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No.2113- boiled frog in warm water by Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty
Drawn by: Sun LV / edited by: yangleduo
On December 14, the State Administration of cultural relics held an important progress meeting on “archaeological China”, at which it was confirmed that the owner of the “Jiangcun tomb” in Bailuyuan, Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province was Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty. In history, the tomb of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was called “baling” because it was located on the Bailuyuan near bashui.
The location of the mausoleum of Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty ?
Before that, at least from the Yuan Dynasty, most people believed that fenghuangzui, 2.1 kilometers north of Jiangcun village, was the location of baling. The archaeology corrected the previous view. At present, the main tomb chamber of the PA mausoleum has not been excavated, but from the current excavated chariots, horses, pottery figurines, seals, as well as the shape and scale of the tombs, they all meet the specifications of the highest level tombs of the Western Han Dynasty.
Jiangcun tomb is the mausoleum of Emperor Wen ?
In addition, the imperial tombs of the Western Han Dynasty are generally located on the North Bank of the Weihe River, which is lined up from east to west. The mausoleum of Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty is located on the Bailuyuan on the South Bank of Wei River and east of Chang’an city of Han Dynasty. So why did Emperor Wen choose another cemetery? What secrets did baling embody about the tomb owner? What kind of emperor was Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty in history?
The mausoleum of emperor and empress on the White Deer Plain
As for why Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty chose Bailuyuan as his mausoleum, the main considerations are as follows.
The first is the consideration of family affection. As for the arrangement of imperial cemeteries, there has been a so-called “Zhaomu system” since the Western Zhou Dynasty, that is, the founder of the country is in the middle, the second is on the left of the founder, the third is on the right, the fourth is on the left, the fifth is on the right… And so on.
Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was the third emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. According to the ritual system, it should be located on the right side of the Changling Mausoleum of Liu Bang, the Gaodi emperor, which was later the Yangling Mausoleum of the Jingdi emperor. However, the mausoleum of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty did not strictly follow the system of Zuo Zhao and you mu because of his mother, Empress Dowager Bo.
The location of Emperor Wen’s imperial mausoleum and several other important Western Han Imperial Mausoleums ?
In the turbulent times at the end of Qin Dynasty, Bo was originally the concubine of Wei Wang Bao. At that time, a famous woman met Bo Ji and thought that she would have a son in the future. When Wei Wangbao heard that his back had abandoned his alliance with Liu Bang, he was soon defeated by the Han army. Bo Ji was also captured and sent to the weaving studio to serve as a laborer. Later, Liu Bang took her into the harem.
At the beginning, Bo Ji had two girlfriends in the palace of the king of Wei. The three agreed that no matter who became rich first, they would not forget everyone. Later, Bo Ji’s best friends were favored by Liu Bang. So when the two beauties served Liu Bang, they talked about their agreement with Bo Ji. After Liu Bang heard about Bo Ji’s misfortune, he called on her to give birth to the fourth son of the emperor, Liu Heng, who later became Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty.
However, Mrs. Bo is still very unpopular. After Liu Bang’s death, many of his beloved concubines were punished by Empress Lu. However, Mrs. Bo was not spoiled, so she did not get revenge from empress Lu, and was able to follow her son to the feudal land of Dai state.
After empress Lu’s death, the military group and the Liu clan launched a coup, killing her descendants and her family. Liu Heng became the oldest of Liu Bang’s living sons and naturally inherited the throne. Madam Bo became the Empress Dowager.
According to the ritual system, the mausoleum of the Empress Dowager should be located near the imperial mausoleum. However, there are already tombs of empress Lu and other wives near Liu Bang’s Changling mausoleum, so the space is not enough to build another empress dowager’s mausoleum. Therefore, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty chose a new site to build a thin empress dowager’s mausoleum in Bailuyuan.
Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was also a filial son. According to historical records, when he was in the Dai state, Empress Dowager Bo was ill for three years. He had been serving at the bedside. He had to taste the soup before feeding it to his mother. Therefore, he may not have the heart to let his mother sleep alone on the South Bank of the Wei River, so he built his tomb nearby.
Secondly, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was a very industrious and thrifty man, unwilling to increase the burden on the people because of his own desires. During his 23 years in office, he did not add any material comforts, such as palaces, gardens, chariots, guards of honor, clothing and appliances.
Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty himself was wearing black coarse silk clothes. His favorite lady Shen could not drag the clothes to the ground, and the curtains he used were not embroidered. Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty wanted to build a terrace and summoned craftsmen to calculate the cost. It would cost 100 Jin of gold, equivalent to the total property of ten middle-class families. Emperor Wen gave up the idea of starting the construction.
Therefore, when Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty built the mausoleum, it was also considered to save costs. It was best to use the terrain of the mountains without building a tall mound. The North Bank of the Weihe River is low and flat, so it is impossible to use the terrain to build tombs. Bailuyuan is a platform. If you build a mausoleum on the edge of the platform, you can use the terrain without building a huge enclosure. The excavation of Jiangcun tomb also confirmed this point – there was no mound in baling.
In addition, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty also required that all funerary objects should be made of pottery and should not be decorated with gold, silver, copper or tin. According to the current excavation, most of the funerary objects were pottery, but bronze chariots and horses were also unearthed. It may be that emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty didn’t want his father’s funerary objects to be too shabby, and it didn’t meet the etiquette specifications required by the imperial mausoleum.
In addition, military and political factors may also be taken into account in the site selection of the PA mausoleum. Because imperial tombs not only include tombs, but also immigrants to enrich their surroundings. The geographical location of Bailuyuan is very important.
According to historians’ research, the “overlord” of Liu Bang’s garrison was Bailuyuan. Because this is the commanding height of the eastern suburbs of Xianyang, overlooking the central part of Guanzhong. When Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty built the PA mausoleum, many people migrated to form a barrier to the east of the capital Chang’an.
A gentle and progressive iron fist
On the eve of Emperor Wen’s succession to the throne, the military elite led by Zhou Bo and Chen Ping had just massacred Chang’an. In order to prevent settling accounts after autumn, they not only killed all the Lu family, but also all the descendants of the Liu family who were stained with the blood of empress Lu. This means that Liu Bang’s and empress Lu’s lineage was destroyed. Liu Heng, the acting king, needed great courage to come to the capital to inherit the throne.
When Liu Heng learned that the military class had decided to establish himself as emperor, he neither avoided passively nor was overjoyed. Instead, he sent people to Beijing to learn about the situation. When the situation became clear, he bravely came to Chang’an from the Dai state to inherit the great unification.
When he arrived in the outskirts of Chang’an, he still sent people to listen to the news before making plans for the next step. After entering Chang’an, he first moved into the official residence of the acting king, waited for the military class to clean up the Weiyang palace, then entered the main court, and sent his cronies to take over Chang’an defense.
In the situation at that time, the nerves of the military class were highly sensitive. If a Prince wanted to ascend the throne under their noses, he would be crushed to pieces if he was careless. However, every step of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was smoothly and steadily connected, which made the military class quietly accept his fait accompli of being emperor. From the process of Emperor Wen’s succession to the throne, he was a bold, careful and skillful politician.
After Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty ascended the throne, the actual military and political power was still firmly in the hands of the military class. His own cronies were very weak. Some leaders of the military class, such as Zhou Bo, were very arrogant towards him. In this regard, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty did not naively think that when he became emperor, he could dispose of his courtiers at will. Instead, he appeased and treated the military meritorious class, such as marrying the princess to Zhou Bo as his daughter-in-law.
After his own strength was slightly consolidated, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty tried to promote the division within the military class. One day when he went to the court, Emperor Wen asked Zhou Bo: how many cases were adjudicated in a year? What is the income and expenditure of money and grain? Zhou Bo said he didn’t know. He was so ashamed that he was sweating. Emperor Wen asked Chen Ping again. Chen Ping replied that he could ask relevant officials in charge and clearly explained the duties of the prime minister. Emperor Wen praised Chen Ping for his good answer, which made Zhou Bo ashamed.
As a matter of fact, Emperor Wen, with his wisdom and sagacity, could not fail to understand the respective functions of the three gongs and nine Qings. The reason why he used these trivial matters to censure the two prime ministers was obviously to give Zhou and Chen some color to see. In particular, Zhou Bo, who had always been proud of the emperor, knew that he could not answer, and deliberately wanted to embarrass him. After leaving the DPRK, Zhou Bo and Chen Ping complained to each other, and the two people who had sincerely cooperated in the coup against Lu were friends from then on. The division within the military service class inevitably occurred.
After the old death of Chen Pingping, the head of the military meritorious class, Emperor Wen ordered the Dukes without official posts to return to their fiefs, and then severely cracked down on some of them. Even Zhou Bo was once convicted and put in prison.
Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty used this step-by-step, gentle and gradual strategy to completely disintegrate the control of the military class over the imperial government. The whole process took only three or four years. If Emperor Wen took drastic measures to stimulate the military class, his fate would be even worse than that of haihun Hou Liu He, who had been emperor for only 27 days.
Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty also had a way of dealing with princes and kings. Liu Xiang, the king of Qi, and his two younger brothers, Liu Zhang and Liu Xingju, performed well in the coup against Lu. Liu Zhang and Liu Xingju helped the military elite in the capital to kill Lu. Liu Xiang seized military power in the state of Qi, annexed other countries, and led the army westward. After Emperor Wen ascended the throne, he divided the powerful state of Qi into several small states by enfeoffing the imperial family, and quickly put down the rebellion of liuxingju, king of Jibei.
Later, Emperor Wen eradicated Liu Chang, the illegal king of Huainan. The son of Liu Zhen, the king of Wu, was killed by the crown prince Liu Qi. Emperor Wen tried his best to appease Liu Zhen so that he did not rebel in his prime.
the defects do not obscure the virtue
Although Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty can be called a nearly perfect model emperor, his virtue is not disguised, and some of his decisions and behaviors are also criticized.
The monetary policy of Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty was a great failure. In the early Western Han Dynasty, the economy was very poor, and the people were short of money and could not afford to buy things. But Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty mistakenly believed that this was caused by deflation, so he adopted an open monetary policy and allowed private capital to cast money.
This has led to two major consequences: first, hyperinflation, currency depreciation and soaring prices. Although the denomination of copper coins is “half a Liang”, the actual weight is becoming lighter and lighter. There is even a popular “pod money” in the market, that is, copper coins as thin as elm pods, which seriously disturbs prices. To what extent were prices inflated at that time? The price of a stone of rice is 10000 yuan (a stone in the Han Dynasty is equivalent to 31 kilograms today), and the price of a horse is 100 Jin of gold.
Later, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty coined four baht and a half Liang coins to correct the disorder of currency value. However, due to allowing private coinage, the new coins did not have any practical effect, and it was still a common practice for inferior coins to drive out good ones in the market. Jia Yi’s “Jian Zhu Qian Shu” opposed the folk coining, and advocated that the copper smelting industry should be nationalized. All the coins should be minted by the state and the weight of copper coins should be unified, but it was not adopted by Emperor Wen.
Closely linked with the failed monetary policy, another big stain of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was the flattery of Deng Tong. Although the emperor of the Western Han Dynasty always had a genetic preference for male favourites, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty’s love for Deng Tong had a very bad impact on the country’s politics and economy. He gave Deng Tong a copper mine and allowed him to make money by himself.
Deng Tong accumulated a huge amount of wealth by issuing money. But these wealth were lost by the central finance of the Western Han Dynasty. Fortunately, the Western Han Dynasty was dominated by a self-sufficient natural economy, and the currency disorder did not seriously affect people’s livelihood. Otherwise, Deng Tong’s adverse impact on the national economy was enough to shake the national foundation.
In his later years, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was probably in poor health. In order to prolong his life, he began to superstitious about ghosts and gods and destiny. This gave a Jianghu warlock named xinyuanping an opportunity. Xinyuanping, who claimed to be good at looking for Qi, told Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty that there was a colorful spirit in the northeast of Chang’an, and that a temple for the five emperors should be built there. Emperor Wen adopted his suggestion. Because of this, xinyuanping was greatly valued. The official was the supreme doctor. Emperor Wen gave him more than a kilogram of gold.
In the 17th year of Emperor Wen (163 BC), xinyuanping guessed the Emperor Wen’s wish to live a long life. He told him in advance: “there is the spirit of precious jade under the palace of the son of heaven”, and then sent someone to present a jade cup with the words “the Lord prolongs life” engraved on it. Because of this, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty changed the era, which was later called the first year of the Yuan Dynasty after Emperor Wen.
But before long, xinyuanping was exposed and the three clans were wiped out for the crime of bullying the king. After the xinyuanping incident, Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty gradually lost interest in ghosts and gods.
Although Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty made mistakes on some issues, his frugality, light corvee and low taxes, lenient punishment and cautious killing, and open-minded acceptance of remonstrances are all worthy of learning from later monarchs. Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty made the country enter a period of long-term stability by easing the contradictions of various forces, and created a loose and stable political environment for the economic recovery and development of the Western Han Empire.
2. Sima Qian’s historical records
3. Ban Gu’s Hanshu
4. Li Kaiyuan, Hanxing: from empress Lu to Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty, Sanlian bookstore, 2021
*The content of this article is provided by the author and does not represent the position of the earth knowledge Bureau