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The Tyrannical Rule of King Shi Huangdi

Question:

Discuss about the Important Issue in traditional Asian history, covering China, Korea and Japan.

In the essay, the history of the Asian countries is analyzed in the purview of their effect on the future. The country chosen for this assignment is China and the history of China is analyzed. The effect of the different events occurring in the history of the country has a great influence on the future instances. China is one of the countries, which has been the seat of early civilization and has a rich cultural history. The oriental countries have a culture and tradition, which are different from the western world (Zhang, 2015). The effect of an individual ancient event on this culture and the cultural diversity is the topic of discussion in this essay. In this essay, the topic of choice is the rule of King Zheng of Qin – Shi Huangdi and the effect of his rule on the history of China (Berit & Strandskogen 2015). This paper will demonstrate that the event of book burning and the burying of Confucians in the rule of King Zheng of Qin – Shi Huangdi greatly affected the history of the country and the effects of Shi Huangdi’s administration.

King Zheng of Qin – Shi Huangdi, often regarded as the first emperor in the world ruled China between 221-210 BCE and is known for his advocacy of feudalism (Cotterell, 2014). The king ascended the throne in 221 BCE at an early age of 13 and became the first emperor of Unified China. He brought the whole country under his rule by winning against the Warring States of China. He destroyed the walls fortifying the borders of the different states of the tribes and from their ruins; the construction of the Great Wall of China began (Williams, 2015). The rule of King Shi Huangdi brought a drastic change in the working of the Chinese feudalism. One of the major events in the history of China was the burning of book and the burying of philosophers, which took place between 213 and 210 BCE. This caused a great loss to the study of ancient china as most of the documents containing the history of China were destroyed because of this (Fang, 2015).  The main reason for the event of the destroying of books and the burying of the philosophers of the country was the advice of Li Si the advisor of Emperor Zheng. The main reason for the burning of books was to avoid any comparison of Shi Huangdi’s rule and policies with the older rulers.  Contrary, to the belief all the texts were not burned. The texts that were to be submitted to the governor by the common people included the poems of Shih, the Classics of History or the works of Hundred philosophers. The books were to be kept only by academicians who had the duty of keeping the books (Pines, 2016).  To avoid the dissatisfaction of the people from the present scenario the documents were destroyed under the rule of the king (Dolce, 2014).  The books on the topics of music, astrology and medicine were exempt from this rule of the emperor.

The Burning of Books and Burying of Philosophers


During his long rule, the emperor had the incessant dream of a long and eternal life for which he took the help of two alchemists. Their failure in doing so agitated the emperor to the point that he ordered the execution of 460 alchemists in the kingdom (Fukuyama, 2016). He also killed anyone who wanted to save or preserve the books he ordered to be burned. He was against the Confucian philosophy, which made him kill a number of Confucian monks, which greatly threatened the philosophy. This caused a great furor in his empire but they were tyrannically subdued (Huang-Ti, 2015). The mass killing is greatly criticized by the contemporary historians and philosophers. The rule of King Shi Huangdi greatly changes the dynamics of the Chinese history as much of the historical data about its rich cultural heritage was lost and there are no credible sources of Chinese history today (Hou, 2015).

The tyrannical action of the Emperor had a great effect on the society culture and the history of the country. The information that can be gathered from the action of the king varies from tyranny to the society of China during his rule (Kulmar, 2014). Firstly, from the action it can be deduced that the rule was tyrannical with no freedom to criticize any government policies. The policies of the king included the unifying of China by bringing the territories under his control. He ruled by brute force punishing anyone who tried to criticize him or stood against his policies. Secondly, he took the right of the hierarchical rule of the governors and took upon himself the sole right to change and appoint governors (Kulmar, 2014). Thirdly, he wanted an imperial rule to last for a long time for which he even tried to increase his own life with the help of alchemists.


The emperor was greatly influenced by the ideal of creating a large empire extending throughout China. His administration greatly revolutionized China’s history and brought about a number of changes in the country. Under his rule, the language of China developed and a common language was accepted in the empire. In his rule, he greatly improved the canal system for an easier transportation of vessels in China. Before the rule of Shi Huangdi, china had no currency; he introduced a common currency throughout China. The building of the Great Wall of China to keep vandals out of his country was a great stem in consolidating the country, which was completed in later fourteenth century by the Ming dynasty (Williams, 2015).  He wanted to keep a complete control on the functioning of the organization. Shi Huangdi introduced a common coinage system in the whole of China so that there are no currency discrepancies.

Impact on Society and Culture

During the assessment of the rule of King Shi Huangdi, there are various topics to be focused on to show the effect of his rule on the history of China. His administrative measures were an able on to manage a huge empire but the tyrannical enforcement angered people against him. The coinage and the canal system greatly helped in the unification of the empire. The empire under the rule of King Shi Huangdi was a vast empire and the lack of diversity in his approach enraged the local population. The burning of the books was an incident, which tainted his fame not only during his time but also throughout history. The rule of Shi Huangdi brought a change in the administration and overall culture of the country as it united the whole of china under a rule with a common language, set of laws and currency. The rule would have lasted longer and would have been more counter-productive for his dynasty had he refrained from tyranny.


The major point for which the rule of Shi Huangdi is to be remembered is the burning of books and the killing of philosophers and the alchemists who wanted to save them. The burning of the books caused a great part of ancient history to be lost in time. The killing of the monks greatly threatened the philosophy and had the later Han dynasty not revived it. Shi Huangdi was even criticized by his son Fusu for killing the Confucians as it caused widespread hatred against the emperor. The loss of the learning in the empire due to the burning of the books and killing of the monks greatly contributed to fall of the dynasty.

There were a number of reasons for the downfall of the Qin dynasty, which in spite of uniting the whole of China could not rule for long (Zaharia, et al., 2014). Firstly, the tyrannical policies of Shi Huangdi greatly agitated the locals and farmer against him. Secondly, the burning of the books greatly harmed the reputation of the king and brought about the end to the dynasty. Thirdly, the emperor’s stance against the governors caused him the loss of support in times of need. Fourthly, the killing of the Confucian monks greatly agitated the people of the empire against him causing intolerance against his reign in the empire. Though he is greatly hated, some historians argued that he might be portrayed in the wrong light by the later Confucians. It is argued that since he was against their philosophy and took strict action against them, the later Confucians showed him more tyrannical than he really was.

Administrative Measures Under Shi Huangdi


Thus, in the essay the growth and development of the culture of China is seen under the rule of Shi Huangdi. He was and able warrior and an administrator who built and managed the great empire long before the Roman Empire making him the first emperor of the world. His stance against the philosophers and the books of ancient civilization greatly maligned his image. He was an able planner, which was evident from his idea of unifying language, coinage system and building transport canals throughout the country.  He also foresaw foreign threats and laid foundation of the Great Wall. Despite his various administrative achievement he was a tyrant ruling with brute force and will be remembered for the loss of culture he caused by the burning of books.

References

Berit, A., & Strandskogen, R. (2015). Lifelines in World History:" The Ancient World"," The Medieval World"," The Early Modern World"," The Modern World". Routledge.

Cotterell, A. (2014). A History of South East Asia. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd.

Dolce, J. (2014). Free speech and the skokie case. Quadrant, 58(7/8), 32.

Fang, X. (2015). Burning Books and Burying Scholars: On the Policies of the Short-lived Qin Dynasty in Ancient China (221-207 BC). International journal of liberal arts and social science, 3(7), 54-61.

Fukuyama, F. (2016). Reflections on Chinese governance. Journal of Chinese Governance, 1(3), 379-391.

Hou, R. (2015). The Ancient Great Wall in a New Era. In Symposium on Chinese Historical Geography (pp. 107-109). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Huang-Ti, S. (2015). Shi Huangdi (Qin Shi Huangdi. Lifelines in World History:" The Ancient World"," The Medieval World"," The Early Modern World"," The Modern World", 93.

Kulmar, T. (2014). ON THE NATURE OF THE GOVERNING SYSTEM OF THE QIN EMPIRE IN ANCIENT CHINA. Folklore-Electronic Journal of Folklore, (59), 165-178.

Pines, Y. (2016). China, imperial: 1. Qin dynasty, 221–207 bce. The Encyclopedia of Empire.

Williams, K. D. (2015). History 126 August 27, 2015 Cultural, social, and political consequences of the unification of China. China was unified in 221 BCE for the first time in many centuries after.

Zaharia, D., St?nculescu, E., Mihu?-Bohîl?ea, F., & Lung, E. G. (2014). Great Reformers: Psychological Analysis Of Their Personality Justinian, Julius Caesar And Shi Huangdi. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 140, 212-220.

Zhang, Q. (2015). An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture. Springer.

Fenby, J. (2008). China's imperial dynasties: 1600 BC-AD 1912. Metro Books.

Kinoshita, H. (2007). THE FIRST EMPEROR: CHINA'S TERRACOTTA ARMY: Exhibition at the British Museum, 13 September 2007–6 April 2008. Asian Affairs, 38(3), 371-376.

Miller, M., & Veatch, N. (2010). Teaching literacy in context: Choosing and using instructional strategies. The Reading Teacher, 64(3), 154-165.

Rawson, J. (Ed.). (1996). Mysteries of ancient China: new discoveries from the early dynasties. George Braziller.

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