Ch'in

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Ch'in

(chĭn), dynasty of China, which ruled from 221 B.C. to 206 B.C. The word China is derived from Ch'in, the first dynasty to unify the country by conquering the warring feudal states of the late ChouChou
, dynasty of China, which ruled from c.1027 B.C. to 256 B.C. The pastoral Chou people migrated from the Wei valley NW of the Huang He c.1027 B.C. and overthrew the Shang dynasty. The Chou built their capital near modern Xi'an in 1027 B.C. and moved it to Luoyang in 770 B.C.
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 period. King Cheng took the title Shih Huang-ti or Shi Huangdi [first august emperor] in 221 B.C. and began to consolidate the new empire. In matters of state he was counseled by Li Ssu (d. 208 B.C.), a scholar of the Legalist school of philosophy, which emphasized the need for strict laws in social and political relations and for obedience to state authority. Under Shih Huang-ti, Ch'in extended the empire W to Guizhou, N to Gansu, and S to Tonkin in what is now Vietnam, and made the capital Xianyang (near modern Xi'an, Shaanxi prov.) the most splendid city of China; it is speculated that much of the Great WallGreat Wall of China,
series of fortifications, c.3,890 mi (6,260 km) long (not including trenches and natural defensive barriers), winding across N China from Gansu prov. to Liaoning prov.
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 was built during his reign. To govern the vast empire, Ch'in abolished feudalism, instituted a centralized government that was the model for later unifying dynasties, established uniform laws, weights, and measures, standardized the written language, and built a network of roads and canals that converged on the capital. Ch'in Shih Huang-ti has been regarded as a brutal autocrat by many since he is said to have imposed harsh laws, levied heavy taxes, tolerated no criticism, and burned all books except the useful ones on medicine and agriculture. Shih Huang-ti died in 210 B.C. and was succeeded by a weakling son. Overburdened peasants revolted and overthrew the Ch'in dynasty in 206 B.C. Soon after, the HanHan
, dynasty of China that ruled from 202 B.C. to A.D. 220. Liu Pang, the first Han emperor, had been a farmer, minor village official, and guerrilla fighter under the Ch'in dynasty.
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 dynasty came to power in China.

Bibliography

See D. Bodde, China's First Unifier (1938, repr. 1967); D. Twitchett and M. Loewe, ed., The Cambridge History of China (Vol. 1, 1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
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