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  1. #81
    WestEmpress Dowager was very eager to get the empress dowager systemgoing, but it was unsuitable to urge Yixin. So she seized everyopportunity to bestow some favors on Yixin, like to double his Princesalary. Yixin took the hint and had a meeting with all the courtierswho were familiar with the empress dowager system in the previousdynasties. In reference to all the examples in the history, theydrafted some rules about this system and handed in for the empressdowagers to approve, West Empress Dowager was not satisfied with someof the items and sent it back for the courtiers to re-draft. So thedocument was like a ball kicked up and down for several times, tillat last West Empress Dowager felt contented.
    Theessential rules were that the empress dowagers could receive thegovernment officials and officers to discuss the state affairs inlieu of the emperor (The tradition was that the empress dowagerscould only see the male family members, not the male courtiers) andthat the empress dowagers decided on the appointments and removals,the promotions and demotions of all the government officials andofficers in behalf of the young emperor and that the empress dowagerscould issue orders in the name of the young emperor.
    AlthoughWest Empress Dowager had some experience to handle the reports, shethought it was not enough if she wanted to rule the countryindependently. So she had some scholars to compile a book, takingall the good ruling examples from the history for her reference. West Empress Dowager knew that there had been a real empress, thefirst and the last, and therefore the sole empress in the longhistory of China. She wanted to learn from her ruling experience. When the book was finished, she ordered the scholars to be in herpresence by turns to explain to her all the texts one by one. Theywere not her tutors, though they really gave her lessons.
    Anew secretarial bureau had been organized, headed by Yixin. Theemperor's coronation took place on November 11, and a ceremony forthe two empress dowagers to handle the state affairs took place onDecember 2. Every day after that, the young emperor sat on thethrone to hold court, with a desk before him. A screen, a framecovered with yellow gauze, stood behind the throne. The two empressdowagers sat behind the screen, vaguely seen through the gauze, likeflowers seen through mists, by two rows of courtiers standing infront of the emperor's desk, after the ritual of kowtows. Yixin, theyoung emperor's uncle, stood to the left of the desk.

  2. #82
    Ambitiouspeople always want to make things better whenever they have the powerfor the change. So did West Empress Dowager. Since a scholarcourtier had been giving her history lessons based on the book thecourtier had compiled, she had learned that most of the previousdynasties had crumbled owing to the corruptions of the officialdom.So she desired strongly to change it. She encouraged the critiqueofficials to reveal all the corruptions. Many such reports came toher notice. They all criticized Commander Shengbao, who was fightingnow in Anhui Province.
    CommanderShengbao was a man of self-importance and bad temper. The only one heesteemed and obeyed had been the late Emperor Xianfeng, who hadraised him to the present position. Now Emperor Xianfeng was dead. So no one alive was worthy of his homage and absolute obedience. Helooked upon the young emperor as a mere child. He looked upon theempress dowagers as useless women. He looked upon Yixin as the onewho needed his support. Without him, how could they have got theupper hand of Sushun and other counselors? He loved the quotationfrom the Art Of War written by Sunzi, an ancient strategist andcommander, which was “When a commander is away fighting, he canignore the king's orders.” The theory was based on that the kingwas far away from the battlefield and his orders were not practicaland fit for the situation.
    CommanderShengbao was deemed as a scholar-commander. He had passed thegovernment tests and had held some official positions before he hadbeen made a commander. So he despised his generals, some of themwere illiterate. He often chided them for no particular reasons. Ifany general offended him, he would have him beaten publicly. Hespent money freely. So he had to accept bribery. He always hadwomen with him wherever he went with his troops. This was reallyagainst the military law. He didn't care about law. Law was notmade for the individuals like him. Whenever he saw a beautiful womanon the way of his march, he just ordered his bodyguards to take heralong despite the family's protestation.
    Theempress dowagers and Yixin were always lenient to him because of hissupport in their contention with Sushun. But the last straw came andmade the situation unbearable. There lived a landlord by the name ofMiao Peiling, who recruited and trained an army of his own, in 1856,to defend his homeland against the Nian Army. In 1857 when CommanderShengbao was sent to fight with the Nian Army in Anhui Province, Miaohad already won a reputation of bravery in combat. CommanderShengbao liked such persons and sent someone to persuade Miao to jointhe government army. He enticed Miao with the title of a general. So Miao accepted and brought his army to where Commander Shengbaocamped.

  3. #83
    In1860 when the foreign troops approached Peking, Commander Shengbaowas summoned there to defend the capital. He wanted Miao to go withhim, but Miao had his own plan and refused to go north with CommanderShengbao. It was because Miao looked at the situation in a wronglight and thought that Qing government would soon be overthrown. Hewished to be a warlord, having a stretch of land of his own to ruleindependently. In April of 1861, Miao began to fight openly againstthe government. In August of the same year, he took a city from thegovernment army. He sent someone to contact the Peaceful Army andinvited the Shrewdness King to come north to form an alliance. InFebruary, 1862, Shrewdness King sent a detachment north. Leader Zhangof the Nian Army joined them and the three of them attacked a townunder the government control. Qing government ordered CommanderShengbao to the rescue because Miao had been under him before hisbetrayal. Commander Chengbao wrote a letter to Miao, promising therestoration of his former title and rights if he could turn over tothe side of the government. All that time, Younger Zeng had beatenShrewdness King and occupied Anqing City. Miao thought that thePeaceful Army would soon be annihilated and Qing government was safenow. So he came to join Commander Shengbao again. CommanderShengbao kept his promise and handed in a report for that matter, butWest Empress Dowager rejected to give his former title back to himbecause of his betrayal.
    ShrewdnessKing escaped and wanted to traverse the area controlled by Miao. Miao lured Shrewdness King to his camping place and detained him ashis captive. Miao gave his captive to Commander Shengbao, whoreported to West Empress Dowager and asked to escort the captive tothe capital himself, but West Empress Dowager said NO and ordered himto execute the captive immediately, which he did accordingly. ThenCommander Shengbao had the conception that Miao should be rewardedfor the capture of Shrewdness King, one of the two powerful kings ofthe Peaceful Army at the time. The most suitable reward, in hisopinion, was to give his title back. So he wrote a report to thateffect. Then a reply came, saying that Miao was pardoned for hisbetrayal, but the capture of Shrewdness King was not enough and if hecould wipe out Leader Zhang of the Nian Army, he could get back histitle. Commander Shengbao felt like he couldn't keep his promise andwas persistent by writing more than one reports, but all in vain.

  4. #84
    ElderZeng governed four provinces, including Anhui Province. He didn'tlike to have Commander Shengbao to stay in his governing area. AndShengbao, though a commander, had no province of his own to govern. He stayed there like a quest to assist the host to fight the rebels.He wrote to ask West Empress Dowager to make him the governor ofAnhui Province. West Empress Dowager began to dislike him for hisdisgustingly domineering attitude, and trusted him no more owing tohis relationship with Miao, who was fickle and easy to change sides. She gave the post to one of Elder Zeng's commanders and orderedCommander Shengbao to move his army to Shanxi Province to fight theHui Clan rebels. At first Commander Shengbao declined with a lameexcuse and suggested another commander to go instead, but at theinsistence of West Empress Dowager, he had to leave Anhui Provincefor Shanxi Province in August, 1862. In September, he was repulsedby the rebels. He thereby summoned Miao to Shanxi Province to helphim without even writing a report for the permission. West EmpressDowager and Yixin were shocked to find this and ordered othergovernment troops to encircle Miao's army. They feared that if Miaowould betray again and ally with Hui Clan rebels, the situation therewould be critical.
    WestEmpress Dowager and Yixin wanted to deprive Shengbao of the power tocommand any troops. Shengbao was offered the position of MilitaryMinister, or if he loved money, he could be the head of the RoyalFamily Affairs Management, where there were a lot of chances to getmoney. They wanted him in the capital for fear that he might rebel,too. Nevertheless, Shengbao rebuffed either offer. He mistook itfor the ruse to allure him into the capital and kill him. Now he gothimself into the dead end. No one could save him.

  5. #85
    OnJanuary 22, 1863, an order was secretly dispatched to have Shengbaotaken under custody and escorted to the capital. The difficult taskwas given to a general in his area. If he did it improperly,Shengbao might actually rebel. The general moved his troops as if hewas to assault the Hui Clan rebels. All of a sudden, he closed onShengbao and surrounded his residence at night when Shengbao wasstill asleep with one of his women. As the order in the emperor'sname was read to him to remove him from his post and put him underarrest, he was frustrated like a balloon leaking. He was accused ofthe following crimes:

    1. ) Took women with him against the military law.
    2. ) Embezzled the money supposed to use for military purposes.
    3. ) Kept the wife of Shrewdness King as his concubine while she should be delivered to the government as the family member of the rebel leader.
    4. ) Took bribery from the two brothers of Shrewdness King and hid them in his army while they should be delivered to the government for execution.

    WhenShengbao was arrested, most of his women deserted him and ran awaywith their own belongings. The wife of Shrewdness King remainedbecause she had nowhere to go. Shengbao was not in irons andfetters. He was carried in a palanquin just like he were still thecommander. An officer and two hundred soldiers escorted him. Thegroup proceeded very slowly. One night when they lodged in a desertedhouse in a small village, suddenly came a regiment of infantry. Theytook all the luggage belonging to Shengbao and the wife of ShrewdnessKing. Some infantrymen were recognized. Another general who hatedShengbao sent them. Shengbao was very angry. He refused to gofurther and wanted his things back. He wrote a letter to the newcommander who had been the general arresting him and was nowcommanding his army. So the commander ordered the general to returnShengbao's things. Shengbao got back his luggage, but not the wifeof Shrewdness King. The general sent these words to Shengbao, “Sinceshe was the wife of a rebel leader, I must deliver her to thegovernment.” Actually he hid her in his backroom as his ownconcubine, because the wife was so beautiful that no man would resistthe charm of her beauty.

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