Strategy 14

Borrow a Corpse to Raise the Spirit

Take an institution, a technology, or a method that has been forgotten or discarded and appropriate it for your own purpose. Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose or to reinterpret and bring to life old ideas, customs, and traditions.

Han Dynasty China

When the emperor Huidi died in 188 BC he left no heir. His mother, the empress Lu, bought a child several years before his death and had her daughter-in-law pretend that it was her own. To cover her tracks the empress had the boy's natural mother executed. After the emperor's death, the empress had this boy installed on the throne with herself as regent. However, within two years the boy, after learning that his true mother had been executed, was heard to say: "When I become emperor I will know what to do." When the empress's spies reported the words spoken by the young emperor she had him murdered and another puppet set in his place. The empress ruled a prosperous empire for eight years through the six successive child emperors that she installed on the throne before dying of a mysterious illness. Rumor said her death was the result of a curse from one of her late husband's concubines, who was horribly mutilated and tortured according to the empress's precise instructions. The empress Lu is remembered in Chinese history as one of three notorious `dragon ladies' who had seized the imperial throne.

See Modern Example