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ChAPTER 5 -- Part 4: Classical Civilizations in the Eastern
Shi Huangdi's greatest desire was to build.
The emperor's palace was built alone and 700,000 nomadic invaders from the north were forcibly recruited to work on the northern wall and other public works projects.
Shi Huangdi's building was still going strong even after his death.
The emperor ordered the construction of a tomb for his own burial.
The high walls and broad battlements of what would become the northern wall were a formidable obstacle for nomads who wanted to invade China.
The barrier was made by joining and extending several walls that had been built by regional kingdoms in north China before they were conquered by the Qin.
The wall ran for more than 1400 miles through and above the north China plain, making it one of the most impressive engineering feats of the ancient world.
For more than two millennia, the wall has been repaired and improved to protect the interaction between Chinese civilization and the nomadic peoples to the west and north of the yellow River basin.
The Great Wall was not fully developed until after the rule of the Ming dynasty in the 15th century.
The Mount Li tomb contains a final testament to his megalomania and demands on his subjects.
Even though many of the shi served as administrators in the Qin bureaucracy, they were angered by the suppression of any ideas that were not in line with the Legalists.
The campaign to burn all but a handful of state-approved books was the culmination of the early efforts at thought control.
The works on technology, medicine, and astrology, as well as the official political history of China, were to be destroyed.
The books were written on bamboo strips and bound together.
Their high cost and small number of literate elite meant that books were hard to find.
The peasants were not happy with the demands of the Qin for taxes and labor.
The collapse of the dynasty in 207 b.c.e.
was caused by Shi Huangdi's appetite for building projects.
The tomb of the first Chinese emperor, Shi Huangdi, contained hundreds of clay warriors.
The warriors have different facial features.
The power of the founder of China's first imperial dynasty can be seen in the massed forces and clay horses found in the tomb.
The emperor's obsession with monumental building projects was a cause of the fall of the Qin dynasty within a few years of Shi Huangdi's death.
They couldn't arrive on time on the journey from their village to the construction site.
The two men decided that they had little to lose by revolting, because the death penalty for arriving late for a labor assignment was typical.
The weary peasantry and many of the disaffected shi elite were ready to listen to their calls for resistance.
The revolt spread quickly and the dynasty was overthrown in a few months.
The emperor's huge palace was burned to the ground after his son was murdered by a band of conspirators.
The short reign of Qin was a turning point in Chinese history.
China was unified by Shi Huangdi, but his centralized bureaucracy was staffed by officials.
He was not dependent on hostile vassals, a dependency that had destroyed earlier dynasties.
Strengthening the shi, who provided the social and political bonds that would hold China together through times of crisis and foreign invasion, was one of the things that Qin rule involved.
The grid of roads and canals provided by the public works projects of the Qin made it possible for later dynasties to hold territories together.
The division between the nomads of central and north Asia and the farm ers of the south was reinforced by the construction of the northern wall.
China's merchants were able to establish interregional markets thanks to improved communication and a unified currency.
The house of Han was established by another remarkable leader after the collapse of the Qin, despite the threat of a return to war and anarchy.
The Han dynasty was formed after a decade and a half of harsh state demands and oppression.
Some Vassal chiefs dreamed of founding a renewed empire after they fought the former.
The growth of great cities in the early years of the Bang's life doesn't suggest that he would become the founder of one of China's longest-lived expansion of trade and the most illustrious dynasties.
He was lazy, uneducated, and unemployed in his youth.
He was known for his love of wine and women, but his tastes stayed the same throughout his life.
In the years before the end of the Qin dynasty, he established himself as a village headman, either because he had changed his shiftless ways or through clever maneuvers.
The founder of the Han dynasty was not a military commander.
According to legend, he lost all the battles he had.
He had a gift for picking able subordinates and allowing them to exercise their talents.
While his enemies dissolved in violent factional fights, his skill at mediation allowed him to hold his armies together.
After years of campaigning and negotiation, in 202 b.c.e., the new emperor of China was proclaimed, and the Han dynasty would rule China for the next 400 years.
The system of vassalage that formed the basis of royal administration in the Zhou era was supposed to be restored by the new emperor.
He raised many of his followers to the ranks of the nobility, and he rewarded them, as well as existing lords who supported his efforts to win the throne, with large estates.
It became clear that even his once-loyal lowers were not above using the domains they had been granted to build up independent bases of power that could eventually threaten the dynasty.
After he became emperor, the shi officials who were attached to his cause promoted the determi nation to establish a more centralized imperial administration.
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