Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty Tuogu
In the 19th century, Lord Acton, a British thought historian, said an iron rule aphorism: “power leads to corruption, and absolute power leads to absolute corruption.” In fact, Acton’s statement can only be regarded as a mild description. Because absolute power leads to more than corruption?
Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once commented on women on the natural level: “women are weaker and colder in nature, and women are more compassionate than men…” while ancient Roman historian tashilun overturned Aristotle’s statement on the political level: “Women’s shortcomings are not just weakness and lack of perseverance. If they are relaxed, they will also become cruel, scheming and ambitious… And give more willful and authoritarian orders from them…”
If this is only a narrative in the sense of text, then one person deeply realized through his great grandmother’s actual “case”: once women face the frightening face of power, they are not inferior to men. This man is Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty.
When Liu Bang was still a bandit, a simple girl named LV pheasant, who was more than 20 years younger than him, married him. Later, Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu and became emperor, and LV pheasant jumped to the throne. In 195 BC, Liu Bang, the emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, died, and his eldest son Liu Ying, aged 17, ascended the throne. From then on, power fell to empress Lu. At this time, the originally simple girl had already degenerated into a cruel and ruthless poison woman. First of all, in order to cut off dissidents, empress Lu, who held “absolute power”, poisoned King Ruyi of Zhao, and then killed Mrs. Qi, Liu Bang’s favorite concubine, by extremely cruel means.
When history evolved to the generation of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty and Liu Che was in power, he did not forget the evil deeds of his great grandmother empress Lu. Therefore, an important decision was made, that is, “the son is the prince, and the mother should die”, that is, once the crown prince is determined, his biological mother must die. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty used this to guard against the recurrence of tragedies caused by the hanging curtain of politics like “empress Lu”.
Let me call this “Emperor Hanwu’s law”.
Later, the Northern Wei Dynasty also abided by this “law”. Therefore, every time he wants to set up a prince in the palace, he must cry, because this means that the life of his biological mother is coming to an end. This phenomenon of “leaving calves to mothers” with Chinese characteristics finally changed when Emperor Xuanwu made his son Yuanxu crown prince. Emperor Xuanwu couldn’t bear to see his mother die unexpectedly, and moved his heart of compassion. This lucky woman also stopped at the threshold of hell. However, history has not turned a beautiful page. The woman who survived her death, Empress Dowager Hu in the future, not only usurped power and involved in politics, but also indulged in immorality and made the most of her privacy. Finally, she killed her own only son in the temptation and competition for power!
However, another woman in the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian, showed the truth and rationality of the “law of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty”. Unlike empress Lu and Empress Dowager Hu mentioned above, Wu Zetian’s process from the imperial concubine to the imperial concubine and then to the Empress Dowager has verified in advance the need to prevent “Emperor Wu’s law of the Han Dynasty”.
Wu Zetian cut off her hands and feet and put them into the wine urn with a brutal method similar to that of empress Lu, saying that she was “intoxicating her bones”, and finally suffered and died. When commenting on Wu Zetian, Lin Yutang once lamented, “since murder has become a habit, the murderer loses terror of murder… In Wu Zetian’s heart, murder is greatness and authority.”
Whoops! Is it possible that the gentle nature of a woman given by God is so vulnerable to power desire? And history did not end. Another woman appeared. Compared with the previous few, she not only verified the “law of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty” again, but also ended China’s feudal dynasty of more than 2000 years, that is, Empress Dowager Cixi.
The late Qing Dynasty was the most humiliating period in Chinese history. From the Sino Japanese War of 1894-1895 to the eight power alliance, from the Treaty of Shimonoseki to the Treaty of xinchou, this once great country was invaded and humiliated again and again. Under the influence of the reformists, Emperor Guangxu was determined to reform in order to become a powerful country. In fact, Empress Dowager Cixi didn’t oppose the reform at first, but when she found that this would shake her power base, she quickly turned over her hand and cut off the heads of the Six Gentlemen of the reformists, strangled the new deal, and imprisoned Emperor Guangxu in Yingtai to ensure her status.
When the Eight Power Allied forces entered Beijing, the Empress Dowager Cixi, who fled in a hurry, even ordered the Emperor Guangxu’s beloved concubine Zhen to be thrown into the well and drowned when she was in trouble. Earlier, a eunuch named Cui Degui provoked the Empress Dowager to anger by saying “the slave killed the horse of the old ancestor” when playing chess with Cixi. The unlucky man immediately died under the fierce stick.
This reminds me once again of Socrates’ famous saying: “the foundation of power is violence…”
G. Wallace, a famous western scholar, wrote in his book human nature in politics: “it is absolutely impossible to infer politics from the principle of human nature.” If we extend its meaning, it shows that if we infer that women are more “kind” than men on the natural level, they will also be better than men on the political level, at least we don’t see this in Chinese history. In my opinion, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty Liu Che had seen through the “human nature in politics” of feudal society more than 2000 years ago.
The “law of Emperor Hanwu” at least warns us that when power loses its restriction and becomes absolute power, evil will inevitably occur, no matter whether the ruler is male or female.