Book Review—1587: A Year of No Significance (4)

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Dec 4, 2019 16:25
I have written about the first chapter of "1587: A Year of No Significance." Let's consider the second, which is about the young Wanli Emperor's most influential counsellor--Zhang Juzheng.

Zhang was born in the center of China and was famous for his intelligence. The Ming Dynasty generally sought to uphold the confucian adage, "select the best scholars to be officers"(学而优则仕) and Zhang exemplified this. He ranked high in the national selection exam and was selected as senior officer to tutor the young Wanli when Wanli was still a prince. Since the coronation of Wanli's father, Zhang showed his excellent political vision and competence. Most of the officials fell under his spell and got behind him. Wanli chose him to be the Grand Secretary, entrusting
him with many duties. Zhang finally managed to roll out a series of political reforms, among them the far-reaching Single Whip Law, in the hope of rectifying the fiscal situation. In order to reduce corruption and bribery, he promoted the thrift and strengthened the supervision of mandarins. He also helped eradicate the persistent problem of Japanese pirates (倭寇) which had crippled Chinese imports and exports by supporting outstanding generals such as Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou.

Nevertheless, after he died there was a backlash against his posthumous reputation and family. His opponents claimed that he had applied double standards, leading a luxurious life, in sharp contrast with his first disciple Wanli, who lived thriftily. His corpse was unearthed and even whipped.

The author concluded that Zhang failed in the end because he attempted to get around the mandarins and apply laws to their disfavor.
我写了《万历》的第一章,今天我想和大家分享第二章。这章讲了万历朝前期首席也是最有影响力的内阁—张居正。
张生于中部地区,因聪明而闻名。有命一朝,我们奉行孔子学而优则仕的原则。张在会试和殿试中名列前茅,被选为高级文职官员来教授还是皇孙的万历。从万历父亲隆庆即位以来,张就展示了杰出的政治眼光和才能。很多官员都对之高山仰止。万历很快就满怀信任地任命他为首辅。张终于可以推行一系列政治改革,包括著名的“一条鞭法”,来斧正税收制度。为了抑制贪污腐败,他还推行节俭以及加强官员检察。为患已久,让中国进出口瘫痪的倭寇问题也因为他知人善任而被彻底消除。

然而,他的严厉在他死后引起了强烈的反攻倒算。他被发现双重标准,自己过着穷奢极欲的生活,和他的最重要的信徒,过着简朴生活的万历形成鲜明对比。他的尸体被挖出甚至被鞭笞。

黄仁宇先生总结道:张尝试绕过文官集团并推行对他们不利的政策,所以最后失败了。
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