The real Wang Mang: the unique “elected emperor” in Chinese history

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In 1 BC (the twenty-five year old emperor AI died suddenly). Previously, his grandmother empress dowager Fu and his mother queen Ding had both died. Wang Zhengjun became the supreme authority again, and she immediately restored Wang Mang’s position as the chief Sima.

The first thing Wang Mang did when he was reinstated was to dismiss Dong Xian and elect his nine year old son, Emperor Hanping, to the throne. Wang Mang ordered the relatives of emperor Ping not to enter the capital to prevent new relatives from suffering. Then he drove all the relatives of Fu and Ding out of the capital. Wang Mang’s return to power was hailed by the whole society, and the subjects felt that the revitalization of the Han Dynasty was promising. This year, Wang Zhengjun appointed Wang Mang as an Han Gong, the actual premier of the state.

In Ad 2 (the second year of the first year of emperor Ping), there was a drought and locust plague. Wang Mang took the lead in donating onemillion yuan and 30 hectares of land to help the poor. 230 nobles followed up and donated a large amount of food and land to vulnerable groups. People will be paid according to how much they catch locusts. All the poor people who have less than 20000 yuan in disaster free areas and less than 10000 yuan in disaster stricken areas are exempt from tax. Where diseases occur, large houses should be vacated for the treatment of patients. If a family dies, more than six people will be given 5000 burial money, more than four people will be given 3000, and more than two people will be given 2000.

Wang Mang abandoned the royal family’s Huchi garden, set up Anmin County, and relocated the poor to live. The food along the way and the farm equipment, cattle seeds, etc. required after arrival are supplied or borrowed by the government.

Wang Mang also ordered to invest in the construction of 200 low rent housing communities in five miles in Chang’an City for the poor to live in. Power began to tilt towards people’s livelihood.

Wang Mang worked hard to solve the educational problems and expanded the enrollment of Taixue. The number of Taixue students broke the record of more than 10000. He also ordered schools to be built all over the country to let more children read books and increase their knowledge.

According to the biography of Wang Mang in the Han Dynasty, Wang Mang built 10000 houses for scholars in the capital and set up many research institutes. Anyone who has expertise in classical literature was called to the capital to do research. Thousands of people came around to discuss Confucianism every day.

Wang Mang also paid great attention to ideological construction. According to the spirit of “Zhou Li”, he re ordered the car clothing system, determined the dress, housing, equipment, wedding and funeral patterns of Chinese people by grade, and then ordered that the elderly and children should not be punished, and that women should not be arrested for non felony crimes.

For a while, the social atmosphere has greatly improved. In case of disasters, Wang Mang automatically became a vegetarian and pardoned prisoners.

These improvement or reform measures probably belong to what Hu Shi called “socialism”.

When Emperor Ping was 12 years old, he discussed marriage. Thousands of scholars and people rushed to the gate of the government and refused to leave. They demanded that emperor Ping must marry Wang Mang’s daughter and take Wang Mang’s daughter as the mother of the country. Other women completely lost their competitiveness. Of course, Wang Mang’s daughter was elected queen. Emperor Ping gave Wang Mang 25600 hectares of land for marrying Wang Mang’s daughter, and Wang Mang returned it. Wang Mang received 63 million yuan of the gift money for hiring the queen, of which 43 million yuan was given to the declining poor in the Liu clan, and most of the rest was used in honor of Wang Zhengjun.

The ministers were deeply impressed. First, they proposed to give Wang Mang the land of Xinye, Zhaoling, Xinxi and Huang Youju (Wang Mang withdrew the three places of Xinye, Zhaoling and Xinxi), and then proposed to seal Wang Mang as Zaiheng (the official name above all princes and princes, which was newly created in the late Western Han Dynasty), After that, please seal Wang Mang Jiuxi (the nine most noble items since ancient times, such as the most advanced chariots and horses, clothes, bows and arrows, musical instruments, honor guards, armed guards, wine used by the emperor to sacrifice heaven and earth, vermilion gate, eaves that can cover the steps, etc., which are only used by the new emperor when he ascends the throne).

The seal of Jiuxi means that the position is not far from the emperor.

Wang Mang was not affected by the news of xinnoda. The court received a letter from 487, 572 people, imploring Wang Mang to accept the fief. According to statistics, the population of the whole country was about 50 million at that time. Based on the literacy rate of the Ming Dynasty, which was no more than 5% of the population (Peking University research results), the number of literates in the Han Dynasty was up to about 2 million. There are more than 480000 intellectuals who can publish books in Chang’an and its surrounding areas. Almost all those who can publish books here have participated in this movement.

If a public opinion poll was conducted at that time, Wang Mang’s support rate would be about 99%. Among the high-level officials, there are 902 princes and ministers who support jiajiuxi, almost 100%.

In 5 A.D. (the first five years of emperor Ping), the Han Dynasty sealed Jiuxi for Wang Mang. A campaign to elect Wang Mang to replace Liu Shi as emperor began to rise. Why can’t the incompetent descendants of the Liu family sit on the throne forever, but such a saint can’t be an emperor? At that time, most of the subjects unanimously believed that only Wang Mang could make the dying country strong again.

The earth’s climate is also helping Wang Mang. In the decades before Wang Mang came to power, frost fell in summer, thunder in winter, earthquakes, meteorites, eclipses, and disasters occurred frequently. God is busy with ghosts.

In ancient times, when “weird”, there was always someone adding fuel and vinegar, word of mouth, making the atmosphere very tense. However, after Wang Mang came to power, disasters were greatly reduced, and people breathed a sigh of relief. At the same time, “auspicious signs” and “miracles” appeared one after another.

As early as 1 A.D. (the first year of the first year of the year), there were Nanyue people paying tribute to a white pheasant and two white pheasants. The Confucian scholars checked the records in the Shangshu and found that in the Zhou Dynasty, the Yue Shang family once paid tribute to King Cheng of Zhou Dynasty. At this time, the reappearance of white pheasants is obviously “the glory of Zhou Cheng’s white pheasants”.

In December, ad 5, Emperor Hanping died at the age of 14. In the same month, a white stone was found in a well near Chang’an, engraved with red words: “tell an Han gongmang to be the emperor”. Wang Zhengjun immediately issued an imperial edict to let Wang Mang Regent. The courtiers called him the “photographing emperor” (photographing means acting, and photographing the emperor is acting for state affairs), and some people called him the “fake emperor”. In March of 6 A.D. (the first year of Wang mangju’s photography), Wang Zhengjun announced that the xuansun and two-year-old Liu Ying of emperor Xuandi of the Han Dynasty were established as the crown prince.

After Wang Mang became the emperor of photography, the head of changxingting, a grassroots official in Linzi County, reported to the court that he dreamed of “God”. “God” told the TingChang in his dream, “it’s true to shoot the emperor”. In order to show the effectiveness, “heavenly” also said that when you wake up in the morning, you will see a new well in the pavilion. When TingChang got up in the morning and ran to the pavilion, he found a new deep well on the original flat.

At the same time, strange stone bronze runes carrying the “destiny” information were sent to the capital from all over the country. The content of these messages is that Wang Mang should be crowned emperor.

In front of many “miracles”, Wang Mang refused. The situation has evolved to a very pressing point: the more he refuses, the more urgent his subjects become; The more selfless he shows, the more enthusiastic his subjects become. The momentum of the national election of him as emperor has converged into a turbulent tide, and “auspicious signs” and “miracles” appear in large numbers every day. The subjects are also causing discussion and urging every day, and Wang Mang is not allowed to retreat. There is even a record in history that when Wang Mang went to Weiyang palace to watch the strange stones sent from all over the country, suddenly the wind blew and smoke filled the air. After the fog dispersed, a silk picture appeared in front of the stone: “the heaven tells the emperor’s amulet, and the giver seals the marquis. Inherit the destiny of the heaven, and use the divine order.”

In November 8 A.D. (the third year of Wang Mang’s residence photo), a man named AI Zhang presented the “Fu Ming” lowered by the “Heavenly Emperor” and the “Red Emperor” in two copper boxes respectively to the court. The content of the “Fu Ming” was that Wang Mang should be the emperor.

At this time, Wang Mang finally ignored the dissuasion of Wang Zhengjun and became the real emperor this month, changing the country’s name to “new”. Wang Mang abolished Liu Ying’s crown prince’s name, named him Duke Ding’an, and gave him a place with a radius of 100 miles, where he put the ancestral temple of the Han Dynasty. The 214 year history of the Western Han Dynasty came to an end.

Some researchers say that Wang Mang was actually the elected emperor of that era, which is reasonable. After Wang Mang became emperor, Yang Xiong, the leader of the academic circles at that time, wrote a “drama Qin Meixin” to Wang Mang, saying that Wang Mang “matched the five emperors and crowned the three kings” and “served as if it were Heaven’s destiny”.

Some scholars believe that these “auspicious omens” are nothing more than the “Persuasion” farce directed and performed by Wang Mang, which increasingly exposes Wang Mang’s “usurpation” ambition. Many scholars in the Eastern Han Dynasty say that this is a conspiracy ordered by Wang Mang to engage in by local officials. In fact, judging from the situation at that time, it is more likely that the subjects everywhere took the initiative. There is not only flattery, but also the benefit calculation of the contributors, but also sincere expectations. It can be said that the former just takes advantage of the sincere expectation that pervades the whole society. Where did this expectation come from? It is the social psychology inspired by Wang Mang’s actions for a long time.

In history, some religious founders or reformers have a great personality. People who believe in them are convinced by their personality and often ignore and forget their weaknesses. For example, some people can’t help praising the boundless spirit of the sea. At that moment, they did not expect that there were all dirty things in the sea, and the sea water could not be drunk. At the end of the Western Han Dynasty, when the decadent depression was about to end, it was still very necessary to look at the sea for psychological adjustment. The subjects will be swayed by the vastness and grandeur of the sea, resulting in a kind of expectation. If this expectation can be realized, those dreariness will naturally be swayed to the land of nothingness.

This is the interaction between Wang Mang’s actions and the expectations of his subjects. Therefore, Deng Guangming said that Wang Mang complied with the requirements of history to seize power and formulate reform plans.

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