TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

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: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Han » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:44 pm

You mean DECREASED. Not died.

The decrease in population census doesnt also mean death to war.

It can mean any of these things.

1. The gentries/merchants/peasants trying to avoid paying taxes and so their presence is not recorded.

2. Mass migration from traditional population centres like provincal capitals( thing Chengdu for Yi and Xu city for Yu) to smaller villages and city, making recording of taxes and thus population more difficult.

3. The decrease in size of the Chinese empires that is Western Jin in comparison to Han.

4. The decrease in population size can also somewhat be attributed to the famines and natural disasters that happened before the Yellow Turban rebellion and thus not correlated with the 3K war.
Liu Bei did nothing wrong.
User avatar
Han
Changshi
 
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:46 pm

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:16 pm

That was probably a more accurate phrase, yes. However a decrease in population does rather hint at some measure of death.

I don't dispute any of the factors that you suggest Han, and am sure they all contribute to the overall picture. However I also think that it's folly to deny that a century of civil war didn't indirectly lead to the deaths of thousands. For example Cao Cao's massacres in Xu and the killing of Yuan Shao's army when they surrendered. We also know the country was regularly struggling with famine for the first few decades of violence until Cao Cao's new agricultural model. Perhaps the census paints an exaggerated picture but my general point stands.

@ Wenruo - another book occurred to me. China Between Empires by Mark Lewis was Harvard's answer to the Cambridge History series. Less comprehensive but more affordable and does cover our period! Certainly has some information about ordinary life during the era.
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
User avatar
Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 7563
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: Vicar Factory

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby zirroxas » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:36 pm

Sun Fin wrote:That was probably a more accurate phrase, yes. However a decrease in population does rather hint at some measure of death.

I don't dispute any of the factors that you suggest Han, and am sure they all contribute to the overall picture. However I also think that it's folly to deny that a century of civil war didn't indirectly lead to the deaths of thousands. For example Cao Cao's massacres in Xu and the killing of Yuan Shao's army when they surrendered. We also know the country was regularly struggling with famine for the first few decades of violence until Cao Cao's new agricultural model. Perhaps the census paints an exaggerated picture but my general point stands.


Famine, disease, and migration to remote areas were almost certainly the cause of most of the depopulation. They were systemic, far reaching, and long term. Battles and outright massacres were more isolated incidents that involved a lot less people.

Cao Cao's claim of 70,000 enemy kills over the course of Guandu is almost certainly an exaggeration, perhaps even to the point of the famous "each enemy head counted as ten" ratio. Operational losses of 70% are rather blatantly impracticable. Most battles between armies of similar temperament (non-professional, wide-front) usually consist of losses between 10-30% total. Even in the opposite case of a professional force trapping an enemy in a small area with the intent to massacre them as seen in a few instances during Hannibal's invasion of Italy, accepted modern estimates of the casualties usually peak out at between 50-60% actually killed. So most battles would have likely had a few thousand to a couple tens of thousand actual killed in total. Not really enough total to make such a drastic dent in the massive population of the empire.

In spite of this and that taking the census data at face value presents problems due to the situation and purpose of the later census, incredibly high depopulation isn't out of the question. Plagues and famines could historically wipe out over half of a densely populated area, especially if migration due to war encouraged the spread of pestilence and imbalance in food distribution.

For an alternate case study, consider the Thirty Years War, where the total German states (including Austria) lost somewhere between 25-40% of their population in a much smaller, but more intense timeframe. Battle deaths were at most a few hundred thousand (with at least half that being foreign troops), but total deaths over the period were several million, mostly due to disease, famine, and other forms of devastation.
I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail. - Ulysses S. Grant
User avatar
zirroxas
Initiate
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:05 am
Location: The Lands of Always Drizzle

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:48 pm

Absolutely!

The rest of this post might be unnecessary, I can't tell if you were disagreeing or agreeing with me, so sorry if I misunderstood your reading of my post! I certainly didn't intend to bump up the importance of the few massacres. My original point was that the century of civil war indirectly led to a massive decrease in population due to the various factors you mention. So these people didn't die in battle? They still died prematurely because of the war, therefore I think it is fair to describe this period as remarkably bloody.
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
User avatar
Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 7563
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: Vicar Factory

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby zirroxas » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:54 pm

Sun Fin wrote:Absolutely!

The rest of this post might be unnecessary, I can't tell if you were disagreeing or agreeing with me, so sorry if I misunderstood your reading of my post! I certainly didn't intend to bump up the importance of the few massacres. My original point was that the century of civil war indirectly led to a massive decrease in population due to the various factors you mention. So these people didn't die in battle? They still died prematurely because of the war, therefore I think it is fair to describe this period as remarkably bloody.


Yes, that's a fair assessment. Sorry if I came across as overbearing. The relation of casualty figures to actual deaths in combat has been something of a fascination of mine for a while. I get a little jumpy on the description of Cao Cao's alleged massacre at Guandu (which is one of those things that Rafe did a handy writeup on why it probably didn't happen that way) and a similar incident at Julu by Xiang Yu during the Chu-Han contention since they sometimes get used as examples of Asian warfare being "less humane" than western warfare.
I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail. - Ulysses S. Grant
User avatar
zirroxas
Initiate
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:05 am
Location: The Lands of Always Drizzle

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:00 pm

No need to apoligise, bodies of text are notoriously hard to ascertain tone. I try to be as generous as possible when interpreting meaning. :)
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
User avatar
Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 7563
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: Vicar Factory

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Han » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:02 am

I don't dispute any of the factors that you suggest Han, and am sure they all contribute to the overall picture. However I also think that it's folly to deny that a century of civil war didn't indirectly lead to the deaths of thousands. For example Cao Cao's massacres in Xu and the killing of Yuan Shao's army when they surrendered. We also know the country was regularly struggling with famine for the first few decades of violence until Cao Cao's new agricultural model. Perhaps the census paints an exaggerated picture but my general point stands.


We also know that the Chinese Empires of Qin, Han, Tang, before and after suffered from famines before and after the 3K period, sometimes even during times of peace and prosperity. Even for the Cao Wei Empire, the gentries of Cao Wei notably begged the then Emperor of Cao Wei, Cao Rui to cease the construction projects due to the natural disasters(famines and earthquakes) of that time and the further burden it could place on the common people.

So, Cao Cao argricultural policies did relieve the food situation and supply issue of the Han government somewhat but the country still did struggle.

Cao Cao's claim of 70,000 enemy kills over the course of Guandu is almost certainly an exaggeration, perhaps even to the point of the famous "each enemy head counted as ten" ratio. Operational losses of 70% are rather blatantly impracticable. Most battles between armies of similar temperament (non-professional, wide-front) usually consist of losses between 10-30% total. Even in the opposite case of a professional force trapping an enemy in a small area with the intent to massacre them as seen in a few instances during Hannibal's invasion of Italy, accepted modern estimates of the casualties usually peak out at between 50-60% actually killed. So most battles would have likely had a few thousand to a couple tens of thousand actual killed in total. Not really enough total to make such a drastic dent in the massive population of the empire.


I do not necessarily dispute your points, but I would like to urge against comparisons of the situations of Ancient Europe and Ancient China. Hanninal invasion of Italy is so different in comparison to the 3K period. From the army composition, to the geography, to the cultures, to the government, to the philosophies. Etc etc.
Liu Bei did nothing wrong.
User avatar
Han
Changshi
 
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:46 pm

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:15 am

Yes famines happened regularly, even in peace time. However farmers being forcibly recruited into armies or relocated will exacerbate the problems. I know you've engaged in a debate with DZ about the amount of pillaging that occurred, however any time an army requisitioned food, either legally or not, was going to have ramifications for the local populace. Essentially I'm still saying the same thing. Famines were a fact of life in this period of China, however the century of warfare undoubtedly made it worse.
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
User avatar
Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 7563
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: Vicar Factory

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby zirroxas » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:11 pm

Han wrote:I do not necessarily dispute your points, but I would like to urge against comparisons of the situations of Ancient Europe and Ancient China. Hanninal invasion of Italy is so different in comparison to the 3K period. From the army composition, to the geography, to the cultures, to the government, to the philosophies. Etc etc.


The fundamental mechanics of men killing each other does not change between continents. Nor do the axioms of logistics, engineering, psychology, terrain, or any other facet of war. All that changes is actor, application, and circumstance. I already qualified the differences between the situations and the implications should be obvious.

If there's one thing that the past 30 years of military academia has been exemplary at, its tearing down the artificial distinction between "Eastern" and "Western" warfare in all periods. One is on just as much solid ground comparing and connecting Roman and British warfare as they are Punic and Chinese.
I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail. - Ulysses S. Grant
User avatar
zirroxas
Initiate
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:05 am
Location: The Lands of Always Drizzle

Re: TK Era Historical Book Recommendations

Unread postby Han » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:03 am

Yes famines happened regularly, even in peace time. However farmers being forcibly recruited into armies or relocated will exacerbate the problems. I know you've engaged in a debate with DZ about the amount of pillaging that occurred, however any time an army requisitioned food, either legally or not, was going to have ramifications for the local populace. Essentially I'm still saying the same thing. Famines were a fact of life in this period of China, however the century of warfare undoubtedly made it worse.


Fair enough, zero disagreements.

The fundamental mechanics of men killing each other does not change between continents. Nor do the axioms of logistics, engineering, psychology, terrain, or any other facet of war. All that changes is actor, application, and circumstance. I already qualified the differences between the situations and the implications should be obvious.


Yes there were. The technological differences between Hannibal invasions and 3K is so large. Elephants for example, were never used. The same goes for the different technological feats of the Roman and Chinese Empires. As for psychology, Ive already pointed out that there were difference in philosophy and ideals of Rome and Han. As for terrain, China is very very different to Europe geographically so its kinda funny how you argue that the fundamental mechanics do not change when it comes to this aspect. And no, you didnt qualify nor source any of your claims. Everything that you wrote previously wasnt necessarily wrong, but it was filled with assumptions.

If there's one thing that the past 30 years of military academia has been exemplary at, its tearing down the artificial distinction between "Eastern" and "Western" warfare in all periods. One is on just as much solid ground comparing and connecting Roman and British warfare as they are Punic and Chinese.


Laughable. And no, the distinction is not artifical. Furthermore, modern academia do not tear down one another so much as aconowledge the differences. Also, out of all your many assumptions, this is the one I have the most issue with. Nobody rarely, if ever, make such sweeping generalisations of modern academia. This is something I just cant accept. Finally, no offence but warfare for every continent took place differently with very different circumstances and outcomes. Even within the same continent, the Chinese vs Koreans vs Japanese armies of the same time period had remarakble difference. From the army composition, to their priorities, to their strategies, training regiments, the way they handled logistics, their aims and objectives, to the way their soldiers engaged in the battlefield. Of course, that doesnt mean that there is lack of solid ground to compare but that - using your example - the ground of Rome vs Brits warfare is more 'solid' than that of the Punic and Chinese making direct comparisons quite a bit 'shaky'.
Liu Bei did nothing wrong.
User avatar
Han
Changshi
 
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:46 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

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