Dynasties | Qin Dynasty 221-207BC

The rise of the Qin (pronounced 'Tchin') under the ruthless Qin Shihuangdi (The First August Emperor) marks the most significant event in the formation of China. He performed a great many reforms that bound together the disparate small states and kingdoms to form one 'empire'. His most famous undertaking was the building the Great Wall (although this was more a case of patching up and linking existing walls). It is no co-incidence that Chairman Mao had great admiration for the great Qin emperor. As often happens with such strong leaders, this megalomaniac failed to achieve his main aim - forming a long lived dynasty. His great mausoleum at Xian with its army of terracotta warriors is one of China's great archaeological treasures, much of which has not yet been excavated due, in part, to the continued deference to the one figure acknowledged as the founder of China as we know it today.

More importantly the Qin introduced standards for a decimal systems for distance, weights, coinage and measures. Perhaps the greatest single unifying act was the standardization the written language.

His importance can be measured by the fact that the very name used by foreigners for the country is China derived from the word 'Qin'. When he died his son's grip on power soon failed and the Han dynasty took over.


Qin Shihuangdi 221-210BC
Er Shi 210-207BC

Play about Qin Shihuang
A play at the Beijing Art Theatre in 1986 depicted how Emperor Qin Shihuang unified China 259-210BC.

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