Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen
Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Education Needs Reform, Xu Miaojin enters the Imperial academy

Zhu Yunwen received Xu Huizu’s secret document and quietly burned the secret document to ashes.

After the rain, the sky cleared.

On this day, Zhu Yunwen didn’t work, read the documents, and didn’t go on walks with a palanquin. He just walked in the palace accompanied by Ma Enhui and several eunuchs.

The Forbidden City of the Ming Dynasty in later generations can only be said to be a ruin, and it cannot show the prosperity and prosperity of the capital of the Ming Empire at all.

Ma Enhui looked at Zhu Yunwen with confusion. He rarely walked on foot in the past but today he seemed to have the intention of strolling leisurely, Ma Enhui observe him calmly.

Some palace maids seeing him from afar knelt and paid their respect, and Zhu Yunwen would take a closer look.

“Your Majesty, when the new year comes, consider selecting some talented women to enter the palace…”

Ma Enhui’s words made Zhu Yunwen stagger, and the eunuch who was on the side hurriedly stepped forward to assist him. Zhu Yunwen waved his hand instructing them to step aside.

“I—I just feel that after the rain, everything becomes fresh. Let’s talk about those things later.”

Zhu Yunwen walked into Chang’an Palace, and upon entering, he heard a burst of light laughter.

Ma Enhui looked at frowning Zhu Yunwen, thinking he was angry. After all, although the national funeral was over, it hadn’t been long, and such bold laughter seemed inappropriate.

Ma Enhui hurriedly knelt down and said, “Your Majesty, it must be Miaojin[1]Xu Miao Jin 徐妙锦 (1380-1440). She was the third daughter of Xu Da, one of the founding generals of the Ming Dynasty, and his wife Lady Jia. According to Chen Lian’s “Qinxuan … Continue reading coming to visit Wenkui…”

Before the explanation could be clarified, a group of palace maids and court officials approached and knelt down one after another.

“Brother Emperor has arrived.”

A gentle female voice sounded.

Zhu Yunwen looked up and saw a young girl dressed in a willow-green robe and apricot-yellow long skirt, gracefully approaching.

With willow-shaped eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes, she possessed unparalleled beauty.

Her watery eyes sparkled, and her demeanor exuded a cool nobility, as well as a contradictory sense of innocence and radiance.

Xu Miaojin slightly bowed, paying her respects, and looked at Zhu Yunwen, speaking directly, “What’s wrong with your head? Can’t these servants take care of you properly?”

The eunuch behind Zhu Yunwen trembled and quickly knelt down, pleading for mercy, hoping that Xu Miaojin would go easy on them.

“Miaojin?”

Zhu Yunwen frowned slightly.

Come to think of it, this is Xu Miaojin, the fourth daughter of one of the founding fathers Xu Da.

This was the first rare female in the Ming Dynasty. It is rumored that because of her, Zhu Di “actually emptied the palace and no more queen”, and did not establish another queen until his death.

At this time Xu Miaojin was only eighteen years old, and compared to Zhu Yunwen at this time, she was three years younger.

“You……”

Xu Miaojin blushed for a moment, she didn’t expect Zhu Yunwen to call her name directly.

Although the two were similar in age, and Xu Miaojin even jokingly called Zhu Yunwen “brother”, in reality, she was a generation older than him.

After all, Xu Yihua[2]Empress Renxiaowen (仁孝文皇后; 5 March 1362 – 6 August 1407), of the Xu clan, was the empress consort to the Yongle Emperor and the third empress … Continue reading, Xu Miaojin’s eldest sister, married Zhu Di, the King of Yan.

Zhu Yunwen didn’t care about this, and looked at Xu Miaojin with his serious face, and said softly: “Sister Xu, you have quite the audacity. It has only been a month since the passing of the late emperor, and here you are laughing and rejoicing without restraint. What kind of decorum is this??”

Caught off guard, Xu Miaojin forgot about the earlier incident and hastily replied, “According to the late emperor’s decree, the people of the realm mourn for three days and then resume their normal lives, including marriages. I am merely following the late emperor’s wishes. How can I be at fault?”

Zhu Yunwen was momentarily speechless. He hadn’t expected this young girl to be so sharp and skilled at using his grandfather’s authority against him.

Xu Miaojin snorted and continued, “As the emperor, you wear a gloomy expression and set an example for everyone. Who in the palace dares to be joyful? If the entire Ming Dynasty is like this, where is the vitality?”

Zhu Yunwen looked at Xu Miaojin, who was twisting his word and forcing logic. He smiled and said, “It’s not bad to be eloquent. By the way, do you want to work for me?”

Xu Miaojin widened her eyes and quickly shook her head in refusal.

In the Ming Dynasty, there were six bureaus and one department for female officials.

The six bureaus referred to Shanggong (尚宫, Palace Affairs), Shangyi (尚仪, Ceremonies), Shangfu (尚服, Wardrobe), Shangshi (尚食, Food), Shangqin (尚寝, Housekeeping), and Shanggong (尚功, Workshop). The overall management of these bureaus was handled by the Shanggong (尚宫, Palace Affairs) Supervisor.

The department was known as Yisi(一司 or “One department), which served as the disciplinary authority, responsible for regulations and punishments.

In simple terms, the role of female officials in the Ming Dynasty was to manage the affairs of the consorts and palace maidens. They served within the inner palace.

Xu Miaojin was not part of the inner palace but belonged to the Xu Family. With her noble status, it was highly unlikely for her to become a female official in the palace.

Even Ma Enhui, who was standing beside them, felt surprised by this request as it was highly inappropriate.

Zhu Yunwen, however, disregarded these constraints and said to Xu Miaojin, “I know you possess innate goodness, intelligence, and a thirst for knowledge. With the empire now at peace and me ascending the throne, it is a time to employ capable individuals. I hope that you can enter the Imperial Academy (国子监[3]The Guozijian,[1] sometimes translated as the Imperial College, Imperial Academy, Imperial University, National Academy, or National University,[2] was the … Continue reading) and assist me in selecting talented individuals. Are you willing?”

“The Imperial Academy?” Xu Miaojin was even more astonished.

Ma Enhui quickly said, “Your Majesty, the Imperial Academy is a place for the Emperor’s disciples, a crucial institution of the state. Miaojin is still young and her knowledge is limited. Moreover, she is a woman. How can she be sent to the Imperial Academy for official duties? It would be better to summon the Chief of the Imperial Academy and have him assess their qualifications.”

Zhu Yunwen did not respond to Ma Enhui but simply looked at Xu Miaojin, a faint smile on his lips.

Xu Miaojin, feeling a bit excited, looked at Zhu Yunwen. It was an unprecedented event for a female official to enter the Imperial Academy. She bowed and said, “I am willing.”

Zhu Yunwen nodded earnestly and said, “What I desire are individuals with true talent and learning. If you handle this well, I will allow you to establish a school for women outside of the Imperial Academy.”

“What?!” Xu Miaojin exclaimed in surprise as she looked at Zhu Yunwen.

“A woman without talent is a virtue” is a true portrayal of ancient women. In Chinese history, the protagonists are always men.

Women were confined to their homes, with limited opportunities, serving as a tool of the ruling class. No one has ever cared about women’s right to education and development.

Zhu Yunwen intends to set a precedent for this!

Chairman Mao taught us that women can hold up half the sky!

Although nowadays, advocating for equality, freedom of speech, and similar ideas will draw criticism from the censors, the Ministry of Rites, and countless others, can’t we at least promote education?

Xu Miaojin knelt down slowly, looked at Zhu Yunwen solemnly, and said, “Is what Your Majesty said true?”

She was an intelligent person and understood the significance of a women’s school! If she were not Xu Da’s daughter, if she were not favored by her elder brothers, Xu Miaojin would be confined to the courtyard, reading books and playing the zither, without any other options. And for many other women, they dare not even step outside their homes.

Forget about attending school like boys, they would only learn female crafts within their homes. They were marginalized and their opinions held no weight.

The Four Books and Five Classics, the knowledge of the world? Men would say, ‘What’s the use of learning?’ Women were not allowed to hold official positions!

This sense of discontent remained in Xu Miaojin’s heart, but she never thought it could be changed.

“If you cannot achieve it and bring in talented individuals, the door to the women’s school will be forever closed under your watch!” Zhu Yunwen said solemnly.

Xu Miaojin felt the immense pressure on her shoulders, but she remained steadfast and said, “I will definitely achieve it!”

Zhu Yunwen nodded slightly and said, “Issue the imperial decree, appoint Xu Miaojin as the Chief of Education(学正) at the National Academy, in charge of discipline and overseeing the students.”

“As you command,” the eunuch on the side shouted.

Zhu Yunwen waved his hand, signaling Xu Miaojin to stand up, and he said to the eunuch, “Inform the Imperial Academy’s Chief Scholar(祭酒[4]TL’s note: The Highest position in Imperial Academy), Cheng Shizhou, and the Registrar(司业), Zhang Zhi, that I have made a decision on this matter. They should not cause any further trouble.”

After speaking, Zhu Yunwen walked into Chang’an Palace in a good mood and looked at the child sleeping peacefully on the bed. This was his son Zhu Wenkui, he was two years old.

Marquis Ma’enhui watched Zhu Yunwen’s face filled with happiness as he sat down beside him and sighed, “Your Majesty, today’s arrangements may bring some controversies”

Zhu Yunwen’s lips curled up slightly, and he said boldly, “These controversies are nothing. If necessary, we can have a public debate.”, “

“A debate?” Ma Enhui blinked, unsure of how Zhu Yunwen could win in debate against those learned scholars who were skilled in quoting classics.

“Your Majesty, Xu Huizu requests an audience,” a eunuch reported.

Zhu Yunwen chuckled and said, “It seems that the excitement in the training ground has ended. Let him come to the Wu Ying Hall (武英殿, Hall of Martial Valor)[5]Hall of Martial Valor was the place where emperors went on a fast and receive ministers. It is also one of the studios for the Ming dynasty court painters..”


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References

References
1 Xu Miao Jin 徐妙锦 (1380-1440). She was the third daughter of Xu Da, one of the founding generals of the Ming Dynasty, and his wife Lady Jia. According to Chen Lian’s “Qinxuan Collection” from the Ming Dynasty, she was recorded as the third daughter of Xu Da (although some unofficial historical records state she was the fourth daughter).
2 Empress Renxiaowen (仁孝文皇后; 5 March 1362 – 6 August 1407), of the Xu clan, was the empress consort to the Yongle Emperor and the third empress of China’s Ming dynasty. She was well educated, compiling bibliographies of virtuous women, an activity connected with court politics.
3 The Guozijian,[1] sometimes translated as the Imperial CollegeImperial AcademyImperial UniversityNational Academy, or National University,[2] was the national central institution of higher learning in Chinese dynasties after the Sui dynasty. It was the highest institution of academic research and learning in China‘s traditional educational system, with the function of administration of education.
4 TL’s note: The Highest position in Imperial Academy
5 Hall of Martial Valor was the place where emperors went on a fast and receive ministers. It is also one of the studios for the Ming dynasty court painters.
1 comment
  1. axdeft has spoken 11 months ago

    too many changes being done at once will destabilize the court

    Reply

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