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Qin dynasty.. why did it end so quickly?


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#1 Guest_chineseraider_*

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Posted 30 May 2004 - 04:00 AM

I read..alright Qinshihuang unified China into the 1st Empire Qin dynasty (221 BC till 206 BC).
But it only lasted for 15 years. Why was it so short?

#2 Guest_emperorlee_*

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Posted 30 May 2004 - 04:47 AM

Well.. largely because of Qinshihuang's tyranny. He imposed a harsh life on the people so much so that people could not tolerate it anymore. After he died, his son Hu Hai was even more despotic. This caused rebellion everywhere and when it happened, the Qin could not prevent its collapse.

#3 Guest_Johnnyhome_*

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Posted 30 May 2004 - 06:07 AM

I read..alright Qinshihuang unified China into the 1st Empire Qin dynasty (221 BC till 206 BC).
But it only lasted for 15 years. Why was it so short?

That short period of 15 years, though short, was of great impact to China. Qinshihuang did many things during the 12 years of Qin Dynasty. He unified the currency, the measurement system, the language, built the great wall..

However, the period for his downfall was that he tried to eradicate Confucianism..

#4 Guest_Han_Wudi_*

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Posted 30 May 2004 - 11:11 PM

Qin Shi Huang was a legalist, believing that people were born evil (as opposed to Confucianism, "ren zhi chu, xing ben shan") and needed a strict system of rewards and punishments to keep them in line. That would explain why the laws of Qin were so strict.

To very quickly summarise the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang was despotic but a strong and able ruler. However, he had a strong fear of death and one of the immortality elixirs he took may have caused his premature death. After he died, his advisor Li Si and the eunuch Zhao Gao conspired to seize power through his second son Hu Hai. They faked an order from the late emperor to his first son, the Crown Prince, ordering him to commit suicide. Assasins were despatched and handled General Meng Tian (who supervised the construction of the Great Wall) as well.

After getting rid of all rivals, the duo enthroned Hu Hai. Zhao Gao then proceeded to get rid of Li Si and become the de facto ruler of China, with Hu Hai his puppet. The two mismanaged the country, causing it to be devastated by disease, famine and natural disasters. The first rebellion, led by Cheng Sheng and Wu Guang, arose when 900 peasants conscripted to guard the border region were delayed by bad weather on the way to their destination; under the Qin penal code, lateness of this sort meant death. Sick of Qin tyranny and deciding they had nothing to lose anyway, the men rose in revolt. Rebellion then spread throughout the country.

Zhao Gao by this time had mounted a palace coup and killed Hu Hai, intending to take the throne for himself. However, he was thwarted and killed by Qin Shihuang's nephew Ziying, who became the third and last emperor of Qin. 45 days later, Liu Bang entered Xiangyang and Ziying abdicated, ending the Qin Dynasty after just twelve years.

#5 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 31 May 2004 - 09:05 AM

Nice and informative post, Han Wudi, thanks for a concise political history of Qin after Qinshihuang died.

Chinesraider,

The downfall of Qin dynasty was already buried beneath ever since Qinshihuang was in control of the empire. He, who was largely influenced by legalism, sought to impose a harsh law on the subjects of Qin. Many were conscripted to work for the great walls, and on major large projects such as Ah Fan Palace, the 18 Bronze statue, and his own tomb. Not to mention, many people died because of this.

There was a famous story of Meng Jiang Nu, whose husband was sent to build the great wall. According to the story, her tears almost cause the collapse of the great wall.

After Qinshihuang's death, things did not improve. In fact it was even worst after Hu Hai and Zhao Gao, the eunuch mismanaged the empire and continue the tyranny. A peasant rebellion occurred led by Cheng Shen and Wu Guang followed (after they decided to quit the conscription due to delay), which started and continued through out China. Eventually, Liu Bang captured the capital and ending the Qin dynasty.

To sum up the reasons for the shortness of the Qin Empire:

1. Qinshihuang's tyranny
2. Harsh law imposed on the lives of people
3. Large expenditure on big projects
4. Peasant revolts
5. Persecution of Confucianism
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#6 Sephodwyrm

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Posted 31 May 2004 - 11:00 AM

I would agree with that the Qin dynasty fell because the people were oppressed to the breaking point. The laws of Qin were very complete, but most of the people do not know about the laws due to its sheer complexity. Han Fei Zi wanted the people to look upon the legalist officials (Li) as teachers, but unfortunately the Li failed at their duty to inform the people about the laws and enforced the laws ruthlessly. The laws, which were established to create a powerful state by protecting the people, became distorted into a means to extract everything it can from the people, and justifying the ruler's insatiable greed and the use of cruel executions and torture.

Not to mention the huge campaigns that Qin Shi Huang carried out against Bai Yue and Xiong Nu. Also, if you would have noticed most Qin officials might not have been trained bureaucrats, but ruthless soldiers that proved their efficiency and mettle on the battlefield. Han Feizi also said that you cannot have butchers as doctors or architects. But dsepite this advice, I think most Qin officials were veterans who ran their districts and provinces with great cruelty.

This is a summary of what I think was relevant:
1. Unification of China. Not all dissidents were pacified. Some ex-nobles were still harboring hopes of revenge (eg Xiang Yu)
2. The laws became increasingly cruel
3. The ruler became increasingly autocratic and became increasingly paranoid
4. Huge expenditures in terms of material and manpower in huge building projects
5. And also in huge campaiagns
6. The people became increasingly oppressed and began to see the Qin not as saviors, but as man-eating monster from hell
7. Death of Shi Huangdi and internal court struggles. Fu Su and his supporters were eliminated by the Second Emperor Hu Hai and Zhao Gao his aide
8. Another internal political crisis as Hu Hai ordered the execution of all his siblings and continued the vast building projects and continued campaigns of expansion
9. Another internal political crisis as Zhao Gao eliminated his political rivals and established a sycophant court that only obeys him. Officials now not only work to further themselves and disregard the law, but they became sycophants
10. Peasant rebellions at last has broken out, but instead of trying to eradicate the core problem, the Qin government pursued a course that would ensure more rebellions would erupt by making the laws even more harsh
11. Another political crisis as Zhao Gao forced Hu Hai to fall upon his sword
12. Peasant rebellions were now been led by ex-nobles, and the Qin armies were been defeated on the field.
13. Another political crisis as Zhao Gao was slain by Zi Ying and his sons.
14. Liu Bang, a peasant leader, enters Xian Yang. Zi Ying surrenders. End of the Qin dynasty.
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#7 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 09:57 AM

I have to say the main reasons that bury the downfall for Qin dynasty were summarised by Sephodwrym above.

I would just like to add another crucial reason and that is the "Rebellion led by Cheng Shen and Wu Guang". Without this rebellion, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu would not have come into history and certainly Liu Bang would not have captured Xianyang capital and toppled the Qin dynasty.

The 'rebellion led by Cheng Shen and Wu Guang' was said to be the 1st peasant revolts in chinese history. In July 209 BC, the Qin regime depatched 900 poor farmers to the border of the Yuyang (now Miyun, Beijing) to serve as border patrol. Cheng Sheng and Wu Guang, who were among them, were appointed leaders of the troop. On the way there, at Daze (Qi County), due to heavy rain, the roads were damaged and their trip to the destination was delayed. According to Qin penal code, those in military service would be executed if they failed to keep their appointments, so these people faced the threat of death.

Since Cheng Sheng and Wu Guang had long been dissatisfied with their poverty-striken life, and now faced the threats of death, they decided to initiate an uprising to 'save' themselves. Soon, many people joined (including Xiangyu and Liu Bang) and the uprising spreaded across the country.

I would not narrate the details of the battle but Chen and Wu soon captured many important cities and established a regime known as "Zhang Chu" (张楚) . However during the later part of the war, they encountered stiff resistance from the Qin at the vicinity of Xingyang. During the battle at Caoyang, Chen's general Zhou Wen was defeated by Qin General Zhanghan and died. His death caused internal conflict resulting in a faked order that eventually had Wu Guang killed. Having eliminated the main force of the peasant armies, General Zhanghan of Qin turned his attention towards Cheng Shen at Chen County. Eventually, Cheng Sheng was outnumbered by Qin army and he was killed by his driver, Zhuang Jia.

Although the uprising led by Chen Sheng and Wu Guang ended in failure after 6 months only, nevertheless, the anti-Qin struggle set off by them had emerged victorious, since other revolts led by Xiangyu and Liu Bang continued. Qin's General Zhanghan suffered a crushing defeat by Xiangyu at the Battle of Julu, while Liu Bang captured Xianyang (capital of Qin) in 206 BC and toppled the Qin dynasty.
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One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#8 Guest_deathdoom56_*

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 10:00 PM

The emperour wasted money and took heavy taxes to make his tomb and to find a potion of immortality. Only a man of the first emperour's military genius was able to hold the empire together

#9 thirdgumi

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 08:05 AM

The fall of Qin dyansty has to do with its inability to adapt to the new world order. The legalist Qin during Warring States period was a militaristic state, its policies were toward wars and efficiecy of administration. In a world of savage competition, such a system worked out just fine, but when Qin unified all other states, a new world order came. It was a world of peace and harmony, and the legalist system of Qin in its Warring States form would just not fit. And Qin wasn't able to adapt, because legalism worked out so good during Warring States period, Qin was reluctant to make any changes to soften the system. Also, Qin didn't know any better ways to rule. Feudalim was out of question, because they would go backward; democracy or constitutional monarchy was still unknow to them. So, what Qin did to counter the social problems was to harden even more the laws, and it reached a break point.
Some said that if Fu Su had become the emperor instead of Hu Hai, the Qin dynasty would last longer, that would be true only if Fu Su could make a reform on the system.
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#10 RollingWave

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 10:19 AM

Overburdening the public while having a major political crisis and a ineffective ruler combine for some really bad situation.....

I think Qin also puts authorian rule to the extreme... everything for the country and nothing for the people is never a good way to rule..... espically a large country.....
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#11 Sephodwyrm

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 11:50 PM

Lao Tzu did say that ruling a large nation is like frying a small fish. The more things you do it (laws) by flicking it here and there, the more tattered the small fish is going to be and it would eventually break apart.

The legalist state of Qin should have adopted Xun Zu's philosophy in ruling after unifying the nation. After five and a half centuries of on and off warfare (and the last century being almost continuous warfare) the people needed to rest and recuperate. A legalist state would do as fine but the laws should be alleviated and less extreme. However, the Qin state went the complete opposite. Vast building projects and increasingly harsh laws. A simple theft would land your entire family on the execution block. The market place was crowded with people lined up for decapitation. The prisons complexes were as large as army camps. Can you say anything about the system?

Fu Su is more inclined to letting the nation rest and more open to other points of view. Unlike Shi Huangdi who grew up in a environment where he could have so very easily lost his life in any moment, Fu Su grew up relatively sheltered and would be less paranoid. This may translate into him being more benevolent and forgiving towards people. However, we must remember that his sworn brother Meng Tian was a war hawk, but at the same time a capable administrator. There might be a possibility of the emergence of the Great Qin Empire with the ascension of Fu Su, and Chinese history...no, even Chinese culture, might have taken a drastic change.
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#12 thirdgumi

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 01:45 AM

There might be a possibility of the emergence of the Great Qin Empire with the ascension of Fu Su, and Chinese history...no, even Chinese culture, might have taken a drastic change.

Yes. For better I hope.
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#13 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 04:31 AM

The fall of Qin dyansty has to do with its inability to adapt to the new world order. The legalist Qin during Warring States period was a militaristic state, its policies were toward wars and efficiecy of administration. In a world of savage competition, such a system worked out just fine, but when Qin unified all other states, a new world order came. It was a world of peace and harmony, and the legalist system of Qin in its Warring States form would just not fit. And Qin wasn't able to adapt, because legalism worked out so good during Warring States period, Qin was reluctant to make any changes to soften the system. Also, Qin didn't know any better ways to rule. Feudalim was out of question, because they would go backward; democracy or constitutional monarchy was still unknow to them. So, what Qin did to counter the social problems was to harden even more the laws, and it reached a break point.
Some said that if Fu Su had become the emperor instead of Hu Hai, the Qin dynasty would last longer, that would be true only if Fu Su could make a reform on the system.

I fully agree with Thirdgumi's expanation. The Qin's system was adapted for war, for conquest and for making a country powerful, ready for war. It wasn't really meant for ruling and making a country stable enough to last for longer times. Eventually, when they can't adapt and do not reform, the dynasty just collapsed. Han had learnt from the experience of the collapse of Qin and thus reform and use Confucianism instead to help create a more stable society. This proved to be right.

Fu Su is more inclined to letting the nation rest and more open to other points of view. Unlike Shi Huangdi who grew up in a environment where he could have so very easily lost his life in any moment, Fu Su grew up relatively sheltered and would be less paranoid. This may translate into him being more benevolent and forgiving towards people. However, we must remember that his sworn brother Meng Tian was a war hawk, but at the same time a capable administrator. There might be a possibility of the emergence of the Great Qin Empire with the ascension of Fu Su, and Chinese history...no, even Chinese culture, might have taken a drastic change.



We could alway debate the "what - if" question here, of course, that's one of the possibility, provided Fu Su did some kinds of reform to improve the lives of the people.
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One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#14 Guest_freedom_*

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Posted 29 August 2004 - 10:51 PM

QinShiHuang did unify currency, roads, wheel size, letters, the countries, great wall, etc. However him in trying to get rid of confuciousism doesnt really matter. As he said "Confuciousim does not help us in politics, or any other aspects of life, it just merely corrupts people's thinking." Which i agree with.

Also because QinShiHuang was a tyrant and imposed strict laws and cruel tortures, people hated him. As soon as he died, ZhaoGao (QinShiHuang's favourte eunuch) basically took over everything. Because of the tyranny QinShiHuang left, and the new weak emperor, people began rebelling. For example Chen Sheng, Wu Guan, XiangLiang, etc. The Qin lasted for a while but eventually was taken over by XiangYu.

#15 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 30 August 2004 - 09:10 AM

QinShiHuang's favourte 'TaiJian' (i forgot the english word for it)


Taijian is 'eunuch' in english.. and yes, Zhao Gao is an eunuch.
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang




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