The First Emperor Of China

By Jessica Ravi

Qin Shi Huangdi

The Qin leader who defeated the Zhou was a 39-year-old man who called himself Qin Shi Huangdi (chin shur hwung-dee), meaning ‘supreme emperor of the first generation’. Qin Shi Huangdi was the first to rule a united empire within China. Apart from periods of disunity, this system of imperial rule lasted from 221 BC to AD 1911.

Qin Shi Huangdi was a powerful leader as he unified China. He did many great things for China like;

  • He increased his control over China through building projects
  • He created irrigation systems that helped farmers to control flooding and ensure a good water supply
  • Ordered that the old walls, built as protection from northern invaders, be joined to form one very long wall — the Great Wall of China
  • He enforced a common coinage and introduced a single system of weights and measures
  • He encouraged use of a common language and writing script and applied the same laws and punishments throughout the whole of China
  • He even ordered that cart axles all be made to a standard width
  • This meant that wheel ruts worn into the earth roads would be the same width throughout China.

Qin Shi Huangdi died of natural causes in 210 BC while making a trip around his empire. His advisers tried to hide his death by taking him back to Xianyang in his carriage. They attached a load of dead fish to the carriage to cover up the smell of the emperor's decaying body.