Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Yong Zheng Emperor Ying Zhen -- Founder of the Most Autocratic Agency in the History of China

Ying Zhen (1678 -- 1735), also respected as Qing Shi Zong or Yong Zheng Emperor, was the most creative monarch of the Qing Dynasty.


He was a real fighter who bravely battled with the entire ruling class, also, a monarch with many discredits in the history. 


An Alienated and Well Experienced Prince 

Ying Zhen was the fourth son of the Kang Xi Emperor, but he didn’t get much attention from his father, who spent more time parenting the current crown prince.


Ying Zhen’s mother was not noble enough to take care of him (in Qing’s royal palace, only honorable queen or imperial concubines with high status had the right to take care of their sons on their own), so Ying was raised up by a noble imperial concubine.


However, when Ying Zhen was ten years old, his mother gave birth to his younger brother and gained the right to take care of this baby boy on her own, which made her always favored his little brother a lot. 


Like other princes, Ying Zhen went to school early, and started to participate in politics as a teenager.


He had travelled to many places in China and obtained some first hand information about the civilians’ daily lives, and he respected Taoism and Buddhism since then.


Perfect Disguise, Scheme and the Cruel Ending 

After the first time his father abrogated the crown prince, Ying Zhen and eight of his other brothers started their intense competitions over the throne. 


Ying Zhen looked not very aggressive or outstanding among his brothers, but he was a smart double dealer, who made his father and other brothers believed that he was only a loyal and capable prince, who didn’t have the wishful thinking about the throne.


He also secretly achieved supports from two important ministers, one was in charge of security of the royal palace, and the other was an excellent general who could protect the kingdom. 


Ying Zhen finally won the throne when he was 44, though there were many rumors saying that he was not the one that his father assigned.


Soon, Ying Zhen, now the Yong Zheng Emperor, imprisoned all his brothers who had competed over the throne with him, including his little brother who had the same mother with him.


Ying’s birth mother, however, never felt happy for his success. Instead, she was very upset about Yong Zheng Emperor having expelled his little brother, who was also a very strong competitor. 


So she refused the title of empress dowager and passed away a few months after Ying Zhen ascended to the throne.


Afterwards, Yong Zheng Emperor used around three years to perish all of his competitors’ political groups; his two important supporters were also demoted and imprisoned to death, for some controversial reasons. 


Yong Zheng - the Most Poweful Emperor in History of China

When Yong Zheng Emperor ascended to the throne, his father left to him a government full of partial conflicts and corrupted officers, and an empty exchequer, because of some long term wars. 


Consequently, Yong Zheng Emperor became not only a diligent monarch who cared about his people, but also a brave and a real fighter in the history of China.


As an intelligent emperor, besides his tough and complete defeating of those political parties, Yong Zheng also sternly and equally punished and executed those corrupted officers, no matter how noble these people were. 


He then established an administrative office that only reported to himself, which strongly enhanced his centralized power and made him the most powerful emperor in the history of China.


Epic Fighting with the Entire Ruling Class

As a brave fighter, Yong Zheng Emperor led few of his loyal officials fought against the entire ruling class.


He published a policy which required everyone to pay for tax.


Before, the noble class, political officials, and the knowledgeable people who achieved scores in the Imperial Examination didn’t need to pay for tax, when the knowledge was the privilege in ancient Chinese culture.


After Yong Zheng Emperor's new policy, except royal and few extremely noble Manchu families, everyone needed to pay for tax.


This displeased almost the entire ruling class, though increased national income.


Therefore, his son Hong Li abolished this policy right after he passed away. And this is the main reason why Yong Zheng Emperor was the monarch with the most discredits. 


As for civilians, his new tax system, which people pay tax based on numbers of lands they own, instead of numbers of people in the family, efficiently eased the civilian’s pressure and encouraged agriculture.


On the other side, those rich landowners needed to pay much more money; therefore, besides those unhappy powerful people from the ruling class, Yong Zheng Emperor had displeased those rich people as well.

Invention of New Inherit System and Fan of Cosplay

Yong Zheng Emperor also highly respected Confucianism; additionally, many of his powerful and trusted officials were Han people, which made him the only emperor in the Qing Dynasty who actually realized the race equality in his government.


However, he also implemented the Literary Inquisition and suppressed the business trades, like his father did. ​

Moreover, in order to avoid intense and cruel competition over the throne, like he and his brothers did before, Yong Zheng Emperor wrote down the name of his chosen heir in two sealed envelopes and hid them in two different places.


After he passed away, people would open those envelopes together and welcome the new emperor.


This then became the inherit system of the Qing Dynasty for a long time. 


Yong Zheng Emperor Ying Zhen was not always that strict though.


As a fan of cosplay, he was the first Chinese emperor who had worn a Western style suit; the painting of him wearing the suit was still in the museum of the Forbidden City


Large numbers of different types of his glasses were also preserved there, as well as his high grade collections.

Sudden, Controversial Death of Yong Zheng Emperor 

Yong Zheng Emperor's death was very sudden, and the official document in regard to it was quite simple, so there were a lot of gossip about assassination, stroke, poison, etc.


His frequent travels when he was young, and his intense fights with the entire ruling class after he became the emperor, all brought him many possible assassins and reasons. Till today, his death is still an unknown mystery. 


During 13 years of Yong Zheng Emperor's reign, his kingdom improved a lot.


He was very famous for extremely diligent and efficient working, and severe means of fighting with the corruption.


As an emperor with absolute centralized power, he was the one who had the courage to publish policies that actually robbed the ruling class and the rich to feed the poor.


As a brave fighter for civilians and a big traitor of the ruling class, just like his own comment, he was just a brave and straightforward man. 


After Yong Zheng Emperor left the world, he gave his son Hong Li a stable kingdom with a very rich exchequer, few corruption, and no partial conflicting nor powerful clan that can manipulate politic.