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img006 - THE WAN-LI EMPEROR Really nothing of great...

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Unformatted text preview: THE WAN -LI EMPEROR Really, nothing of great significance happened in 1587, the Ygarmoflhe Pig. China was not facing a foreign invasion, nor was the country engulfed in a civil war. Even though the capital district did not have sufficient rain during the summer and epidemics broke out in those months, and though drought was reported in’ Shantung, and flood in South Chihli, and earth- quakes took place in Shansi in the autumn, none of these disasters occurred in alarming proportions. For an empire as immense as ours, such minor incidents and setbacks can only be expected. On the whole, the Year of the Pig would go down in history as an indifferent one. Can we therefore omit that year from history books? Not quite. During the year preceding the defeat of the Armada in the Western world, many seemingly unimportant events took place in China that were closely linked to both her past and her future. At the time it was hard to say for certain whether any isolated incident was merely a passing episode or a ' Moreover, it is precisely those commonplace occurrences which historians ‘ have been inclined to overlook that often reflected the true character of our umpire. Let me begin my account with what happened on March 2, 1587, an M «lnary working day. ‘ It was a Sunny day. The trees in Peking were still leafless. The ground on ' unpaved streets, after intermittent snow in past months, remained n. The air was not terribly cold, but it was not yet warm enough to * he outdoor work comfortable. ,‘ I found lunchtime hundreds of governmental functionaries, civil his as well as army officers on duty with the capital garrison, raced ' rd the imperial palace. Word had spread that the emperor was to meet urt at noon. The message caught everyone unprepared. The privileged ding in sedan chairs still had time to tidy their belts and robes during ~ ', but the majority, on foot, were too exhausted from the ones . crucial turning point, but in fact these interlinking events made history. , yr ...
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