A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Chang Chü-chêng

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41Chang Chü-chêng 張居正 (T. 叔大). Died A.D. 1582. A native of 江陵 Chiang-ling in Hupeh, who graduated as chin shih in 1547. He entered the Han-lin College, and won the trust and admiration of Hsü Chieh and his rival Yen Sung. He rose rapidly, until in 1567 he became a Grand Secretary under the Emperor Mu Tsung, whose Tutor he had been. Five years later the removal of Kao Kung, with whom he had fallen out, left him at the head of the government. He allied himself with the eunuch Fêng Pao; but he ruled well, impressing on the boy Emperor Shên Tsung a spirit of economy, love for his people, and fair treatment of his Ministers. He earned great opprobrium by checking the licence of Censor criticism, and he harried his opponents remorselessly. But his policy of exalting the Emperor and centralising the government proved most successful, peace and order being maintained throughout the empire. He is accused of levying bribes from the provincial officers, and of screening eunuch scamps. But he gradually crushed the faction of Fêng Pao, and his own nominees were really able men. In 1577 he lost his father; but to the disgust of his rivals, the Emperor insisted on his retaining his post, and even made him act as go-between on the occasion of his Majesty's second marriage in 1578. In the following year Chang presented a Memorial on the necessity of balancing revenue and expenditure, and in 1580 he remeasured the arable land, and so increased the land-tax receipts. He was loaded with honours by the Emperor, who nevertheless in 1584 took away all his titles, confiscated his property, and published to the empire that he was arrogant and too fond of engrossing power.