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Case of the Red Pills - A "Mystery" of Late Ming Dynasty

It was recorded in the official Ming court history that Emperor Taichang felt much better after taking the pill, regained his appetite and repeatedly praised Li Kezhou as a "Loyal subject". That same afternoon the Emperor took a second pill and was found dead the next morning. The death of the Emperor who was seemingly in good health within the span of a month sent shock waves through the empire and started rumours flying. The much talked about mystery surrounding the Emperor's death became known as the infamous "Case of the Red Pills" (红丸案), a "mysteries" of Late Ming Dynasty. The fate of Li Kezhuo whose pills were at the center of this controversy became a hotly contested subject between competing power factions of officials and eunuchs vying for influence at the Ming Court. Opinions ranged from awarding him money for the Emperor's initial recovery to executing his entire family for murdering the Emperor. The question was finally settled in 1625 when Li Kezhuo was exiled to the border regions on the order of the powerful eunuch Wei Zhongxian signaling the total dominance of eunuchs during the reign of Taichang's son Emperor Tianqi.

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