The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1237
Chapter 1237: Dissolving The Prefectural Armies
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Chong-er, good job!
Wang Gen communicated his praise through his eyes. In the situation just now, even Wang Gen had believed that Wang Chong had been led into a trap. On the contrary, however, Wang Chong had put on a dazzling performance in his first court session, winning the admiration of the gathered officials.
There existed a massive chasm between the martial path and the civil path, particularly when it came to discussion of political affairs. Thus, the majority of generals chose to remain silent, only occasionally speaking when the affair involved the military. But in this aspect, Wang Chong was clearly able to smoothly switch between both sides.
High on the platform, the Sage Emperor was like a motionless mountain, and it was impossible to tell if he was sad or happy. But at his side, Gao Lishi gave a subtle nod. Although Wang Chong still had the tendency of youth to decide things with emotion, Wang Chong was truly a formidable person, whether it was with regards to internal affairs or military affairs.
The discussion of Ji County was quickly brought to a close, and the hostility aimed at Wang Chong was clearly greatly reduced. When some officials occasionally brought up Wang Chong, they would speak with respect. The situation was completely different from what it was at the start.
As time passed, there were fewer and fewer matters that required debate. In this aspect, the Great Tang remained highly efficient. It was precisely this sort of efficiency that had caused the Sage Emperor to remove himself from most political matters and allow the court to handle them.
Wang Chong silently observed everything, slowly developing an understanding of the various mysterious procedures of court politics. It was soon late in the morning and about time to dismiss the court for the day.
"Your Majesty! This subject has a memorial!"
At this moment, an official that Wang Chong had no impression of suddenly stepped forward, holding aloft his ceremonial tablet as he bowed.
Gao Lishi glanced at the Sage Emperor before suddenly saying, "His Majesty permits you to speak!"
"Your Majesty, the Great Tang is currently at peace, and all the foreign countries on its borders have been awed into putting down their weapons and ceasing hostilities. Moreover, the Imperial Court has already signed treaties with the various countries to engage in mutual trading relations. In order to reduce the taxes and corvee labor on the common people, this subject proposes dissolving the prefectural armies. After giving the soldiers some compensation, have them return home to take up farming or other enterprises!"
The words of this official caused the Imperial Court to immediately explode. All the generals furiously stared at this official, and even Wang Chong instantly paled.
"Your Majesty, this subject objects!"
"Absurd! The prefectural army system was established by Emperors Gaozu and Taizong, and to touch it would be to harm the country as a whole! This subject objects!"
"Dissolving the prefectural armies can be done over my dead body! You civil officials just want to target us generals! You've already transferred back the Young Marquis and have reduced the various protectorate armies! What else do you want!"
"Since you've already put forward such a sound and logical argument, why don't we just dismiss all the soldiers and generals. If something happens, you civil officials can go and fight the war!"
It was like someone had poked a beehive in the hall as all the generals exploded in rage. Even the Minister of War Zhangchou Jianqiong could not hide the flames of anger in his eyes.
Another civil official quickly stepped forward and harshly rebuked, "Bastards! So you generals wish to threaten the Imperial Court?"
A third strange official stepped out of the ranks. "Civil officials govern the country while generals guard the borders. These are our duties. If we follow your line of thinking, then we should have you generals govern the country! Ever since the Great Tang was founded, it has been embroiled in wars. The power of the country is spent, its people burdened and its resources squandered. Now is the perfect time to dissolve the prefectural armies and improve the lives of the people!"
More and more civil officials began to enter the fray, barraging that general who had issued threats with criticism.
Although civil officials could not fight on the battlefield and were no match for the generals, the Imperial Court was not the battlefield, and martial strength had no use here. All the generals, no matter how high their cultivation levels were, could not find any advantage in these arguments.
"Your Majesty! This subject has a memorial! This subject censures General Zheng for engaging in alarmist talk and deluding the people with lies, thus harming the country! This subject charges him with failing his duty!"
On the other end, King Qi shot a glance at the civil officials of his faction, indicating that they should join the attack against the generals.
In the Imperial Court, if King Song was a staunch hawk, King Qi was a staunch dove. On this point, he just so happened to share the same goal as these civil officials.
Wang Chong stood at the very back, and as the civil officials advanced against the generals, his eyes slowly narrowed and chilled.
The army had already been withdrawn from Khorasan, and the various protectorate armies had also been reduced. The inspectors from the Confucian school had also been planted in every level of the military. The military had been pushed back again and again, but Wang Chong had never expected that they would be so irrational as to also set their eyes on the prefectural armies.
If the protectorate armies were reduced, then once a war began, one could still transfer elites from the prefectural armies to swiftly restore the protectorate armies to their full power. But if even the prefectural armies were dissolved, this would be cutting off the Great Tang's foundation.
The quarrel between civil officials and generals was intensifying, and just when all the generals were under a barrage of criticism from the civil officials, a loud voice rang out.
"Your Majesty! This subject objects!"
This voice immediately plunged the hall into silence. All the arguing faded away, and the generals looked to Wang Chong in excitement, their spirits rallying.
"The King of Foreign Lands!"
Wang Chong possessed supreme status in the military. Although he had only risen up a short time ago, his influence was so great that not even two border Protector-Generals or Great Generals could compare.
The weight of Wang Chong's words alone surpassed the combined weight of all the generals present in the hall. Moreover, Wang Chong had an illustrious background, as his grandfather Wang Jiuling had been a sage minister who was even now revered by the people of the Great Tang. No general could compare to Wang Chong in this aspect.
"Lord Wang, what's the meaning of this?"
The strange official who had made the proposal in the first place turned to Wang Chong, and the other officials also began to turn their eyes to him. The entire hall was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop, and the air was fraught with tension.
Wang Chong ignored the official and spoke straight to the Sage Emperor. "Your Majesty, this subject believes that the proposal to dissolve the prefectural armies is utterly unnecessary and can be ruled out straight away!"
"Wang Chong! You're being impudent! The various protectorates are engaged in war every year, placing an enormous burden on the people. Do you still wish for this situation to continue?"
Another civil official walked out, utterly infuriated by Wang Chong's stance.
"So, your meaning is that when the soldiers on the border are risking their lives to protect the country, they are living extravagant lives and preying on the people?"
Wang Chong shot an indifferent glance at this official, his eyes like cold beads of ice.
This official was instantly rendered speechless. No matter how bold he was or how dissatisfied he was with the military, not even he would dare to say such things.
"Your Majesty! This subject censures these civil officials who delude the people with lies and harm the country! Your Majesty, this subject requests that they be expelled from their positions and harshly punished!" Wang Chong coldly said.
The Imperial Court's first impression of Wang Chong had been that of a warm and composed individual, but the proposal to dissolve the prefectural armies had thoroughly enraged him. This was Wang Chong's first censuring of a civil official after being made a King, and he was censuring ten-some people at once.
The aggressive posturing of the civil officials was immediately dealt a severe blow. Although Wang Chong was taking part in the court as an Advisor-in-Waiting, he was still the King of Foreign Lands, personally granted this title by the Sage Emperor.
Not even Wang Chong's big uncle Wang Gen could compare to him in status, much less the others.
An elderly voice suddenly spoke. "Wang Chong! Such impudence! This old man knows that you were just granted a new title and are flushed with success and the energy of youth, but this is only your first court session. For you to use your identity to bully other important officials is truly audacious. Censuring and remonstrations were first approved by Emperors Gaozu and Taizong, and all governments and sovereigns since have adopted their policies on this matter. To silence criticism is tantamount to deceiving the Emperor and bringing disaster on the Great Tang. Your Majesty, this old subject censures King of Foreign Lands Wang Chong for presumptuously silencing criticisms. Your Majesty, please strip him of his noble title and demote him to a commoner, never again to enter the rolls!"
In a seat near the white jade steps, close to the Sage Emperor's throne, the aged Grand Preceptor, who had been seated motionless in his armchair this entire time, his eyes closed, suddenly stood up and gave Wang Chong a chilling glare.
The Grand Preceptor, Zhan Zhongmi!
The leader of the Great Tang's civil officials!
The moment the Grand Preceptor spoke, a cold wind blew through the hall, and the weather went from that of early spring to frigid winter. The entire Imperial Court fell silent, and even the generals did not dare to speak. Even King Song slightly grimaced. The Grand Preceptor wielded enormous influence and had a prestigious status. If Wang Chong could not handle this well, this incident would affect his future career prospects.
While King Song was worried about Wang Chong's future career, Wang Chong was thinking about something else entirely.
Wang Chong coldly snorted, not even backing down before the prestigious and virtuous Grand Preceptor of the Great Tang. The prefectural army policy was the foundation of the country. The Confucian school's bullying had gone too far if it thought it could tamper with the foundation of the militarists. Let alone the Grand Preceptor, even if someone with ten times his status came along, Wang Chong would still not back down.
This was no longer a simple quarrel between civil and military, Confucians and militarists. This was shaking the very foundation of the empire. If even Wang Chong backed down, the destruction of the Great Tang would not be far off.
Wang Chong took several steps forward. "Venerable Grand Preceptor, you are an elder of two governments, and Wang Chong has always regarded you with utmost respect! I did not think that your heart would be so selfish. For the sake of private gain, you would destroy the public good. This has truly disappointed me and left me ashamed!"
His words immediately had the hall exploding into a stunned uproar.
"Chong-er!" Wang Gen shouted in surprise, his face paling. The Grand Preceptor's status was no trifling matter, and his influence was simply too great. This was not someone that one could directly butt heads with, but in the end, Wang Chong was still too young.
"Impudent! Even if Wang Bowu were here, he would not dare to act like this! Was this how he taught you?"
The Grand Preceptor was enraged, and the entire hall buzzed and shook in response.