Chapter 36: Dao Yan, let us compete whose Predictions Are More Accurate
Dao Yan lowered his head and looked at the beads, which scattered in different directions like startled rabbits, completely disordered and lacking any pattern. He spread out his old hands, and a black bead lay quietly in his palm.
“I don’t understand what Your Majesty is saying,” Dao Yan said, looking deeply at Zhu Yunwen.
Zhu Yunwen stood up and picked up a bead from the ground, twirling it between his fingers. He spoke, “For many years, the master has been advising the King of Yan on something, you are aware of it, and so am I. Emperor Taizu assigned you to serve the King of Yan to quell his murderous intent, but unexpectedly it has served your personal interests. I am well aware of the matter regarding the White Hat’s delivery to the vassal King.”
Dao Yan’s pupils slightly contracted, and his old face darkened.
“With your keen insight, Master, you are well aware of the consequences of Emperor Taizu’s actions in killing his meritorious ministers. You also know that among the Kings, only the King of Yan resembles Emperor Taizu in terms of methods, abilities, and potential. So, you chose the King of Yan, constantly persuading him to march south, am I right?”
Zhu Yunwen handed the bead to Dao Yan and asked.
Dao Yan opened his hands and received the bead. His gaze turned gray and he asked in return, “Is the person mentioned by Your Majesty referring to me?”
Zhu Yunwen burst into laughter, kicked one of the beads on the ground, and said sternly, “Dao Yan, or rather, Yao Guangxiao, I am not Gautama Buddha, and I cannot guide you to the Pure Land. But I am the ruler of the Great Ming, and I can send you to the depths of the imperial prison! I still allow you to live for now, but I fail to understand why you have been so determined to rebel. What is your purpose?”
Dao Yan was a peculiar individual. He incited Zhu Di to rebel, overthrowing one dynasty, and then assisted Zhu Di in establishing a new one. But what about himself?
He did not seek official positions, wealth, fame, or women.
During the day, he donned court attire, faithfully attending to his official duties. At night, he changed into a black kasaya, meditating quietly under a dim lamp, devoting himself wholeheartedly to Buddhism.
History books did not record his hobbies; they only documented the crimes he committed. No one knew his final wish before his death, and no one understood why he chose to rebel.
Zhu Yunwen was quite curious.
Dao Yan stood up, bowing respectfully, and said, “Your Majesty, I do not understand what you are saying.”
Zhu Yunwen looked at the pretending-to-be-oblivious Dao Yan, coldly sneered, sat back down, and said, “So be it. If you have concerns, I won’t force you. However, Dao Yan, since you claim to have the foresight and strategic acumen, let’s make a guess together about King of Yan’s next move, shall we?”
Dao Yan furrowed his brow, unsure of what Zhu Yunwen meant.
Zhu Yunwen pointed to the stack of documents on the table and said, “These are all the documents that have accumulated since you left Beiping Prefecture. You can review them here and then make your prediction about the King of Yan’s next actions. I will also make my prediction, and we shall see who is right and who is wrong.”
Dao Yan frowned. How could a monk be allowed to peruse official documents?
“If your prediction is correct, I will allow you to return to Beiping Prefecture. If you are wrong, you will stay and assist me in governing the Great Ming. How does that sound?”
Zhu Yunwen said earnestly.
Dao Yan’s eyes showed a hint of surprise.
Return to Beiping?
He(Zhu Yunwen) knew very well that he(Dao Yan) was Zhu Di’s confidant and even knew of his own rebellious intentions. Yet, Zhu Yunwen dared to let him go back?
He dared to use him?
Dared to let him govern the Great Ming?
Dao Yan realized that he couldn’t see through the current Emperor Jianwen. Beneath his seemingly weak appearance, there seemed to be another soul, a powerful and confident soul.
“Since you’re not speaking, I’ll assume you’ve agreed. This is my prediction, which you can take with you. Seal your own prediction and one day, we will unseal them together to determine the winner.”
Zhu Yunwen placed the sealed letters on the table and then walked towards the door, instructing the palace guards not to disturb Dao Yan. If he needed to leave the palace, arrangements would be made to escort him out.
Shuangxi saw that Zhu Yunwen was in a good mood and smiled, saying, “Your Majesty, are you going to the harem today?”
Zhu Yunwen hadn’t visited the harem for over a month, and it was caused by the Single Whip Method. Despite the Grand Secretariat presenting a comprehensive plan to address the existing issues, they have also prepared response measures.
Such as the problem of the high price of silver and the low price of grain, the Grand Secretariat’s suggestion was to assign the Taxation Department with the responsibility of exchanging silver and grains, establishing a unified national standard to prevent merchants from maliciously driving up the price of silver.
Furthermore, for example, the issue of resistance from local governments was discussed repeatedly between the Grand Secretariat, the Ministry of Revenue, and Zhu Yunwen. They believed that the reason for the resistance from local governments was that the Single Whip Method would harm the interests of local officials, leaving them with no benefits.
The court could compromise and allocate thirty percent of the tax revenue to be autonomously managed by local governments, while the central government would retain the remaining seventy percent.
If Zhu Yuanzhang were in power, if he heard that they wanted to give his money to local governments, he would have hung the heads of the Grand Secretariat and the Ministry of Revenue on flagpoles and let them dry in the wind. But Zhu Yunwen was not Zhu Yuanzhang; he understood market principles better and understood the concepts of primary distribution and secondary distribution of finances.
Zhu Yunwen studied the historical tax revenue data provided by the Ministry of Revenue and calculated for a long time. In the end, he agreed with the Grand Secretariat’s proposal to benefit local governments and implemented the policy.
However, once Zhu Yunwen agreed, the Grand Secretariat nodded, and the Six Ministries became aware, the officials refused to cooperate.
Groups of officials started causing trouble, arguing that leaving money to local governments would inevitably lead to regional separatism and trigger corruption among local officials. They claimed that local areas would become prosperous while the central government would face financial shortages,
They also say that if such actions continue, the capital will inevitably fall into a state of food shortage, and the tragic scenes of cannibalism due to desperation will reoccur.
The Single Whip Method hadn’t even been implemented in local areas yet, but it faced resistance within the court.
This trouble make Zhu Yunwen headache, and he fully experienced the resistance to reforms. These conservatives, using lofty reason, criticized the whip system and found no value in it. Some officials even claimed that implementing such a system would incur divine wrath.
Whether divine wrath would come or not, Zhu Yunwen did not know.
But an earthquake did occur.
Although it was not severe and didn’t cause much damage, the tremors were felt.
This gave the officials even more room to maneuver, connecting the Single Whip Method with a warning from heaven, and they demanded that Zhu Yunwen abandon the policy.
Zhu Yunwen, usually good-natured, was infuriated.
Damn it, what’s with this earthquake? I know better than you idiots. To use an earthquake as an attack against the Single Whip Method… Then let’s give them a taste of the whip! Let these idiots take horsewhips and go to the border.
Within a month, Zhu Yunwen transferred thirty-five officials, For example, the most aggressively seventh-ranked Imperial Censor Liu Yong. Zhu Yunwen praised Liu Yong and then promoted him to the sixth-ranked Pacification Assistant Commissioner, stationed in Leizhou Prefecture.
Liu Yong, upon receiving the transfer order, begged the Emperor to revoke the appointment and changed his stance, claiming to be the first to support the Single Whip Method.
Leizhou Prefecture was the southernmost part of Guangzhou, after crossing the sea, one could go fishing on Hainan Island.
Liu Yong obviously had no hobby of fishing. He pleaded with his connections, used backdoor channels, and only when the Minister of Ministry of Personnel, Qi Tai interceded, did Zhu Yunwen revoke the appointment.
But others were not so lucky; they were the more stubborn ones. They packed their bags and went to the border if they were meant to herd horses, to the desert if they were meant to dig sand, and to the sea if they were meant to live a maritime life.
After all the commotion, Zhu Yunwen, the Grand Secretariat, and the Six Ministries reiterated their viewpoints multiple times, explaining the advantages of the Single Whip Method to the officials. Finally, they succeeded in convincing them.
Meanwhile, it had been over a month, and the delivery of autumn taxes had already begun in some regions.
With winter approaching, it was not suitable to implement the Single Whip Method.
In the end, the Grand Secretariat decided to inform local governments to temporarily postpone the delivery of autumn grain and prepare to implement the system in the first year of Jianwen. They also selected a group of students from the Imperial Academy to form a specialized team of officials responsible for overseeing the Single Whip Method.
Amidst all this commotion, Zhu Yunwen also had to address the issue of the New Military Policy.
As Jin Zhong had mentioned to Zhu Di, the biggest problem with the New Military Policy was whether it could be sustained. If the policy was abruptly halted midway and not continued, it would lead to serious issues.
Zhu Yunwen was not a reckless person, and the Five Army Commandery was not composed of fools. The officials in the Ministry of Revenue were particularly shrewd and would not overlook this point.
Based on the previous year’s tax revenues, although the central government’s treasury only held three million taels of silver, if grains were converted into silver, it would amount to over ten million taels.
With the New Military Policy, limited to areas such as the capital garrison, Beiping Prefecture, and Shanhai Pass, supporting it for one or two years was not a problem.
In addition, Zhu Yunwen was preparing for agricultural tax reforms and authorized a commercial reform in Beiping. The potential for commercial development was about to be unleashed. By then, the financial situation of Ming Dynasty would undoubtedly undergo a transformation. It wouldn’t be too late to implement the New Military Policy throughout the entire army.
Walking through the snow, Zhu Yunwen made his way to the harem.
He enjoyed the snow, the vast and pristine world.
The light snowflakes falling from the sky seemed like a fairy bestowed upon the world, attempting to change the world with their individual efforts.
Ma Enhui saw Zhu Yunwen coming through the snow and worriedly welcomed him into the room. She instructed someone to stoke the charcoal fire and asked a maid to prepare some hot soup. Then she complained, “Even though the snow is light, safety is paramount. On such a cold day, Your Majesty should stay in the warm hall. Why bother coming to Chang’an Palace?”
Zhu Yunwen hugged Zhu Wenkui as he rushed into his arms. Hearing the child call him “Father Emperor” in a tender voice, his heart warmed. He said to Ma Enhui, “If I hadn’t come, wouldn’t you have complained even more?”
“What would I complain about?” Ma Enhui glanced at Zhu Yunwen, took the clothes from the palace maid, walked to Zhu Yunwen, and said, “Change your clothes.”
Zhu Yunwen took the clothes but set them aside. He sighed, “No need to change. Sit down and talk with me.”
Ma Enhui held Zhu Wenkui in her arms, looked at the tired Zhu Yunwen, obediently sat down beside him, and asked with concern, “Your Majesty, the court affairs are numerous, but you must also balance work and rest.”
Zhu Yunwen nodded and said, “I just don’t understand. They are all well-educated scholars who understand right from wrong. Why do they oppose the Single Whip Method when they know it is right and beneficial for the country and the people? Why do they create obstacles for matters that are in the best interest of the nation and the people? Whom are they serving when they hold positions as officials?”
“Naturally, they serve Your Majesty,” Ma Enhui said softly.
Zhu Yunwen frowned slightly.
Seeing this, Ma Enhui hurriedly said, “Did I say something wrong, Your Majesty?”
“No, you’re not wrong. I am the one who is wrong.”
Zhu Yunwen shook his head and said seriously, “You have awakened me. They are indeed serving me, but what I want is for them to serve the people and serve the Ming Dynasty! They Speculate on my intentions and engage in political opportunism, it would be better to take a stance that benefits the country and the people! These individuals have taken the wrong path. Ultimately, it reveals that there are issues with our education in the Ming Dynasty.”
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