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RTTP Game Prep: Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor

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Bethany Holmstrom

on 16 March 2014

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Transcript of RTTP Game Prep: Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor

Reacting to the Past Game Prep:
Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor
The Succession Crisis
The Players
Wanli Emperor
First Grand Secretary
The Grand Secretariat
Matteo Ricci
Game Day 2
Game Day 3
Game Day 5
Game Day 4
Game Day 1
Palace Examinations & Assignment of Memorials

First Memorials
Wanli Emperor & First Grand Secretary Respond
Second Memorials
Emperor & FGS Respond
Timeline of Game Play
The Issues beyond (but linked to) the succession crisis
The examination system
Barbarians, Bandits, Pirates & Jesuits
Flooding of the Yellow River
Taxation & Revenue
The year is 1587. The place is the Grand Secretariat in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

The Wanli emperor has provoked a crisis: he has refused to designate his first-born son, Changluo, now six, as his successor. In recent months Wanli has just had a son by his favorite concubine, Lady Zheng. The infant's name is Changxun...Many in the Grand Secretariat worry that the Wanli emperor, perhaps influenced by Lady Zheng, will eventually name Changxun as his successor (6).
Mongol invasion of China
Ming Emperor Xuande playing chuiwan with his eunuchs, c. 1420s
Matteo Ricci & Ming scientist Xu Guangxi
14c. depiction of Wokou (pirate/bandit) attack
Contemporary picture of Huan He (Yellow River) rapids
Paper currency from the Ming dynasty
Civil Service Examinees crowd around the wall where the results are posted, c. 1540
Lady Wang, mother of Changluo
Mark Carnes and Daniel Gardner,
Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor.
New York: Reacting to the Past Consortium at Barnard College, 2014.
The Analects
of Confucius
Major Concepts in the
teachings of Master Kong of Kong Fuzi (551-479 B.C.E.)
recorded by his students/disciples after his death
or Gentleman
individual of morally superior status
or Ritual
ceremonies, etiquette, and customs
or Benevolence
humaneness, or goodness
or Virtue
"magical charisma" (17)
or Way
"road, path, method" (17)
Paradigmatic Relationships
"hierarchical" (17)
Spirits & Ancestors
importance of family
Confucian Morality & Government
good government = good people
Hierarchical paradigmatic relationships

elder brother/younger brother
elder friend/younger friend

Reflecting on the
How, according to Confucius, is order most effectively maintained in society? Describe the sort of social order Confucius is advocating in the
What is the ideal relationship between the government and the people?
What makes for good government?
What are the ideal characteristics of the ruler?
What does Confucius mean by the term "rites"? What is included in the rites? What is the role of rites in a Confucian society?
What does Confucius mean by benevolence? How does a benevolent person behave - that is, what makes him benevolent?
This is Zhang Juzhen, the emperor's tutor and FGS until his death in 1582. There has been talk that FGS Zhang was corrupt. For the purposes of the game the next FGS, Shen Shixing, has just died (he was alive and kicking in historical reality, however).
Primary Sources
Book of History
"Canon of Yao"
One of the five Confucian classics, collection of speeches from early Chinese kings & their advisors (31-4)
Sage-ruler Yao & good governing - provides example of passing over first-born son
"Shao Announcement"
Duke of Shao or Duke of Zhou to the people of Shang, most probably from 11th century BCE. Discusses "Mandate of Heaven"
Discourses on Salt & Iron
Record of conference from 81 BCE
Convened by the emperor to address issues of the day
attended by senior government officials and wise men
important work for those concerned with government monopolies, taxation, and revenue
This is believed to be a portrait of Emperor Zhao of Han, who convened the conference.
A Memorial on Rewards and Punishments as a Means of Encouraging the Mind-and-Hearts of the People, submitted in 1517
A memorial by Wang Yangming (1472-1529 CE) to the emperor: this is a good model for the tone and structure of memorials (39-41).
Wang Yangming
Secondary Sources
Harold M. Tanner,
China: A History
(Volume I).
Ray Huang,
1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2010.
Who will be named successor of the Middle Kingdom? Will the emperor lose the Mandate of Heaven? Do you dare stand up for what is right and good for the realm according to the teachings of the Master?
Conflicting approaches to Confucianism:
Utilitarianism vs. Purists
Important game reminders (that might save your life):
The emperor has the power to punish anyone
Review the rules & rituals for audiences with the emperor
Convincing speeches and papers can earn influence points
ALL factions, allegiances, and roles should be kept SECRET. Do not make your faction public.
Be careful of "time traveling" in your papers
Use email/phone to communicate with others & plot outside of class.
Keep your role sheet and secret agendas private. Consult the Gamemaster if you have any questions.
Topics TBD & assigned by the FGS & Wanli Emperor
Speeches/papers on succession and whether or not the Wanli Emperor is following the Way
Full transcript