Chapter 4: The Simple View of Right & Wrong of the Tang
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Though they discussed it privately in the military camp at midnight and in such an open empire, Ma Shixiang couldn't help becoming anxious when hearing 'stupid princess.'
He was so nervous and cautious with every action when the noble princess arrived in the City of Wei, and he never thought that Ning Que would have such a harsh and unreasonable comment about her, which made Ma Shixiang so displeased.
Nobody would deem the princess as an idiot. Instead, they respected her as their highness with virtue.
As a great country with a strong military force, the Tang would never adopt humiliating political measures like political marriages, no matter if the enemy was from the Tribe of Savages or other countries in the Central Plains. Nothing like that had ever occurred after the several marriages of the most loyal generals of the Tribe of Savages who served Taizu, the founder of theTang Dynasty, with royal women.
However, when the sovereignty of the grassland started to be unstable three years ago, along with an invasion of the largest golden tribe to the Tang's secret incite to enemies, the youngest princess of Tang, at the budding age of thirteen, kneeled in front of the Ming Palace and kowtowed for days and requested to marry the Chanyu of Golden Tribe in exchange for peace in the whole country.
The entire Tang was shocked when the announcement of this marriage of peace was issued. With bitter hatred, old officials kept requesting for the emperor to cancel the marriage. The emperor smashed countless jade cups angrily, and the queen left nothing but loads of complicated emotions. However, none of that could stop the princess's determination. Chanyu felt so astonished after knowing all of those things and quite liked her true identity, and then ordered five thousand lambs and cows as a tribute to the empire to marry the princess. In the end, the Tang emperor agreed with the peace marriage reluctantly.
The couple cared for and respected each other in their marriage. The ambitious leader of the Tribe of Savages had become a calm lion in the grassland, defending his territory and keeping distance with the closest inch of the Tang.
However, beyond everyone's expectation, the young Chanyu died without any warning, and his younger brother succeeded the position against objection. All of this just made the political situations tense again.
Regardless, for quite a long time, four to five years, since the young princess decided to marry Chanyu, the northwestern border of the Tang was in a precious peaceful situation.
There was a rumor saying that the most likely reason why the princess insisted on marrying far away was to get out of the Queen's control. However even if that was true, what the princess did, in the perception of major military and court officials, was the wise and right thing to do—she could have chosen an easier way, but in the end, she walked on the roughest path.
But to the generals who had experienced countless wars, like Ma Shixiang, they would never have felt afraid of any war and those barbarians. That's why the princess's marriage of peace made them extremely shamed—However, no one would reject the gift of peace.
In this case, they developed complicated feelings about the princess, not only an unreasonable anger but also gratitude. As time went on, such mixed feelings had turned to respect from deep inside.
Being an ordinary soldier, Ning Que could hardly understand such complicated feelings. Even if he could, he would not care to, because there was nothing that could be more important than his own safety, and what he was striving for currently was exactly related to that. Therefore, he continued with pretending that he didn't notice the general's concern. "I have roughly estimated the number of arrow holes on the horse carriages. The new Chanyu was pretty tough to deal with; half of the guard might already have been killed so far.
"It's said there was a Horse Gang." Ma Shixiang seemed a bit unconfident in what he was saying. The truth was that he did not believe what he said.
"Even the Golden Chanyu wouldn't attack our Tang princess brazenly, so it must be a horse gang, but everyone knows what the face is like under the mask." Ning Que continued. "But the thing is, if the Horse Gang indeed was Chanyu's people, why was that barbarian so bold to defend? They seemed fearless of being eliminated by the Tang, which sounds so unreasonable."
The Tang was established with the foundation of military force. The culture here is simple while aggressive, being known as the most powerful country in the world. Nevertheless, even with such strength, it would still exhaust half of its strength to destroy the Golden Tribe of Savages on the grassland.
It sounded unreasonable to get involved in such turmoil just for rescuing a married princess. However, in fact, such things happened many times before in the Tang's history.
One of the most famous examples happened during the old age of Taizu, the founder of the Tang Dynasty.
At that time, a tribe massacred a village positioned along Bai Yang Road. One hundred and forty residents there were all killed without mercy. The emperor sent a messenger to ask what happened, however, one of his ears was cut off and he was expelled by the Chanyu. Taizu felt so angry and immediately decided to invade the grassland, leading a military group of 80,000 cavalries. After hearing this, the tribe escaped to the northern wilderness against strong wind and snow, while the Tang's group kept chasing them, until several months later when the tribe was finally slaughtered.
Fighting for several months, destroying all the enemies... The Tang earned that at a terrible cost.
To make sure there were sufficient supplies for such an exhausting war, the imperial court sent millions of farmers to the battlefield and collected all of the livestock. Fields around Min Mountain was all left uncultivated, the tax in the South quadrupled, and officials had no spare time to take care of those things. The whole country was on the edge of turmoil, even collapse.
The Tang's most fabulous quality was observed during such a dangerous period, as well as in subsequent years while appraising this matter.
When the imperial marching onto the wilderness, the rebels in the south didn't attack the military. Instead, they returned to bases and seemed like they were standing at the side of the imperial. Perhaps not every rebel did that for the so-called national righteousness. Some of them might have also wanted to utilize this opportunity to win the fight, but they had to face the reality that the poor peasants who supported them, and heads and soldiers in the troop, were all strongly against them to do so.
Taizu didn't earn a high historical status due to this battle, even inside the empire. No matter if in history books, or in stories from storytellers, you could see or hear no good comments about him, but instead, totalitarian and harsh.
However, even though the most pedantic scholars, the professors who didn't care about the sovereignty, or the farmers and businessmen who badly hate tax might all criticize Taizu for various reasons, none of them would deny the necessity of the war.
All the Tang's people always firmly believed in a simple principle from the establishment of their country: I won't invade anyone, and nobody can invade me either. Even if I invade you, you're still not allowed to invade me back!
An eye for an eye.
That's what we established as the baseline.
That's what made Tang stronger and more powerful.
And that's why Tang was recognized as the strongest country in the world.