Friday, Feb. 04, 2011

Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang was just a young 13-year-old when he became King of the Qin state. But his rule would mark the first time China unified her warring states, in 221 B.C., with Qin as the nation's first Emperor. Beyond joining territory to create a common nation, Qin instituted standardized structure to much of Chinese society at the time, including measuring and monetary units, laws and written script, which would remain a part of Chinese society years after his death. Qin also imposed legalism on his citizens, a totalitarian philosophy that suited his sometimes brutal leadership style perfectly. Some of China's most significant cultural landmarks, among them the Great Wall, Terracotta Army museum, and Qin's own mausoleum began during his rule. He is hailed as the iconic unifier of a nation and culture. But his reign was responsible for one of China's greatest cultural tragedies, too. To keep history on his side, Qin set fire to all books not related to medicine, agriculture, certain sciences and the story of his own dynasty, and burned scholars alive for owning forbidden texts.