Was Qin Shi Huang a popular emperor?

Feb 2019
306
Thrace
#1
It seem that Confucian historians have portrayed him as an unpopular tyrant. Have modern historians made any reassessments concerning his popularity during his lifetime?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,837
Republika Srpska
#2
Most of the things that Qin Shi Huang would later be blamed for do not really hold water.

First source that mentions the execution of scholars is Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. Now, Sima Qian worked during the time of the Han dynasty, so it's not unreasonable to think that Sima Qian wanted to portray the Qin in a bad light. The classic formulation of "burning books and burying scholars" appeared for the first time in a 4th century forgery of Kong Anguo's Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan. It is especially interesting that Han historians accused Qin Shi Huang of destroying the Confucian Classics and creating gaps within them. However, we know that Qin Shi Huang specifically ordered books in the imperial collection spared, so we know that the Classics survived there at least. Qin Shi Huang even employed erudites (boshi) to study the Classics, the most famous of them probably being Shusun Tong. Speaking about the Classics, it's worth mentioning the Book of Documents (Shujing). In the 4th century the Old Text of this book was discovered, apparently having survived Qin Shi Huang's purge, however later during the Qing dynasty a scholar named Yan Ruoqu proved that the supposedly rediscovered text was a forgery. If anything, more influential works were lost during the burning of the Qin capital Xianyang during the Qin dynasty's fall. According to sources, the imperial library burned for three months.
 
Likes: Openminded
Feb 2019
306
Thrace
#3
Most of the things that Qin Shi Huang would later be blamed for do not really hold water.

First source that mentions the execution of scholars is Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. Now, Sima Qian worked during the time of the Han dynasty, so it's not unreasonable to think that Sima Qian wanted to portray the Qin in a bad light. The classic formulation of "burning books and burying scholars" appeared for the first time in a 4th century forgery of Kong Anguo's Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan. It is especially interesting that Han historians accused Qin Shi Huang of destroying the Confucian Classics and creating gaps within them. However, we know that Qin Shi Huang specifically ordered books in the imperial collection spared, so we know that the Classics survived there at least. Qin Shi Huang even employed erudites (boshi) to study the Classics, the most famous of them probably being Shusun Tong. Speaking about the Classics, it's worth mentioning the Book of Documents (Shujing). In the 4th century the Old Text of this book was discovered, apparently having survived Qin Shi Huang's purge, however later during the Qing dynasty a scholar named Yan Ruoqu proved that the supposedly rediscovered text was a forgery. If anything, more influential works were lost during the burning of the Qin capital Xianyang during the Qin dynasty's fall. According to sources, the imperial library burned for three months.
But what about the perception of his people? Would he rank among the more glorious emperors?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,837
Republika Srpska
#4
It is hard to answer the question exactly because most of the sources date from the Han period and were deliberately written with an anti-Qin bias. We know the Qin didn't outlive the First Emperor by much but that was also due to other factors.
 
Jul 2019
21
hongkong
#5
Qin Shihuang is a popular person in any era. only obstinate Confucian will not like him. The reasons are as follows:

1. The Warring States Period. which lasted for 200 years. was a hell of Balkanization. Too many people died. and he ended the war era.

2. The Chinese worship heroes. and he is the most powerful. Even if the revolutionaries who overthrew him all regard him as their idol. the Han Empire even implemented the same system as the Qin Empire.

3. He unified words. currencies and standards. enabling China to form a unified market and greatly improve people's livelihood. His people very like him. Today's Chinese people still enjoy this benefit.