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China, a History


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Bee Cha
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« Reply #60 on: October 07, 2007, 06:18:41 am »



Qin empire in 210 BC

Qin Shi Huangdi imposed the State of Qin's centralized, non-hereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire in place of the Zhou's quasi-feudalistic one. The Qin Empire relied on the philosophy of legalism (with skillful advisors like Han Fei and Li Si). Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. Characters from the former state of Qin became the standard for the entire empire. The length of the wheel axle was also unified and expressways standardized to ease transportation throughout the country. To silence criticism of imperial rule, the emperor banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books.

To prevent future uprisings, Qin Shi Huangdi ordered the confiscation of weapons and stored them in the capital. In order to prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he also destroyed the walls and fortifications that had separated the previous six states. A national conscription was devised: every male between the ages of seventeen and sixty years was obliged to serve one year in the army. Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south. To fend off a barbarian intrusion (mainly against the Xiongnu in the north), the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a wall; this is usually recognized as the first Great Wall of China, although the present, 4,856- kilometer-long Great Wall of China was largely built or re-built during the Ming Dynasty. A number of public works projects, including canals and bridges, were also undertaken to consolidate and strengthen imperial rule. A lavish tomb for the emperor, complete with a Terracotta Army, was built near the capital Xianyang, a city half an hour from modern Xi'an. These activities required enormous levies of manpower and resources, not to mention repressive measures.

Qin Shi Huangdi's behavior reportedly increasingly became erratic in the latter years of his rule. This may have been the result of drinking solutions containing mercury as well as other deadly compounds. Ironically, Qin ingested the mixtures in an increasingly desperate search for an elixir that would prolong his life. It has often been speculated that this was at least partially responsible for many of his later acts such as building the terracotta army. The elixirs may also have been the cause of his eventual death.
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