biographical name

(born c. 259 BC, Qin state, northwestern China—died 210 BC, Hebei province) Founder of the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC). His father was king of Qin, which was regarded as barbarous by the central states of China but had developed a strong bureaucratic government under the philosophy of legalism (see Hanfeizi). Aided by Li Si, Zheng eliminated the other Chinese states until in 221 BC Qin ruled supreme. He proclaimed himself Shihuangdi (“First Sovereign Emperor”) and initiated reforms designed to create a fully centralized administration. He was interested in magic and alchemy, hoping for an elixir of immortality; his reliance on magicians was strongly condemned by Confucian scholars, many of whom he executed. The scholars also advocated a return to old feudal ways; their obstinacy led him to order the burning of all nonutilitarian books. Traditional histories regarded him as the ultimate villain, cruel, uncultivated, and superstitious. Modern historians stress the endurance of his bureaucratic and administrative structure. Though the Qin dynasty collapsed after his death, future dynasties adopted his structures. He was buried in a massive tomb with an army of more than 6,000 terra-cotta soldiers and horses. See also Qin tomb.

Variants of SHIHUANGDI

Shihuangdi or Shih Huang-ti orig. Zhao Zheng

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