Emperor Qin Shi Huang: Major Accomplishments and Facts

Accomplishments of Emperor Qin Shi Huang | King Zheng of Qin (King of Qin)  was the First Emperor of Qin China

Emperor Qin (259 BC -210 BC) was influential in so many regard, having established the very foundation that Imperial China was based upon for about two thousand years. Here are a few major achievements chalked during his 11-year reign (221 BC – 210 BC):

  • He outlawed feudalism as he believed that feudalism was incongruent with his vision of a centralized government structure. Feudal lords in so many ways created division among the Chinese, which in turn lead to constant warfare.
  • Emperor Qin divided his empire into forty administrative units (commanderies). Under those units were counties and then townships. And within the townships lay family units. All the heads of those commanderies pledged unflinching loyalty to Emperor Qin.
  • In the appointment of government officials and governors, Emperor Qin was arguably the first Chinese ruler to use a meritorious approach. Applicants had to pass a set of standardized exams before getting employed into the civil service. His prime minister made sure that appointments were not based on hereditary rights or one’s status in the society.
  • As part of his economic reforms, the Emperor standardized Chinese units of measurements, including weights and currency. By so doing commerce and trade among the various commandries were made smoother. He also introduced a great deal of improvements into the road system of the empire.
  • Emperor Qin eliminated regional scripts that often times made it difficult for people from different parts of China to communicate. He standardized the Chinese script by making the Qin script the official script across the empire.
  • Emperor Qinshihuang is famed for being the Chinese ruler who started work on the Great Wall of China. The Emperor is believed to have connected together the disjointed and individual walls of Chinese towns in the north. It must be noted that it remains unclear what the actual length and course of those walls were. Emperor Qin hoped to form a network of long, strong defensive walls to keep Xiongnu (‘barbarian’) tribes from wreaking havoc on the northern border towns. To accomplish this task of his, the Emperor deployed several thousands of workers, mostly slaves, political prisoners, and criminals. He also had to rely greatly on the local resources, including stones and rammed earth, in building the walls.
  • In the south of the empire, the Emperor built the Lingqu Canal, one of the three engineering marvels of ancient China. The canal, which to this day remains in use, was built to purposely meet the transportation needs of people and goods traveling between the north and the south. It stretches for about 34 kilometers, connecting the Xiang River and the Li Jiang. The canal also allowed the Emperor to expand the empire into the south-west.

More: Longest Rivers in the World: History & Facts

Interesting facts about Emperor Qinshihuang

He was the eldest son of King Zhuangxiang of Qin, according to the Records of the Grand Historian, a book written by historian Sima Qian of the Han dynasty.

His father, King Zhuangxiang of Qin, was taken hostage by the Zhao State to guarantee the peace deal between Zhao and Qin.

His mother Queen Dowager Zhao (known formerly as Zhao Ji) was once a concubine of a wealthy businessman known as Lu Buwei. After obtaining permission from Lu, she went ahead and married Prince Yiren (King Zhuangxiang of Qin).

Emperor Qin’s name Zhao Zheng came from his birth month Zhengyue, and his clan name Zhao.

In some accounts, he was not seen as the son of King Zhuangxiang. Rather he was believed to be the son of Lu Buwei. As concubine of Lu, his mother was rumored to have gotten pregnant for Lu before getting married to King Zhuangxiang. Some scholars and sinologists beg to differ however, claiming that those statements about him being an illegitimate child of the king were simply attempts to slander him, especially when merchants were not too much of in Confucian society.

Zhao Zheng had a half-brother called Zhao Chengjiao who rebelled against him by pledging allegiance to the rulers of Zhao state. In response, Zheng executed his half-brother’s allies and families in the kingdom.

After an unknown person inscribed into the remains of a fallen meteor that Emperor of Qin would die and his land subsequently divided, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi executed all the people in Dongjun, the place where the meteor fell.

Prior to Zhao Zheng’s coronation as king of the State of Qin, Lu Buwei was banished from the kingdom as a result of a shady dealing with Queen Dowager Zhao.


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