PrimarySourceDocumentsChineseEmpires_080049

PrimarySourceDocumentsChineseEmpires_080049 - The Law of...

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Huangdi, First Emperor of China Like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, Shi Huangdi con- quered vast areas and unified diverse peoples under one rule. After becoming the first emperor of what is now China, he attempt- ed to suppress the traditional Confucian way of governing by imposing a harsh legal system. n 1974, near the city of Xian, Chinese archeologists unearthed I almost 8,000 full-sized clay statues of warriors, horses, and chariots. Each clay warrior bore unique facial features along with a distinct hairstyle and armor showing his military rank. The archeologists found the clay army buried on the approach to the still-unopened tomb of China's first emperor, Shi Huangdi, who died more than 2,000 years ago. Before his death, the emperor had ordered 700,000 workers to labor on his tomb. His ability to command many people to work on such projects flowed from his suc- cess as a military mastermind. But he also established a severe legal code that conflicted with traditional Chinese ideals. The Unification of China For more than 250 years before the first emperor, war raged throughout China. Starting in 481 B.C., the seven major king- doms making up what is now most of China constantly fought one another. This is known in Chinese history as the Period of Warring States. Gradually, the Kingdom of Qin, in the north, took advantage of its superior cavalry to form a fearsome war machine. Led by a series of gifted lead- ers, Qin won 15 major wars from 374-234 B.C. Near the end of this violent time, an ambitious rich mer- chant, Lu Buwei, sought the favor of Zizhu, the crown prince of Qin. In 259 B.C., Lu Buwei presented one of his mistresses to the prince. Later, this woman gave birth to a child, named Cheng, who eventually would become the first emperor of China. Tradition has it that the merchant Lu Buwei, not Crown Prince Zizhu, actual- ly fathered the child. In any case, when Cheng was 10- years-old, Zizhu became king of Qin and made Lu Buwei his chief adviser. Zizhu died after only three years on the throne. Cheng succeeded him. But since Cheng was only 13 years old, his mother and Lu Buwei governed in his name until he reached adulthood. When Cheng turned 21 in 238 B.C., he assumed full powers as king. But his mother and her lover con- spired (possibly with Lu Buwei) to overthrow his rule. King Cheng acted quickly to crush the conspira- cy. He temporarily banished his mother from the Qin capital, decapitated her lover, and removed Lu Buwei from his high office. He also ordered all foreigners expelled from Qin. But a brilliant government official, Li Si, persuad- ed him to cancel the order. Li Si, himself a foreigner, convinced Cheng that many valuable people would end up serving the enemies of Qin if forced to leave. Li Si so impressed Cheng that the king pro- moted him to minister of justice in place of Lu Buwei. Hundreds of full-size statues, like this terra-cotta
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PrimarySourceDocumentsChineseEmpires_080049 - The Law of...

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