Why Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty died loyal to his cruel officials: he offended the government and the people

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In the ancient power structure, there was a “intermediary” between ordinary people and officials, that is, petty officials. Although petty officials were not in the ranks of officials, they manipulated the hidden power. A book in the Ming Dynasty tells the story of how a petty official used his hidden power to manipulate a lawsuit to defraud money.

Cruel officials were a special group in ancient Chinese officialdom. The coolness of cruel officials was a means of expression that criminals were frequently executed and beheaded. In the officialdom with orderly power system, cruel officials are a group of people who are good at speculation. When the imperial power is in trouble and the cruel officials need to come forward to clear the obstacles, it is also the time for the cruel officials to welcome their own opportunities. They will constantly upgrade their “legal injury right” and exchange this injury ability into “political achievements” to get promoted.

In the sixth year of Yuanshou of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty had a whim and decided to make white deer skin coins. The formulation of white deer skin coin is mainly due to liuche’s superstitious alchemy. The ancients often took white deer as auspicious omen, and the presence of white deer was accompanied by immortals. The next person I want to talk about is Yan Yi, who was the Minister of agriculture at that time. As a ministerial level cadre, Yan Yi is very capable and honest. From the perspective of comprehensive evaluation, he is also a good official. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty thought highly of him and promoted him to the position of Jiuqing. “Jiuqing” was a kind of honorific title for the heads of central departments in the Qin and Han Dynasties. Liu Che, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, asked Yan Yi for his opinion on making white deer skin coins. Yan Yi was not polite and clearly expressed his opposition. Liu Che wanted to listen to good words, but he was disappointed, so he was not satisfied with Yan Yi’s remarks.

The emperor’s psychological reaction was the focus of the following people’s speculation. Some people gave Yan Yi “fault finding” according to the political trend that Liu Che was not happy. So someone came forward and denounced Yan Yi. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty sent Chang’an official Zhang Tang to take charge of the case. Zhang Tang, who is good at capturing the political wind, has an old grudge against Yan Yi, so this is a heaven sent opportunity to get Yan Yi down.

Before Zhang Tang did it himself, someone came out and denounced Yan Yi. What are you suing? It’s strange. It’s just an expression. Some people said that Yan Yi’s expression was wrong when he talked with his guests about the money (a new tax item in the Western Han Dynasty) and other laws and regulations. The guest said that these laws and regulations were not formulated in accordance with the national conditions and disturbed the residents. Yan Yi didn’t say a word at that time, but pursed her lips slightly. Zhang Tang seized this subtle move and began to make a big fuss. He told Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty: “Yan Yi saw that there was something inappropriate in the decree. He did not go to the court to make a statement, but criticized it in his heart. He should be sentenced to death. – the charge is called” abdominal Fei “. Zhang Tang is so creative. We will find that his move is many times better than the “unnecessary” charge that killed Yue Fei 1200 years later.

Zhang Tang’s art of convicting people comes from his extensive summary in judicial practice. The theory he summarized has a “postmodern” flavor and can be called the ancestor of “politically correct”. It is not too profound in theory, but it is very practical. Under Zhang Tang’s single-handed operation, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty restored the severe punishment laws such as the Lian Zuo law, the clan punishment law, and the crime of slander, which were abolished in the early Han Dynasty. Zhang Tang’s brilliant debut wiped out the spirit of generosity in the prosperous literary era, and the Western Han Dynasty entered the terrible era of cruel officials’ rule.

Let’s take a look at the three cases that Zhang Tang dealt with when he was appointed as a minister in charge of criminal law.

The first case is the case of “witchcraft”. After Chen Ajiao, the one in the “golden house with a charming face”, became the queen, although the empress had a sincere feeling, it was a pity that queen Chen had never been able to give birth to a successor for Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Once Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty went on a cruise to his sister princess Pingyang’s residence. He fell in love with the singer Wei Zifu of Princess Pingyang’s residence, so he brought her into the palace. Because she was pregnant and gave birth to the prince, she was spoiled by 3000 people. Empress Chen was unwilling to fall out of favor, so she called the witch Chu Fu to pray for her, so that Emperor Wu of Han could change her mind. After a long time, Emperor Wu was suspicious and ordered Zhang Tang to investigate the case. Chu Fu, supported by the empress, did not buy it, which angered Zhang Tang. In a fit of anger, Zhang Tang convicted Chu Fu of “witchcraft” and subsequently implicated more than 300 people in the palace, all of whom were sentenced to death. The case was handled quickly and neatly. As soon as the emperor was happy, Zhang Tangguan became a big man. Soon he was promoted to Tingwei and became the supreme sheriff.

The second case is the case of Liu’an, the king of Huainan. The evidence of this case is conclusive. Zhang Tang understands that the major cases of rebellion are the most hated cases of the emperor, which are heinous in terms of laws and decrees, and the few people involved in the conspiracy can not be rebelled. Therefore, he is more murderous. During the trial, all the instruments of torture that can drive people to death were brought to the hall. Hundreds of criminals have been whipped, cut, stabbed, burned or smoked. In this case, more than 20000 people were killed.

The third major case handled by Zhang Tang is still a conspiracy case. During the trial of the king of Huainan’s rebellion, Zhang Tang had found that liuci, the king of Hengshan, was also involved in the conspiracy. However, Emperor Wu did not want to involve too much, so he suppressed the matter. Unexpectedly, three months later, liuci’s son Liu Shuang wrote a memorial to accuse his brother Liu Xiao of adultery with his father and concubine, and colluded with his father in rebellion. Emperor Wu ordered Zhang Tang to investigate immediately. Liu CI committed suicide. More than 20000 people were killed in this case.

Zhang Tang’s practice of killing people at every turn threatened the dignitaries. In order to protect themselves, they had to unite to get rid of it.

At that time, the large-scale war between the Western Han Dynasty and the Huns led to the emptiness of the national treasury. In order to solve the financial crisis, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty asked Zhang Tang to take charge of economic reform, plan for the state to compete for profits with the people, be responsible for manufacturing platinum currency and five baht money, implement the salt and iron monopoly act, post arrest warrants everywhere, severely punish the powerful and wealthy, and oppress the weak of the common people. The whole country has been caused inflation and turmoil. Finally, Zhang Tang fell to the point that Wanfu pointed out, and Zhang Tang’s power was coming to an end.

In 115 BC, in the second year of Yuanding reign of Emperor Wu, due to the monopoly of salt and iron by the central government, the interests of the vassal states with the same surname were greatly damaged. In addition to the previous personal gratitude and resentment, King liupengzu of Zhao took the lead in accusing Zhang Tang and his subordinate Lu Yeju of conspiring to harm the country. Lu Yeju was Zhang Tang’s confidant. He had deliberately concocted an unjust case to frame Zhang Tang’s old resentful censor Li Wen. He died soon after he was put in prison because of King Zhao’s appeal. Lu Yeju’s brother, who was implicated, thought that Zhang Tang could not save his life, so he exposed the black curtain of his brother and Zhang Tang’s illegal revenge. Emperor Wu specially ordered Tingwei to investigate Li Wen’s case. Jianxuan, who was also a cruel official, was Zhang Tang’s old enemy and wanted to kill Zhang Tang. He committed a great crime in secret. At this critical moment, a thief stole the burial money from the mausoleum of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty. As a rule, Prime Minister Zhuang qingzhai and Zhang Tang made an appointment to apologize to Emperor Wu.

However, Zhang Tang temporarily changed his mind and unilaterally shirked his responsibility. He was ready to impeach Zhuang qingzhai first and attribute all the charges to the prime minister. Zhu Maichen, Dynasty and Bian Tong, the three chief officials of the prime minister’s residence, also had deep resentments with Zhang Tang. After they learned about Zhang Tang’s plan, they jointly took the initiative to defend the prime minister’s innocence. At the same time, they denounced various illegal acts of Zhang Tang on weekdays and linked the previous and subsequent events one by one. Emperor Wu was so angry that he decided that Zhang Tang was treacherous and had always cheated on the monarch. He couldn’t help saying that, so he sent envoys with a list of sins to denounce Zhang Tang with eight major crimes.

Emperor Wu also sent Zhaoyu, a cruel official who was the same brother as Zhang Tangqing, to question him. When Zhang Tang met his good friend, he thought that things had finally turned for the better. He was about to explain, but Zhao Yu scolded him: “today you feel that you have been wronged. So many people you killed in those years are not wronged? Now people accuse you with solid evidence. The emperor wants you to put yourself in prison. Why argue?” (this is similar to the idiom “invite the king into the Urn”). After such a toss, Zhang Tang finally woke up, recalled his past actions, and based on his understanding of Emperor Wu, although he was unwilling, he still had to die.

Therefore, under the attack of the princes, subordinates, cruel officials and colleagues from all directions, the emperor also abandoned this comrade in arms who had settled all the violators for himself.

Zhang Tang, who was ranked as “three public figures”, was forced to commit suicide under the joint efforts of the powerful and influential people. After his death, his entire family wealth was no more than 500 gold. This is the salary of his official life plus the reward of the emperor. At the time of burial, Zhangjia was only sent to the ground in an ox cart, with a coffin but no outer coffin, which was rare at that time. As a matter of fact, Zhang Tang has been a big wrongdoer here. All the cruel officials he has earned are given by one person, the emperor he is loyal to. In order to protect the emperor’s face, Zhang Tang always acted and acted in accordance with the spirit of the emperor’s instructions. In the final analysis, he was just a loyal dog kept by the emperor.

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