Restoration of the Great Ming: A Tianqi Timeline

I will say -- without going too far into what I've planned for the future -- that the princess probably doesn't want to get married (although I have been thinking very carefully about the sorts of people who might want to marry her, and there's some names you might not expect) -- or at the least, won't want to when she is grown.

And we're barely into the rebellion itself! I've introduced some minor historical characters who deserve a moment in the limelight. As the news spreads, people will need to pick a side...
Hopefully this one wont be as bloody as the Taiping Rebellion.
Hopefully not! Things might get bad, but hopefully not quite so bad.

TTL's closest equivalent to the Taiping (in terms of popular religious movements heavily infused with charismatic Christianity) would...probably be the Fishermen, and they're mostly in Dongshan, where they're just one of many disparate sects. And Dongshan likes the present emperor just fine.
Hopefully this one wont be as bloody as the Taiping Rebellion.
It won’t nearly as bloody as the Qing take over so it won’t reached taiping levels at all, since the rebels didn’t decapitate the Ming government the dynasty should be able to respond pretty effectively and crush the insurrection
I find it a little shocking, but also hilarious that Dong Kewei is willing to be so gruff and coarse with the Son of Heaven (yes, there's a rebellion going on, but Imperial Chinese people do love their protocol)
I find it a little shocking, but also hilarious that Dong Kewei is willing to be so gruff and coarse with the Son of Heaven (yes, there's a rebellion going on, but Imperial Chinese people do love their protocol)
He must kowtow a thousand times and serenade the Imperial Feet later once everything’s over as repentance as tradition demands!
I find it a little shocking, but also hilarious that Dong Kewei is willing to be so gruff and coarse with the Son of Heaven (yes, there's a rebellion going on, but Imperial Chinese people do love their protocol)
He must kowtow a thousand times and serenade the Imperial Feet later once everything’s over as repentance as tradition demands!
The way I see it -- they're in private, the emperor trusts him, and also there's the danger of a rebellion (he'll be more circumspect in the next scene I promise haha).
A Storm Over China [Chapter 1]
A hidden room, Beijing

The room they were in was a fairly well-appointed suite just like any other, but one that Minister Dong, in his foresight, had discreetly fortified in subtle ways, allowing for the entrances to be barricaded with ease. The emperor thought that he was handling things rather well, all things considered. He did his best to comfort his wife and daughter. Master Jin was praying quietly. Zheng Chenggong winced now and then from his wound, but made no complaint. The two Zheng family bodyguards -- their names were Mpanzu and Zuberi -- were the only ones who seemed unconcerned; to them, this might as well have been any day on the job.

Footsteps at the entrance. “It’s me.” That was Minister Dong’s voice.

Minister Dong was accompanied by a guard of his own. The emperor recognized Shi Chunjing, who had accompanied him and Master Jin during their incognito wanderings some years ago. A loyal, trustworthy man.

“My sons,” the emperor demanded. “Are they safe?”

“As far as I know, your majesty, they are.” Minister Dong bowed low, almost swaying with exhaustion; Shi Chunjing steadied him. “They are alive. Minister Wang and the imperial princes were inspecting one of the northern depots when seemingly half the army turned on them. It was almost a bloodbath but enough men stayed loyal that they were able to fight their way out. They were forced to retreat northward, and we’re not sure of their exact movements, but as far as I can tell, both the Minister of War and your sons are alive and headed for safety.” Wherever that was.

The emperor exhaled. “That is good.” He looked at Minister Dong. “And the city? Our court? What has happened?”

“We are making inquiries. The exact spark for this conspiracy has yet to reveal itself, but this is bad. Almost as bad as the great crisis which ended the era of Zhengtong.”[1]

“That sounds horrible.”

“It is.” Minister Dong winced. “The Embroidered Uniform Guard is running down all the rumors they can. This palace is safe; we’ve cleared every building, room by room, and we’ve killed at least a dozen assassins thus far. In the city, there was almost a riot in the eastern neighborhoods but our men were able to eventually restore order. Unfortunately, before then there was some significant bloodshed.”

“How much?”

“Most of the highest court officials have escaped harm,” Minister Dong said. “But not all. Minister Cai, at Personnel, is dead. Minister Wang, of course, is somewhere in the north with the loyal part of the army and the imperial princes. Your Grand Secretary is still alive, I know that Qian Qianyi was able to get to safety with only minor injuries, there was a bit of a brawl. The rest, I’m not sure. I received a message from Minister Zhou at Revenue, he said he survived an attack but I don’t know where he is right now. I’ve got runners trying to locate him but he’s not at his house in the city. I can only hope he’s alright.”

“I’ll need to speak with my loyal advisors,” the emperor said. They’d have ideas, hopefully. Someone would know what to do.

“I’ll have them summoned,” Minister Dong promised. “The main threat is the mutiny in the north; the revolt in the army should be suppressed with haste. Elsewhere...there are plots and rumors, out among the provinces.”

The provinces would need to stay loyal to him. Or at least, not actively support the rebellion. The emperor grimaced.

“The people of this city-”

“They still honor you, your majesty,” Minister Dong quickly reassured him. “When violence broke out, the agitators were flushed into the open. The vast majority of the common folk still remember when you walked among them. There weren’t many foolish enough to join this rebellion.”

“Some did,” the emperor murmured. “There has been too much blood spilled already.”

Minister Dong opened his mouth, then closed it. “I apologize,” he said. “I almost forgot.” He bowed again to the emperor, but his regret was directed to Master Jin. “During the violence, before loyal soldiers were able to restore order,” he said, “a number of conspirators assaulted the Jesuit mission in the city. There was...significant bloodshed, I’m afraid. The murderers put to death around half of the men there before they could be stopped.”

Master Jin was of a naturally pale complexion but his face looked almost bloodless now. “If it pleases the emperor,” he said, fighting to keep his voice steady, “I would like permission to arrange a funeral service for my deceased brothers.”

“It shall be done.” The emperor waved his hand. “Minister Dong,” he said, “I want the surviving members of my government here, in the palace, before sunup tomorrow. And I’d rather you be conscious when we meet with them, so you are ordered to rest tonight and designate a subordinate to retrieve the officials, if necessary.” The emperor gently shook him by the shoulder. “I need as many minds as possible to work this thing, Kewei. I’d rather yours be among them.”

“Thank you, your majesty.” The man was practically leaning on Shi Chunjing as he made his departure. The emperor watched him go with some concern. Minister Dong was no longer a young man.

He thought of how his predecessors would have handled things. His late, lamented grandfather; his thoroughly unlamented father. It occurred to him, suddenly, that if his father, he of the abruptly terminated Taichang era, had not perished so suddenly, he might well still have been alive today. If only this was his father’s problem to deal with, and not his own...

He waited, hoping for some burst of inspiration, but none came. Quietly, he sat back down, listening to Master Jin’s foreign prayers.

[1] In 1449 (by the Gregorian calendar), the Northern Yuan captured Tumu Fortress and with it, the Zhengtong Emperor. The emperor’s younger brother assumed the throne, the former emperor was released by his captors but immediately placed under house arrest by his brother, and eventually he rose up and overthrew his brother to become emperor again, choosing the era name Tianshun for his second reign.
Hey everyone. I'm still alive! Next chapter will be dropping later today. I hope everyone remembers the story thus far.

We shall continue!
A Storm Over China [Chapter 2]
Imperial Palace, Beijing

Normally, he’d have his Minister of War advise him. But that wasn’t possible now. Minster Wang and the imperial princes were somewhere in the empire’s north, fighting for survival against whatever disloyal faction had been flushed into the open.

He had the rest of his ministers -- minus Personnel, he’d need to make an appointment to replace the late Minister Cai -- and hopefully, their combined knowledge would make up for any shortfall.

Qian Qianyi was there. The Grand Secretary had a bandage across part of his face. “Your majesty,” he said, “if it is any comfort, your imperial ancestors survived far worse calamities in their time.”

He did not respond.

“I have double-checked all of the usual astronomical phenomena,” that was Kong Zhenyun, Minister of Rites, “and there was nothing at all to foretell such a turn of events. Whatever happened just now, it was not due to the displeasure of Heaven.”

“Thank you,” the emperor said, a trifle coldly. “Does anyone here know of a concrete, tangible step that I can take? Or must I sit in this palace and hope that the rebellion burns itself out?”

Nobody said anything for a while. Minister Kong looked like he’d swallowed a slice of bitter melon.

Finally, Minister Zhou cleared his throat. “Your majesty,” he said, “I think the best thing to do is to continue gathering information and organizing our forces. We need to find those who are truly loyal and gather them here, to safeguard the city -- and your person -- against any future threat. Then we smash the traitors.”

The Minister of Revenue was accompanied by his secretary, Gao Xuan. The emperor faintly remembered that the man had come from Kaifeng and was now very much Minister Zhou’s right hand. In fact, when the violence had broken out in the city, Minister Zhou had apparently been laying low in Gao Xuan’s residence, in the city. Could they be...? No, that’s ridiculous. Although Zhou’s from Fujian; I guess that wouldn’t be too surprising.

“First things first,” Qian Qianyi leaned forward, “by your order, we will reach out to the provincial governors and commanders across the empire to gauge their loyalty. We must be aware, though, that the conspirators may already be doing the same.”

The emperor nodded.

“There is also the matter of the other imperial princes,” the Grand Secretary continued. “I refer, of course, to the sons and grandsons of your imperial predecessors, on their estates in the countryside. It is not inconceivable that-” He checked himself. “I mean, the conspirators may have decided, in the event that your sons-”

“Thank you, I quite understand your point.” The emperor tried not to think about it. “Very well, see to it. And have the Prince of Xin, my younger brother, summoned to me immediately. I wish to speak with him.” The prince was in the city, was in fact staying in one of the guest palaces at the present moment.

“Very well.” The Grand Secretary hesitated. “Your majesty, about our tributaries and vassals-?”

“Out of the question,” interrupted Minister Zhou. “The power of the emperor will not be trivialized. Besides, what kind of support do you think they’d be able to offer? A few horsemen from the steppes? A boat from the king of Ryukyu?”

The emperor did not respond, but turned to Zheng Chenggong. Normally, when he met with his ministers, he’d do something to disconcert them a little, like inviting Master Jin to sit in on the meeting, but the Jesuit was performing the funerary rites for his deceased colleagues, so the emperor had improvised a little. True, he seemed to disconcert people just fine by himself (and he wondered at that, sometimes; people behaved so illogically, with so many minor social rules that did not make sense, and as far as he could tell, he was the only one who was being truly logical about things). It still helped to have someone else with him.

Zheng coughed. “Well,” he said, “this is a little embarrassing, but irrespective of the nature of my father’s relationship with the imperial throne and the exact political nature of the structural norms in-”

“This isn’t the metropolitan exam,” the emperor said. “Just answer this: how soon can your father, the Admiral, bring reinforcements from Dongshan against the rebels?”

“Um.” Zheng took a deep breath. “I don’t know, exactly. The foreigners are being extremely troublesome, and when I left I remember that he was preparing for a major battle. If you lend me your fastest ship, your majesty, I can return and tell him what’s going on. And then I’ll bring as much help as can be found.” He grimaced. “That is my promise, your majesty, but I’m afraid I don’t know how quickly this can be possible.”

There was some tension, among the ministers, when the emperor had turned to Zheng. The tension seemed to ease at his admission that the Admiral’s reinforcements might be delayed in their arrival. For a moment the emperor was very annoyed. The survival of the dynasty was paramount, no matter where they sought assistance! Well, that was court politics for you.

“That is fine,” he said. “You shall have your ship. Tell your father that unfortunately, this crisis is more urgent than any merchant adventures.” The emperor stood, signaling an end to the conversation, and everyone else scrambled to their feet. “We meet again this time tomorrow. Now, I am going to speak with my brother.”
Excellent portrayal of courtly politics and atmosphere. Despite being a simple discussion, I could sense that lingering tension, particularly when the emperor spoke with Koxinga.