Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Fang Xiaoru -- An Intelligent but Tragic Minister and A Sincere Believer in History of China​

Brilliant Scholar, and Teacher of the Crown Prince

Fang Xiaoru (1357 -- 1402), a wunderkind, was famous for his talent and outstanding works of literature when he was young.

 

His integrity and brilliance was highly appreciated by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang.

 

After Zhu Yuanzhang’s first son passed away young, he nominated Fang to be the teacher of his grandson, the new heir Zhu Yunwen. 

 

Since then, Fang Xiaoru has assisted and served the new crown prince, and pledged his loyalty until the end of his life. 

 

However, after Zhu Yuanzhang passed away, Emperor Zhu Di initiated the rebel war over the throne, and finally occupied the capital city.

Emperor Zhu Yunwen burnt down the royal palace and disappeared forever. 

 

As one of the most important ministers of the Emperor Zhu Yunwen, Fang Xiaoru was captured. 

 

Fang Xiaoru's Everlasting Loyalty to His Emperor 

Many offcials and generals, then, surrendered to Zhu Di, because he had some outstanding accomplishments in regard to military and governance; also, he was a son of the late Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang.

 

Many people believed that they were still serving the same royal family and the same empire, it was nothing about betrayal. 

 

From minister Fang Xiaoru’s perspective, however, Emperor Zhu Yunwen had inherited the crown from his grandfather legally, and he didn’t do anything wrong, except for having nominated and trusted an incapable general to command his army.

 

Zhu Yunwen even didn’t have enough time to publish his own policies, since the war that was initiated by his uncle started only one year after Yunwen ascended to the throne.

 

Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, was a brilliant and outstanding emperor in the history of China, he must had carefully and seriously considered Yunwen’s talent and personality, before letting Yunwen inherit the empire that he established.

 

In conclusion, young Zhu Yunwen was a kind and competent crown prince, and a legit and capable emperor, who had his throne taken by his own uncle, illegally and cruelly. 

 

A Sincere Believer and His Tragic Martyrdom

So, Fang Xiaoru believed that Zhu Di was a traitor who even didn’t honor his own father’s will, and a rebel who put society in chaos.

 

Fang Xiaoru refused to surrender, as Emperor Zhu Yunwen’s respectable teacher, close friend, and important minister. 

 

Fang’s stubbornness and disrespect made Zhu Di felt insulted and outraged.

 

In the end, more than 800 people who had a relationship with Fang were executed in front of him, including all of his relatives and students.

 

But Fang Xiaoru still refused to surrender.

 

Then he was dismembered to death, cruelly, after having suffered thousands of cuts.

 

Lots of Fang Xiaoru's essays were destroyed, people who kept them were sentenced to death as well. Many of his masterpieces disappeared, though some people risked their lives to secretly hide and preserved some of the Fang’s works. 

 

In the history of China, Fang Xiaoru was famous for his remarkable achievements in literature and ideology, also for his absolute loyalty and tragic ending. 

 

He sometimes was criticized for being stubborn and pedantic, which caused so many people that were close to him to die, but was also respected for his pure fidelity and brave martyrdom.

 

He was a true believer who sacrificed for what he believed in.

 

As for the sad tragedy that happened to so many people, Fang Xiaoru was definitely not the only one that should be blamed.