A large meteor, and the death of the first emperor of China

4 min read

Over the ages, the wonderfull traditional chinese culture had brought to humankind a large number of important relics, heroes, sages, inventions and schools of thought. And having lived in such a rich spiritual background, some chinese people today, maybe less from the ones in antiquity, still believe that there is a Heaven above and that good is rewarded with good and evil with evil.

Being a central nation in the history and culture of Asia, China had also been home to many positive and negative leading figures, and their destiny, glorious life and tragic endings endured for a long time.
One of those such examples is Ying Zheng, the king that, in the year 221 B.C, became the first self-proclaimed emperor of China. As the king of state Qin, he conquered his neighbours, the kingdoms of Shang and Zhou, trough military forces. Soon after his victory, he managed to proclaim a new title never seen before in China, ”Huang Di”, or emperor, that used by the rulers of China for another two milennia.

The rule of Ying Zheng was brutal and short, but it left behind many important changes. Using drastic reforms in the field of administration, economy and philosophy, he gave China a completely new look. Even more so, he managed to unify the smallers walls from the northern China, forming what is known today as the Great Wall of China.

His strategy include draconic laws aplied even on the intelectual realm, trough which he tried to block free thinking and the liberty of expression. He eliminated the so called One Hundred Schools of Thought and banned many filozofical and religious books. Even more, as if that was not enough, he killed hundreds of confucianist scholars, promoted sclavery and used harsh punishments.In the place of traditional beliefs, Qin Shi Huang promoted legalism, which was basicaly a system that required people to follow the laws or be severly punished.

Reaping high taxes from the population and using military force to gather manpower for his constructions works, the first emperor of China also glorified himself on many occasions. Over his life he built lavishly palaces and a huge mausoleum that was guarded by an army of terracotta warriors. Probably, after three assasination attempts against him, the emper or feared that his enemy will try to kill him even after he goes in the afterlife, so he hoped that the terracotta army would protect him from evil spirits, as the ancient chinese belief holds.

Yet despite it’s military power that he kept to guard the country and his efforts to unite China, Qin Shi Huang Di’s rule ended very fast.

In ancient times, people from all walks of life believed that the life and death and the succesion of kings is all a gift granted by the heavens as a judgment for their deeds in life. In this way, the first emperor was surprised when a large meteorite had fallen in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. And even more so, on the cosmic rock there was inscribed a prophecy announcing the emperor’s death.

”The first emperor will die and his kingdom will be divided (始皇死而地分)”.

Hearing this, the ruler sent an imperial secretary in the area to investigate the meteorite, but he didn’t found any trace of the one who wrote the grim prophecy. In a futile attempt, Qin Shi Huang Di ordered that the people in the region to be killed and the rock to be burned and destroyed.

Despite his efforts, only two months later, on 10 september 210 B.C., Ying Zheng died while he was traveling to his palace in the prefecture of Shaqiu. It has been said that his death was caused by the pills of mercury that he ingest in his long quest after an elixir of immortality. But while his statesman tried to hide his death for two months, there weren’t many things that could prove the real cause of his death.

His tragic tale kept going on, and only two months later after his death, his younger son, Huhai, became the second emperor of China. But Hu Hai, or Qin Er Shi, was not so capable as his father, and led the country in an extreme civil unrest. In this way, the legacy of the first emperor came soon to an end. Everything that he build had crumbled away, and a new dinasty, the great Han, emerged in China.

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