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Eunuch and Emperor in the Great Age of Qing Rule$
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Norman A. Kutcher

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297524

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297524.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 06 June 2020

The Qianlong Emperor

The Qianlong Emperor

Shifting the Arc of History

(p.144) 7 The Qianlong Emperor
Eunuch and Emperor in the Great Age of Qing Rule

Norman A. Kutcher

University of California Press

When the Qianlong emperor came to the throne, he abrogated his father’s compassionate and rational system for eunuch management. Qianlong saw his father’s innovations as a dangerous departure from the gold standard of eunuch management. Qianlong would lower eunuchs’ status, cut their salaries, eviscerate their system of ranks, and reduce their education levels. In so doing, he came to perpetuate a series of myths about his eunuchs meant to perpetuate the notion that he was strict on them. He asserted that they only performed menial tasks, never left the palace, had no wives or children, were few in number in his palaces, and were carefully watched over by him personally. In truth, he was quietly allowing them new opportunities to come and go as they pleased, and to develop business interests on the outside. He did this because he faced a growing shortage of eunuchs to staff his ever-burgeoning number of palaces, including Yuanming Yuan.

Keywords:   Qianlong, salary, business interests, Yuanming Yuan

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