Shih Huang-ti

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shih Huang-ti


(also Ch’in Shih Huang-ti; personal name, Ying Cheng). Born 259 B.C.; died 210 B.C. Ruler of the Ch’in kingdom (246–221 B.C.); emperor of China (221–210 B.C.). Member of the Ch’in Dynasty.

The world view of Shih Huang-ti was strongly influenced by Legism (seeFA-CHIA). After conquering six Chinese kingdoms, he established the centralized Ch’in Empire in 221 B.C. Construction of the Great Wall of China began during his reign in 215 B.C.

Shih Huang-ti had total legislative, executive, and judicial power. In 213 B.C., in an attempt to eliminate the slightest possibility of criticism of his authority, he issued a decree ordering the burning of all literature dealing with the humanities that was being kept in private collections. In 212 B.C., he executed 460 Confucians, whom he had accused of stirring up opposition to his power. During his reign, exploitation of the masses intensified. The consequent popular uprisings led to the destruction of the Ch’in Empire after Shih Huang-ti’s death.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to Abul-Farag, Al-Mamun's great book hunt reflected goals opposed to those pursued by the Chinese and the Turks,(18) who sought to excel "in the mechanical arts." The reference to the Chinese and their predilection for the "mechanical arts" at the expense of "philosophy" is not a vague allusion, but rather reflects -- in what is perhaps a legitimate hypothesis -- the tradition that has reached us through the Historical memoirs of Sseu-Ma Ts'ien: Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, the Emperor who had the Great Wall built (213 B.C.), is reported to have caused, at the urging of his advisor Li Szu, all books to be destroyed except those relating to medicine, pharmacology, and divination.
Born into an aristocratic family in the state of Ch'in, he entered the army and rose to become a general under Shih Huang-ti; commanded armies for Shih in the unification of China and the creation of the Ch'in dynasty (222); led a huge Ch'in army to conquer southern China (215-210), and established himself as viceroy of the area with his capital at Canton (Guangzhou); became increasingly independent as the Ch'in dynasty faltered, and proclaimed himself Prince of Yueh (in Zhejiang province) (205); recognized the suzerainty of the new Han dynasty (196), but retained most of his autonomy; defeated a Han invasion (181), and died about 167.
As the unifier of China, Shih Huang-ti was the founder of the Chinese Imperial system which persisted, with modifications, until 1912; an energetic and resourceful general, he was also an able ruler, but was sometimes cruel and spiteful, and was often dominated by superstition.