It is mostly about the Latter Han, I didn't read it closely but there were some suppositions about where certain districts and landmarks were located, if you're part of a University you should be able to easily acquire it with a borrowing program.
Well, here is the paper. It's not very long, as I noted. Unfortunately copy-pasting it into this loses the footnotes and endnotes. I'll post my Bibliography still.
Xun Yu and the Fate of the Han Dynasty
I know the question many of you are asking yourselves now; “Who is Xun Yu and why should I care?” Xun Yu was a statesman, philanthropist, and a central advisor at the end of the Later Han Dynasty which ruled analogously with the Roman Empire from 23 CE to 220 CE. The Han Dynasty was an era of immense innovation and progress. It built upon the promise of unity that the Qin Dynasty procured after the destructive Warring States Era. The Han Dynasty was of such importance to the Chinese people that many in our era call themselves the ‘People of Han’ despite this dynasty having collapsed eighteen-hundred years ago. For our purposes, it is also the only Dynasty to have fallen and be revived in short order. How did a man of Xun Yu’s intense intelligence and loyalty to the Han conclude with his ruler taking steps towards usurpation? Its downfall guided China to a chaotic situation which would not be fully settled for nearly three-hundred years with the Sui Dynasty in 518. There is an air of discrepancy in the Later Han on where authority lie. Did it lie with a Son of Heaven of a hallowed house who had governed the realm for nearly four-hundred years? Or did the Mandate of Heaven shift from the Liu clan of Han to another clan?
The Mandate of Heaven is a concept that is meant to keep the emperor’s morality and care for the people of the empire foremost in his mind. Should he falter in this sacred task, natural disasters, rebellions, and astrological omens occur which are all symbols of the Son of Heaven’s failure to rule effectively and that the Mandate of the ruling house is weakening.
There are several matters to bear in mind. Firstly, is that the Han had fallen once before, yet it was renewed from outside the main line, which brought the usurper of the Former Han, Wang Mang, and his interregnum dynasty, that of Xin, low. Secondly, is the cultural impact of Han that even in the late 2nd Century CE, the people looked to it for guidance and stability, even as All Under Heaven began to turn to chaos and central authority would be lost.
The fate of the Han was still uncertain in the late 2nd Century. The intrigues and court chaos of the late 150’s still reverberated throughout the realm. The political victors of the incident were the eunuchs in service to the emperor, nominally to keep watch over the women’s apartments, began to flex their political muscle. They gained high rank and authority which was thought unbecoming of their station. When certain ministers proposed to the emperor that the power of the eunuchs be curbed it was the ministers who were fully neutralized in what is known as the Partisan Prohibitions which prevented them from joining state affairs. These actions brought instability to the Han as statesmen who were dismissed or executed were rarely replaced because each rank now required a fee to purchase, assuring that they were undesirable. Since these offices lay empty they were either ignored all together or occupied by eunuch favorites of the emperor.
In response to these abuses the common people rose en-masse in several large-scale rebellions in 184, breaking most measures of Han control. The Han swiftly put down these insurrections. In the place of statesmen, authority fell to fighting men, not administrators to try and stem the chaos. In truth, the empire had reinstated a feudal system without realizing it. The situation worsened as the death of the emperor and the ensuing chaos in the capital in 190 lead to a frontier general by the name of Dong Zhuo seizing power and destroying all authority of the Han. Here is where Xun Yu enters in.
Xun Yu was born to a well-regarded family which had served the Han for generations, his family was given a high reputation for wisdom. He was given an official rank at twenty-six, but abandoned his post when he saw that the new leader of the capital, Dong Zhuo would bring great destruction to the people. He moved hither and thither serving various warlords until he came into the vassalage of a then minor warlord named Cao Cao. Cao said of Xun Yu that he was comparable to the great founder of Han’s advisor. Xun Yu was only twenty-nine when he became Cao’s primary counselor.
On one occasion in 194 when Cao was away on campaign Xun Yu was left behind to guard his base of operations. In this time one of Cao’s trusted subordinates defected and invited a mighty warlord into Cao’s territory. The warlord managed to conquer much of Cao’s holdings, but was held back at the critical chokepoint that Xun Yu had held. Xun Yu did not use force of arms, but used politicking and bluffing to keep his foes at bay. Had the castle that Xun Yu was holding been lost, Cao’s forces would have had no way to return home. In a realistic sense Xun Yu had saved Cao’s political and military fortunes, allowing him to continue.
In 196 the beleaguered child-emperor escaped from his oppressors in the West and sent out a call to all loyal officers to assist him. Cao’s cadre of officers and advisors argued on what benefit it would be to Cao’s cause to bring in the emperor. Xun Yu settled the issue by making overt suggestions to Cao that Cao’s motivations lie in restoring the royal house to prominence, being unable to refute these idealistic notions Cao became the emperor’s protector. Xun Yu was made an Imperial Counsellor and advised both the emperor and Cao on all matters. In this position, he drew forth a great pool of talent that would assist Cao and his descendants unto the Three Kingdoms Era which immediately follows the Han from 220-280 CE. Xun Yu assisted Cao with many more political and military decisions, time and again, rescuing him from certain danger with well-founded advice. In conjunction with this role, Dr. Chi-Yun Chen believes that Xun Yu was also the ‘chief architect’ of a Han Restoration with other advisors.
Xun Yu restored some influence to the Imperial Courts, even though they had lost much of their authority in the past years through a shattering of Han control. His prestige towered as an equal with the now mighty warlord Cao as he took control of the civilian elite of the new capital towards the designs of establishing authority properly into the hands of the emperor. In ancient times Duke Wen of Jin protected and revitalized an ailing Zhou Dynasty and became the Hegemon-King, a loyal servant of the Zhou, but it was he held true authority. It may be that Xun Yu had thought that Cao would be satisfied with taking this role, hence why he continued to assist Cao with all of his being, even as it became clearer that Cao was never going to transfer any weight of power back to the Han court.
By 203 the curtain had closed on the idea of true Han Restoration, this is due to several factors. While Xun Yu managed to avoid involving himself in the embarrassing failed assassination attempts on Cao, that supposedly came from the emperor by instigators within and outside the capital, it quickly diminished the marginal influence and authority Xun Yu had restored to the Han Court. Cao was no longer embroiled in contention for the realm from any serious contenders, therefore he could consolidate his power having vanquished all threats in the Chinese heartland, the Central Plains. The weakened Han court became paralyzed. Despite the actions of foremost loyalists such as Xun Yu’s cousin, Xun Yue who produced several influential works that called for Han Restoration over usurpation it was too late. Cao ignored these works, in 208 he set about replacing the Han structure of government in a series of ‘reforms’ which lead to his unquestioned power. The Han court had become a puppet-state.
Matters came to a head in early 212. The Han loyalists had steadily been losing power but forfeited all measure of remaining influence through the execution of a certain Han loyalist named Kong Rong. He was Xun Yu’s partner in the Han court but he held little respect for Cao. He was killed for continual criticizing of Cao. In 209 Xun Yu lost another pillar of Han loyalty in Xun Yue’s death. The ground moved underneath him as he struggled with the currents now working against his purpose.
In 212 the pro-Cao factions within the court now clamored for Cao to take the title of Duke. When Xun Yu was approached of the subject he stood firmly against it. The title of Duke was given to the usurper Wang Mang and was widely seen as the steps taken to usurpation of the Dynasty. Xun Yu took a principled stand and said thus; “Lord Cao originally raised loyal troops to save the dynasty and give peace to the nation… A true gentleman shows his love for others by giving virtuous advice, so I must speak out now: we should not act like this.” Being of such a senior station and a close ally to both Cao Cao and the Han emperor the program was put on hiatus and it seemed for a short time that Xun Yu’s protestations may have worked. This changed when Cao heard that the plans had been disrupted and the records say that Cao bore a grudge against him for this. Xun Yu would be transferred out of the capital and would act as immediate advisor to Cao, and shortly thereafter Xun Yu, the only loyalist left who could have changed the course of the Han’s fortunes, was dead. Cao Cao was made Duke of Wei a year after Xun Yu’s death.
The situation surrounding Xun Yu’s death is highly suspicious. It comes at a most opportune time for Cao when his most senior and closest advisor chose to act directly against him. There is also the term “died of grief” used in the official record. This is mostly used in the Records of the Three Kingdoms as a polite way to imply suicide. After Xun Yu’s death Cao continued to amass honors, becoming King of Wei in 217. He would never take the final step to become emperor. His son would. In 220 Cao Cao would die and his son would soon overthrow the Han once and for all, claiming the Mandate of Heaven.
In conclusion, historians have debated for millennia on Cao Cao’s motivations, was he a devoted retainer that was waiting to unite the world before he would cede power back to the Han? Or did he lose sight of this goal and seek to end the Han, despite having been its protector? When we examine these questions, we must also look to Xun Yu. Without Xun Yu, Cao would have likely been diminished in a much earlier time. Xun Yu balanced the role of serving one’s lord and country as well as he could. His advice and appointments assured Cao’s success yet he was also the emperor’s faithful advisor. Is this the result of trying to satisfy an ideal and reality? Xun Yu had the chance to revive the ailing Han just as it had once been brought back from the brink in a time long past, yet as reality smashed into his ideals of renewal, he continued to bide his time, playing this double role until loyalty to his country cost him his life. Xun Yu made his choice in the end and accepted it with all the grace one could expect of the situation. He died a martyr to a lost cause, fighting for an institution which had ceased to be. This lends itself to an interesting question. In service to a government, corporation, or any administration should a person give loyalty to the leader of said function? Or should they put faith in the institution itself? What do you do when you see that the leader is subverting these time-tested institutions and twisting them to his or her own purposes? Xun Yu’s choice was clear, but he acted too late.
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