Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Join the Romance of the Three Kingdoms discussion with our resident Scholars. Topics relating to the novel and history are both welcome. Don't forget to check the Forum Rules before posting.
Kongming’s Archives: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms Officer Biographies
Three Kingdoms Officer Encyclopedia
Scholars of Shen Zhou Search Tool

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:36 am

Xu Yuan wrote:That is exceptionally useful information on why the Han Court lost so much influence after Xun Yu's death. I shouldn't discount the importance of Wei Feng to its final demise.

Wikipedia is becoming a little interesting, though take that only as far as you want and can back up elsewhere.

Xun Shuang was one of the three excellencies of the later Han Dynasty, mediated actively between Dong Zhuo and other Han officials, but after the move to Chang'an conspired with Wang Yun to remove him fearing that he would destroy the Han Dynasty. He was Xun Yu's uncle, and it may be argued that he was a precursor to Xun Yu in so far as their ability to work with military men. Shuang was willing to cooperate with Dong and act as a mediator between him and his subjects, right up until Dong became too dangerous to the Han's continued existence.

Xun Can, a son of Xun Yu's, gave an appraisal of his father and their cousin Xun You. He was a scholar who did not take an active role in politics, and praised Xun You for maintaining a relatively obscure profile over his father, who was too public in his service. He was noted for being different from his brothers for his preference for Daoism, which his brothers rejected in favor of Confucianism. This can also be paired with his relative closeness to the Wei dynasty, marrying Cao Hong's daughter, and his close friendship with Xiahou Xuan.

Xun Yi, Xun Can's older brother (one of many), had minor appointment under the Wei Dynasty, but after Sima Yi rose to power he seemed to become far more engaged in politics. He was chosen to be a tutor for Cao Fang, acted in military and political roles, and was deeply connected with the Simas. When the Jin Dynasty was still a question, as Sima Shi and Zhao were in control of the government, they left him in charge of the capital when they lead the army to put down Zhuge Dan's rebellion. Eventually he was made into a Duke, not too dissimilar from those who earned the noble title on their road to usurpation. Generally regarded as a good man, he was condemned for having too close an association with Jia Chong and Xun Xu.
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
User avatar
waywardauthor
Master
 
Posts: 255
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:20 pm

How's the paper coming along?
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
User avatar
waywardauthor
Master
 
Posts: 255
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:36 pm

Oh, sorry Waywardauthor. It's currently done. As I said it was only a short paper to be presented to a Historical Conference, people unfamiliar with anything Three Kingdoms based so I had to be very general for a fair part of it. It could be no longer than six pages to allow time for questions. Thanks to your suggestions I managed to pick up many of the books; Xun Xu and the Politics of Precision, Dr. Rafe's various works Imperial Warlord, Fires over Luoyang had only one mention of Xun Yu and it was in a disappointing capacity, trying to prove that since Xun Yu, an advisor of Cao Cao was the leader of the Han Courts therefore Cao had full control over Emperor Xian and makes only flippant mention of his stand against Cao proclaiming himself as Duke. Imperial Warlord portrays it to a fuller extent. I also picked up the Biographical Dictionary but it was too general to really use.

I will post it after I get back from the conference. It will probably be a bit disappointing to real Three Kingdoms scholars, simply reciting information that is already known or arriving at unpopular conclusions from personal readings of sources and other scholars of the subject.
As you know security
is mortal's greatest enemy.

SimRTK is back up in a testing phase! Go ahead and give it a look over on the Simzhou forum branch.

http://simrtk.net/index.php
User avatar
Xu Yuan
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:13 pm

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:43 am

Xu Yuan wrote: Fires over Luoyang had only one mention of Xun Yu and it was in a disappointing capacity, trying to prove that since Xun Yu, an advisor of Cao Cao was the leader of the Han Courts therefore Cao had full control over Emperor Xian and makes only flippant mention of his stand against Cao proclaiming himself as Duke. Imperial Warlord portrays it to a fuller extent.


I've been looking at getting my hands on that book for a while! Does it tell you much about the geography of the city?
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela
User avatar
Sun Fin
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 6602
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: The birthplace of radio

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:54 pm

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.

Bibliography

Chen, Chi-Yun, Hsün Yüeh (A.D. 148-209): The Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian. Columbia University Press Archive, 1975. 78-80.


Chen Shou, Pei Songzhi, Records of the Three Kingdoms: Xun Yu. n.d.


Crespigny, Rafe de, Fire Over Luoyang: History of the Later Han Dynasty. BRILL, 2016. 508.


Crespigny, Rafe de, Imperial Warlord: A Biography of Cao Cao (155-220 AD). BRILL, 2010. 112.


Crow, Carl, Master Kung. New York and London: Harper & Bros., 1938. 34.


Goodman, Howard L., Xun Xu and the Politics of Precision in Third-Century AD China. BRILL, 2010. 56.


Kinney, Anne Behnke, Exemplary Women of Early China: The Lienü zhuan of Liu Xiang. Columbia University Press, 2014. 289.


Trans, Legge, James. The Sacred Books of China, the Texts of Confucianism, Volume 1. Clarendon Press, 1879. 92-97.


Rola, Telmo (Doctorate in International Relations). January, 2017.


San, Tan Koon, Dynastic China: An Elementary History. The Other Press:, 2014. xv.

Wills, John Elliot, Mountains of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History. Princeton University Press, 2012. 88-89.
As you know security
is mortal's greatest enemy.

SimRTK is back up in a testing phase! Go ahead and give it a look over on the Simzhou forum branch.

http://simrtk.net/index.php
User avatar
Xu Yuan
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:13 pm

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:47 am

Consider me a fan.

Good job!
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
User avatar
waywardauthor
Master
 
Posts: 255
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:48 pm

waywardauthor wrote:Consider me a fan.

Good job!


I second this, cracking essay. I just wish it was longer!
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela
User avatar
Sun Fin
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 6602
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: The birthplace of radio

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:37 pm

Thank you both very much.

It is a good base for the creation of a longer paper. Some of the questions I received about it lead quite nicely into discussing Sima Yi, the dynamics of Wei Daoism and how this alienated the older gentry families, including the Sima who were Orthodox Confucianists. The Xun family was also, for the most part, Orthodox Confucianists. This, combined with some things I've read here that many of the Confucianists resented the way that Cao Pi dethroned the Han and the omens which were used relied more upon Daoism than Confucianism could lead to an eventual research paper in how the Jin Dynasty may have been the revenge of the Han Confucianists against the new age Daoists.
As you know security
is mortal's greatest enemy.

SimRTK is back up in a testing phase! Go ahead and give it a look over on the Simzhou forum branch.

http://simrtk.net/index.php
User avatar
Xu Yuan
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 891
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:13 pm

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:08 am

I had never actually put two and two together with Xun Yu and Kong Rong being contemporaries and court allies. That's a neat perspective on the matter.

Honestly it would be kind of nice if there were some "comprehensive" write-up about the civil administration for Wei, we get flashes here and there in profiles but I don't think it's been laid down at length.
Gamefaqs: KongZhou
Steam: heinous_won
User avatar
Zyzyfer
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 3052
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 1:17 pm
Location: South Korea

Re: Paper on Xun Yu for Historical Conference

Unread postby Jolt » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:32 am

Well done Xu Yuan! That was a fantastic read!

Interestingly we can say with the benefit of the hindsight that Xun Yu misjudged Cao Cao's ambitions until practically the very end, or at least up until a point where he felt he could no longer do anything about it.

Or phreaps there was something that could be done about it, but Xun Yu wasn't a man of that sort of action. For all his ideals, by not outright opposing the institutionalized powers, even if he himself had to die, his clan, of which he was arguably the most notorious person, was still and would still be very well off, something that was significantly at risk, if he attempted to take any action against Cao Cao and his partizans. As Cao Cao eventually showed, not even the reigning Empress' clan was safe from retribution, even against the express will of the Emperor. It was clear that the Emperor's favour no longer protected anyone.

Zyzyfer wrote:I had never actually put two and two together with Xun Yu and Kong Rong being contemporaries and court allies. That's a neat perspective on the matter.


It is quite implied at several points. The whole Mi Heng affair, and disrespectful attitude towards Cao Cao, and despite those, the fact that Cao Cao had to tolerate such disrespect to his person and his authority, and that Kong Rong was above reproach was a pretty notorious sign that Kong Rond wielded significant influence in the Han court at one point or another.

As Xu Yuan correctly interpreted, his execution was a pretty clear signal that the Han court's ability to influence Cao Cao's partizans conducts and eventually call upon outside support, had waned considerably.
Jolt
Master
 
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 7:39 pm

Previous

Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved