Qin Dynasty


The state of Qin becomes a close ally of the Zhou

771 bc

During the Zhou dynasty, a barbarian invasion drives the Zhou rulers eastwards. The state of Qin guards the western frontier, gradually moving eastward and occupying the original Zhou territory. Qin becomes a close ally of the Zhou.

King Ping of Zhou transfers titles of nobility to the Qin

770 bc

King Ping of Zhou (770-720 BCE) transfers titles of nobility and huge estates to the chief of Qin. This elevation allows Qin to become more ambitious and better fend off attacks from surrounding regions.

Lord Shang Yang introduces Legalism

361 bc

The powerful Qin statesman Lord Shang Yang passes a number of reforms throughout the state. He promotes the strict political philosophy of Legalism and establishes the Qin capital at Xianyang.

King Ying Zheng becomes King of Qin

246 bc

King Ying Zheng, aged 12 or 13, becomes King of Qin. He will ultimately lead Qin to victory in the Warring States period.

Qin controls a major part of China

230 bc

During the Warring States period, Qin gradually gains power through calculated attacks. When the final campaign to unify China begins around 230 BCE, Qin controls one-third of all the land under cultivation in China and one-third of China's total population.

Qin Dynasty Started

Approx. 221 bc

Construction on the Great Wall of China begins

218 bc

Hoping to protect the country from invasion, Shi Huangdi orders that the previously-built portions of the Great Wall of China be connected into one long, unbroken structure.

Shi Huangdi expands southwards

214 bc

After securing territories to the north, Shi Huangdi sends the majority of his army south to conquer southern tribes. He greatly expands the southern territories of the empire.

Construction begins on the Grand Canal

214 bc

During his campaigns to the south, Shi Huangdi commences construction on the Grand Canal, which is used heavily for supplying and reinforcing troops during secondary campaigns.

Shi Huangdi orders book burnings

213 bc

As part of his Legalist political beliefs, Shi Huangdi requires that all books that do not support Legalism be destroyed. He orders these books to be burned, and only texts on farming, medicine, and predictions are saved.

Shi Huangdi becomes increasingly obsessed with death

213 bc

Following several assassination attempts, Shi Huangdi becomes increasingly obsessed with death and the concept of eternal life. Evidence suggests he may have begun searching for an elixir of immortality.

Scholars are executed

212 bc

On the advice of his chief advisor Li Siu, Shi Huangdi orders scholars to be executed on a large scale, since many scholars opposed his book burnings.

Shi Huangdi dies

210 bc

First Emperor Shi Huangdi dies on a journey through China. He is buried with an army of 8,000 terracotta warriors in his palace tomb.

Shi Huangdi's weak second son takes the throne

210 bc

Prime minister Li Siu contrives to place Hu Hai, the weak second son of Shi Huangdi, on the throne. Due to the weakness of Hu Hai, the oppressed people of China grow bolder and soon begin to revolt.

Qin Dynasty Ended

207 bc