Who Cares – Chapter 70
Chapter 70 Challenge The Law
When the Zhao family suffered a great disaster, the court was also facing a huge earthquake. Emperor Sheng Yuan ordered Chief Minister of Ceremonies to draft a memorandum, intending to suppress or even divide up the power, and the nobles of Jiuli, who were not willing to accept that their power was taken over by the Han people, gathered several princes to propose a policy for dividing the population by hierarchy.
If it’s the past, Emperor Sheng Yuan might have considered it seriously, but now, he had found a practical and effective way to suppress the power of the prime minister, and he also understood the power of the people’s support and opposition, how could he went against the tide and mess up the country? He threw the memorial back in front of the civil and military court, and asked the princes only six questions: First, whether or not this place is the hinterland of Central Plains? Second, how much the Han people and how much the Jiuli people here? Third, what is the size of the Han army and the size of the Jiuli army? Fourth, the number of Han generals and the number of Jiuli generals? Fifth, how many Han court officials and how much Jiuli court officials? Sixth, with the tactic of using a few to defeat many, how many battles have you won in this life? Trying to crush hundreds of millions of people with tens of thousands of people, where do you get the confidence?
The princes were dumbfounded by the questions, and immediately defeated, but the Han courtiers respected the emperor even more.
After the chaos of dividing people’s hierarchy subsided, Emperor Sheng Yuan proposed the ‘Two Government and Three Divisions’ system. On the surface, it was to handle the government affairs more efficiently and quickly, but in fact, the power of the prime minister was repeatedly split, and it was vehemently opposed by the prime minister’s faction. However, he was not in a hurry, and only distributed the proposal drafted by Chief of Ceremonies to the civil and military officials, asking them to go back and read them, and slowly consider the pros and cons.
Because the Prime Minister was in charge of military and political affairs, the military officials used to be just decorations in the courtroom. Now, seeing that the emperor wanted to set up a separate Privy Council to let them control the military affairs, naturally it was exactly what they wanted, so they all stood up and agreed on the same day. There were also officials from the prime minister’s faction who did not express their position, after they got the proposal, they went home and read them over and over again, after thinking about it they felt this was a great opportunity to get ahead of their careers, so their heart slowly wavered.
Emperor Sheng Yuan was not in a hurry at all, and the proposal would be put forward at the daily court meeting and ordered the courtiers to discuss and vote. On the first day, only the military officials and the Emperor Teacher’s faction responded enthusiastically; on the second day, a few neutral officials stood up; on the third day, there were more; on the fourth day… gradually, people continued to raised their support, or took the initiative to submit memorials, and perfected the details. After more than a month, Prime Minister Wang who became a lone tree that was difficult to support, found himself utterly isolated, so he had no choice but to conform with the people’s will and pass the ‘Two Governments and Three Divisions’ system.
From then on, the prime minister could no longer monopolize the government alone and override the imperial power, and the situation in which the noble family giants ruled the world together with the emperor slowly shattered and eventually disappeared. When Emperor Sheng Yuan put forward the proposal to reform the tax law and the land system, the noise of opposition was reduced a lot, and even courtiers put forward practical plans for him to implement. The most important point was to survey the population, improve the household registration and then share the land.
However, the noble family giants still had some foundation, and when their interests were seriously violated it was impossible not to fight back. They actually released rumors that the officials who wandered the countryside were not to survey the population, but to arrest the strong men and send them to build construction similar to the Great Wall, or to put them on the front lines to serve as cannon fodder. Emperor Sheng Yuan intend to imitate the violent Qin Dynasty, impose severe punishments and severe laws, and carry out the policy harm that the people and damage the country. He also change the household tax to the population tax, or maybe the two taxes side by side, which greatly increased the people’s burden, just to rake in the people’s fat and the people’s cream for his own enjoyment.
Every decree and every policy promulgated by Emperor Sheng Yuan was misinterpreted beyond recognition, and spread at the fastest speed, causing public resentment and chaos. Many townships and counties that had been exploited by harsh government rose up and stormed the province government, intending to overthrow the imperial power.
Overnight, the flames of war ignited little by little, and if Emperor Sheng Yuan sent an army to bloody suppress it, it would fulfill those rumors even more and he would become a tyrant who killed people indiscriminately, or caused the whole territory to collapse. It was impossible to kill, and he couldn’t recruit the rebels, and the fold between Emperor Sheng Yuan’s eyebrows were increasing, he was at his wits’ end.
The Emperor Teacher and Chief of Ceremonies had already assigned Confucian scholars to sing about the benefit of amending the law every time they went to a township or county, but people did not believe it.
The situation was getting worse and worse, if this thing continue, the Wei Kingdom would inevitably fall apart; if it was crushed by strong force, the people would inevitably suffer. How to solve this crisis quickly and calmly had become a heart disease for Emperor Sheng Yuan. He always wanted to find someone to talk to and come up with an idea, but when he looked around, he found that there were only cold winds and dim lights in Weiyang Palace, and no one could relieve his worries.
“Your Majesty, don’t drink, you still have morning court tomorrow, you will have a headache if you go to bed late. If you are not happy, you can go to the harem to distract yourself. Surely all the niangniang will be happy to accompany you.” Baifu persuaded while trembling.
Emperor Sheng Yuan sneered, “Distract myself? Apart from being jealous and scheming, what else do they know? Zhen’s considerate flower is not here.” After he said the words his eyes lit up and said anxiously, “Come and bring the four treasures of study, Zhen want to write a letter.”
Baifu didn’t dare to delay, and hurriedly fetched the four treasures of the study and spread them out one by one.
Due to the civil unrest and the huge earthquake in the court, the case of Ye Quanyong had been put on hold waiting to be investigated, and Zhao Luli had also been detained indefinitely, it’s unknown when he would be able to return. Except for Guan Suyi, everyone in the Zhao family was a little anxious. They wrote a letter to Zhao Jinyu for help, but they couldn’t hear back for a long time, so they could only wait in a daze.
On this day, Guan Suyi was painting in the study when she suddenly received a letter from Marquis Zhenxi Mansion, with the words “Madam please open personally” and the word Hunnar in the lowest corner. She raised her eyebrows slightly, and her interest gradually increased. After opening it, she read it very rapidly, wrote down the answer without thinking, and ordered someone to send it back.
Emperor Sheng Yuan thought that Madam would have to consider for a long time before she could reply the letter, and was ready to wait for a few days, or even dozens of days, but he did not expect only half an hour later an urgent footsteps hurriedly entered the palace and knelt in front of him to deliver the reply. He opened the envelope and took out the fragrant clip, but only saw six moving clouds and flowing water’ characters written on it – the emperor should challenge the law.
Challenge the law? How should he challenge the law? Emperor Sheng Yuan pondered and thought hard, and finally clapped his hands and praised, “Wonderful, Madam is really Zhen’s considerate flower, a virtuous helper! People come, Zhen will personally go to the village to investigate the people’s conditions, not in disguise, not in white dragon fish suit, it should be publicize ostentatiously, and must be known by everyone.”
Baifu quickly tried to persuade against it, but even when he talked until his tongue dry he couldn’t change His Majesty’s mind, so had no choice but to pass the order and prepare the imperial guard and the honor guard.
On that day, everyone in Yanjing knew that the emperor personally went to the suburban townships and counties to appease the people, but on the way he startled a horse, overturned the cart, and ruined a large area of freshly planted farmland. In order to encourage farming and ensured grain production to supply the army, Emperor Sheng Yuan issued a decree prohibiting anyone from trampling on the fields where seedlings have been planted.
This time, he made a mistake himself. Even though the farmer who worked on the fields repeatedly said that he didn’t need to compensate, but he ordered his subordinates to hit him ten sticks in the back and personally handed over fifty taels of silver. The local officials had already arranged for the people from ten miles and eight townships to kneel to greet the holy procession, so they saw this scene very clearly.
This beating was not a fake. When the emperor turned around, there were bloodstains coming out of the cloth, dyeing the dragon robe red. However, he didn’t care at all, and said earnestly, “Amending the law should be based on protecting the people and loving the people, and the people are more important than the ruler. Not only the people must abide by the law, but the imperial family should set an example. At the beginning of the law revision, Zhen have said that if the prince and the common people breaks the law, the punishment are the same, so how can Zhen renege ones own word? Recently, there are all kinds of rumors, and they are not Zhen’s original intentions, that is to survey the population and improve the household registration, not to arrest the strong and suddenly levy the tax, but only to share the land, encourage the opening of land, and provide for the people. Zhen want to give everyone a way to live, but some people incite civil unrest for their own desires and cause innocent people to die in vain. The household registration of the population is clear, if there is only one child in the family their taxes and servitude can be reduced, and even exempt from enlisting to go to war; if the family only have orphans and widows or the elderly, not only they don’t need to pay tax, they can also get government alms; if the family is prosperous, they will have more fields to share. You only see the change from household tax to population tax, but you don’t see the change from land occupation system to equal land system. In the past you could only cultivate the fields for noble family giants, and earn pitiful rations, now you can own your own land and support your family through hard work and dedication. Which one do you think is better?”
Speaking until here, he sighed indignantly and said in a wistful tone, “Zhen is dedicated to the people, and really don’t want to sacrifice a single life or shed a drop of blood in vain, so Zhen have not sent heavy troops to crush the whole place. Zhen also hope you can open up the fog to see the sky, break through the old, and create a peaceful and prosperous world together.”
As the saying goes, it’s better to be a dog in peaceful time than a person in troubled times. People living in the world, who didn’t want to be safe and stable and peaceful? Who didn’t want to live and work in peace and contentment? Who would risk their lives if they were not forced into desperate situation? Previously, there were also people who traveled to the countryside and visited the people to vigorously publicize the benefits of revising the law, but they were not as good as the emperor’s example and sincere explanation.
Not to mention the scholars who intensively read poetry and books were full of tears and bowed down to the ground, even those ordinary people who didn’t know big characters were also deeply touched, calling Long Live The Emperor, directly praised the emperor as the lord of the world, wise monarch for the whole generation.
The whole things today spread at the fastest speed, and the people finally calmed down and began to inquire about the laws that have been promulgated before, and what the so-called “equal land” means. The Emperor Teacher and Chief of Ceremonies personally traveled to the countryside to clear up people’s confusion, so the flames of war were extinguished little by little, and the strong men who picked up swords and spears ran home one after another, for fear that they would not be able to register their household registration, resulting the family get less a few acres of land.
In just half a month, this disaster that could split the Wei Kingdom and subvert the imperial court was thus vanished. Emperor Sheng Yuan didn’t spend a single soldier, and only suffered a little bit of physical pain, but for a general who was fierce and skilled in battle, this was nothing at all.
At the same time, Guan Suyi received a thank you gift from Hunnar, a box of books and a land deed. She had already heard about His Majesty’s challenge the law, but she didn’t think it was strange, only thought that Hunnar showed her letter to Marquis Zhenxi, who in turn reported it to the emperor, and then thus the follow-up happened.
The thank you gift was very valuable, and it was not an exaggeration to say that it was worth the price of a city, but she accepted it calmly, holding the title deed and said while smiling, “Although the emperor was born in the wilderness and has a style of local tyrant, he is good at accepting others’ advice, has the courage to take responsibility, and with a little more time, he will be worthy of the name the Holy Monarch.”
While Jinzi agreeing, she silently kept those words in her heart.