The Emperor died during one of his tours of Eastern China, on September 10, 210 BC (Julian Calendar) at the palace in Shaqiu prefecture (沙丘平台, Shāqiū Píngtái), about two months away by road from the capital Xianyang. Reportedly, he died due to ingesting mercury pills, made by his alchemists and court physicians. Ironically, these pills were meant to make Qin Shi Huang immortal.
Qin Shi Huang did not like to talk about his own death and he had never written a will.
After his death, the eldest son Fusu would normally become the next emperor. Li Si and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao conspired to kill Fusu because Fusu’s favorite general was Meng Tian, whom they disliked and feared; Meng Tian’s brother, a senior minister, had once punished Zhao Gao. They believed that if Fusu was enthroned, they would lose their power. Li Si and Zhao Gao forged a letter from Qin Shi Huang saying that both Fusu and General Meng must commit suicide. The plan worked, and the younger son Huhai became the Second Emperor, later known as Qin Er Shi or “Second Generation Qin.” Qin Er Shi, however, was not as capable as his father. Revolts quickly erupted. His reign was a time of extreme civil unrest, and everything built by the First Emperor crumbled away within a short period.
You wouldn’t do that to your family, would you?
If attacked, do you want to be Victor or Victim?
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David R. Duringer, JD, LL.M, is a concealed firearm instructor and tax lawyer specializing in business and estate planning. He is managing shareholder at Protective Law Corporation, serving Southern California from its Laguna Hills (Orange County) headquarters and a satellite office in Coronado (San Diego County).
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