Meng Tian - The First General of China

Meng Tian, general, Qin, Shihuang, warrior, China, DynastyMeng Tian (210 BC) was a general of the Qin Dynasty who distinguished himself against the Xiongnu and in the construction of the Great Wall of China. He descended from a great line of military generals and architects. By the time the Qin Dynasty conquered the other six states and began its reign over a unified China in 221 B.C., the nomadic ethnic Xiongnu had grown into a powerful invading force in the north and started expanding both east and west. Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, sent a 300,000-strong army headed by General Meng Tian to drive the Xiongnu northward for 350 km and built the Great Wall to guard against its invasion. Meng Tian's ingenuity can be seen in the efficient (though inhumane) building policy, the consideration of topography, and the utilisation of natural barriers.

As a general under Shihuangdi, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, Meng was sent to subdue the nomadic Central Asian tribesmen, who were overrunning northern China, and to build a wall as a defense against these tribesmen. Other Chinese rulers are said to have built defensive walls in the north before this time, and Meng probably incorporated these lesser walls into his work. After the death of Shihuangdi, the minister Li Si and the eunuch Zhao Gao usurped the government, forcing Meng Tian and the legitimate heir apparent to take their own lives. Meng is credited with inventing the zheng, a kind of harpsichord, and also a Chinese writing brush made of hair, used as a pen. The latter was almost certainly not his creation, although he may have somewhat improved or modified the standard writing brush.
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Meng Tian supervised the construction of a road system linking the former Yan, Qi, Wu and Chu areas, as well as number of roads especially for imperial use. The system eventually formed played an extremely important role in ancient transportation and economic exchanges. He is also regarded as the inventor of "Ink brush" and is memorized at "Huzhou Pen Festival". When the emperor Qin Shi Huang died, Meng's death was brought about through the plotting of Zhao Gao. He was forced to commit suicide, and his family was killed. Three years after his death, the Qin Dynasty collapsed.

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