Day 951: King Joffrey Was A Pussy

originally published August 8, 2014

I just got through reading a Wikipedia article so poorly written and peppered with so many near-identical names my brain sneezed in agony. But at its heart was a narrative so foul and villainous, I feel it deserves a translation into mostly-coherent English.

Seriously, most of the names in this tale are bewilderingly similar. I’ll do my best to simplify the tale, to differentiate between the Liu Ziluan, Liu Ziye and Liu Zixun mess and deliver something digestible, as the story of the fiendish Emperor Qianfei of China needs to be preserved. This is teenage royalty gone wrong, in a way that would make George R.R. Martin cringe with disbelief. In fact, Game of Thrones fans may skim through this and wonder why their beloved show is so docile and civilized.

After all, what did King Joffrey really do? He had a few people killed, engaged in some weird crossbow-fetish sex-play, and acted like an ass to most everyone around him. Who cares? Pure evil resides not in the hearts and minds of fictitious fiends, but in the madness of truth. And the madness of Emperor Qianfei reaches far deeper than any sick twists undertaken by that blond pansy from Westeros.

Emperor Qianfei was born in 449 AD as Liu Ziye, but in the interest of bogging this story down with Liu Z– names from the outset, let’s just call the little prick by his emperor name: Qianfei. Qianfei was tossed in prison at age five when his uncle made a power play for the throne. Qianfei’s dad showed up and heroically slaughtered the uncle, and christened his kid as the crown prince. He was wed at age 10 and a widower at 12. In 464, Qianfei’s dad died and Qianfei stepped up as the new emperor, age 15.

Right from the start, Qianfei popped his political cherry with jabs of arrogance and utter dickheadery. Resentful of his father (who, after saving him had spent ten years disciplining his kid – go figure), Emperor Qianfei ordered each and every law passed within his father’s reign to be repealed. He then ordered his father’s official imperial portrait to be destroyed and repainted, this time with more emphasis on his father’s allegedly large nose.

Later that year, Emperor Qianfei’s mother became very ill. Her son refused to visit her on her deathbed, claiming that ghosts inhabit sick people’s rooms. Before dying, his mother screamed at her servants: “Bring me a sword and cut me open, to see how it is this animal came out of me!” But who among us who has raised a teenager has not uttered the same thing?

One of Qianfei’s top associates, a guy named Dai Faxing, tried to keep the emperor in check, advising him to take it easy, lest he find himself deposed and executed like his great-uncle, who had also exhibited a similar air of assholishness. Qianfei took this under advisement, and had Dai Faxing killed. This caused a major kerfuffle among the top brass. Liu Yuanjing, another of the emperor’s advisors, began cultivating a plan to overthrow the insolent brat. He consulted with general Shen Qingzhi. The general, ever the patriot, ratted out the conspirators, who were subsequently murdered. Oh, and all of their sons were killed too, because why leave the door open for revenge?

Liu Yigong, the man who had been picked by the conspirators to take over the empire, got the real brunt of Emperor Qianfei’s wrath. Qianfei cut off Yigong’s limbs, split open his abdomen, pulled out the guts and sliced them into ticker tape. Then he gouged out Yigong’s eyes and dropped them in honey, calling them ‘pickled ghost eyes’ because apparently Emperor Qianfei was bat-shit nuts.

When Liu Chuyu, the emperor’s sister, complained that it was unfair that her brother had a fleet of concubines, yet she only got one husband, Emperor Qianfei ordered 30 dudes over to her place to become the princess’s official stable of man-meat. This was highly unusual for the time, and didn’t sit well with the conservative elders, all of whom kept their yaps shut, just to be safe.

Emperor Qianfei was enjoying his time as an all-powerful murderin’ machine. He began an affair with his aunt (there’s your obligatory incest, Game of Thrones fans), then had a random woman killed and sent to his uncle so he could grieve. The husband wasn’t fooled, and considered hatching a plot to overthrow his little jerk-ass nephew. Naturally, the plot was leaked and Emperor Qianfei killed the guy. When Shen Qingzhi, the loyal general who had ratted out that earlier plot on Qianfei’s life, suggested to the teenage super-bully that maybe he should chill out a little, the emperor killed him too.

Like any teenage boy, Qianfei got a little horny as well. He summoned the princesses to the palace, then forced them to have sex with his attendants while he watched. One of his aunts refused, which earned her a whipping and earned her three sons a date with death. Keep in mind, all this insanity occurred within a reign that lasted less than eighteen months. Emperor Qianfei didn’t work up to this crazed level of evil; he hit his stride right away.

At this point – and not without reason – Emperor Qianfei began to suspect almost everyone around him of plotting against him. He had three of his uncles rounded up and put into cages, weighing them in a public display like they were deli meats. He sent one of his attendants out to murder his brother, based solely upon the worry that the previous two emperors – Qianfei’s dad and grand-dad – had been third sons and there was no way Qianfei would have another third son rise to the throne.

Back home, his sexual exploits continued. Qianfei ordered all his ladies in waiting to strip down and engage in some hot girl-on-girl action. When one refused, he had her beheaded in front of all the others, which really threw a wet rag on what I’m sure was otherwise a fun and sexy mood. At one point, Emperor Qianfei had a dream about a woman who warned him he would die soon if he didn’t recant his violent ways. The dream affected the young emperor profoundly; when he awoke, he found a lady in waiting that looked similar to the woman in his dreams, and beheaded her.

Throughout all this, Emperor Qianfei was less than kind to his attendants (except for that time he let them all bang his relatives, I guess). It was Shou Jizhi, one of these lowly servants, who decided he’d had enough, and organized the rest of the help to strike against Qianfei and kill him. One of the imprisoned uncles took over, and led China into a much more happy and less-murdery time. Well, for a few years – then the uncle became just as cagey and wound up slaughtering most of his family as well. It’s no wonder the Song Dynasty called it quits within 15 years of Qianfei’s death.

Now that’s an asshole king. Try harder, fantasy writers. You’ve got a ways to go before you truly hit upon the potential of human evil.

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