Qin Shi Huang-秦始皇嬴政

Emperor Qin Shihuang, whose birth name was Ying Zheng, was the son of Prince Zhu, also known as Yi Ren, who was the grandson of King Zhao of Qin and the son of Prince Anguo. However, his noble lineage did not bring him much advantage, as Prince Anguo had many wives and concubines, resulting in over 20 sons, with Zhu ranking in the middle and receiving little favor.

During the warring states period, when alliances among the seven states were ever-shifting, Zhu was sent to the state of Zhao as a hostage. Living in dire conditions as a hostage, Zhu was supported only by a servant named Zhao Sheng, who later became the father of Zhao Gao, the infamous figure known for the “calling a deer a horse” incident.

In any era, there are opportunists, one of whom was a man named Lv Buwei from the state of Wei, who was both intelligent and ambitious. He became wealthy through speculative business and sought to gain political power. After careful analysis of the situation, Lv Buwei set his sights on Zhu to achieve his political dreams of becoming a key figure in establishing a stable government.

With Lv Buwei’s support, Zhu enjoyed a life of luxury and quickly made influential connections among the nobility. Lv Buwei then persuaded Lady Huayang, the primary wife of Prince Anguo, to adopt Zhu as her son and heir, ensuring her own status. Lady Huayang, influenced by Lv Buwei’s words, decided to adopt Zhu as her son. Despite initial resistance from Prince Anguo, Lady Huayang managed to secure the approval of King Zhao of Qin with the help of the queen dowager.

With Zhu’s legitimacy established, Lv Buwei continued to support him in making preparations for his future reign. Zhu’s mother, Lady Zhao, was given to him by Lv Buwei and was originally a street singer. Lv Buwei believed that a king needed someone he could control, so he sent Lady Zhao to Zhu. Zhu, who had spent years as a lowly hostage, welcomed Lady Zhao warmly, and she bore him a son, Ying Zheng, who later became Emperor Qin Shihuang.

During Zhu’s exile in Zhao, Qin and Zhao were at odds, leading to multiple attacks by Qin forces on Zhao’s capital, Handan. With the help of Lv Buwei, Zhu managed to escape from Handan and return to Qin. However, Lady Huayang and her son Ying Zheng faced danger in Zhao and were forced to hide with Lv Buwei’s assistance. Eventually, they managed to evade the threat and returned to Qin when the relations between Qin and Zhao improved.

After years of being the Crown Prince, Anguo was finally about to ascend the throne, but his reign was short-lived. Just three days after officially becoming king, Anguo passed away. Zhu then ascended the throne and became King Zhuangxiang of Qin. However, his reign lasted only three years before he also passed away, leaving the 13-year-old Ying Zheng to inherit the throne and begin his journey to become Emperor Qin Shihuang.

After ascending the throne, Emperor Qin Shihuang initially did not hold real power, as it was controlled by Lv Buwei. However, as he grew older, he began to assert his authority and eventually took full control of the government. He implemented various reforms to strengthen centralization and streamline administration, laying the foundation for the Qin Empire. He also initiated ambitious projects such as the construction of the Great Wall and the standardization of laws, currency, weights, and measures.

Despite his achievements in unifying China and implementing reforms, Emperor Qin Shihuang’s rule was characterized by tyranny and extravagance. He resorted to harsh measures to maintain control, leading to widespread resentment among the people. His pursuit of immortality and his brutal suppression of dissent further fueled opposition to his rule.

In his later years, Emperor Qin Shihuang embarked on several expeditions in search of immortality, but he ultimately died during his fifth tour. His death marked the beginning of the downfall of the Qin Dynasty, as power struggles ensued among his successors, leading to the eventual collapse of the empire.