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Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Robbery, is there no law?

In the early years of the Hongwu period.

On a country road in Jiangbei.

A carriage moved forward at a leisurely pace.

A woman dressed as a peasant lifted the curtain and looked at the scenery along the way.

Curiously, she asked the person inside the carriage:

“Chongba, since you suspect Li Fan of corruption, why don’t you simply summon him back to Jinling for questioning? Why go to the trouble of checking yourself?”

The person sitting inside the carriage was the current Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, and the woman was Empress Ma.

Zhu Yuanzhang also did not want to go to such lengths.

But who could blame him when Li Fan was the scholar he had personally appointed?

He couldn’t help but recall the confident young man of those years.

The young man who had declined a high official position in the Hanlin Academy.

Insisting on becoming a county magistrate at the grassroots level.

So he sent him to Fengyang County as a sixth-rank magistrate.

This was a unique situation in the Ming Dynasty.

But over the past three years, rumors of Li Fan’s corruption had persisted.

Every time the court sent the Jinyiwei to investigate.

They returned empty-handed, finding no evidence at all.

The common people sang Li Fan’s praises, without any issues.

Yet he still had some doubts in his heart.

With the triennial capital inspection approaching.

He had to see the situation for himself.

Otherwise, if Li Fan’s corruption were uncovered.

Where would his authority be?

Hearing Empress Ma’s question, he replied directly:

“In these past few years, the Jinyiwei found no issues. Fengyang County is my hometown, I must see it for myself! If Li Fan has indeed caused harm, I would be letting my hometown folks down!”

Empress Ma was also worried and said:

“If Li Fan is truly corrupt, what about Lian’er?”

Zhu Yuanzhang frowned, wondering why his daughter was so taken with Li Fan.

To the extent that she wouldn’t give up.

If not for his strict supervision.

His daughter would have eloped long ago.

He sighed and said helplessly:

“If Li Fan is truly corrupt, he must be dealt with according to the law. Otherwise, what’s the use of making laws? As for Lian’er, she would have to be wronged! We will find a suitable family for her to marry!”

Empress Ma knew there was no other choice.

If even the Emperor did not uphold the law he set.

How could he expect others to follow it?

Now she could only pray that Li Fan was not a lawbreaker.

Zhu Yuanzhang, seeing Empress Ma’s gloominess, comforted her:

“Honey, rest assured, the Jinyiwei investigated many times without result. I believe Li Fan is not a greedy man!”

Before Empress Ma could respond, she noticed the carriage had stopped.

Curiously, she asked:

“Aren’t we not yet at Fengyang County? Why have we suddenly stopped?”

Zhu Yuanzhang was also very curious and stuck his head out of the carriage to see.

He saw that all the travelers on the official road had stopped, forming a long queue.

He immediately instructed Mao Xiang, the Jinyiwei commander behind the carriage:

“Go ahead and see what’s happening.”

Mao Xiang saluted, jumped off the carriage, and walked forward.

He returned shortly and reported:

“Your Majesty, someone is blocking the road and collecting tolls!”

Upon hearing that someone was collecting tolls.

Zhu Yuanzhang’s face instantly darkened with displeasure.

In broad daylight, under the clear sky.

Someone dared to blatantly block the official road and collect tolls.

This was outrageous!

To have bandits blocking the road in Fengyang County.

It seemed that Li Fan’s term as county magistrate was coming to an end.

They were brazenly setting up roadblocks and extorting money.

Yet he remained indifferent, not reporting to the court or dispatching troops to eradicate them.

This was sheer dereliction of duty, filling a position without competence, lying down on the job.

Such behavior was even more infuriating than corruption.

He directly ordered Mao Xiang behind him:

“Take the waist token, go to the North Camp, and have them send troops to eradicate these bandits! In broad daylight, to commit such lawlessness near the capital, once eradicated, execute them on the spot as rebels!”

Empress Ma stepped out of the carriage.

She glanced at the long queue.

Noticing that the people showed no signs of resentment.

All queuing up orderly.

There was certainly something unusual about this.

She hurriedly stopped Mao Xiang.

And said to Zhu Yuanzhang:

“Chongba, don’t be in such a hurry to dispatch troops. There must be a reason these people are lining up to pay. Let’s see the situation first!”

She then walked up to an elderly man and asked:

“Old sir, why are there roadblocks and robbers on the official road? Does the government not care?”

Seeing Empress Ma inquire so, the elderly man knew she must be an outsider, unfamiliar with the rules of Fengyang County, and explained:

“This official road had long been in disrepair, making it difficult for even pedestrians during rainy days. After Magistrate Li took office, he borrowed money from the bank to repair the road. Set up an official checkpoint, and collected tolls to cover the road repair costs!”

Upon hearing this, Empress Ma immediately understood the situation.

She was momentarily unsure how to comment on it.

The common people might not see a problem.

The bank provided money to repair the road, and people paid tolls to repay the bank.

A perfectly reasonable arrangement.

But this was an imperial road, which should be repaired with court funds.

Ordinary people paying for road repairs already carried the risk of winning public favor.

Let alone involving merchants!

Even if someone provided money, it should be considered a donation for road repairs.

A voluntary contribution, not seeking repayment.

At most, they could erect a stone tablet by the roadside.

Inscribing the contributions and amounts donated.

For future generations to appreciate these donors.

There had never been a precedent of the government charging for road repairs.

This matter could be trivial or significant, and Empress Ma couldn’t make a judgment.

She could only inform Zhu Yuanzhang of the situation.

Upon hearing this.

Zhu was dumbfounded.

But he quickly reacted.

How could such a thing happen in Fengyang County?

Li Fan’s behavior was no different from highway robbery.

Back in the day, when he himself had been a highwayman, he used similar tactics.

“This mountain is mine, this tree I planted. To pass through here, leave a toll.”

Now, the Fengyang County government was engaging in such unscrupulous behavior.

It was utterly outrageous!

If this continued, what difference would there be between the government and bandits?

With a grim expression, he walked to the front of the queue.

And reprimanded the person blocking the road:

“Remove this immediately. Collecting tolls in broad daylight, how is this any different from robbery?”

Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

洪武朝当贪官,收税收到2050
Status: Ongoing Author: Native Language: Chinese
During the Hongwu era of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang received multiple reports that Li Fan, the county magistrate of Fengyang, was extorting excessive taxes and living off the state while the people suffered. This top scholar, personally appointed by the emperor, had his integrity questioned, prompting Zhu Yuanzhang to investigate personally. Li Fan was accused of blocking roads to collect tolls, arbitrarily imposing harsh taxes, paying lip service while disobeying imperial orders, inventing excuses, and extorting excessive taxes. Tax collection had become so excessive that it felt like it had continued into the year 2050. The people of the Ming Dynasty had become impoverished, raising concerns about their ability to live well. Zhu Yuanzhang: Today we will execute this treacherous official Li Fan. I doubt the Ming Dynasty can last two thousand years with such corruption. Empress Ma: Li Fan is a crucial minister of the state! Ensuring the continuity of the Ming Dynasty for two thousand years! Zhu Biao: Father, Li Fan only collects taxes from the wealthy, allowing the common people to live in peace and prosperity! Zhu Di: Father, Li Fan helped me defeat the Franks and said we should collect taxes for five thousand years first!

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