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Rudolph von Goldenbaum 2
Biographical information

The 1st Earth King


Earth Kingdom


Earth Kingdom

Birth place

Ba Sing Se, Earth Kingdom


Earth Kingdom Royal Palace, Ba Sing Se


1,226 BG


1,192 — 1,173 BG


Cao (as King of Ba Sing Se)



Physical description




Hair color


Skin color


Eye color


Personal information
Fighting style(s)



Skilled tactician and strategist


Zheng dynasty




Anti-monarchists, King of Omashu

Chronological and political information



Earth King


Earth Kingdom

Zhengfu, later known as Zhengfu the Great, was the last King of Ba Sing Se and the first monarch of the Earth Kingdom, unifying the continent in a series of military campaigns during his reign. Joining the Ba Sing Se army in his youth, Zhengfu rose through the ranks quickly due to his tactical and strategic brilliance, and attained the rank of general at the age of twenty. He oversaw the defeat of the states of Yi, Taku, Omashu, Gaoling, and Chin, annexing them into the domain of Ba Sing Se. By the time of his death, most of the modern Earth Kingdom was united under his rule.


Early life

Entering the army

Born in 1,226 BG to Cao, the King of Ba Sing Se, and his consort, Zhengfu was taught the art of war and politics early on in his life. The young man was ambitious and looked forward to succeeding his father as the next king. But his ambition led him to aspire to greater power than control over Ba Sing Se and the northeastern corner of the continent. He planned to make himself the emperor of the landmass, and therefore, attended a military school as a teenager. There, he stood out as a skilled tactician and strategist, and was also a competent swordsman. Zhengfu joined the Ba Sing Se army as a junior officer, with the rank of lieutenant, in an ostrich horse cavalry regiment.

He took part in a campaign against against the city-state of Yi, one of Ba Sing Se's long-time enemies, located in the mountains northwest of Ba Sing Se. During the campaign, their army was ambushed while marching through one of the few passes that led into the northern region of the continent by Yi troops, and his squadron's success in the capture of enemy positions during the engagement earned Zhengfu a promotion to captain. The Ba Sing Se forces eventually pushed back the Yi army and entered the mountains, approaching the city of Yi. Three armies with a total numerical strength larger than the Ba Sing Se army guarded the mountains around the city. Zhengfu suggested that they attack each of them individually in a series of quick strikes.

The suggestion was accepted by the commanding generals. Their troops proceeded to attack the Yi armies and defeated two of them. The surviving enemy troops were outnumbered by the Ba Sing Se forces and retreated to their capital, the city of Yi. With two-thirds of his soldiers dead or captured, the Grand Prince of Yi surrendered his domain to King Cao of Ba Sing Se, pledging fealty to his new lord. The large, mountainous northern half of the continent was now under the control of Ba Sing Se. Zhengfu was promoted to the rank of colonel for his role in the victory, and was given command of a whole cavalry regiment in the next campaign.

Western campaign

With the northern mountains of the continent under the domination of Ba Sing Se, a campaign could be waged into the western regions. King Cao and the royal court were glad to expand their influence from the northeastern corner of the continent over their longtime rival, the state of Yi, and wanted to continue expansion. Preparations for the western campaign began in 1,207 BG, following the conquest of the Yi state, with a total of 200,000 men being mobilized for the coming offensive. The Ba Sing Se Fleet moved out of the West Lake and up the Great Northern River, which separated the northern mountains region from the western half of the continent. The navy ferried the troops across the river to the opposite bank.

Zhengfu was present in the planning of the campaign as the crown prince, but his suggestions were mostly ignored by the senior officials. The young officer's successes were attributed to luck rather than talent and he was pushed to the side by them. He was nonetheless given command of a cavalry regiment with the army that crossed the river. Their force marched west after assembling on the other bank, and seized the first village they came upon, Gaipan. The town was actually part of the state of Taku, a large, prosperous city on the coast of the Mo Ce Sea. After its loss, refugees told the Taku authorities what had occurred, who then dispatched an army to fight the invaders from the east.

As the Ba Sing Se army headed west, it left 50,000 men behind to guard the lines of supply and garrison Gaipan, while 150,000 proceeded towards the capital. Zhengfu was assigned to the former as a staff officer for the commanding general of the rear army. The Taku troops took the Ba Sing Se army by surprise and defeated it, forcing it to retreat and giving it considerable losses. Zhengfu had tried to warn his superiors about the possibility of an attack, only to be ignored. Now, he convinced the general to arrange their forces on the flanks of the path used by the retreating Ba Sing Se army, and wait for the Taku troops to reach them. When they did, the 50,000 men attacked from the flanks, and the retreating army turned around and attacked from the front.

The Taku army was routed and forced to retreat back to the capital. The Ba Sing Se troops, now with a total strength of 160,000 men (after the casualties they took) surrounded the city and forced it to surrender with a siege, which lasted one month before the king of Taku surrendered. The whole kingdom was annexed to Ba Sing Se, as the Yi state had. About 80,000 men went on campaigns to the north, under Zhengfu's command, who was promoted to general in 1,206 BG for his attack plan. They captured Makapu and many other villages and towns, subjugating the entire peninsula.

Marshal of the Ba Sing Se army

Conquest of the south

With the conquest of the north, King Cao turned his attention to the south. His long-time rival, the King of Omashu, was awaiting their attack after hearing about the defeat of Taku to the north, and mobilized his army of 120,000 men. Zhengfu was placed in command of a force of 150,000 men sent from Taku to defeat the King of Omashu by his father, who was convinced that his son was a military genius. The army force-marched to the Kolau Mountains, where it took the Omashu troops by surprise since it arrived more than a week earlier than expected. Their defenses weren't complete, and the Omashu army was forced to fall back in disarray. As his troops approached Omashu itself, its king decided to hold out against their siege. Zhengfu had an elite team of earthbenders infiltrate the city and open the gates for his men, allowing them to storm Omashu. The king was killed during the ensuing block-by-block, house-by-house fighting.

King Cao promoted his son to the new rank of General Field Marshal for the defeat of Omashu (which had been considered the second most influential state on the continent after Ba Sing Se), making Zhengfu the supreme commander of the army. Although Omashu had fallen, there were still states determined to resist the aggression of Ba Sing Se. Zhengfu kept his troops in Omashu for a time to replenish their strength, and await reinforcements. This gave time for other states, such as Gaoling, Chin, Tu Zin time to form an anti-Ba Sing Se axis, with the goal of defending themselves and liberating Omashu. Since his path further south was blocked by the Foggy Swamp, Zhengfu decided to sit back in Omashu and allow their troops to come to them. His scouts were stationed on the roads leading north towards Omashu.

Several weeks later, they reported that a large army of 230,000 men was heading north towards his position. However, they also reported that it was divided into three groups by their city affiliation, since apparently the rulers of the three cities did not trust each other enough to place all of their forces under a single commander. Zhengfu took advantage of this by stationing teams of partisans along their path, who raided the enemy army's long baggage train and cut them off from their supply bases further south. The coordination of the enemy forces was too poor to effectively respond to it, and the three armies started acting individually. The southern troops became tired and hungry, as well as frightened of the raiders that attacked them at night.

Desertion and starvation caused their numbers to dwindle to 190,000 weary men. When they approached the mountain passes that led to Omashu, Zhengfu's well-supplied and reinforced army of 150,000 men ambushed them along the way, routing them in an intense battle. The southern troops scattered in all directions with the Ba Sing Se army in pursuit. The southern states attempted to put up a feeble defensive line further south, but it was broken through by Zhengfu's men. Gaoling was the first to capitulate, followed by Chin, and finally Tu Zin.

Further conquests

With the fall of the southern axis, the last major opponents to the King of Ba Sing Se had been crushed, only a few minor states in the southeast and some island nations remained. Zhengfu oversaw the planning for those operations, and occupied Kyoshi Island after leading the Ba Sing Se Fleet to victory in a naval battle against the Kyoshi navy in 1,201 BG. But as the General Field Marshal, his presence was demanded in Ba Sing Se to oversee the running of the army. With troops from the conquered territories added to the imperial army, its total strength reached 400,000 men in 1,203 BG. To ease logistics and organization, Zhengfu organized the troops into military districts: the Ba Sing Se military district, the Yi district, the Taku district, the Southern district, and the Eastern district.

In the central regions, he entered the Si Wong Desert and subjugated the Sandbender Tribes after defeating them in a series of battles, forcing their chieftains to pledge allegiance to Ba Sing Se. He also invaded the remaining territories in the eastern half of the continent that were not under his control, and even planned an invasion of the Fire Nation archipelago before deciding against it. Zhengfu remained in command of Ba Sing Se's armies for about a decade following the domination of the continent, until his father's death in 1,192 BG.

The first Earth King

Establishing the Earth Kingdom

King Cao died in 1,192 BG, with Zhengfu taking the throne as the crown prince. However, at the coronation, he was not crowned as the King of Ba Sing Se, but instead was crowned as the first Earth King, sovereign of a united Earth Kingdom. He consolidated his power by creating a centralized government to lead the country, and minimized the autonomy of city-states such as Omashu to the point where he had as much control over them as possible without putting them into revolt. He also established a new series of laws to be used for the Kingdom, which became known as the Code of Zhengfu, and would be used for centuries. A new system of bureaucracy was created, integrating regional and city governments with his regime, and creating academies for civil servants.

The Earth Kingdom established diplomatic relations with the Fire Nation (he changed his mind about invading it, deeming it unnecessary) and exchanged ambassadors. His son, Crown Prince Tianpei, born in 1,191 BG, became the Earth King's ambassador in the Fire Nation Capital. The Air Nomads, who did not support his bloody campaigns of conquest, initially refused to deal with him, but changed their minds once they realized that their air temples were now in reach of Zhengfu's armies. The Water Tribes likewise recognized the new kingdom, with his second son, Prince Zetian, serving as the Kingdom's ambassador to the Northern Water Tribe. Meanwhile, Zhengfu's generals oversaw several campaigns during that time to crush remaining rebels and any uprisings against their rule.

Death and legacy

The first Earth King died in his sleep in 1,173 BG, after a reign of almost twenty years. His first son Tianpei succeeded him as the ruler of the Earth Kingdom, becoming second monarch of the Zheng dynasty, although he did not last as long as his father did on the throne.

Zhengfu would be remembered by future historians from the Earth Kingdom as a great leader who created their nation, especially by those from Ba Sing Se. Historians from other nations viewed him in a different light due to the deaths his campaigns had caused, but recognized his military brilliance and contribution to Earth Kingdom history. Many Earth Kingdom patriots would call him "Zhengfu the Great."


Ambitious and constantly-calculating, Zhengfu was considered to be a strong-willed and iron-fisted ruler, crushing and dissent while rewarding all good work. He was also said to be cold-hearted and willing to kill many people to get what he wanted, but he nonetheless viewed his role in history to be a righteous one: the man destined to unify the continent into one empire. Therefore, Zhengfu thought whatever he did was justified. He was considered to be a great leader and a good tactician as well as strategist, due to his quiet, but calculating and cunning personality. Because he always led his troops personally from the front and rewarded good service, many of his men had a high respect for Zhengfu.


Command style

Zhengfu was considered to be a military genius by his subordinates and opponents alike. He always thought of long-term strategy and logistics first off in a campaign, allowing all of his operations to fit together as part of a grandiose scheme. This usually kept him several steps ahead of his enemies. The first Earth King was also a skilled tactician both on and off of the battlefield, having to manipulate his rivals at the royal court in Ba Sing Se. Since he always led from the front and heftily rewarded good service, his men had a high respect for him.


Since he was frequently on the front lines, Zhengfu was trained in swordsmanship and was considered to be a competent fighter, but his main strength was in his tactical and strategic brilliance.


  • He is somewhat based on Rudolf von Goldenbaum, a character from the anime Legend of Galactic Heroes, whose image is used to depict Zhengfu. Both of them founded empires and became the first monarchs of their dynasties, however, Rudolf did it through political machinations, while Zhengfu did it with military strength. In that respect, he is also similar to the character Reinhard von Lohengramm, who used his military genius to forge a new dynasty.
  • Zhengfu means "to conquer" in Chinese.
  • His rank, General Field Marshal, is based on the rank Generalfeldmarschall, which was used by Germany and German states for centuries, up until 1945.
Preceded by
Cao (as King of Ba Sing Se)
Earth King
1,192 — 1,173 BG
Succeeded by

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