Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen
Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen Chapter 20

Chapter 20: Naval Forces? Li Jinglong changed his stance.

Inside the King of Yan Mansion, Zhu Di reclined on a rattan chair with two maids fanning him. Although it had transitioned into the middle of autumn in the eighth month, the heat had somewhat subsided, but it still felt sultry at noon. The weather seemed gloomy as if it was about to rain.

Zhu Gaoxu informed Zhu Di about the appointment of Li Jinglong as the Great General pacifying the South and his upcoming departure for Guangzhou.

Upon hearing this, Zhu Di’s face immediately turned dark. He waved his hand, dismissing the maids, and then spoke to Zhu Gaoxu, saying, “There are pirates causing trouble in Guangzhou? Is this information true or false?”

Zhu Gaoxu hastily replied, “The news comes from the general secretariat, and it is indeed true that there are pirates in Guangzhou. A few days ago, the Governor of Guangzhou even submitted a memorial stating that they had beheaded five hundred pirates. It seems to be a merit-seeking action and not a loss of control.”

A twitch appeared at the corner of Zhu Di’s mouth, and his gaze was filled with concern as he said, “To employ a Duke for such petty pirates? What if there are larger bandits? Does that mean the Emperor will have to lead the expedition personally?! There is something suspicious about this matter!”


Zhu Gaochi hobbled over and after paying his respects, he spoke solemnly, “Xiang Zhuang perform sword dances, with the intent directed at Liu Bang[1]Xiang Zhuang performs the sword dance, but his mind is set on Liu Bang (idiom); refers to 206 BC plot to murder Liu Bang, aka Duke of Pei (沛公) and the future Han emperor, during a sword dance at … Continue reading

Zhu Di raised an eyebrow and looked at Zhu Gaochi, speaking with seriousness, “Are you saying that the Emperor’s actions are targeted at us?”

Zhu Gaochi nodded gravely and took out a booklet from his robe, handing it to Zhu Di, saying, “Father, take a look at this.”

Zhu Di opened the booklet and looked inside. It contained a list of personnel accompanying Li Jinglong on his southern expedition. The majority of them had good personal relationships with Zhu Di, and they had been interacting frequently in recent days.

In other words, these were a group of noble figures with their loyalty directed towards the Prince of Yan.

Even Xu Zengshou, the third son of Xu Da, had been dispatched, and Xu Zengshou could be considered as one of the hidden pieces left by Zhu Di in the capital!

But now, this piece was going to be taken out of the capital!

“Xu’er, you should learn more from your brother. This is how things should be handled,”

Zhu Di glances at Zhu Gaoxu. He then turned to Zhu Gaozhi and said, “You’ve done well in this matter. It seems that the emperor’s network of spies is extremely efficient. The Great Ming Security Bureau is truly formidable!”

Zhu Gaochi was pleased to receive praise from Zhu Di, but he maintained a calm demeanor and said, “Father, it seems that our every move is under the emperor’s surveillance. We won’t be able to stay in the capital for much longer. Perhaps we should wait until the period of mourning is over, then let’s leave this place.”

Zhu Di sighed and replied, “That may be true, but if we want to leave, we may have to wait until after the Mid-Autumn Festival.”

Zhu Di felt a sense of fear for the first time from Zhu Yunwen.

This nephew knew about his secret moves and knew which people were aligned with him or could potentially align with him. That’s why, Zhu Yunwen severed his hand.

This was a silent warning to himself.

Zhu Di didn’t like his current state, feeling restricted and constrained at every turn.

After some time, Ping An and Sheng Yong should have arrived in Beiping Prefecture. By then, would Beiping Prefecture still be under his control?

Zhu Di felt a wave of worry. He stood up, looked at the gloomy sky, and said heavily, “It’s going to rain.”

And finally, it rained.

It wasn’t a torrential downpour, but a gentle, chilly drizzle. Though not heavy, it persisted from the afternoon until the evening without any sign of stopping.

In Wu Ying Hall, where he was reviewing memorials, Zhu Yunwen suddenly heard the report that Li Jinglong requested an audience. He set aside his cinnabar brush, his gaze cold and distant, as he slowly said, “Let him go to the Hall of Preserving Harmony.”

Leaving Wu Ying Hall, Zhu Yunwen looked at the autumn rain falling gently. He reached out and felt the coolness of the rain, and said to his attendant Shuangxi, who wanted to fetch him an umbrella, “No need, let’s go.”

In the Hall of Preserving Harmony.

Li Jinglong knelt and paid his respects, exclaiming, “I pay my respects to His Majesty, long live, long live!”

“Rise, take a seat,” Zhu Yunwen responded.

Zhu Yunwen smiled and made arrangements before asking, “Duke Cao isn’t preparing for the expedition but came to the palace in the middle of the night, is there something urgent? If you encounter any difficulties, you can tell me, and I will solve them for you.”

After expressing his gratitude, Li Jinglong said, “Your Majesty, I have been tasked with a distant expedition, and I will do my utmost to eradicate the sea pirates and swear not to return to the capital until they are eliminated. I have come tonight because I have something that must be reported to Your Majesty in person.”


Zhu Yunwen glanced at Shuangxi, and Shuangxi led the eunuch out of the room and closed the door.

Li Jinglong, seeing that there were no outsiders present, quickly knelt down and said, “Your Majesty, please forgive me for my rudeness!”

“What rudeness?”

Zhu Yunwen asked calmly.

Li Jinglong took out a memorial from his sleeve, moved forward two steps while still kneeling, and placed the memorial in front of Zhu Yunwen. Then he knelt back down and said, “I have impertinent words to say!”

Zhu Yunwen picked up the memorial and glanced through it. He said, “The King of Yan has ulterior motives? Are you trying to sow discord between us, uncle and nephew?”

Li Jinglong kowtowed vigorously and exclaimed, “Your Majesty, every word I said is true. I arranged for Li Zengzhi to secretly make contact with the King of Yan and discovered that he is coveting the imperial throne, relying on his military forces. If Your Majesty does not take early action to curb his power, it may lead to disaster!”

“Heh, it’s just 80,000 troops, nothing that can cause much trouble,” Zhu Yunwen set the memorial aside and then asked Li Jinglong, “You also mentioned Xu Huizu. Do you believe that Xu Huizu is loyal?”

Li Jinglong squinted his eyes slightly and quickly responded, “I believe that Duke Wei is intelligent, broad-minded, exceptionally capable, and possesses strong leadership skills. He is undoubtedly loyal to Your Majesty. However, there is one thing… the King of Zhongshan’s mansion relationship with the King of Yan goes beyond mere marriage alliance; their personal connection is also quite close… I hope Your Majesty will pay close attention.”

Praise first, then belittle.

First uplift, then undermine, hitting directly at the heart of the matter.

This is the art of speech.

If Zhu Yunwen is indeed the historical Jianwen Emperor, with just these words, he would not dare to use Xu Huizu or at the very least won’t entrust him with absolute authority.

However, Zhu Yunwen knows history, he knows that Xu Huizu was a loyal supporter of the Jianwen Emperor, remaining loyal until his death.

But the current Li Jinglong before his eyes is a shameless traitor!

“Very well… I understand.”

Zhu Yunwen stood up and nodded solemnly at Li Jinglong. Then, he turned around, blocking Li Jinglong’s view, and took out a memorial from his sleeve. He concealed Li Jinglong’s memorial and walked towards a nearby oil lamp. He lit the memorial on fire and looked at Li Jinglong, saying, “We are family, and I count on you to achieve great feats.”

Li Jinglong was pleasantly surprised and quickly bowed, expressing his loyalty. He watched as the memorial turned to ashes, relieved.

Zhu Yunwen gestured for Li Jinglong to sit down and then handed him a report from Guangdong, saying, “In truth, there aren’t many pirates in Guangzhou.”

Li Jinglong naturally knew this, but he still pretended to be surprised as he looked at Zhu Yunwen and asked, “Then why did Your Majesty…”

Zhu Yunwen laughed heartily and said, “Because, I sent you to Guangzhou not only to deal with the pirates but also for a more important mission. Otherwise, why would I have sent you there?”

Li Jinglong was pleasantly surprised. No wonder the Emperor had arranged for him to go to Hainan. It turned out there was a significant task at hand. He had thought the Emperor was playing tricks on him…

“Please enlighten me, Your Majesty.”

“We will construct sea boats and establish a naval force.”

“A naval force?”

Li Jinglong blinked, looking at Zhu Yunwen with confusion.

Since when did the Ming Dynasty have the concept of a naval force?

Wasn’t it always referred to as navy?”

Zhu Yunwen’s eyes were clear and solemn as he spoke, “I want a naval forces fleet capable of long-distance voyages across the sea! Guangzhou is situated by the coast and has a well-developed shipbuilding industry, as well as abundant experience in maritime navigation. They should have nautical charts as well. When you arrive in Guangzhou, on the surface, your mission will be to combat pirates, but in reality, I need your assistance in building a formidable navy!”

Li Jinglong remained perplexed.

Wasn’t the Navy sufficient?

Long-distance voyages across the sea?

What could there be in the depths of the sea?

“You have one year to lay the foundation. If you wish to return afterward, you can do so at any time without reporting, but you must ensure the normal operation of the shipyard.”

“If you succeed, you will be the pioneer of the Ming Naval forces! Your achievements will be recorded in the annals of history! If you fail, you will be held accountable for the empire’s sins. It’s better for you to retire early!”

Zhu Yunwen spoke solemnly.

Li Jinglong’s mind was filled with the words “Your achievements will be recorded in the annals of history.” In one’s lifetime, isn’t it all about making a name for oneself?

They may say that I, Li Jinglong, am a fool, incompetent, and can’t even compare to one percent of my father, Li Wenzhong. But I, Li Jinglong, am determined to accomplish something!

The first person of the Ming Navy!

I, Li Jinglong, have made up my mind!

“I, your servant, will fulfill this mission even at the cost of my life!”

Li Jinglong bowed deeply.

Zhu Yunwen’s eyes were filled with anticipation.

Although the Ming Dynasty had faced numerous crises throughout its nearly three-hundred-year history, when looking back at the entire reign of the Ming Dynasty, the navy had an impeccable record!

It could be proudly stated that the Ming Navy was the most formidable naval force of its time!

Whether it was the Portuguese, the Japanese, or the Dutch, none of them could match the Ming Navy!

Certainly, the peak of the Ming Dynasty’s naval power was during the reign of Zhu Di. There were 1,350 warships, 1,350 patrol boats, 400 large ships, and 400-grain transport ships. Additionally, there were 250 treasure ships for long-distance voyages. These figures do not include a significant number of enforcement and messenger boats.

However, Zhu Yunwen believes that as he continues to alter history, Emperor Yongle, Zhu Di, will not reappear in history. His title can only be the King of Yan. Therefore, the Great Ming Navy and Great Ming Maritime Force need to be built by themselves!

In history, although Li Jinglong was regarded as a fool and a traitor, what if he make good use of him?

As long as Zhu Di doesn’t rebel and Li Jinglong doesn’t turn to Zhu Di, he doesn’t mind utilizing him to his fullest potential!

Li Jinglong accepted Zhu Yunwen’s secret order and left the palace with great joy in his heart.

Li Zengzhi was right. This is his chance!

A chance to leave a lasting legacy!

A chance to surpass his father, Li Wenzhong!

As for the schemes of the King of Yan?

To hell with them.

What he wants to do now is a grand endeavor worthy of the empire’s utmost attention.

As for the King of Yan, it would be best for him to stay obediently in Beijing[2]TL’s note: not a mistake, but the author used the word 北京.If he hinders his path to fame and glory if he obstructs the everlasting reputation of the Li family, then he shall be his enemy!

One’s perspective often depends on where they stand.

And where one stands can be changed.

Zhu Yunwen is not sure if he can change Li Jinglong, but it doesn’t matter. Li Jinglong is no longer a threat. At least for a year, he will be required to stay in Guangzhou, unable to secretly contact Zhu Di.

That is sufficient.

As for the Great Ming Navy, Li Jinglong is in charge of just a backup plan.

If it succeeds, it will naturally be a cause for celebration.

If it fails, it doesn’t matter.

Because the real Great Ming Navy fleet has already been secretly initiated at the Longjiang Shipyard outside Dinghuai Gate in Nanjing, and the person directly responsible for it is none other than Zhu Yunwen himself.

Dear Readers, Sproutling here translating Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen, If you have enjoyed my translation and would like to show your support. Please consider donate to my Ko-Fi (Click here) page. Your help mean so much to me, Thank you in advance!


1 Xiang Zhuang performs the sword dance, but his mind is set on Liu Bang (idiom); refers to 206 BC plot to murder Liu Bang, aka Duke of Pei (沛公) and the future Han emperor, during a sword dance at Feast at Hongmen/ an elaborate deception to hide malicious intent.”
2 TL’s note: not a mistake, but the author used the word 北京.

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