In fact, the emperor is a high-risk position. Those who take on this responsibility carry on their shoulders difficult and dangerous tasks. It can be said that an ancient king will have to face many different concerns: Worrying that power will fall into the hands of officials; worry about foreign invaders coming; even worried about being assassinated in his palace.
Therefore, to protect the king, there will be many soldiers assigned to guard the entire army regularly. As a rule, ordinary people couldn’t get close to the emperor at all, keeping a distance of at least a few meters.
In ancient times, to kill the emperor, there was almost only one way that was to poison food and drink.
According to statistics, in China’s feudal society for more than 2,000 years, 22 emperors were poisoned to death. It is said that the last emperor to be poisoned was Guangxu. According to some views, his death was caused by a bowl of poisonous yogurt given by Empress Dowager Cixi.
For these reasons, emperors of all dynasties attach great importance to food safety. Over a long period of time, a complete set of regulations was established that controlled the dishes the emperor would eat. Some people even think that if you want to poison the emperor’s food, don’t think about it because it’s harder than going to heaven.
The dish that is served must go through 6 steps
It is said that after Pu Yi retired to hermitage, he recounted one of his obsessions while in the palace. He said that at that time, he had never eaten a hot dish.
This fact reflects the strict food management process in the palace. The emperor’s daily meal had to go through a lot of checks before it was put on the table to make sure nothing went wrong. The dishes served up for the king to use had to go through 6 “gates”.
The first “gate” is the traceability of the ingredients. Where are these foods purchased? Who bought it? Even people are strictly controlled from the step of cultivating that material.
The second “gate” is mutual monitoring during processing. Three people are responsible for a dish, and must know how it is prepared? What seasoning was used? Who cooks the food? All are recorded, all three must sign so that if something unfortunate happens, the culprit can be quickly traced.
The third “gate” is to keep samples for comparison. Each dish will be partially withheld before serving. When there is a problem, the problem can be found by examining this retained food.
The fourth “gate” is the poison test system. In the palaces, silver testing was most common because in ancient times, people mainly poisoned with arsenic. Meanwhile, silverware will turn black when encountered with this substance, so the king’s eating utensils are all made of silver.
The fifth “gate” is the eunuch’s personal test. After each dish was served, the emperor did not rush to use it. Instead, the eunuchs around tried to eat, after eating, if the eunuch was still “unharmed”, the emperor would use the dish. In other words, these eunuchs had the responsibility of testing poison again.
The final “gate” is to mix fake with real. Puyi once recounted that in a meal there are 120 dishes. So if someone wanted to poison it, it’s unlikely that the emperor would have eaten it. Furthermore, what the emperor ate was not necessarily the dishes prepared by the royal kitchen.
Pu Yi once revealed in his memoirs that the dishes he ate were often delivered by his mother. Each meal has more than 20 dishes, and dishes prepared in the royal kitchen are located far away, which helps to distract the poisoner.
It can be said that the ancient king did not lack delicious food, but he was not necessarily happy. The story of King Pho Nghi above is a typical example. Before enjoying the delicious food, the emperor still had to keep an eye on his life. That is the reason why the ancient kings were not allowed to eat hot food, even when eating, they had to be careful.
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