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

1290 words 6 pages
“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 …show more content…

Granted this is what Spence wanted to do with his book but for the point most of his sources were of K’ang-hsi’s writings; we cannot believe everything that is written. If someone would read this book they would think K’ang-hsi was the greatest leader/person in the world. We do not get the dirty side of his life, the side that describes all the thousands of people that he killed for no reason. When they were addressed in the book K’ang-hsi put a positive twist on it so it would be justified in his mind. Every storyteller is going to tell their version of the story so it sounds better than it really was. On the other hand Spence takes us into K’ang-hsi’s head and we realize what K’ang-hsi was thinking behind some of his actions. For example, his reasoning for restructuring the tax system in 1711 because the population was increasing but the farm land was not increasing so his thought was every “census year the tax quotas should be redivided among the entire surviving population, so that all would pay the same, and each year the tax burden could get lighter.” But he went with another plan we know what he was thinking and what his other options were. Knowing what is going on in someone’s mind is what everyone wants to know and especially for someone as important as the Emperor of China. Through K’ang-hsi’s writings you can feel the whole heartedness from him. He was a good person and Spence really expressed that while writing this