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It was true that Li Chengjing had accumulated a lot of respect in the Ministry of Public Works, but when talking about the court as a whole, he was still too weak to have a right to speak.
With the cabinet under the control of Yang Fucheng, Li Chengjing could not take advantage in one swoop. He first had to start with six ministries, then slowly began to win the support of other cabinet ministers. However, the Ministry of Personnel was Yang Fucheng’s strongest base in the six ministries; the Ministry of Revenue was also firmly controlled by the Yang family; the Ministry of Rites was not important, and the Ministry of Justice had no one. So Li Chengjing’s best and only entry point was the Ministry of War.
However, Li Chengjing was the Crown Prince, and this identity was both reliance and a shackle. As the Crown Prince, he could participate in governmental affairs justifiably, but he also had many concerns when doing anything. Things such as forming a faction for personal gains or recruiting talents and troops were great taboos.
Therefore, the problem now was how to make a relationship with the Head Minister of War without incurring suspicion.
Cheng Yujin put down the peel and carefully cleaned the white pith from the orange. As her hands moved, she said softly, “Your Highness, you might as well change your angle and start in a roundabout way.”
“A roundabout way?”
“It’s not easy to make a relationship with a court official, but it is always possible to make a relationship with their wives.”
Li Chengjing raised his eyebrows: “You mean…”
“That’s right.” Having cleaned the orange to her satisfaction, Cheng Yujin handed it to Li Chengjing and said, “Although Yichun Marquis Manor has not been very good in recent years, the Cheng family was indeed awarded a peerage by virtue of the ancestor’s military merit. Noble families and scholarly families are not the same. Scholars use imperial examinations as a gate into officialdoms, but all noble families make their fortunes by military merit. In recent years, Senior Grand Secretary Yang has been vigorously promoting his own people, and he is very arrogant to noble families with military backgrounds. There has long been dissatisfaction among noble families. I am a daughter of a noble family myself, not a scholarly family. This in itself is already a declaration.”
Yang Fucheng was a civil official. He made his fortune with the help of Empress Dowager Yang and finally occupied the position of the cabinet’s Senior Grand Secretary. After many years, he tried his best to cultivate many students who became civil officials themselves. Yang Fucheng indeed had huge support among civil officials, but it wasn’t the case with the military officials.
Scholar-officials coming from the imperial examinations might fear him, but it was not necessarily so for the military people who marched into a war and fought using weapons.
And these noble families continued to enter the military from generation to generation. Of course, there were not many noble families sons who followed the path of their ancestors and really joined the army to experience, but a dying thin camel was still bigger than a horse, and the prestige of these old military families was still strong in the army—for example, Jingyong Marquis Manor and Cai Duke Manor.
Out of personal benefit, Cheng Yujin reluctantly raised up Yichun Marquis Manor.
Huo Changyuan and Zhai Yanlin were still in charge of the army, not to mention the sons of other noble families who were also active in the army. Cheng Yujin’s background as a daughter of a fellow noble family was a natural advantage. On the one side was the Yang family, who had always emphasized the scholar-officials and restricted military. On the other side was the daughter of the Cheng family, whose ancestors rose from military merits and had close relationships with their own ancestors. It was self-evident who those noble families would feel closer to.
Military generals with real power in the army and the Ministry of War were inextricably linked, and this connection could be used to break through the deadlock. Li Chengjing wanted to make a relationship with people in the army, but didn’t those noble families also want to make merit by supporting the future ruler? Forming factions for personal gain was a strict taboo, so it was not easy for the two sides to take the initiative to come forward first. However, those taboos were only for men and did not apply to women. Cheng Yujin, as the Crown Princess, was perfectly justified to exchange friendships and make relationships with the womenfolks of noble families.
Not to mention, she herself was Yichun Marquis Manor’s Eldest Miss, and her social circle was originally among the noble families.
Li Chengjing saw it clear at a glance, and he looked at Cheng Yujin with surprise in his eyes: “Crown Princess’ excellent idea has woken me up from the drunken dream. It seems that from now on, I will rely entirely on Crown Princess.”
“Stop with your flattery. I don’t believe that you have never thought of this before.” Cheng Yujin had been stretching out her hand for a long time. Seeing that Li Chengjing didn’t move, she wondered, “Don’t want to eat this orange?”
Li Chengjing kept sitting still: “A helping hand should be extended until the end. Isn’t it more sincere for Crown Princess to also feed me?”
Wants her to feed him? Cheng Yujin refused to care about Li Chengjing and quickly put the peeled orange on a plate.
Li Chengjing sighed resignedly and picked up the orange by himself: “You never play along.”
“I’ve always been like this. Does Your Highness only find out today?”
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