Since Lin Yuan’s ascension to the throne, the Song Manor had become as lively as the marketplace, and Song Shizhao had to buy the houses on both sides in order to accommodate all the guests.
Countless scholars wanted to become his disciple, so that they could use this springboard to soar upward.
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Song Shizhao saw another group of scholars before he could return to the room.
Zheng Qingfeng was already waiting here.
“Mister.” Zheng Qingfeng cupped his hands.
Song Shizhao returned the salute and said, “Lord Zheng.”
The chessboard had already been set up, Zheng Qingfeng said with a smile: “Mister, have a game with this official?”
Song Shizhao sat opposite Zheng Qingfeng: “Lord Zheng, please.”
The battle on the chessboard was in full swing, and Zheng Qingfeng suddenly asked, “His Majesty’s attack on the aristocratic families is to establish prestige and authority.”
Song Shizhao placed down a chess piece with a smile on his face: “The Son of Heaven has ascended the throne, and now is the time to set the tone. If the aristocratic families are strong, the emperor will be weak. If the emperor is strong, the aristocratic families will be weak.”
“The children of aristocratic families are different from the children of poor families. They have been studying academics since childhood. Even if His Majesty suppresses them, he will not completely abandon using them either.” Zheng Qingfeng shook his head. “His Majesty’s move will chill the hearts of all the descendants of aristocratic families in the world. Why doesn’t Mister try and persuade His Majesty?”
Song Shizhao: “How to persuade? Persuade His Majesty that if there are no aristocratic families in this world, there will be no one to govern the people? Persuade His Majesty, the world today is still not His Majesty’s world? Allowing the aristocratic families to grow big, their descendants become officials, establish cliques and factions in the court, and even if the imperial decrees leave the capital, it must depend on the face of the aristocratic families?”
Zheng Qingfeng was stunned for a moment. He himself was a son of an aristocratic family. He widened his eyes and said: “Why does Mister think so narrowly?”
“Narrow?” Song Shizhao smiled, “Let me ask you, how do you define the emperor?”
Zheng Qingfeng: “The one who commands the people of the world.”
Song Shizhao: “Wrong, he is the one who holds the authority and power in the world.”
Zheng Qingfeng’s face revealed fear: “Mister’s meaning…..His Majesty wants…..His Majesty wants…..”
Song Shizhao nodded: “The aristocratic families are like wolves, wolves run in packs, and they each occupy a city, just like in the Yuan Dynasty, the officials sent by the emperor have to befriend them, and the emperor’s decrees could be ignored. If things go on like this, who will rule the world? The emperor? Or the aristocratic families?”
“There are countless aristocratic families, and they have friendly relationships with each other.”
“There is only one emperor.”
“Lord Zheng, do you understand?” Song Shizhao placed down his last chess piece, the power of the dragon was formed, and Zheng Qingfeng was defeated.
Zheng Qingfeng sighed and said, “There is no place to turn back?”
Song Shizhao: “Lord Zheng is from an aristocratic family, and it is inevitable that you will feel sad, but His Majesty is no longer the way he used to be, and he will not kill and execute his enemies immediately. The descendants of the aristocratic families are usable, but they are used because they are people with lofty ideals, and not because they are the children of what family. Do you understand?”
Zheng Qingfeng bowed his head: “Listening to what Mister said, this official has a sudden flash of insight and all is clear.”
Song Shizhao said quickly: “Lord Zheng is a wise man. Being loyal to His Majesty means loyalty to the nation.”
Zheng Qingfeng sighed and said, “It is I who is narrow-minded…..”
Song Shizhao said with a smile: “Lord Zheng, you are one of the rare sensible people in the world. Believe it or not, if I had said this to the children of the aristocratic families outside, they would definitely disagree, because in their hearts, the family and clan is the most important, while the monarch is less so. They serve the emperor for the name of their family, not for the benefit of the emperor.”
Zheng Qingfeng understood: “His Majesty wants to hold the imperial examination?”
Song Shizhao stroked his beard: “Exactly.”
When Zheng Qingfeng left, he turned to look at the plaque of Song Manor hanging over the front doors.
It was not that His Majesty didn’t want to use the children of the aristocratic families, he just wanted…..the children of the aristocratic families to take off that shell of theirs before being used by him.
They must be loyal to the Ming Dynasty, loyal to the emperor, and loyal to the imperial power.
Rather than to the aristocratic families.
The aristocratic families did not come to a dead end.
But they have also come to a dead end.
Zheng Qingfeng got on the carriage and thought about his own life.
Although the Zheng family was an aristocratic family, the aristocratic families were also divided into large and small, as well as the rich and the poor. The Zheng family had a wealth of books, but they were all accumulated by their ancestors. When it came to money, they were really poor. His father once told him that just because one is trapped for a while, one would never be trapped forever.
So long as the children in the family had motivations, no matter what, they could keep the Zheng family’s signboard. So long as the signboard was there, the Zheng family could still be an official.
And Zheng Qingfeng really became an official. He was introduced by relatives and friends and became an official.
He saw with his own eyes that the officials dispatched over by Dadu fell under the control of the local aristocratic families. Without the approval of the aristocratic families, the imperial decree could not even go out of the government office, let alone be implemented.
In the city, the aristocratic families had been entrenched for a hundred years, and they knew the population of the city like the palm of their hand. Half of the population in the city were slaves of the aristocratic families.
Before, he thought the aristocratic families did the right thing.
After all, the emperor was foolish and incompetent, and his decrees were of no benefit to the people. Fortunately, there was the supervision of the aristocratic families.
This would allow the common people to recuperate.
But at this moment, Zheng Qingfeng shuddered at the thought of the past.
That was imperial power! From ancient times to the present, who would be willing to let others share in the imperial power?
Gross insubordination was a capital offense.
Zheng Qingfeng sighed and said to the driver, “No need to go to the Wu Manor, we go back home.”
The driver said strangely: “My lord, it’s still early.”
Zheng Qingfeng shook his head: “Go back to the manor.”
The coachman had to turn the horse’s head.
Lin Yuan was now meeting with capable and learned people.
He had the heart to recruit talents, but at this moment he was not recruiting officials to govern the country.
The status of craftsmen had always been low. Scholars, farmers, craftsmen and then merchants. It seemed that merchants were the lowest class, but after the Song and Yuan dynasties, the status of merchants had long been changed from before.
In fact, craftsmen were the ones with the lowest status.
However, the national scientific and technological capabilities depend on craftsmen.
A knife, a pot, and a boat were all achievements of a craftsman.
There was no benefit for a craftsman to experiment and invent, and there was no harm in following the old rules.
Lin Yuan now hoped to build stronger firearms as soon as possible. Chinese firearms have a long history and could be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. Gunpowder came into existence in the Qin and Han Dynasties and was used in the battlefield in the Tang Dynasty.
During the Song Dynasty, firearms went a step further, and the flintlock appeared.
The Yuan Dynasty improved the flintlock, and called it the fire gun.
In the Ming Dynasty, the power of firearms was a rare greatness. There were hand guns, bird guns, cannons and fire arrows, not only that, but also landmines and water mines.
However, the technology of the Ming Dynasty was not enough, and it was unable to create a tube-valve type gun body with a rear-loading function.
It was Portugal’s invasion that caused the rulers of the Ming Dynasty to discover that Westerners’ artillery was better.
So the Ming Dynasty began to learn foreign advanced technology.
It was a pity that although they learned it and improved and invented stronger guns, they didn’t manage to find a way to mass-produce it, and there was no production line.
But even so, the firearms in the Ming Dynasty were stronger than in most parts of the world.
However, in the Qing Dynasty, although the Qing Dynasty also improved firearms, but because it was too conservative and isolated, it led to their development of firearms falling far behind the West, allowing the imperial powers to smash down the doors of the Qing Dynasty, and the Qing Dynasty was unable to fight back at all.
What Lin Yuan wanted was to gather the talents in the world, establish a production line, and be able to manufacture on a large scale.
At this time, the people kneeling below were all craftsmen from all regions of the empire. When Lin Yuan’s summons were sent, all the cities sent these people over.
His decree had not been discounted at all at this time.
He didn’t expect progress within just a few years, or even a decade or a few decades or even within his lifetime, but he had to make a head start, and only when this start was made could a habit be formed.
“All of you are the backbone of Zhen’s national strength.” Lin Yuan said to the shivering craftsmen kneeling below, “Please rise.”
The craftsmen did not dare to move. They used to be frightened when they saw even a minor official, let alone the emperor.
Lin Yuan stood up, walked down into the hall, and helped up an old craftsman with gray hair.
“The old master is already of such advanced age, grant him a seat.” Lin Yuan ordered, and a eunuch brought over a chair.
The old master was so frightened that his face turned pale, and he almost knelt down to Lin Yuan again. If it wasn’t for Lin Yuan supporting him, he would definitely have thrown himself on the ground.
“Caomin…..caomin dare not…..” The old master sat on the chair like he was about to head to the execution ground.
Lin Yuan pressed down on the old master’s shoulders and said to everyone, “Zhen’s country is also your country, and your strength is the fortune of the country as well as the strength of the country.”
These words frightened the craftsmen.
They…..they were just ordinary people, how could they be associated with the prosperity of the country?
Lin Yuan said again: “Zhen has heard that there were fire cannons in the Yuan Dynasty, now the Ming Dynasty has been established, and should naturally take a step further to a higher level.”
“Zhen will never be stingy towards those who study craftsmanship and serve the country, so long as you are outstanding people and innovators, Zhen will reward you with titles of nobility.”
The craftsmen instantly stopped shaking.
A noble title? Noble title!
The noble titles in Lin Yuan’s hands were all empty titles, they represent no real power. They could not be hereditary, only lasted one generation, and moreover, they could not leave the capital.
But there was a salary, and one generation of nobility was enough for the descendants to make something of themselves.
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “The Great Ming is Zhen’s great Ming, and it is also your Great Ming. Zhen hopes that you all work together to strengthen our country’s strength and promote our country’s prestige!”
The foreheads of the craftsmen touched the ground, shouting loudly: “Long live my emperor!”
In addition, each lane in the capital was renamed districts, and each district had district chiefs, scribes, integrated household registration, and decrees were all issued by the central government.
The whole city of Beijing was like a rail link. The district chiefs were all the people who followed Lin Yuan when he first began his journey, and the positions of scribes were given to the children of the aristocratic families.
The imperial power was in the capital, the height of flourishing prosperity.
All the cities around the capital were captured by Zhu Yuanzhang, Chen Baisong and Li Congrong.
The army was stationed in the city, intimidating countless mice peeping in the dark.
These cities were all big cities, and all the officials in the cities were arrested, with the new officials taking office, new laws were followed and new orders were obeyed.
“Your Majesty, the people of the nation still need to be supported.” Song Shizhao remonstrated.
Lin Yuan was eating snacks, and waved to Song Shizhao: “Mister, come and sit, please eat.”
Song Shizhao sat down: “Now that Your Majesty has made drastic changes, I’m afraid of a backlash.”
Lin Yuan nodded: “What Mister said is correct, but now is the beginning of the new dynasty, and it is just the right time to make reforms. It will be difficult to reform when everything is settled.”
Song Shizhao sighed and said, “I’m afraid it won’t be a steady path.”
“The Sui Yang Emperor dug the Grand Canal, which was originally a good thing to benefit the country and the people. It could open up the five major rivers, not only open rivers, but also land roads that facilitate transporting armaments, and open up business routes. In this way, the country could be prosperous and the people could grow strong, but the result?” Song Shizhao cupped his hands, “Your Majesty, things still need to be taken slowly and gradually.”
Lin Yuan: “Zhen understands the reasons, and Zhen also understands Mister’s worries.”
“But Mister, in ancient times, the Qin State became strong from reforms, and now I am reforming the system, how do you know that my Great Ming will not become strong as well?”
Song Shizhao: “But what happened to Shang Yang (TN: philosopher and important statesman of Qin whose militaristic reforms in 356 and 350 BC played a key role in establishing Qin power, but died in the end at the hands of those nobles who despised him due to his reforms)?”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “Sir, today is not the ancient times, there is no Qi, Chu, Yan, Zhao, and Han (TN: the Warring States).”
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“Mister, are you willing to be the Prime Minister?” Lin Yuan looked at him.
Song Shizhao couldn’t utter another word.
Lin Yuan asked again, “Mister, are you willing to assist Zhen?”
Song Shizhao bowed his head: “This official, dare not refuse, for the sake of the country and Your Majesty, I shall spare no effort until death put an end to my life.”
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