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The Secret Files of Forbidden City


Ian_Lee

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Has anyone watched the TV series of "Secret Files of the Forbidden City" produced by TVB with the cooperation of National Imperial Museum from Beijing?

I have watched up to episode 9 and there are a lot of interesting information revealed by the archived Qing documents in Forbidden city. For instance:

(1) Emperor Kang Xi was enthroned solely based on the advice of the German Jesuit missionary 湯若望 to the fatally ill Emperor Shun Zhi.

(2) Within 50 years after Blaise Pascal invented the first calculator in 1642, China already produced its own calculator solely on Chinese skill.

(3) During Kang Xi's reign, an official post of Smallpox Vaccination was already set up. In fact, Edward Jenner invented the vaccination method based on the Southern Chinese traditional way of smallpox prevention

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Jenner got his knowledge from India, where they'd been innoculating people since before 1000 AD.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=vacc.chapter.3

This knowledge spread TO China FROM India.

You really need to be careful with mainland sources, popular or academic. The political atmosphere has the last word in scholarship.

I really can't imagine you writing a Chinese person's name in red. An explanation is required.

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Jenner got his knowledge from India' date=' where they'd been innoculating people since before 1000 AD.

[url']http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=vacc.chapter.3[/url]

This knowledge spread TO China FROM India.

You really need to be careful with mainland sources, popular or academic. The political atmosphere has the last word in scholarship.

Not only cynics, but also fictitious.

Edward Jenner didn't get his knowledge from India, but probably from different sources including letters from Lady Montague, the wife of british embassador in Ottoman Empire. She described the turkish practice to prevent smallpox and all these helped the knowledge spreading to Europe in 18th century.

To suggest Chinese invented inoculation is arguable, but China is the first one to have a clear record on it. However, it's obviously a guesswork, not the fact, to suggest Chinese inoculation came from Indian. You better google it, plenty of information is available.

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The official title for the smallpox vaccination officer was called 種痘章京.

Those archived files also revealed that Emperor Kang Xi was diligent in learning western knwoledge from the missionaries whom served in Qing Court.

By late teens, Kang Xi already completed many years of study of Geometry and Trigonometry and always did measurement on the height and angles of the hills in Beijing with those western instruments.

Kang Xi, a Manchu-Mongol mixed blood but completely imbedded in Chinese culture, was much smarter than those pure-Han late Ming Emperors.

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He was probably much smarter than the late Qing rulers as well, wasn't he?

I think he was much more enlightened than Yongzheng, who looked dark in comparison, and definitely more prudent than the rash Chienlong.

Kangxi was certainly a model emperor, the best China had since Tang Taizong, and arguably the greatest emperor. He was an enlightened, well-rounded ruler and an expert in public relations. He knew that the Chinese hated Manchu rule. So he tried to do everything in his power to win their hearts.

He was much smarter than his contemporary equivalent in Europe, Louis XIV. While the "Sun King" was waging his costly wars like crazy in Europe, Kangxi was winding down his wars with victory after victory. He knew how to pick his fights. During 三藩之乱, Kangxi realized he was lucky that there were divisions between the three Ming turncoat leaders. It was not his doing that there were rivalries between the three camps. So he proceeded with caution, and played the three leaders against each other while defeating them in the battlefield.

After suppression of 三藩之乱 , he turned his attention to Taiwan and defeated the Zheng family there. But he was also very magnanimous in victory as well. He gave the Zhengs and the Ming loyalists in Taiwan an offer they could not refuse. Kangxi told them that if they joined him, they will be allowed to take national civil service exams. In other words, their careers will be open to them on the mainland based on their talents. He also told them that all will be forgiven. The Zhengs and their Ming followers from Fujian could not turn this lucrative offer down, and many migrated back to the coastal areas on the mainland. Kangxi kept his word when they returned.

However the last Ming pretender in Tainan was a diehard Ming loyalist, and could not bear his humiliation. He and his concubine went up a hill in Tainan and both of them committed suicide. Today their graves in Tainan are a spot where all "Romeo and Juliet" lovers in Taiwan go to commit suicide themselves, or stand there and weep.

Ian mentioned that Kangxi had a great interest in the Jesuits. This was reflected in his usage of them as diplomats negotiating the Treaty of Nirchinsk between Russia and the Qing empire in 1689. Therefore the text of the treaty was written in Latin.

Yongzheng on the other hand snubbed the Jesuit missionaries.

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Ian mentioned that Kangxi had a great interest in the Jesuits. This was reflected in his usage of them as diplomats negotiating the Treaty of Nirchinsk between Russia and the Qing empire in 1689. Therefore the text of the treaty was written in Latin.

Kangxi isn't the only one who are open to western missionaries. Several prince and queen after-Ming dynasty already took their christian names (like Queen Helena and Queen Anna).

However, we should be aware that all emperors in that age deployed the missionaries functionalliy, not religiously. After-Ming chose to believe in jesus to trade weapons from portugal and support from vatician, though they failed to do it. And when missionaries threatened the governance during The Clash of Ancestor-Worship (祭祖爭議), Kangxi also didn't hestitate to BAN all activities of missionaries too.

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And when missionaries threatened the governance during The Clash of Ancestor-Worship (祭祖爭議), Kangxi also didn't hestitate to BAN all activities of missionaries too.

True. Kangxi tolerated the Jesuits as long as they observed ancestral rites in China and did ban their activities after the violation. However this contrasted sharply to the actions Tokugawa Iemitsu took in Japan regarding the Jesuits there. During Iemitsu's shogunate, many Jesuits were persecuted and crucified.

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During Iemitsu's shogunate, many Jesuits were persecuted and crucified.

In Nagasaki, right? Oh BTW bhchao I always like reading your posts. But where is your avatar?

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I would say compared to the Ming Emperors, all the Qing Emperors were quite diligent and none of them were stupid (maybe with the exception of the last empeor Puyi).

The first 4 emperors -- Shun Zhi, Kang Xi, Yong Zheng and Qian Long -- were especially outstanding.

I didn't agree with Bhchao's comment on Emperor Yong Zheng. Yong Zheng was actually the most hardworking among these 4. He always read the reports from the Mandarins until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning (and he had to wake up at 5a.m.).

Without the onslaught of western powers, Qing would most likely still reign over China!

Yesterday I was watching episode 11 on the daily life of Qing Emperors. They had to wake up every morning at 5a.m., then went to greet all their seniors -- his mother, his father's other widows,...etc., then started to study all the Confucian writing and the former Qing Emperors' teaching, ate breakfast at 7 a.m., then went to the Court to greet the Mandarins.

Other than the daily routine meeting with the Mandarins, on every 5th, 15th and 25th of the month, the Emperor also had a grand meeting with Mandarins including those in court as well as those from outer provinces.

They also conformed to the Manchurian nomadic tradition that they they only ate two formal meals a day -- breakfast and dinner. Usually they finished dinner at 2 p.m. and then they could have their own family time.

Other than the Confucian writing as well as Chinese calligraphy and painting, all the Qing Emperors needed to learn Manchu and Mongol languages too.

Unlike the Ming Emperors who kept themselves in the palace without anyone seeing them for 10 or 20 years, the Qing Emperors adhered to their nomadic martial spirit that they were obliged to make a hunting trip to Jehol every year.

Emperors like Kang Xi and Qian Long were also very outgoing. Kang Xi had been on the battlefield himself for 3 times, made many pilmirage trips to Wutai Shan as well as visitng south of Yangtze for several trips. Qian Long made 6 trips to south of Yangtze too.

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I agree that Yongzheng was the most hardworking. He died apparently of overwork and was found slumped over at his desk. But he was not as intellectually brilliant as his father Kangxi. Yongzheng was a good administrator, but did not possess a great intellectual mind like his father. Yongzheng also presided over a secret police which reported to him every single detail of his minister's actions.

In that respect, I consider Yongzheng's reign, albeit a prosperous and stable one, rather dull if you compare him to the cultural achievements made by his father. Anyways it does not matter whether he was enlightening or not, since his reign produced a steady stream of surpluses that made China prosperous.

I disagree with Qian Long being outstanding. He was lucky to have inherited his grandfather and father's economic achievements, but he began to squander them towards the middle of his reign. He spent lavishly on palace constructions, and laid the seeds of decline that eventually helped bring down the Qing dynasty. Qianlong gave a lot of power to the corrupt official He Shen, allowing the latter and his cronies to accumulate mass amounts of wealth at the expense of the populace.

Kangxi and Yongzheng were outstanding, but not Qian Long in my opinion. All Qian Long did was maintain a martial dignified appearance while presiding over a prosperity inherited from his predecessors. At the end, he squandered it.

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kangxi got chosen cos he's the only one that survived smallpox. any court official in feudal societies would know that a healthy king is important to the stability of the nation.

yongzheng was busy trying to clear his father's problems. kangxi was know to be too soft during his later years. a lot of corrupted officials were not tried or punished, and his visits to the southern cities left a big hole in the local budgets. unlike his dad he got more problems. kangxi was the ultimate choice when he became emperor, but he had a total of 55 children and 35 grew up. yongzheng had to fight hard for the throne. he had been at different posts all across the country for more than 20yrs b4 he became emperor, and to please his father he probably did a good job. i'm pretty sure he was well aware of the problems below.

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In Nagasaki, right? Oh BTW bhchao I always like reading your posts. But where is your avatar?

yes, and foreigners arent allowed to travel to the main island. the japanese govt set aside a small island for all foreigners (mainly dutch in the beginning) and they do all their tradings there. think its call the long island in japanese.

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yongzheng was busy trying to clear his father's problems. kangxi was know to be too soft during his later years. a lot of corrupted officials were not tried or punished, and his visits to the southern cities left a big hole in the local budgets.

That is also true. Kangxi became a little too nice as a result of his public relations campaign. Many rich taxpayers in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces found ways to evade paying taxes. Kangxi's punishments for them were quite lax. So Yongzheng sent a government team to those provinces to investigate, and find ways to rectify the problem and punish those who had tax loopholes.

Kangxi's visits to those cities south of the Yangzi were pretty expensive. This is one difference between himself and Yongzheng, who made no such visits during his reign.

Another difference between Kangxi and Yongzheng was that Yongzheng was more culturally inclined towards Chinese traditions than his father. Kangxi wrote in Manchu and Chinese. Yongzheng preferred writing in Chinese. Kangxi wrote his Chinese calligraphy in a slow, cautious manner. Yongzheng's Chinese calligraphy was quick and very precise.

By the way Skylee, trying to find a new avatar. :wall I like your old one and Confucius's. 8)

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i would say that yongzheng was one with a more liberal mind and pretty innocent nature.

he was unhappy that the han still bear dissatisfaction against the manchus, so he made a han scholar named zeng jing to write a book 'da yi jue mi lu'('records of enlightenment of great justice', something like that), and in the book he admit that he a outsider, an invader. but he and his father did good for the people, and so will his sons and grandsons, so he questioned, as a leader, racial content is more important or taking care of the people is more important, cos doubtlessly qing emperors are better head of state than ming ones. he hoped that the majority han population would put aside racial issues and be more objective: judge the manchus by their accomplishments, not racial contents. imo he's real cute. but after his death, qianlong, who succeeded him, ordered the deatruction of that book and all prints were destroyed. even the artists and publishing house were severely punished. to him, its better not to talk about it at all.

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i would say that yongzheng was one with a more liberal mind....so he made a han scholar named zeng jing to write a book 'da yi jue mi lu'('records of enlightenment of great justice', something like that), and in the book he admit that he a outsider, an invader. but he and his father did good for the people, and so will his sons and grandsons

Yongzheng was lenient towards Zeng Jing despite the scholar's defamation of him and his ancestors. Zeng Jing was a 遺民 and an ardent follower of 呂留良's anti-Manchu teachings. After reading Lu's writings, Zeng called Yongzheng an usurper and a womanizer, and said the Manchus were decadent rulers wno had no right to govern China. (Yongzheng supposedly faked Kangxi's pillow heir edict).

But it did not matter if Yongzheng faked his father's pillow edict since Yongzheng's reign was one of the high points in the Qing dynasty.

When Yongzheng found out that 呂留良's writings were still circulating and causing anti-Manchu sentiments, he had 呂留良's deceased corpse torn to pieces and kept Lu's family under close watch.

Many Qing bureaucrats were angry with Zeng Jing's defamation of their ancestry, and wanted the young scholar sliced up piece by piece. But Yongzheng argued that the scholar was young and naive, and easily influenced by anti-Manchu sentiments whipped up by a dead scholar. So the emperor gave Zeng an edict of clemency and began a dialogue with the young scholar, saying that he was not a womanizer and defended himself as the rightful heir to Kangxi.

Yongzheng handled the 曾靜 case with much prudence and maturity. After he died, the young Qianlong immediately reversed his father's clemency edict (saying that his filial piety had been insulted by Zeng's attacks on his father), and ordered the unfortunate Zeng back to the capital. Zeng was then torn piece by piece in the market square.

Among the first 4 Qing emperors, I would say Qianlong was the most stubborn one and the least prudent. Qianlong also made frequent inspection visits to the southern cities.

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On a side note, Kangxi attempted to ban footbinding in 1664 but was forced to retract the ban because the custom was too widespread. He refrained from forcing women whose feets were already bound to unwrap their binds. However girls born after the year he ascended the throne cannot bind their feets. Otherwise their fathers will be flogged and sent to exile.

The attempt to ban footbinding was unsuccessful because it was difficult to enforce. Believe it or not, some women even saw footbinding as an image of high status.

Thank goodness Dr Sun formally outlawed it in 1911.

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