Quick Facts about Emperor Er Shi of the Qin Dynasty
- Emperor Er Shi was born in 230 BCE.
- His name at birth was Hu Hai.
- He was the second son of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, the founder of the first Chinese dynasty – the Qin dynasty.
- His mother is unknown.
- He started his rule upon the death of his father, Qin Shihunagdi, and that of his oldest brother, Fu Su, who had been ordered to commit suicide.
- Er Shi, means “Second Emperor”.
Was Emperor Er Shi a Good Emperor?
Er Shi was easily manipulated and allowed his tutor, Zhao Gao, to direct him.
Opposition to Er Shi through the powerful, Zhao Gao, was quickly stopped. Many ministers, military personnel, and their families were killed. Er Shi’s own brothers were also killed to prevent them from becoming emperors in their own right.
Er Shi had little to do with the day-to-day running of his empire as he removed himself from government affairs and spent his time acting as an aristocrat.
Although as an Emperor, Er Shi would most likely have had wives and concubines, none are known. He also had no children.
Life Under Er Shi’s Rule
The people were not happy under Emperor Er Shi’s short-lived rule of three years from 210 BCE – 207 BCE. In 208 BCE, peasants revolted from poor treatment such as conscription, higher taxes, and swift and brutal punishment. They fled the area governed by the Qin dynasty.
Neighboring rulers that had not been incorporated into the Qin government took advantage of the situation and began fighting the Emperor’s armies.
The Fall of Emperor Er Shi and his Death
Emperor Er Shi’s old tutor, Zhao Gao turned on him and took over the emperor’s palace with his own troops. Zhao Go forced Er Shi to commit suicide, and then placed Ziying, Emperor Er Shi’s nephew on the throne.
Ziying’s rule lasted less than fifty days. He was removed and soon killed along with all members of the imperial Qin family. The Qin dynasty capital, Xianyang, was destroyed by fire.
The first Chinese dynasty came to an end just fourteen years after it had begun. Liu Bang, Emperor Gaodi, soon started the Western Han dynasty in 206 BCE.