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Persons in Chinese History - Emperor Qin Ershihuang 秦二世皇 Ying Huhai 嬴胡亥; Prince Fusu 扶蘇; King Ziying 秦王子嬰

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Emperor Qin Ershihuang 秦二世皇 (230-207, r. 209-207), the Second Emperor of Qin, personal name Ying Huhai 嬴胡亥, was a son of the First Emperor 秦始皇帝 (r. 246-210 BCE) of the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE). Although only the eighteenth son of the First Emperor, Huhai was made ruler by machinations of the leading eunuch Zhao Gao 趙高 and the counsellor-in-chief Li Si 李斯. His older brother Prince Fusu 扶蘇 (d. 210) had long been nominated heir, but Prince Huhai was the beloved son of the emperor and took part in his father's last inspection tour in 209 BCE. When the First Emperor died, Zhao Gao and Li Si forged a testamentary edict nominating Huhai as the heir, while Prince Fusu was ordered to commit sucide. Fusu had been known as a very human person and had remonstrated against the burying alive of various scholars ("Confucians") ordered by his father. For this venture he had been ordered to survey the border troops of general Meng Tian 蒙恬 in the north. When the faked edict arrived commanding Prince Fusu, and also Meng Tian, to commit suicide, the general tried persuading the Prince to wait and see, but his filial heart ordered the crown prince to obey his father's command.
The plot of Zhao Gao and Li Si thus succeeded, and the young Huhai was henceforth dependend of the two powerful ministers who both now had power enough to have their enemies executed. Huhai, now called the Second Emperor of Qin, also toured the empire like his father had done, and had amended the stone steles and rock inscriptions his father had erected, like that on Mt. Jieshi 碣石 and in Guiji 會稽. He also continued with the constructions at the large Epang Palace 阿房宮 and with the establishing of courier routes throughout the empire. For these works he intensified the recruitment of corvée labourers from throughout the empire. This aggravated the general hatred of the overburdened population against the Qin dynasty and worsened the economic situation, as a lot of peasants were not any more able to work their fields but had to labour in the capital. When the first rebellion broke out, he followed the suggestion of general Zhang Han 章邯 to set use the corvée labourers at Mt. Lishan 酈山, where the tomb of the First Emperor was constructed, to assemble slave armies against the rebel troops. Although Li Si also suggested slowing the time- and labour-consuming construction work of the Epang palace, the Second Emperor did not follow. Instead, Zhao Gao slandered Li Si and proposed to the Emperor to execute him because of treason. Only when the rebels approached the metropolitan region of Guanzhong 關中, the Second Emperor started doubting the sincerity of Zhao Gao. Yet Zhao Gao was well prepared, had the emperor seized and forced him to commit suicide.
The eunuch then enthroned a prince known with the name of Ziying 子嬰 (d. 206), who was either a nephew or a cousin of the Second Emperor or a younger brother of the First Emperor. He had vehemently criticized the Second Emperor for his blind trust into Zhao Gao and his brutal murdering of competent officials, like the relatives of general Meng Tian. On his accession to the throne in 207, he renounced the title of emperor and called himself with the humble title of King of Qin. Ziying knew some eunuchs he could trust, like Han Tan 韓談, and managed to have Zhao Gao killed. He was only king for 46 days when the army of Liu Bang 劉邦 reached the capital Xianyang 咸陽 (modern Xianyang, Shaanxi). Ziying drove out to meet Liu Bang and presented him the state seals, submitting to the rebel army. When the hegemonial king Xiang Yu 項羽 arrived, Ziying was killed by the latter.

Source: Cang Xiuliang 倉修良 (ed. 1991), Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), pp. 212, 381, 384.

July 14, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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