Qin and Han Dynasties in History of China

Ying Zheng (ruler of Qin state) defeated the other six states and established the Qin dynasty (221-206) in 221 B.C., which is the first centralized feudal country in China, and he regarded himself far greater than the previous clan-leaders (the so called Three Sovereigns and Five “Emperors”) from the prehistoric age, so he claimed himself Emperor Qinshihuang (meaning the first emperor of China) and chose Xianyang (the present Xi’an) as the capital.

A series of far-reaching reforms were conducted during the reign of Emperor Qinshihuang, including establishing the centralization system, introducing a uniformity of weights, measures and Chinese characters, which still have a substantial influence on the people today. Emperor Qinshihuang ordered to build great constructions during his reign as well, including the imperial road, Afang Palace, the Great Wall and his own mausoleum, of which the most well-known one is the Great Wall that stretched from Lintao in the east and Liaodong in the east to resist the attacks from the nomadic tribes in the north. Great importance was attached to the law and the legalist (a school of thought in Warring States Period) Li Si was appointed chancellor to carry out reforms by Emperor Qinshihuang. Under Li Si’s proposal, the books of different schools (except Legalist School) were burnt, some Confucian scholars were buried alive and the weapons were taken over by Emperor Qinshihuang.

Emperor Qinshihuang died all of a sudden on his royal progress in 210 B.C., and Hu Hai (the second son of Emperor Qinshihuang) ascended the throne by killing the crown prince Fu Su (the oldest son of Emperor Qinshihuang), claiming himself Emperor Ershi (meaning the second emperor of China). Owning to Emperor Ershi’s despotic rule,

Dazexiang Uprising led by Chen Sheng broke out and the previous minister officials of the other Six States rebelled ten month later. Liu Bang rose in revolt and captured Xi’an in 206 B.C., and the last Emperor Ziying of the Qin dyasnty surrendered to Li Bang, resulting in the fall of the Qin dynasty. The war between Chu State led by Xiang Yu and the Han Sate led by Liu Bang broke out in the following years, ending with the death of Xiang Yu.

Liu Bang ascended the throne and established the Han dynasty (206-220) with Chang’an (present Xi’an) as capital, ushering a new era in the history of mankind. A series of policies were taken to reduce corvee and taxes and great importance was attached to farming and manufacturing at the beginning and in the middle age of the Han dynasty, which greatly stimulated the rapid development in economy, culture and military. The Han dynasty was at its peak during the reign of Emperor Wudi, which was titled “One of the Four Great Empires in the World” in addition to the Roman Empire, Anxi Empire and Guishuang Empire, and Emperor Wudi sent Zhang Qian to the Western Regions as an envoy, opening up the world-famous Silk-Road and promoting the culture communication between China and the Western countries.

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