Qin Emperor and Qin’s Law

Projects and Inventions during the First Emperor’s Reign

Various projects and invention were made during the First Emperor’s reign. These include a large network on newly built roads that traversed the empire. These roads promoted trade and were used by the army. The Great Wall was also built during the First Emperor’s reign; this was done through linking earlier regional walls. This wall was constructed using conscript labor and covered over 1,400 miles. The wall was meant to protect the empire from invaders. Canals were constructed to link the north and south and were used for transportation of goods, troops, and for irrigation. Another creation during the emperor’s era was the tomb of the First Emperor, which was very lavish. This was constructed for more than 30 years and utilized over 8,000 terra cotta warriors. Research indicates that all public work projects were done using conscript labor, which resulted in the deaths of close to 1,000,000 laborers. Notably, men were conscripted for military service or labor. Other remarkable inventions include the standardization of weights, measures, currency, and coming up with the writing system.

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Qin Legal Code (Legalism), Practice, and Types of Punishments

There was also the establishment and promulgation of the Qin Legal Code. Initially, Qin’s rulers subscribed to the teachings of Confucians. However, legalism was promoted afterwards, which contributed to the centralizing and consolidating of power. Legalism abounded as the one of the four philosophic schools, and Han Fei Zu played a critical role in its development. This philosophic school of thought advocated for self-interest, strict enforcement of legal codes and a system of rewards. Notably, it was indicated that legal thinking promoted legalism in practice.

Examples of Qin Legal Code Punishments

Under legalism, death penalty was considered as the strictest punishment. Other forms of punishment under legalism included castration, amputation of both feet, nose severing, and face tattoo. Flogging and minor mutilations accompanied the big punishments outlined above. However, it is indicated that in some instances, the punishments advanced were redeemable by payment of the specified amounts of money. Specific punishments were designed for specific crimes such as severing the nose especially for the slaves who killed their children without permission. Additionally, such slaves were usually tattooed and sentenced to hard labor. After the punishment was over, the slaves were later returned to their masters. Exceptions were made to slaves whose children were born with marks and other deformities, because it was not their fault. Amazingly, opening a counterfeit document without noticing that it is counterfeit also resulted in punishment by a fine of two suits of armor. Lastly, it is indicated that if documents could be used to track down the defendant’s words; then, flogging was not necessary as it was considered to ruin the process due to the fear.


Examples of Qin’s Legal Code Revisions

Research indicates that although the codes were harsh, they were not arbitrary. In case the legal code failed to reflect the cruelty associated with Qin, attempts were to provide a careful legal reasoning and prudent administrative management. The punishments advanced in the Qin Dynasty were considered not as inventions, but as extensions of the conventional Warring States Practices. Han’s scholars are indicated to have a major criticism of the Qin Legal Code in their standard accounts. They were of the opinion that the view of Qin was biased considering the fact that Chinese historical records were written by Confucian scholars. The Han legal system borrowed a lot from the Qin’s legal system as it is confirmed to have been harsher than the latter.


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