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9th century BC–221

Capital Xichui (西垂)
Yong (雍)
Xianyang (咸阳)
Religion Chinese folk religion, Ancestor worship, Legalism
Government Monarchy, Feudalism (later abolished)
 - – Li Si
 - Established 9th century BC
 - Became Qin Dynasty 221
Currency Chinese coin
History of China
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of China


Qin (Chinese: pinyin: QínWade-Giles: Ch'in) (778 BC-207 BC) was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. It emerged as one of the dominant superpowers of the Seven Warring States by the 3rd century BC and eventually united China under its rule in 221 BC, after which it is referred to as the Qin Dynasty.


Early history


Legendary origins and founding of Qin

According to the 2nd century BC historical text Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian, the Qin state traced its origin to Zhuanxu, one of the Five Emperors in ancient times. Dafei, an ancestor of the royal clan of Qin, helped Yu the Great in educating the people on flood control techniques, and was granted the family name of "Ying" (Chinese: ) by Shun

During the Xia and Shang dynasties, the Ying clan split into two branches:

  • an occidental one, who lived in Quanqiu (犬丘; near present-day Tianshui on the upper valley of the Wei River
  • an oriental one, who lived east of the Yellow River and became the ancestors of the rulers of the Zhao state

The occidental Ying clan was first ennobled in the beginning of the 9th century BC. Feizi of Qin served King Xiao of Zhou as a royal horse trainer and breeder, and was rewarded for his efforts with a fief in Quanqiu (present-day Tianshui, Gansu province) and a marriage to a princess. Feizi's territory was named "Qin" and was surrounded by lands belonging to the minority Rong people. Qin was frequently attacked by the Rong in the 9th century BC as relations between the Rong and the Western Zhou Dynasty worsened.

In 771 BC, Marquess of Shen formed an alliance with the Zeng state and Quanrong nomads, and they attacked and conquered the Western Zhou capital city of Haojing (鎬京; near present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi province). Xiang of Qin led his troops to protect King Ping of Zhou as the king led his men on an eastward retreat to Luoyang, where the new capital city of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty was established. In recognition of Xiang's efforts, King Ping promoted him to the rank of a Bo (伯; equivalent of a count), the third rank of nobility after Gong (公; Duke) and Hou (侯; Marquis) and promised that all the former lands of Zhou that were captured by the Rong people would become part of Qin's territories if Qin succeeded in retaking them. The future generations of the Qin rulers were encouraged by this promise, and they launched several military campaigns on the Rong, eventually expanding their territories to beyond the original lands lost by the Western Zhou Dynasty.

Ascendancy during the Spring and Autumn Period

Qin's interaction with other feudal states in eastern and central China remained minimal throughout the Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC), except with its neighbour Jin. Qin maintained good diplomatic relations with Jin and there were also marriages between members of the royal clans of both states, but relations between both sides had also deteriorated to the point of armed conflict before. During the early reign of Duke Mu of Qin, the Jin state was a formidable power under the leadership of Duke Xian of Jin. However, after the death of Duke Xian, Jin plunged into a state of internal conflict as Duke Xian's sons fought over the succession. One of them won the contention and became Duke Hui of Jin, but Jin was struck by a famine not long later and Duke Hui requested aid from Qin. Duke Mu of Qin sent relief food supplies and agricultural equipment to Jin. However, Qin was struck by famine later and by then, Jin had recovered and it turned to attack Qin. Qin and Jin engaged in several battles over the next few years.

During the battles with Jin, Duke Mu heard that one of Duke Xian's sons, Chong'er, was in exile in the Chu state. After consulting his subjects, Duke Mu sent an emissary to Chu to invite Chong'er to Jin, and Qin helped Chong'er defeat Duke Hui and Chong'er became the new ruler of Jin, with his title as "Duke Wen". Duke Wen was grateful to Duke Mu and relations between Qin and Jin improved. Qin used the opportunity when its eastern front was stable, to launch military campaigns against the minority tribes in the west. In 627 BC, Duke Mu of Qin planned a secret attack on the Zheng state, but the Qin army retreated after being tricked into believing that Zheng was prepared for Qin's invasion. Duke Wen had died and his successor, Duke Xiang of Jin, ordered his troops to lay an ambush for the retreating Qin army. The Qin forces were defeated in the ambush at the Battle of Yao (殽; near present-day Luoning County, Henan province) by Jin and suffered heavy casualties. Three years later, Qin attacked Jin for revenge and scored a major victory. Duke Mu refused to advance east further after holding a funeral service for those killed in action at the Battle of Yao, and focused on the traditional policy of expanding Qin's borders in the west. Duke Mu's achievements in the western campaigns and his handling of foreign relations with Jin earned him a position among the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period.

Decline in the early Warring States Period

During the early Warring States Period, as its neighbours in east and central China began rapidly developing, Qin was still in a state of underdevelopment and decline. The population of Qin comprised a large proportion of Sinicized semi-tribal peoples, believed to be descendants of the Rong. This was believed to be a major cause of distinct unease and discrimination towards Qin from other states. The Wei state, formed from the Partition of Jin, became the most powerful state on Qin's eastern border. Qin was equipped with natural defenses, with Hangu Pass (函谷關; northeast of present-day Lingbao, Henan province) in the east and Tong Pass (潼關; present-day Tongguan County, Shaanxi province) in the west. Between 413 and 409 BC during the reign of Duke Jian of Qin, the Wei army led by Wu Qi, with support from Zhao and Han, attacked Qin and conquered Qin territories west of the Yellow River.


Despite suffering losses in the battles with rival states such as Wei, the Qin rulers were actively pursuing reforms to the legal, economic and social systems of Qin. When Duke Xiao came to the throne of Qin, he issued an announcement, calling forth men of talent (including scholars, administrators, theorists and militarists) from other states to enter Qin and help him with his reforms, promising rewards of high offices and lands in return. Among these foreign talents, Wei Yang (later renamed to Shang Yang), a scholar from the Legalist School, successfully conducted a series of reforms in Qin with the support of Duke Xiao, despite facing strong opposition from several Qin politicians. The aristocracy system was abolished, with all slaves granted citizenship rights. People were forced to resettle in new clusters, where they focused on increasing agricultural output. Meritocracy was practised in the military, with soldiers and officers receiving due rewards according to their contributions, regardless of their backgrounds. However, tough and strict laws were imposed as well, with draconian punishments being meted out for the slightest of offenses, and even nobles and royals were not spared. After decades, the reforms strengthened Qin economically and militarily and transformed it into a highly centralized state with an efficient administrative system.

After Duke Xiao's death, King Huiwen became the new ruler of Qin and he put Shang Yang to death on charges of treason, but some believed that the king harboured a personal grudge against Shang because he was harshly punished under Shang's reformed system in his adolescence for a minor infraction. However, King Huiwen and his successors retained the reformed systems and they helped to lay the foundation for Qin's eventual unification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. Shang Yang's theories were further elaborated later by Han Fei, who combined Shang's ideas with those of Shen Buhai and Shen Dao, that would form the core of the philosophies of Legalism. Qin rose to prominence in the late 3rd century BC after the reforms and emerged as one of the dominant superpowers of the Seven Warring States.

Effects of the successful Qin reforms

Qin continued to grow in power over the century that followed Shang Yang's reforms, owing to the extraordinary industriousness of its people. The Qin Kings put in place many projects to enhance their state, including many large public works such as irrigation canals and large defensive walls.

One of the most obvious results of this program of reform was in the military. Previously the army had been controlled by nobles and constituted of feudal levies. Now generals could come from any part of society, provided they had sufficient skill. In addition, troops were highly trained and disciplined. Most importantly, however, Qin's army rapidly swelled to an enormous size and had the full backing of the state. In 318 BC, a campaign involving a united force of five eastern states (Wei, Zhao, Han, Yan, Chu [魏, 趙, 韓, 燕, 楚]) against Qin managed to advance to Hanguguan, only to be defeated by Qin counterattacks due to lack of trust among the five states and lack of coordination between the united armies. This success is proof of the strength brought to Qin through the reforms of Shang Yang, especially in view of the fact that the combined enemy army was far larger than when the state of Wei had attacked a century earlier, an invasion that had caused the loss of much land for Qin.

Besides the effects on military strength, the reforms also brought enormous labour power for numerous public works projects aimed at boosting agriculture and made it possible for the Qin to maintain and supply a standing force of over a million troops - a feat that no other state (apart, perhaps, from the other semi-barbarian kingdom of Chu) could match. The conquest of the fertile states Ba (巴) and Shu (蜀) (today's eastern and central Sichuan province, respectively) followed, which provided Qin with major strategic advantages. The new provinces provided a "backyard" for supplies and additional manpower, furthermore one that was unassailable by Qin's rival states because of their location deep in the mountains upstream of the Yangtze River. At the same time, due to the upstream location of Ba Shu, Qin was able to launch attacks against its greatest rival, Chu, which lies downstream of the Yangtze and was forced to suffer in a passive defensive position against Qin troops sailing down with ease.

Later history

Ascendancy and conquests during the Warring States Period

Wars against Chu, Han and Wei

During the reign of King Huiwen of Qin, the Kingdom of Chu suffered the most from Qin aggression. Chu, to the southeast of Qin, was under the rule of King Huai (楚懷王) and despite having the largest standing army amongst all states, over one million strong, Chu largely remained as a feudal state that saw its administrative and military strength plagued with corruption and divided up by local nobles within the vast southern Kingdom. The Qin prime minister at the time, Zhang Yi (張儀), a talented diplomatic strategist, advised King Huiwen to exercise Qin's interest at the expense of Chu. The following years saw Qin diplomatic plots, engineered and executed by Zhang Yi himself, going hand-in-hand with Qin troops disturbing Chu's northwest. Time after time King Huai of Chu suffered military defeats, land loss, and diplomatic humiliations, that eventually threw him into a furious but miscalculated campaign against Qin. He was yet again defeated, resulting in the most humiliating event in the history of Chu, with King Huai himself taken prisoner in 299 BC and eventually dying in Qin. With King Huai in their hands, Qin plundered Chu through massive attacks and sacked the Chu capital. The crown prince of Chu fled eastward before he was crowned King Qingxiang of Chu (楚倾襄王).

The next half-century that followed King Huiwen's death saw power demonstrations performed by Qin in the most brutal manner. After the militarily and psychologically devastating defeat of Chu, Qin, under King Zhaoxiang (秦昭襄王), shifted its attention to northern China. In the early years of King Zhaoxiang's reign the Marquis of Ráng (穰侯) was the prime minister, and actively pushed for campaigns against the state of Qi (齊), the easternmost part of China. His endeavours had an ulterior motive however, utilizing the mighty Qin army mostly to his own benefit: land gained in these campaigns could not be connected to Qin proper and thus was granted to Marquis of Ráng as his own fiefdom, rather than being directly administered by Qin. King Zhaoxiang's visitor advisor, Fan Ju (范雎), later granted title as the Marquis of Ying (应侯), advised King Zhaoxiang to abandon these fruitless campaigns. He shifted Qin policy to maintaining good diplomatic relationships with distant states such as Qi, and concentrating forces against its direct neighbours of Han and Wei, the so called "befriending a distant state while attacking a neighbor" (远交近攻) policy. Consequently, Han and Wei found themselves plagued with decades of Qin advances, in which bit by bit their lands were lost to Qin and hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed. The Qin territory had advanced deep beyond the east shore of the Yellow River. Han and Wei were soon reduced to puppet buffer states between Qin in the west, Zhao in the north, Qi in the east, and Chu in the south. Their troops were used as spearheads pointing west by the alliance of the eastern states against Qin, as well as pointing east when under Qin influence, aiding their advances mostly against Chu. Had Qin not worried about a united front against herself from these three states (which seemed unlikely since they were also busy struggling with each other), Han and Wei would have ended their independent existence decades before their eventual conquest by Qin.

Wars against Zhao

Summary of major events
Year Events
c. 557 BC Qin fought with Jin
361 BC Duke Xiao became ruler of Qin
356 BC Shang Yang implemented his first set of reforms in Qin
350 BC Shang Yang implemented his second set of reforms in Qin
338 BC King Huiwen became ruler of Qin
316 BC Qin conquered Shu and Ba
293 BC Qin defeated the allied forces of Wei and Han at the Battle of Yique
260 BC Qin defeated Zhao at the Battle of Changping
256 BC Qin ended the Zhou Dynasty
247 BC Ying Zheng became ruler of Qin
230 BC Qin conquered Han
228 BC Qin conquered Zhao
225 BC Qin conquered Wei
223 BC Qin conquered Chu
222 BC Qin conquered Yan, Dai and the Wuyue region
221 BC Qin conquered Qi and unified China under the Qin Dynasty

By the 260's BC, all other states of China realized the full magnitude of the Qin reforms to the very nature of warfare. All vestiges of aristocratic pleasantry had vanished in favor of raw efficiency. Starting 265 BC Qin launched a massive invasion against Han. By 262 BC Qin was again bullying Han to give up its Shangdang (上党) area. Han, not willing to benefit Qin, turned to Zhao and offered Shangdang to Zhao, which led to a standoff between Qin and Zhao for the control of Shangdang, and, in a wider context, the dominance over northern China. The two states engaged in a three years long Battle of Changping (長平), followed by another three years long siege of Handan (邯郸), which saw not just war in the field but also the full mobilization of both home fronts campaigning for supplies, and political plots. The conflict in Changping essentially posed a show-down of overall state strength stretched to its maximum by the two sides. Qin, despite its stacked resources and vast manpower, had to enlist every man above the age of 15 for war-related duties, from front line service to logistics and agriculture, and saw King Zhaoxiang himself directing the army supply lines. The extent of mobilization and the resulting exhaustion in the aftermath was not seen in world history for another 2,000 years, until this concept of total war re-entered the stage during World War I. At the end, it was diplomatic corruption plots by Qin within the Zhao court, which resulted in a change in the Zhao general staff, that led Qin to her ultimate victory in battle in 260 BC.

Afterwards, Qin general Bai Qi (白起) sent a dreadfully staggering message to the whole known world of Qin's indisputable authority, by ordering the execution of some 400,000 POWs from the surrendered Zhao army. In total, Zhao lost almost 450,000 troops. It was the beginning of the end of Zhao. After its victory, Qin attempted the logical next step by marching directly to the Zhao capital of Handan to finish off Zhao once and for all. However, the siege failed due to the exhaustion of the Qin troops and the overall war weariness in the home front, not to mention the expected "fight-to-death" attitude by the Zhao garrison at the walls of Handan. Bai Qi was however convinced that Handan could be taken. Fan Ju however, concerned that after the fall of Handan and the complete conquest of Zhao by Bai Qi, he would be replaced by him, convinced King Zhaoxiang to accept the six cities offered by King Xiaocheng of Zhao (赵孝成王) to halt the Qin attack on Handan. King Zhaoxiang agreed, marking the beginning of a rivalry between Bai Qi and Fan Ju. The surrender of the six Zhao cities was strongly opposed within the Zhao court and subsequent delays resulted in Qin resuming its siege of Handan in 258 BC. Due to Bai Qi's refusal to coordinate with Fan Ju, he was replaced first by Wang Xi, then by Wang Ling, then by Zheng Anping (鄭安平) in command of the siege of Handan. By 257 BC Handan had been surrounded for three years but Qin simply could not penetrate the walls. During this time Zhao begged for aid from Wei and Chu. Wei was at first hesitant, terrified by the power and deeds of the Qin army, but later found out that it could face down the exhausted Qin. Wei launched an attack, and Qin troops crumbled and retreated, with Zheng Anping surrendering. Combined forces from Wei and Chu continued to pursue the retreating Qin army and saw a portion of original Wei land east of the Yellow River, that had been annexed by Qin, retaken by Wei. Qin was finally forced to stop its aggression, and Zhao was barely saved, but only for a short while.

Qin irrigation canals

It was also during the reign of King Zhaoxiang of Qin in the middle of the 3rd century BC that the Qin began a massive new project which ultimately cemented their position of preeminence. As mentioned earlier, the Kingdom of Han was terrified of eastwards Qin expansion at its own expense. Therefore the King of Han attempted to destroy Qin not with his armies, for they were vastly inferior, but with a hydraulic engineer. The Qin had made their penchant for constructing large-scale canals evident by the Min River irrigation scheme. The idea behind the dispatch of the engineer Zheng Guo (鄭國) to the Qin court was to convince the King of Qin to pour resources into an even larger canal. The Qin agreed to construct the canal, but, unfortunately for the Han, their plan back-fired. Although it did indeed delay the Qin advance, at the same time it failed to overstretch Qin resources and after the so-called Zhengguo Canal's completion in 246 BC, all losses were recouped in addition to a vast surplus. Qin became one of the most fertile states in China because of this and could raise hundreds of thousands of additional troops as a result of increased agricultural yield.

State of Qin
(small seal script, 220 BC)

By this time China's thousands of feudal fiefdoms had been reduced to just seven massive kingdoms. The two most powerful states by far were Qin and Chu. The latter however was at a disadvantage due to its administrative inefficiency and political corruption, as evidenced by previous defeats at the hands of Qin. Despite all this, Chu still remained as a potential rival to the ever-growing power of Qin.

Up to 256 BC the Zhou kings were still, in theory, Kings of China. But in 256 BC this ended when the last King died and his sons were not proclaimed kings; their rank was reduced and they were known only as the lords of Zhou.

Conquest of the six Kingdoms and Unification of China

The year 247 BC marks the beginning of the end of the Warring States Period, for it was in this year that a thirteen-year-old named Zheng was crowned King of Qin. Seventeen years later Zheng began the final, epic struggle for supremacy with an all-out assault against the state of Han.

The colossal Qin army easily defeated Han and the Qin now turned towards Zhao, an empty husk ever since the devastation of its army at Chengping some thirty years prior. Zhao fell to the Qin in 228 BC, and soon after, Wei also succumbed. By this stage it looked highly likely that ultimate Qin victory grew near. However, nothing was certain. The last great enemy, the Chu endured and recovered after the disastrous losses to Qin between 316 and 278 BC.

In 225 B.C.E., only three kingdoms (states) remained independent: Chu, Yan and Qi. Chu had recovered significantly to mount serious resistance after their disastrous defeats to Qin in 278 BC and losing their centuries-old capital of Ying (Jingzhou). Despite its territorial size, resources and manpower, Chu's fatal flaw was its largely corrupt government that overturned the legalistic-style reforms of Wu Qi 150 years ago, when Wu Qi transformed Chu into the most powerful state with an area of almost half of all the states combined. Ironically, Wu Qi was from the same Wei (state) as Shang Yang, whose legalistic reforms turned Qin into the invincible war machine at this stage.

The cultural and geographic differences of Chu and Qin shifted the two states' philosophical preferences. For centuries, Qin was a border march state, constantly fighting and interacting with the nomadic Rong and Qiang peoples. The land, in modern Gansu, was covered by the loess plains and often arid, which created a hardy culture of endurance and survival. After suffering major defeats to Wei (state) in the early 4th century BC, Qin accepted the draconian reforms of Shang Yang, including the abolishment of the Qin feudal peerage system and creation of a meritocracy. Chu was a vast realm rich in resources and natural bounty, and the only state that used gold coins as the standard currency. The culture was a vibrant mixture of Daoism and native folk beliefs that drew inspiration from the bountiful natural surroundings. However, the Chu government was large and inefficient, dwelling in luxury, natural aesthetics and confidence in the state's size while removing capable men from leadership, such as Wu Qi and Qu Yuan. Qin's complete acceptance of ruthless efficiency, hard work and governmental modernization yielded huge returns quickly, as a modern comparison in Meiji Japan can testify.

The King of Qin, Ying Zheng, decided to first defeat the strongest state, Chu. However, the first invasion was a disaster when northern style Qin troops were defeated by 500,000 Chu troops in the unfamiliar territory of Huaiyang, modern-day northern Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The Qin general was Li Xing, who was inexperienced.

In 224 BC, the famed general, Wang Jian, was recalled to lead a second invasion. Chu's morale was greatly increased after their success in defeating the seemingly invincible army of Qin the year before. The Chu forces were content to sit back and defend and believed it was Qin's intention to besiege Chu. However, Wang Jian tricked the Chu forces by appearing idle but secretly training his troops to fight in Chu territory. After a year, Chu decided to disband its fortifications due to inaction. Wang Jian then invaded and overran Huaiyang, finally conquering Chu. During their peak sizes, both armies of Chu and Qin combined numbered over 1,000,000 troops, more than the massive battle of Changping between Qin and Zhao 35 years before. The excavated personal letters of two Qin regular soldiers, Hei Fu and Jin, tell of a protracted campaign in Huaiyang under general Wang Jian. Both soldiers wrote letters requesting supplies (clothing) and money from home to sustain the long waiting campaign.

Thus, Qin effectively unified China, as Qi and Yan were skeleton states hoping for a favorable outcome from the Qin-Chu confrontation.

What followed was a mopping-up operation - a campaign of a few months in Yan led to that state's annexation as well. Only Qi now remained, and realizing its situation was utterly untenable, it surrendered without a fight. In 221 BC, one of the most important years in China's long history, King Zheng of Qin declared not only that he was the ruler of China, but that he would take the unprecedented title (apart from in the legends of the Yellow Emperor and other mythical figures) of Emperor of China. Indeed he changed his name to Shi Huangdi, First Emperor, and dictated that all subsequent rulers of his dynasty should do the same, numbering themselves for as many generations as the Qin ruled.

State of Qin
(bronzeware script, ca. 800 BC)

Culture and society

Before the Qin seized control, each state had its own customs and culture. According to the Tribute of Yu, composed in the fourth century BC, there were nine distinct cultural regions of China, which are described in detail in the work. The work focuses on the travels of the titular sage, Yu Gong, throughout each of the regions. Other texts, predominantly military, also discussed these cultural variations.[1]

One of these texts was Master Wu, which was written in response to a query by Marquis Wu of the state of Wei about how to cope with the other states. Wuqi, the author of the work, declared that the government and nature of the people were reflective of the terrain they live in. Of the Qin, he said:

Qin's nature is strong. Its terrain is difficult. Its government is severe. Its rewards and punishments are reliable. Its people are unyielding and belligerent. Therefore, they scatter and fight as individuals. As the way to attack them, one must first entice them with profit and lead them away. Their officers are greedy for gain and will betray their generals. Take advantage of their separation to attack them when scattered, set traps and seize the key moment, then their generals can be captured.
—Wuzi, Master Wu

According to Wuzi, the nature of the people is a result of the government, which is in turn a result of the roughness of the terrain. Each of the states is expounded upon by Wuzi in this manner.[2]


All dates according to the Table chapters (14 and 15) of the Shiji. Other texts and others chapters in the Shiji, might have slightly different years. Reigns begin at the death of the former ruler, ie one year before the first year recorded in chronicles.

  1. Qin Zhong (秦仲), ruled 845 BC - 822 BC: great-grandson of Feizi
  2. Duke Zhuang (莊公), ruled 822 BC - 778 BC: Ying Ye (也), son of Qin Zhong
  3. Duke Xiang (襄公), ruled 778 BC - 766 BC: son of Duke Zhuang
  4. Duke Wen (文公), ruled 766 BC - 716 BC
  5. Duke Ning (寧公), ruled 716 BC - 704 BC
  6. Prince Chu (出子), ruled 704 BC - 698 BC, usurper, thus not given the posthumous ducal title
  7. Duke Wu (武公), ruled 698 BC - 678 BC: son of Duke Ning
  8. Duke De (德公), ruled 678 BC - 676 BC: son of Duke Ning; younger brother of Duke Wu
  9. Duke Xuan (宣公), ruled 676 BC - 664 BC: son of Duke De
  10. Duke Cheng (成公), ruled 664 BC - 660 BC: son of Duke De; younger brother of Duke Xuan
  11. Duke Mu (穆公), Ying Renhao (任好), ruled 660 BC - 621 BC: son of Duke De; younger brother of Duke Cheng
  12. Duke Kang (康公) : Ying Ying (罃), ruled 621 BC - 609 BC: son of Duke Mu
  13. Duke Gong (共公): Ying Dao (稻), ruled 609 BC - 604 BC
  14. Duke Huan (桓公): Ying Rong (榮), ruled 604 BC - 577 BC
  15. Duke Jing (景公): Ying Hou (後), ruled 577 BC - 537 BC
  16. Duke Ai (哀公), ruled 537 BC - 501 BC
  17. Duke Hui (惠公), ruled 501 BC - 491 BC: grandson of Duke Ai; son of the posthumously honored Duke Yi (son of Duke Ai)
  18. Duke Dao (悼公), ruled 491 BC - 477 BC
  19. Duke Li (厲公): Ying Ci (刺), ruled 477 BC - 443 BC
  20. Duke Zao (躁公), ruled 443 BC - 429 BC: son of Duke Li
  21. Duke Huai (懷公), ruled 429 BC - 425 BC: son of Duke Li; younger brother of Duke Zao
  22. Duke Ling (靈公): Ying Su (肅), ruled 425 BC - 415 BC: grandson of Duke Huai
  23. Duke Jian (簡公): Ying Daozi (悼子), ruled 415 BC - 400 BC: son of Duke Huai; uncle of Duke Ling
  24. Duke Hui II (惠公), ruled 400 BC - 387 BC: son of Duke Jian
  25. Duke Chu (出公), ruled 387 BC - 385 BC: son of Duke Hui II
  26. Duke Xian (獻公): Ying Shiti (師隰), ruled 385 BC - 362 BC: son of Duke Ling
  27. Duke Xiao (孝公), ruled 362 BC - 338 BC: son of Duke Xian
  28. King Huiwen (惠文王), ruled 338 BC - 311 BC, also known as King Hui (惠王): Ying Si (嬴駟), claims royal title in 325 BC
  29. King Wu (武王): Ying Dang (蕩), ruled 311 BC - 307 BC: son of King Huiwen
  30. King Zhaoxiang (昭襄王): Ying Ze (则) or Ying Ji (稷), ruled 307 BC - 251 BC, also known as King Zhao: son of King Huiwen, younger brother of King Wu
  31. King Xiaowen (孝文王): Ying Zhu (柱), ruled 251 BC - 250 BC: son of King Zhaoxiang
  32. King Zhuangxiang (荘襄王):Ying Zichu (子楚), ruled 250 BC - 247 BC
  33. Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇): Ying Zheng (政), ruled from 247 BC - 210 BC (as King of Qin (秦王) until 221 BC, as First Emperor (始皇帝) from 221 BC onwards)
  34. Qin Er Shi (秦二世): Ying Huhai (胡亥), ruled from 210 BC - 207 BC
  35. Ziying (子嬰), ruled from mid-October to the beginning of December 207 BC

Popular culture

The events leading to rise of the Qin state, during Duke Xiao's reign, is chronicled into a historical fiction novel by Sun Haohui. The novel, published in 2008, is adapted into a 51 episodes TV series titled The Qin Empire.


  1. ^ Lewis 2007, p. 12
  2. ^ Lewis 2007, p. 13


  • Lewis, Mark Edward (2007). The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02477-9. 
  • Watson, Burton. (1993). Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. Translated by Burton Watson. Revised Edition. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08167-7.

External links


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