An interesting passage from Jiang Biao Zhuan by Yu Pu reads:
Jiang Biao Zhuan wrote: Zhou Yu became Governor of Nanjun and divided the southern bank to give to Liu Bei. Liu Bei built barracks at Youjiang Kou and changed the name to Gong An. Lots of Liu Biao’s surrendered troops originally with Cao Cao went to Liu Bei. Liu Bei indicated that Zhou Yu’s allocated land was not enough to support the people. Sun Quan then lent the prefectures of Jingzhou to Liu Bei.
Now this is the only passage that refers to any actual specifc mention of anyone asking for the land to be lent or given to one. While the fact that the land was lent is challengable, the circumstances in which it was lent are rather vague. Jiang Biao Zhuan has Liu Bei asking for it as he did not think that it was good for Zhou Yu to hold on to it in it’s current location. One can analyze Liu Bei’s mention of it “not being enough to support the people” as the land itself has too many external threats and in it’s current location, would be harder to maintain than the advantages that those living there and the resources there were to make up for. Also that there may not be enough actual land to provide enough grain and supplies for the population there. Obviously as will be found out later, the human resources there was rather great. While it does not explicitly say that Liu Bei asked for the land, the very mention that is was not enough to support the people, in conjunction with his holding directly to south make it crystal clear, unless one would think it imply Liu Bei wanted the land to go to Cao Cao!
Not to look at the population figures for Jingzhou is no easy task. The only figures around are ones several years after or nearly 80 years prior to the event in question. Now the records from 140 record a very high population of several million in the region. Wu records from 240 reveal that in all of Wu, Jiaozhou, Yangzhou, and Jingzhou that there were only 2,400,000 people recorded. In 140, the two regions had a very close size in population (though Jingzhou was slightly greater) and in the time of Jin their population’s were very close. However, since the two populations declined in a similar ratio, it would be safe to conclude that the numbers from before and after are similarly related and that the populations declined a similar rate. To look at the population of the rest of China, it’s pretty clear that the hardest hit area was the central plain. Here there were great decreases in population, however, the situation was different than in the south and it has been noted that it was the central plains that were hit the hardest. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that the population of Yang and Jing in 140 as it is in 280 is similar to the population in 209, that date of the lending.
Now also, we should look at the time in which most of the decrease in population happened to get a better understanding of the situation in 209. Now the real start of the problems happened around the time of the yellow turbans and even a little before that which would place the beginning of the decrease in a significant way to around 184. We still see events of such population decreases going on until right around Guan Du and the subsequent northern campaign for Cao Cao. At this time the reports of famine and widespread disease taper off to nothing. Now This would imply that the population did not hit any serious decreases after this point. This is reinforced by army sizes. The best indicator of the population was the army size as the army always was held in a tight ratio to the population. While the army could fluxate it never could really surpass a total of 1/10 of the population, and if so, not by much. Now as noted before, the populations and Yang and Jing were in a similar ratio. Now the armies of Wu in the end if divded evenly among the provinces to their fair populations, would be allocating a very close number of soldiers to Jing as Liu Biao had stationed. Now since the army size did not under go and serious change and there were no reports of massive population losses or what would appear to be so, we can conclude that the population was more or less settled and down decreasing massively by 209. This is further reinforced by Yizhou’s population numbers which remained constant from 221 to it’s fall in 263.
Now that the issue of population in 209 in comparison has been cleared up we can look at the population around 280. Now the population of Jing in 280 is much greater than is should be in comparison to Wu records. This is due to the region fo Nanyang being counted which boasted a very large population, but of course was not part of Wu. At this time there are no distinct population figures but there are household figures and they are always in a direct proportion to the population and since we have the households all taken at the same time there is no need to worry about the slight fluxuation that occurs between time period. However it always hovers around 5 people to each household. Now to keep things clear I won’t post the population figures for all 22 regions that were around in the time of Jin and will just simplify them to the 7 that were around in Han (all 22 where created by splitting off parts of existing regions).
NanYang – 103,048
Nanjun – 83,900
Jiang Xia – 41,800
Wu Ling – 17,100
Chang Sha – 75,500
Gui Yang – 11,300
Ling Ling – 37,100
Obviosuly Wei had control of Nanyang, Wu had control of Nanjun and Jiang Xia, and Liu Bei had the other 4.
Now the proportions of each one’s households in comparison would be:
Wei – 103,048
Wu – 125,700
This figures show that after taking kicking Cao Cao out of Nanjun, Wu and Shu had almost the same amout of people under their control, and even Cao Cao had a good hau. Nanjun’s households of 83,900 would increase Liu Bei’s holdings by over 50%, so it was certainly in his best interest to ask for the land. Also, that is a very large population to have in a small area of land and lending it to Liu Bei (for whatever interest) would give it a lot more close supplies to feed and maintain such a large population in such a small area.
Now this gives a very good indication that Liu Bei would ask for the land. And as the note implies Sun Quan lending it to him. Now there is also a small thing that would actually occur before the lending of the land and the asking for it, which would of course being the death of Zhou Yu. This most due as shown in other sources due to the fact that with Zhou Yu the land was safe and Sun Quan did not want to give up such a large population. However when Zhou Yu died, Lu Su was able to convince Sun Quan to lend to Liu Bei who obviously had his plans to get it lent.