Chinese intellectual and spiritual history-the reason why this period is also known as that of the Hundred Schools. As well as the theoretical ethical philosophy of Confucius (see Famous People) which came to be opposed by the Legalist school, the thoughts of Laotse (see Famous People) and his pupil Zhuang Zi, founding partners of Taoism, were gaining acceptance.
A prince from western China united the individual autonomous Qin Dynasty empires into the first Chinese state. Southeast asia travel route map During the seventeen years from 221-206 b.c.
238 to 221 b.c. and using a mixture of force and diplomacy he laid the foundations for his assumption of power. In 221 b.c. he was appointed Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi and founded the Qin Dynasty, after which China is named. During his reign from 221 to 210 b.c. the emperor succeeded in creating an economic, cultural and administrative structure. He was buried together with more than 7000 terracotta soldiers; his tomb was discovered in 1974 near Xi’an.
For the purposes of unification the borders between the smaller states were annulled, their defences destroyed and the first section of the Great Wall was built – it was intended not just as a defensive wall, but also as a border and a route for trade and transport. A network of roads was constructed to link all parts of the empire and the emperor also improved the country’s waterways. The Silk Road was established to link China with the cities of the Middle East. Furthermore the emperor abolished the feudal system, replacing it with an administrative structure with prefectures and districts. Measures, weights, coins, the calendar, laws and Chinese script, an important factor in overcoming the language differences, were standardised.
The speed and the repressive nature with which the emperor carried out these changes lost him the sympathies of the landowners. The princes’ weapons were confiscated, cultural heritage, including any scientific works, was destroyed and supporters of Confucianism
As a result, smaller, independent states were formed to resist centralised power. The dynasty’s rulers incurred the hatred of the exploited masses, many of whom were forced to work on the construction projects. In 209 b.c. a peasants’ uprising sealed the fate of the first imperial dynasty. It lasted only a short time but the basis for a constitutional state as laid down by the Legalists was to endure.
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