancient times, he has always been a controversial figure. He was also cruel. He burned books and potholes, so that the free thought and spirit since the spring and autumn period were attacked, and also destroyed the culture. He enacted harsh laws that put people in a hard life.
Answered by Caitlin from AUSTRALIA | Sep. 07, 2019 22:40

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Answered by braedon from USA | Jan. 16, 2020 08:51

Yes, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi was an effective leader because he helped form China.
Answered by rachel from CHINA | Feb. 10, 2020 07:56

yes it is he is a good leader he changed rules and helped people he changed the culture and politics
Answered by Wade from CHINA | Feb. 24, 2020 05:39

We can't prejudge wether an emperor is standout or anomic,but essentially speaking,he is a successful leader just because he tried his best to be satisfactory to his underlings and the whole volk,so that he can strongen his country.We can imagine freely ,how hard the emperor built such a powerful country.
Answered by Zoe | Mar. 04, 2021 10:59

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Answered by olivia | Jun. 02, 2021 20:44

Hi. Many people have different opinions about this subject. My personal opinion.. he is a visionary leader as he did many actions to make China a good place, Protecting his country. However, he did kill his own citizens extremely often. This is very harsh and interesting of an emperor to do. He did many things good, making him a visionary and he also did many things bad, making him a tyrant. Honestly, I don't even know at this point. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great day/night. c:
Answered by Katie | Apr. 08, 2022 08:09

Hi, I think he is a bad leader because he buried 400 people live for not agreeing with him.
Answered by Kangaroo | Jun. 08, 2022 17:10

Qin shi huang i think is bad and good at the same time
Answered by jye | Aug. 08, 2022 19:48

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Answered by jess | Aug. 24, 2022 16:57

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Answered by Ally | Apr. 14, 2023 09:56

Same with my project! :)
Asked by hannah from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 06, 2018 22:11Reply
what punishments did Qin Shi Huang use against his people?
I need to write an essay on whether he was a good or a bad leader
Answers (4)
Answered by Penny from USA | Nov. 07, 2018 19:11

Qing Shi Huang made the severe law and heavy taxation to control his people and people at that time lived a hard life.
Answered by Angel from AMERICA | Jan. 08, 2019 14:10

Thanks For asking that the awsers helped me.... :) :) :)
Answered by hannah | Nov. 01, 2020 03:26

your welcome for the aswers.
Answered by Imogen | Jun. 08, 2022 17:13

This really helped me in my project about qin shi huang it got me an A
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