To earn money, you need to know the market first. Although the original body owner’s memory could give him some reference, he still had to see it for himself. Shao Yunan has no way to compare if Yongxiu county town was big or not, but it was quite lively. This was also related to the geographical location of Yongxiu county town. After strolling through two streets, Shao Yunan saw a building with a special appearance and upon closer inspection, the plaque on the front door said ‘Yongxiu Academy.’ He knew what this place was, this should be the place where Wang Zhisong should be studying.
The imperial examination system of Yan was divided into two types. Usually, all students who study in the official schools were child students. However, if you wanted to take the scholar examination ,you had to pass the official child student’s examination. Only by passing the county examination and the government examination could you be considered an official boy student and be qualified to be a scholar. When you formally apply for a scholar position, you should also have a guarantee (certificate) issued by the school you studied in. This kind of guarantee could be directly provided to you by the teacher who taught you. As long as you studied in the school, you could be considered a boy student. The teacher would give you this kind of guarantee, unless you were notorious.
This path was mostly for students from poor families. If you were studying in the National Academy above the state level, you could skip the boy student’s exam and directly take the scholar exam. If you studied in the capital’s Imperial Academy, as long as you could graduate from the Academy, you were qualified to become a government official, with status equivalent to that of a scholar. You could also become an official directly or you could continue to take the examination. In addition, there was also another way. That was to be recommended by a highly respected Confucian scholar, which allowed you to sweep past the children’s exam, and directly take the scholar exam. However, these two ways were difficult for the children of humble families. First of all, no matter if it was the National Academy or the recommendation of a great scholar, such a person must be extremely excellent. It was difficult to get in and out of the country’s official schools and the level of education that such people have received since childhood was definitely not comparable to that of the children of the poor who come from villages. As for the recommendation of respected Confucian scholars, how many humble families could have access to such prominent figures?
The imperial examination in the State of Yan could also be regarded as a stage in the transition from a well-established family recommendation system to a complete imperial examination system. The roles of the State Scholar’s Office and the great scholars were similar to that of the former family. The school affiliated with the imperial court offered the possibility of entering civil service for the sons of humble families.
In the State of Yan, studying was a sacred thing and the status of a scholar was quite high. It was even more extraordinary if one had fame and merit. In the State of Yan, the division of the latter two was not so clear, but the status of merchants in the State of Yan was also not so bad. There was no emphasis on agriculture over business, but scholars were still considered absolutely superior.
Whether it was the previous dynasty or the current dynasty, the selection of imperial examinations was extremely strict, even students who come from the State Scholars Academy needed to enter the examination to become a scholar and the students who really were able to enter the road of officialdom were rare. The imperial examination was held every three years, but the number of students who were able to become scholars was only a few people. More often than not, it was only a dozen to twenty people and more than half of them were selected from the talents recommended by the State Scholarship and the great scholars.
Only two scholars have been produced in Xiushui Village in the past hundred years. One of them belonged to the Zhao Family and another from the Wang family. It was thanks to these two scholars that the Zhao and Wang families were able to become the big families of Xiushui Village, which was originally dominated by the Sun family. For the children of a poor family, it was already an honor to pass the child student examination. Both the child student examination and the scholar examination were held twice a year, but they were staggered. You have to qualify for the child student exam before you could take part in the next years scholar exam and obtain scholar exam before you could take part in the official exam that was held once every three years. Wang Zhisong passed the child student examination at the age of 15, which could be called a prodigy among many students who were still taking the child student examination at the age of thirty.
The child student examination was held every other year on August 12 and there are two consecutive exams in the respective districts, states, and prefectures. Those who obtained the boy student exam qualification could take part in the scholar examination in August of the following year. Those who passed the examination will be named [scholars] and then they will be able to take part in the triennial autumn examination – the township examination – and those who pass will be [Juren]. Then, in the spring exam held in April of the following year, the one who passed will be [Gong Sheng]. The gong sheng will take part in palace examination and the emperor or the person appointed by the emperor would conduct the final assessment and select the top three [Jinshi]. For every student, becoming a Jinshi was the ultimate goal they strived for and the position of one of the three top scholars, the first Scholar, the Top Scholar or the second scholar was their ultimate goal.
But even so, even if it was just the position of [scholar] it was already a great honor. Not only could you be exempted from the taxes for thirty mu of land, \ you could have a monthly salary of two taels of silver and a certain amount of food each month. Rich families despise this, but for students from poor families, it was different.
Wang Zhisong passed the child student examination this year and next August he will be able to take the examination. But since he was only 15 years old, not to mention the Wang family, the entire Wang clan and Xiushui Village were looking forward to Wang Zhisong’s future. They hoped that he could become another scholar in a hundred years and might even become the first master in the history of Xiushui Village. He may even become the first Juren from Xiushui Village or go even further and become [Gong Sheng] or even Jinshi!
In this regard, Shao Yunan pouted in his heart. It was not that he looked down on these poor students, but with Wang Zhisong’s character and Wang family’s superb family education, it may be possible for him to become scholar, but he didn’t think he would be able to go much further. With such a strict imperial examination system, everyone prepared for the exam. As long as someone was willing to reveal the affairs of the Wang family, Wang Zhisong’s disrespect for his elder brother alone would be enough for him to drink a pot.
Because it was difficult to become an official, they attached great importance to the reputation and character of students, and the selection officials of the imperial court also avoided the selection of people with poor character to avoid harming the emperor’s land. From this, it could also be seen that Wang Zhisong and the Wang family, including the whole Wang clan, become short-sighted, thinking that family matters may become a disaster that will affect Wang Zhisong’s career in the future.
If the Wang family and Wang Zhisong honestly didn’t mess with them in the future, Shao Yunan wouldn’t care how far Wang Zhisong would go in the exam, but if the Wang family wasn’t smart, he didn’t mind being the one who stabbed them in the back.
From the imperial examination system of the State of Yan, he could see the level of social development of the State of Yan was not too backward and primitive. But paradoxically, the productivity and economic standard of Yan was really underdeveloped. The Ming and Qing dynasties were the period when the imperial examination system was developed and perfected, but the productivity and economic standard of Yan was far inferior to that of the Ming dynasty or even to that of Tang dynasty, let alone the richest Song dynasty. Great Yan’s grain production was not high. Rice, corn, millet, wheat, beans etc. were all planted, but ordinary people could mainly eat only mixed grain at home. There were also not many kinds of vegetables, that was potatoes, cabbage, white radish, winter sunflower, soybean seedlings, leeks, spinach, eggplant, and several kinds of wild vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes and so on were not available.
Edited by: Jaisland