Hai Rui 海瑞

An honest and resolute official who dare to scold the Emperor


Chinese Name: 海瑞

English Name: Hai Rui

Other Names: Hai Qingtian 海青天, Hai Zhongjie 海忠介

Born: January 22, 1514

Died: November 13, 1587


Make outstanding achievements in the local government 任职地方,政绩突出

Main Works:

Zhi An Shu《治安疏》

Ping Li Ce《平黎策》

Hai Rui 海瑞
Hai Rui 海瑞

Brief Biography of Hai Rui

Hai Rui was a famous honest official in the Ming Dynasty 明朝. He has experienced four dynasties: Zhengde 正德, Jiajing 嘉靖, Longqing 隆庆, and Wanli 万历 in his whole life.

Hai Rui (January 22, 1514 – November 13, 1587), courtesy name Ruxian 汝贤, art name Gangfeng 刚峰, was born in Qiongshan 琼山, Hainan 海南 (now Haikou City 海口市). In the 28th year of Jiajing 嘉靖 (1549), Hai Rui became JUREN (a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level in the Ming and Qing dynasties) in the examination.

Hai Rui 海瑞
Hai Rui statue 海瑞雕像

At first, he served as a teacher in Nanping 南平, Fujian Province 福建省. Later, he was promoted to the county magistrate of Chun’an 淳安, Zhejiang Province 浙江省, and Xingguo 兴国, Jiangxi Province 江西省. He carried out the policy of clearing up and balancing taxes and repeatedly redressed unjust, false, and wrong cases. He cracked down on corrupt officials and won the hearts of the people. He has successively served as a state judge, the head of the Ministry of household, the head of the Ministry of military affairs, Shang Baocheng 尚宝丞, the general secretary of Liangjing left and right, and the governor of Youjin.

He attacked the powerful, dredged rivers, built water conservancy projects, strongly advocated the severe punishment of corrupt officials, prohibited taking bribes for personal gain, and implemented a whip law to force corrupt officials to return to the people.

Therefore, he has the reputation of “Hai Qingtian 海青天”. In the 15th year of Wanli (1587), Hai Rui died of illness at the official residence in Nanjing 南京. He was awarded the crown prince Taibao, with the posthumous title of Zhongjie 忠介.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Be the governor of Ying Tian

In the summer of the third year of Longqing 隆庆 (1569), Hai Rui was promoted to the right Jindu imperial history (the fourth grade) and the governor of Yingtian. The jurisdiction includes Yingtian 应天, Suzhou 苏州, Changzhou 常州, Zhenjiang 镇江, Songjiang 松江, Huizhou 徽州, Taiping 太平, Ningguo 宁国, Anqing 安庆, Chizhou 池州 ten prefectures, and Guangdezhou 广德州. Most of them are the rich land of fish and rice in the south of the Yangtze River. The subordinates were afraid of Hai Rui’s authority, and many corrupt officials resigned voluntarily.

Hairui promotes benefits and eliminates disadvantages, and requests the renovation of the Wusong River 吴淞江 and Baimao River 白茆河 to flow into the sea. The people have benefited from the construction of a water conservancy.

Hai Rui 海瑞
the rich land of fish and rice in the south of the Yangtze River 江南鱼米之乡

Hai Rui has long hated the land annexation by big families, tried his best to destroy the powerful forces, and implemented the “one whip law 一条鞭法” to appease the poor people. The land of the poor people annexed by the rich were taken back and returned to the original owners. He was deeply loved by the people who called him “Hai Qingtian 海青天”.

Incorruptible style

According to the official atmosphere at that time, when new officials arrived and old friends were promoted, there would always be people who would send some gifts to congratulate them as long as the amount of these gifts is small. However, Hai Rui publicly posted a notice saying that “being a court official today is different from the privacy of home”.

Hai Rui 海瑞
Zhian Shu 治安疏

Then he returned all the gifts sent by others, including those sent by old friends He Bangtai 贺邦泰 and Shu Dayou 舒大猷. As for the government’s advantages, they do not take any of them. Before Hai Rui’s death, the Chai Jin sent by the Ministry of military had counted seven more silver coins. He also wanted to return them.

Resign from office

Xu Ying 徐瑛, Xu Jie 徐阶’s third son, forcibly occupied the people’s fields and forcibly occupied Zhao Xiaolan 赵小兰, a normal girl. Xiao Lan’s mother, Hong Alan 洪阿兰, complained to Wang Mingyou 王明友, the magistrate of Huating County. But he took bribes and killed Xiao Lan’s grandfather with a stick. Yingtian governor Hai Rui met Hong Alan on a visit in disguise. He found out the truth, sentenced Xu Ying and Wang Mingyou to death, and ordered them to return the field.

Hai Rui 海瑞
Hai Qingtian 海青天

Xu Jie bribes eunuchs and dignitaries in a vain attempt to dismiss Hai Rui and overturn the final decision. Hai Rui saw through the treacherous plan, resolutely executed the two criminals, then handed over the seal, and angrily resigned from office.

Video: An honest and resolute official – Hai Rui

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