You are on page 1of 3

World History

/

How the Tiger of created China
They called him the Tiger of
Oin [chin). They also called him a tyrant. They said that he had the chest of a bird of prey and knew nothing about good conduct or virtue. But the man who became the First Emperor of China also created an empire from chaos. In doing so, he laid the foundations of a society that lasted thousands of years, Zhao Zheng (jkowjung) was born into a world of violence. There was no China in 259 B.C, only a collection of seven constantly fighting feudal states. By then, what historians call the Waning States Period had lasted for more than two centuries. Zheng became King of the state of Qin at the tender age of 13, upon the death of his father. The tenderness wore off quickly. As a young man, he began a relentless campaign to conquer his fellow kings. He consumed their territory, it was said, like a silkworm eats a mulberry leaf. Finally, in 221 B.C, the state of Ch'i fell to Zheng's armies. For the first time, all the warring states were united under one ruler. To mark the occasion, the victor took a new title: Qin Shi Huangdi {chin shur haangdee). History calls him, simply, the First Emperor. "Our successors shall be known as the Second Emperor, Third Emperor, and so on, for endless generations," he proclaimed.

Burning the Books
Zheng had to build most of his empire from scratch. He ordered the

Fast Forward

THIE GRIEyXT CUXY ARMY
In 19?4, some Chinese farmers were digging a well near the town of Xian [shi-an] when they made an amazing discovery. In a deep pit, they began to uncover a group of life-size terra-cotta (clay) soldiers from an ancient era. The farmers had found the tomb of the First Emperor. More than 22 square miles in area, it may be the largest tomb in history. The soldiers, called the Terra-cotta Army, were placed there to accompany the Emperor into the afterlife. The statues are extraordinarily detailed. Some soldiers carry crossbows and spears, while others ride in chariots or on horses. So far, archaeologists have uncovered more than 1,500 soldiers. But they willbediggingforalongtime. Altogether, there may be as many as 8,000 warriors in the Terra-cotta Army! (shi-an-yang), depriving them of their land and power bases. His crafty Grand Councilor, Li Su (lee soo), warned the Emperor about the many scholars who sought to glorify the feudal past "and confuse the people." The Emperor took his suggestion to burn all books in the empire, except for one copy of each to be kept in his library. With one move, Zheng sought to erase the cultural history of his enemies. himself made many trips to the ends of his empire to seek out these herbs. In 210 B.C. the Emperor died on one such trip, possibly by accidental mercury poisoning. Li Su knew well that their enemies would take advantage of this. On the trip back to the capital, the councilor had wagonloads of fish drawn alongside the Emperor's corpse to hide the smell. As word of the Emperor's death spread, uprisings started everywhere. Soon, rebels seized Xianyang. The Qin Dynasty of "endless generations" had barely lasted one. Still, the Han Dynasty and the many others that succeeded Qin's built on the foundation of his empire. And so the First Emperor achieved immortality after all. To history, he remains the leader who made possible the place we know as China.
—Bryan Brown

p 4 S//ent4rfni/: Clay soldiers ' guard the Emperor's tomb.

r

construction of a system of roads and canals throughout the land. He standardized currency and weights and measures. He also imposed a system of written Chinese characters, which until then had varied widely across the realm. To keep out the barbarians to the north, the Emperor began linking the defensive walls of the states he had conquered into one massive structure. It took hundreds of thousands of people 10 years to build the first Great Wall of China. Untold thousands of them died in the process. Qin's biggest revolution was imposing a strong central authority to take the place of the old feudal system. He even made the leading families of the Warring States move to his capita! of Xianyang The Tiger of Oi This intricate drawing depicts China's First Emperor.

Herbs of Deathiessness
Although the Tiger of Qin was among the boldest of people, he was also terrified of death. The Emperor went to great lengths to hide his whereabouts. He had some 270 palaces and pavilions around Xianyang connected by covered walks. Anyone who disclosed his location was to be executed. The Emperor forced thousands of scholars to search for "herbs of deathiessness." He hoped that some combination of these could be turned into an elixir \ (magical formula) of immortality. Zheng

Think About
1. Why did Li Su say that the scholars ofthe empire sought to confuse the people? 2. Are the benefits of an empire like Qin's ever worth the misery they cause? Explain.

JUNIOR SCHOLASTIC/APRIL 28, 2008 1 3