A new book of mine has published, titled "Empress Wu the Great", a history book about the sole sovereign empress in the history of China. Read how she climbed from a common girl to the highest status of the nation, with interesting legend halo round her. check it on amazon.com or www.algora.com her pictue is on the front cover.
Chapter 1 Her Father and Family (including her early life)
Her father, by the name of Wu Shiyue (?¡ªAD 635)(surnames before given names in this book), was not rich when young. His family lived then in Wenshui [meaning Literary Water] Town in Bingchow [Bing here means Emerge and Chow here means District] (in the present Shanxi [Shan here means Mountain and Xi here means West] Province). He had two elder brothers. The eldest one was called Wu Shiling and the second one was Wu Shiyi. The family business was to make and sell bean curd (tofu). Bean curd was made early every morning. Then her father took it out for sale. As their bean curd was of good quality, it sold well. So they saved money.
A) Her father rose from a merchant to a noble man
China was then under the reign of Sui Dynasty (AD 581¡ªAD 618). Emperor Yang (AD 560¡ªAD 618), the second emperor of Sui Dynasty, led a life of indulgence. He loved to travel and to have an extra palace built wherever he would go. Therefore, there was a large demand of lumber. Her father seized the opportunity to become a lumber merchant and accumulated wealth. But in the feudal China, the merchant was classified low in the social status. (There were four social classes or castes in the feudal China. The first class was scholars, including courtiers and officials. Peasants belonged to the second class because they produced grains to feed people. The third class consisted of workers and craftsmen, who provided people with other necessities of life. The merchants were of the lowest class, because it was thought that they earned money from the pockets of other people.) So he wanted to change his social status and joined the army as a low-rank officer. As he gave good service, he got promotion to be a staff officer in charge of arms keeping. Then he joined the army of Li Yuan (AD 566¡ªAD 635, and AD 618¡ªAD 626 on the throne), who would be the first emperor of Tang Dynasty (AD 618¡ªAD 907) in the years to come. He came to know Li Yuan personally. Several times when Li Yuan was commanded by the emperor to quench the fire of riots of the peasants here and there and passed Wenshui Town, he would stay in the residence of Wu. Their relationship developed cordially.
In AD 617, Li Yuan was appointed the prefect of Taiyuan [meaning Extreme Plateau] City by the emperor of Sui Dynasty, who was a cousin of Li Yuan because his mother and the mother of Emperor Yang had been sisters. At that time more and more peasants in many places rose to arms because of the corruption of Sui Dynasty. Wu Shiyue advised Li Yuan to hold up his own flag against Sui Dynasty. Li said to him, ¡°Just between you and me. If I can sit on the throne, I won¡¯t forget you.¡± Then Li Yuan began to recruit and ordered Liu Hongji and Changsun (double surname. There are a limited number of surnames in Chinese, 438 in all, including double surnames, 30 in all. As for given names, people can choose any Chinese words in the dictionary to form them.) Shunde to be in charge of the raw recruits and to train them.
There were two vice prefects, Wang Wei and Gao Junya, also appointed by Emperor Yang. They were loyal to the emperor and suspected Li Yuan of betrayal. They consulted Wu, saying, ¡°Liu and Changsun were army deserters when His Majesty (denoting the second emperor of Sui Dynasty) invaded Korea. Shall we arrest and interrogate them?¡±
Wu Shiyue was on Li¡¯s side, of course, and replied, ¡°They are Prefect Li¡¯s men. It¡¯s not appropriate for us to arrest them.¡± So no action was taken.
Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty had built Jinyang [Jin here is the name of an ancient kingdom in China and Yang here means the Sun] Palace close by Taiyuan City. Li Yuan told Wu Shiyue to lay an ambush at the eastern gate of the palace in case that some surprise attack might come. A soldier learned it and wanted to report to the vice prefect Wang Wei, but Wu Shiyue stopped him by letting him know what would be good for him.
In the fifth moon of the same year, Li Yuan killed both the vice prefects on some pretence and then in the seventh moon, held up his own flag against Sui Dynasty. He appointed Wu Shiyue as his staff officer responsible for arms keeping and other equipments. At that time the army of Sui Dynasty was fighting with the rebellious peasants. Li Yuan grasped the chance to besiege city after city and occupied them one by one.
In the ninth moon, they entered ChangAn [meaning Everlasting Safety] City, which was later made the capital of Tang Dynasty. As now it seemed that the whole nation was up against Emperor Yang, Li Yuan supported Yang You (AD 605¡ªAD 619), the grandson of Emperor Yang to be the emperor of Sui Dynasty, called Emperor Gong, and named the present Emperor Yang as ex-emperor. Li Yuan announced himself to be the general prime minister and Prince Tang. Why did he call himself Prince Tang, not using any other word? It was because his grandfather had been Duke of TangGuo in a previous dynasty; hence, Tang Dynasty later. Then Li Yuan granted Wu Shiyue a big manor house, three million coins and five thousand scrolls of silk. He appointed Wu as the vice minister of Etiquette Ministry, plus a title of Duke of Yiyuan. He also gave Wu two hundred blood horses and two thousand bushels of grains.
On the fourth day of the tenth moon in AD 618, Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty was killed by his general Yuwen (double surname) Huaji. Then Li Yuan made the young Emperor Gong abdicate and declared himself to be the emperor of a new dynasty called Tang Dynasty. After a feast to celebrate the victory, everyone got rewards in accordance with his service. Wu Shiyue was appointed a general and awarded again with three hundred acres of tilling land, three hundred slaves of both sexes, five hundred catties of gold and twenty thousand pieces of colored fabric. Besides, he got a metallic certificate of exemption from death sentence once if he committed a serious crime that deserved the death verdict.
In AD 620, Wu Shiyue got another appointment as the minister of Construction Ministry. (There were six ministries in Tang Dynasty: Official Ministry, Military Ministry, Judicial Ministry, Household Ministry, Etiquette Ministry and Construction Ministry.) Since he did a great job, the emperor was so delighted that he conferred Wu another title of Duke Yingguo, but Wu declined the honor. Anyway, he rose from a bean curd dealer and a lumber merchant to the position of a new nobleman in ChangAn City. He was satisfied with his life.
Lou , The Cheers News
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