It is quite evident that the murder of Hamlet’s father was only the beginning of the prince’s tragedy. Controlled by his emotions and blinded by a desire for blood and revenge, Hamlet did not have enough clear-sightedness to bring his uncle to justice and ended up destroying his entire royal family. On the other side of the globe there existed quite a similar story, but with a different ending.
Defending the throne
The Kangxi Emperor (May 5, 1654 – December 20, 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper and he reigned from 1661 to 1722.
His father, Shunzhi Emperor became ill and died, leaving the throne to his 8-year-old son, Kangxi. Before he died, the emperor assigned his most trusted advisers to guide and protect his young son until he reached 14, the age of majority for the Manchurians, and he officially would become the emperor.
But one of his advisors, a military commander, and courtier, named Aobai, changed shortly after the emperor died. Aobai ignored Kangxi’s authority and threatened the nobility of the royal court, forcing them to swear allegiance to him, rather than to the young emperor.
Kangxi, being just a child, had no chance of defeating Aobai, who was not only the greatest Manchurian warrior and martial artist in the kingdom, but also now controlled the politicians and the army. The greedy minister also dismantled any plot the young emperor could hatch to recover the power taken from him.
When one of the counselors loyal to Kangxi opposed Aobai and tried to remove him, the ruthless traitor murdered the counselor and his entire family, solidifying a reign of terror that no one challenged again.
But the wise young emperor refused to surrender to tyranny. Kangxi recruited the strongest and brightest young men to form an elite guard. In order not to alert Aobai, they would only train by playing buku, a popular Manchurian fighting game for children. When Aobai visited Kangxi, the young ruler pretended to be absorbed in his games. Over time, Aobai believed that Kangxi was only interested in playing with his friends and showed no signs of political ambition. Therefore he let his guard down, feeling truly invincible.
Kangxi patiently waited, tolerating Aobai’s insults and the treacherous disregard for his authority. On the day that Kangxi turned 14 and officially became an adult and emperor, Aobai had the audacity to even wear golden robes, a color reserved only for the emperor.
Kangxi felt that it was time to bring Aobai to justice, but it was still very likely that the traitor would beat the group of young guards and ruin the young emperor’s only chance to regain his power.
Kangxi invited Aobai to a casual meeting to discuss some political issues. Without showing his secret intentions, Kangxi cordially asked Aobai to sit down. But the general’s chair had a trap, it was cut so that it would break with little movement. According to Kangxi’s plan, boiling tea was served and Aobai burned his hand. As his body shook, the chair broke. Two of the young guards pretended to help the traitor stand up, but they actually used buku techniques to take Aobai by the waist while another pushed his head down.
At that time, after years of training together with coordination reaching perfection, all the young guards surrounded Aobai and arrested him. Kangxi declared 30 acts of treason, confiscated Aobai’s lands and sent him to prison for life.
A glorious kingdom of 61 years began under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, the longest in the history of the Middle Kingdom. He stabilized the dynasty, pacified internal rebellions, and external opponents. He also promoted Chinese classical arts, such as calligraphy, poetry, and music, and made leaps forward in geography, science, mathematics, and astronomy.
Kangxi’s long reign reflected his inner spirit: courage and morality along with his perennial wisdom that allowed the young emperor to patiently and peacefully overcome his opponent.
The story Defending the Throne was presented in Shen Yun 2016 world tour.