Emperor of China; Self-Portrait of K'Ang-Hsi

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“Emperor of China; Self-Portrait of K’ang-hsi”
Emperor K’ang-hsi was one of the greatest Chinese emperors of all time. Ruling from 1662 to 1722 he was also one of the longest ruling emperors in Chinese history and for that matter the world. K’ang-hsi brought China to long-term stability and relative wealth after years of war and chaos. Jonathan Spence writes from the eyes of K’ang-hsi getting his information from K’ang-hsi’s own writings. Though a little biased towards himself this book still provides important insight into his mind. Emperor of China is divided into six parts; In Motion, Ruling, Thinking, Growing Old, Sons, and Valedictory.

In the first episode, In Motion, Spence tells the audience about K’ang-hsi’s travels and how much of an avid hunter he is. In a letter to Ku Wen-hsing, K’ang-hsi wrote, “he had traveled over 2,000 li… in each of the four cardinal directions” and later states, “River, lakes, mountains, deserts- I’ve been through them all.” K’ang-hsi travelled the countryside to hunt and to win over the Chinese citizens. He hunted for pleasure stating, “Hunting’s basically for exercise,” and to train his military in shooting, camp life, and formation riding. The second episode, Ruling, goes more into detail on how the government was set up. K’ang-hsi had is set up so he had complete control over the economical and educational structure but did not have to deal with the small tidies problems of every county.

Emperor K’ang-hsi thought a lot about his purpose in life. He goes into more detail in his third episode Thinking. The Emperor was a Neo-Confucianism but refereed to it mostly as Confucian Classic. He claims he wanted to find things out for himself and not pretend to have the knowledge. He would ask his elders questions and ask about their experiences so he would learn from their mistakes and gain from their accomplishments. Realizing in the fourth episode he was growing old and was going to die. He was very adamant...
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