A General Synopsis of the Five-hundred Year History of
the Ch'in, Han and Three Kingdoms

Following Ch'in Shih-huang's unification of China, only two reigns and fifteen years passed before it collapsed. What followed was the creation of a state by Liu Pang, who became Han Kao-tsu, with its capital located in Ch'ang-an, that is known in history as the Western Han or the Former Han. The Former Han spanned thirteen rulers and 214 years (206 B.C. to 8 A.D.) when it was overthrown by Wang Mang. Wang Mang's New Dynasty also lasted fifteen years before it fell. What followed was Kuang-wu's revival and restoration of Han rule as the capital was transferred to Lo-yang, creating a state that is known in history as the Eastern Han or Latter Han. The Latter Han spanned fourteen rulers and 196 years (25 A.D. to 220 A.D.) when it was overthrown by Tsao Pi, giving the two Han dynasties a total of 410 years. Following it was the triangular balance of Wei, Shu and Wu that lasted 66 years until Ssu-ma Yen, also known as Chin Wu-ti, reunited the country. From the 26 years during which Ch'in Shih-huang swept away the Six Kingdoms to unite all under heaven down to the conclusion of the Three Kingdoms (221 B.C. to 280 A.D.) is almost exactly 500 years, five full centuries. In the history of these five centuries quite naturally the four hundred years of unity during the two Han Dynasties are the most important and the Ying-Ch'in (嬴秦 Ch'in during the Warring States Period), the Hsin Mang and the Three Kingdoms serving as three brief transitional periods. Moreover, Ch'in Huang created the foundation and served as the forerunner of the Western Han; the division of the Three Kingdoms became the aftermath of the Eastern Han.

The Ch'in and Han are the most important dynasties in the course of Chinese history because from the Upper Classical period on down the territories and administrative units of China, the administrative structure, the intellectual ideology all have the Ch'in and Han as their root. The Chinese people are commonly called People of Han, the scholarship of China is commonly called Han Learning and they both obtained their names from the Han Dynasty. The Great Ch'in Empire that preceeded the Han Dynasty, although the unification they achieved lasted only fifteen years before it collapsed is still an epic event. The reason for this is that under the rule of Ch'in Shih-huang the feudal system was replaced with the chün-hsien system, furthermore to the north the Hsiung-nü were driven off, to the south the Min and Yüeh were pacified, the script was unified, the axel width of carts was standardized, not only bringing a close to two-thousand years of feudalism but also realizing the complete unification of China as the power of the center spread throughout all the lands. Even further by expanding the borders and populations of China the forty chün (approx.) of the Ch'in became the basis of the lands of China.

The central government of the Ch'in created the Three Nobles who separately controlled administration, military affairs, and supervision; the Nine Ministers (Chou Ching) were created to separately control the numerous affairs of state. At the local level the post of Shou was established at the chün level, that of Ling Chang at the hsien level who were all dispatched by the central government. Among the Three Nobles the Left and Right Cheng-hsiang had the power of a chief minister, acting as the Emperor's assistants. Ch'in Shih-huang relied heavily upon Li Ssu (李斯) using him as his Chancellor. Li Ssu was a great political figure of the time and was also an extreme Legalist (Fa-chia), emphasizing force, profit and hidden schemes while ignoring compassion and morality. The destruction of the Six Kingdoms by Ch'in Shih-huang was the result of the plans of Li Ssu. Much of the political organization that followed unification was also the creation of Li Ssu. The plans of Li Ssu combined with the ruthless ambition of Ch'in Shih-huang led to the creation and awesome reputation of the great Ch'in Empire, disregarding the popular will, an even harsher enslavement and domination, the streets filled with those punished,