Most people could not have imagined the extent of the rage the Han generals felt when they heard that the Hu generals were sending in memorials demanding Wang Chong’s execution.
All of them were triggered into action.
Thus, in the morning assembly the next day, a small mountain consisting of nearly a thousand memorials appeared in the royal court, leaving all of the officials with their jaws on the ground.
These memorials came from all around Great Tang. Every single one of them bore the seal of a general, and every single sentence was packed with extreme rage.
The pressure that came from the memorials from nearly a thousand generals was unimaginable.
Never had such a situation appeared in the history of Great Tang. It was unimaginable to have a thousand Han generals stand up for a single person!
Yet, Wang Chong did it!
‘Whoever who pushes for Wang Chong’s execution will be our enemy’, such charged words appeared in nearly every single one of the memorials.
Even though the phrases they chose to use was different, they all conveyed the same meaning. On top of that, it seemed like they were unwilling to compromise at all.
For the first time, the Han commanders expressed their intentions as a whole.
This ‘expression of intention’ was not just limited to the memorials sent to the royal court, many letters were sent to the Hu generals as well.
Countless of military reports stuffed with the rage of the Han commanders reached the table of the Hu generals by the borders. Nearly all of the Hu generals who demanded Wang Chong’s execution received letters from the Han commanders in their own armies.
Similar letters also appeared on the tables of great Hu generals such as Go Seonji, Fumeng Lingcha, Geshu Han, and An Sishun.
The impact of this incident shocked the Hu generals. For the very first time, they felt the strength of the Han generals as a whole.
That noon, when a petition containing the signatures of a hundred generals appeared on the royal court, the scale of the event was pushed to even greater heights.
The signatures that appeared on this document did not come from ordinary generals, but from the ‘Conferred Generals’ of Great Tang.
Tracing back to the previous Qin dynasty, Western Han, all the way back to Great Han, only influential military generals who had contributed immensely to their country could receive a unique ‘conferment’, and these people were known as ‘Conferred Generals’.
Ordinary generals could not start to compare to the weight of the words of these people.
The Crouching Waves General, the Myriad Ships Admiral, the Breakout General, the Nine Cauldron General, the Myriad Crossbows General, the Sea Dominating Admiral, the Barbarian Slaughtering General, the South Guardian General, the North Eradication General, the South War General, the Dragon Martial General, the Dragon Cavalry General, the Vanguard General…
These Conferred Generals were scattered all over Great Tang, but due to Wang Chong, the signatures of all of them were gathered in a single day. This feat, in itself, was incredulous.
A document carrying the names of nearly all of the famous generals in Great Tang; the weight of it was unimaginable.
In the document, on top of bailing Wang Chong, the hundred Conferred Generals also questioned Geshu Han, Go Seonji, Fumeng Lingcha, An Sishun, and the other Hu generals, telling them to reflect on the proportion of Hu generals and Han generals in the military.
There were three hundred thousand Han soldiers by the border, but there were only slightly more than a hundred thousand Hu soldiers in contrast. The number of Han far exceeded the Hu, and the moment a Han soldier died, the capital would immediately dispatch someone to take his place. Despite this, who were the ones who held power in the border?
Of an army consisting of mostly Han, were there more Han commanders or Hu commanders?
Once some matters were analyzed and publicly pointed out, their nature would change completely.
The Han and Hu conflict had been present for a very long time. The Beiting Protectorate Manor, Western Protectorate Manor, Western Region Protectorate Manor, and the Geshu Han’s Big Dipper army; all of them were mainly made up of Han soldiers. Be it whether a soldier was a Han or a Hu, their equipment, bows, arrows, ration, and steeds were all provided by the royal court.
Yet, of these four important military camps, their Grand Marshals were Hu, and the ultimate authority was grasped in their hands. There were many people who were unsatisfied to see such a sight, but due to pressure from above, no one dared to bring this matter up.
However, due to Wang Chong, all of these burst out as though a leaking dam.
The officials in the royal court might be unsure of the matters raised by Wang Chong in his memorial, but to the generals in the military, Wang Chong’s words mirrored their thoughts!
On this aspect, they stood on the same line as Wang Chong. In truth, the memorial Wang Chong sent was vying for the interests for the Han generals.
They would not be able to accept it if Wang Chong was executed by the royal court over this matter.
No one had expected this matter to develop to such a point. Be it the Bureau of Military Personnel, Bureau of Punishments, the censors… The entire royal court fell into great chaos.
It had grown far beyond the scale for any individual to shoulder alone.
Innumerable memorials from the Han generals supporting Wang Chong flew straight into the royal palace from all directions. Similarly, memorials from the Hu generals demanding Wang Chong’s death to uphold the honor of the Hu also arrived at the royal palace in a steady stream.
This conflict had already blown out of proportion. Even Geshu Han, Go Seonji, Fumeng Lingcha, and the other influential Hu generals could not contain the issue anymore. After all, this was a matter concerning the interest of all of the Hu.
This was the first time the Hu and Han were clashing head on against one another in the two centuries of Great Tang’s history. Neither side was willing to give in to the other!
South of the Jianmen Pass in Western Shu, ominous rain fell relentlessly. Amidst the rain, oil torches burnt furiously. A huge army was stationed over a distance of eight hundred li across the meandering mountains.
In the center of the army stood a gigantic residence, and on the plaque hanging above the entrance were three large golden words:
“Southern Protectorate Manor!”
These words were forceful and heavy, as though reflecting the immense power wielded by the owner of the residence.
The Great Tang Empire had established six great protectorates. Even though the Hu possessed great authority over a significant number of the powerful armies, not all of the elites were grasped in their hands.
In the Great Tang Empire, south of the Western Shu’s Jianmen Pass, a hundred and eighty thousand men strong army was stationed. They were in charge of guarding against Erhai’s Mengshe Zhao, as well as the Ü-Tsang empire located in the western highlands.
(Mengshe Zhao is a tribe in Erhai, modern Yunnan, and it’s also known as Nanzhao)
In the Great Tang empire, the Southern Protectorate Manor maintained quite a low profile. As conflicts were not as strife as compared to the other locations, there were very few reports from this area. As such, its presence felt relatively weak in the royal palace.
However, this did not mean that the might of this one hundred and eighty thousand men strong army could be disregarded.
“Hmph! The Western Protector-General, the Western Region Protector-General, and the Big Dipper army vice-commander, do they really think that they are the only ones in Great Tang?”
Flames blazed within the massive residence. A short-haired, brawny, middle-aged man dressed in black armor sat cross-legged on the floor, and placed before him was a metal board.
Placed on the board was the newest intelligence from the royal court.
“Grand Marshal, we’ve always been keeping a low profile to stay out of unnecessary conflicts. The matter in the royal court this time around is rather troublesome, so shouldn’t we avoid getting involved?”
A mustached, intelligent-looking man seated next to the Grand Marshal asked worriedly. He was the aide of the Grand Marshal, as well as the military advisor of the Southern Protectorate Manor.
Having spent thirty years together, he was well aware of the personality of the Grand Marshal. As soon as the short-haired, brawny man spoke up, he immediately knew that the other party was going to get involved in the matter.
“It’s impossible for us to derive any benefit from this matter. On the other hand, we’ll only attract the hostility of Western Protector-General, Western Region Protector-General, Big Dipper army vice-commander, and all of the Hu soldiers. This is an unwise move. Grand Marshal, please reconsider your decision!”
The mustached military advisor persuaded worriedly.
The storm in the royal court was far too great this time, and it left him unnerved. He did not think that it was a wise decision to get involved.
“Hahaha, Zhi An, you still don’t understand the situation. While it’s good to avoid trouble, there are some things that a man must do. We’ve kept a low profile all along, but this matter is different. Have you not realized yet? Anyone who stays out of this matter will become everyone’s enemy!”
Zhangchou Jianqiong chuckled, and sharpness that contrasted with his coarse outer appearance shone in his eyes. ‘Zhangchou’ was a compound surname, and even though it sounded as though he was a Hu, he was a true-blue Han.
“Zhangchou’ was a surname that was derived later on, and just like the surname ‘Cao’, it was non-existent in the initial Hundred Family Surnames. However, regardless of whether it was a derived surname or a compound surname, Zhangchou Jianqiong was, without a doubt, Han. On top of that, he was the Protector-General of the powerful Southern Protectorate Manor, and his standing was not beneath that of the Western Protector-General Go Seonji, Western Region Protector-General Fumeng Lingcha, and Big Dipper army’s Geshu Han.
“Do you still not understand the meaning behind the petition of the hundred generals? Zhi An, this is no longer a matter concerning Wang Chong’s life and death but a fight over interest between the Han and Hu. Those who try to stay out of the matter will lose their places in the military.”
“Zhi An, your thought isn’t bad, but you failed to consider the full situation!”
Zhangchou Jianqiong explained impassively. Unknowingly, a powerful aura reminiscent of the mountain and the ocean seeped out of his powerful body, distorting even the flames and space in the main hall.
The military advisor known as Zhi An was taken aback. For a moment, he was unable to refute, and a contemplative look appeared on his face.
Zhangchou Jianqiong chuckled silently. Thoughts about the youngster in the capital surfaced in his mind.
What kind of youngster could possess the nerve to submit this kind of shocking memorial? Did Duke Jiu teach him to do so?
Zhangchou shook his head. Given Duke Jiu’s personality, he would not care to resort to such tricks. If so, could it be Wang Gen?
Wang Gen possessed immense influence in the royal court. If it was not Duke Jiu, then he was the next most likely suspect.
But did he possess such courage?
Zhangchou shook his head once more.
He had met Wang Gen several times in his early years. This Lord Wang was an intelligent person with foresight, and his talent in politics was incredible.
However, this was precisely the reason why it was impossible for him to craft such a memorial. If he did not possess the resolve to do so himself, how could he teach his own nephew to do so?
At this point, Zhangchou could not help but sigh deeply. Most probably, he had already arrived at the truth.
“To think that there would be such a valiant figure in Great Tang. Even if I, Zhangchou, have to give up on my principles, I should at least give you my backing!”
Zhangchou Jianqiong sighed deeply before stretching out his right hand.
“Bring me my brush. I want to write this memorial personally!”
A moment later, a black kite flew through the gloomy rain and ominous clouds, heading straight for the faraway capital.
In case you went to the Wikipedia page for Nan Zhao, even though Nan Zhao is the name of the country formed after the merger of the Six Zhaos, it’s also the name of Mengshe Zhao before the merger in 738.
Compound surnames are surnames that consists of two characters.
Zhangchou (章仇) consists of two characters, so it’s considered as a compound surname.
Examples of other compound surnames:
Such surnames are rather rare among the Han. Single word surnames such as Wang, Zhang, and Chen are much more common.
On the other hand, such surnames and much more common among the Hu tribes.