's Ancient Civilizations of the World/Qin Reforms and Bureaucracy

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Qin Reforms and Bureaucracy[edit | edit source]

Statue of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

The Qin government was highly bureaucratic, and was administered by a hierarchy of officials, all serving the First Emperor. The Qin put into practice the teachings of Chinese philosopher Han Fei, allowing the First Emperor to control all of his territories, including those recently conquered. All aspects of life were standardized, from measurements and language to more practical details, such as the length of chariot axles. King Qin Shi Huang (259 BCE – 210 BCE) and his advisers also introduced new laws and practices that ended feudalism in China, replacing it with a centralized, bureaucratic government. Under this system, both the military and government thrived, as talented individuals could be more easily identified in the transformed society. Later Chinese dynasties emulated the Qin government for its efficiency, despite its being condemned by Confucian philosophy. Such a system, however, could be manipulated by power-hungry individuals; one example of such an occurrence was documented in the Records of Officialdom. A commander named Hu ordered his men to attack peasants, in an attempt to increase the number of "bandits" he had killed; his superiors, likely eager to inflate their records as well, allowed this.

King Qin Shi Huang also improved the military, despite the fact that it had already undergone extensive reforms. The military used the most advanced weaponry of the time. The invention of the sword during the Warring States Period was a great advance. It was first used mostly in bronze form, but by the third century BCE, the Qin were using stronger iron swords. The demand for this metal produced resulted in improved bellows. The crossbow had been introduced in the fifth century BC and was more powerful and accurate than the composite bows used earlier. It could also be rendered ineffective by removing two pins, which prevented enemies from capturing a working crossbow.

The Qin also used improved methods of transportation and tactics. The state of Zhao had first replaced chariots with cavalry in 307 BCE, but the change was swiftly adopted by the other states because cavalry had greater mobility over the terrain of China.

The Terracotta army.

The First Emperor developed plans to fortify his northern border, to protect against the nomadic Mongols. The result was the initial construction of what later became the Great Wall of China,which was built by joining and strengthening the walls made by the feudal lords, which would be expanded and rebuilt multiple times by later dynasties, also in response to threats from the north. Another project built during King Qin Shi Huang's rule was the Terracotta army, intended to protect the emperor after his death. The Terracotta army was inconspicuous due to its underground location, and was not discovered until 1974.

Attribution[edit | edit source]

"The Qin Dynasty: Government and Military" (Wikipedia)