Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:24 am

Dong mentioned that we've now lost CHF's epic post about Gongsun Zan and Liu Yu.

However two years ago, before CHF went down, I wrote this biography of Gongsun Zan. It was compiled using the mentioned post as well as a few other sources I have access to.

I've now got more information that I plan on integrating in some time in the future. Also I warn you now that upon my re-read it I can't help but notice that the grammar is fairly awful. However it should give you a good idea of Gongsun Zan's life and personality.
Last edited by Sun Fin on Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:23 pm

Thanks Sun Fin

greencactaur wrote:I know many warlords had multiple wives, but what about generals? How often was it that a general had more then one wife?Did the commoners also perform Polygamy, or was it just a typical thing to do for someone with a lot of wealth?


It's a good question. I know Jia Chong was granted special dispensation for two wives but Cao Cao had multiple ladies from very early on, Chen Wu had concubines so I assume it was allowed. I would suggest it would be difficult for poor to have more then one wife

Han wrote:But going by the histories that are given to us, we can see that Cao Cao pillage at a higher degree compared to pretty much everyone except Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu. Even if we ignore this, once again, going by the histories that are given to us Cao Cao commit massacre at a degree only comparable by Dong Zhuo...

Taking in the yellow turbans is a very very smart move Im not denying it. But the fact that Cao Cao a man noted for his skill at military administration did not properly reign in his yellow turban force simply speaks about his character.

Emperors killing Emperess occur once in a while, but the main option throughout the history of China is to simply depose them. Cao Cao as a minister had no right to kill the Emperess and the Emperor's yet unborn child and possible heir.


Your not aiming to be chair of Cao Cao's fanclub are you? :wink:

I feel I have addressed the pillaging in last post. I haven't collected a history of all the 3k massacres so can't comment on that, certainly not seen as any historian claim Cao Cao had a excessive number (in comparison to others)

It could also speak of the difficulty in change a culture of a powerful group. It is something even modern politicians have trouble with

Not in the 3kingdom/latter Han history. A empress that was deposed "died of grief" (and sadly wasn't that rare) very very quickly in that era. Though I'm glad that changed after the three kingdoms but Cao Cao wasn't of that time, he was of a time where the Empress dies if she loses favour. Cao Cao as a controlling minister (of those that lasted more then five minutes) simply by not killing the Emperor is several levels of Han loaty above of any gentry controller for decades. Which is why the real lesson for an Emperor of the Han's fall should be "trust the eunuchs and kill any gentry person near you" :wink:

Is a Minister supposed to execute a Han empress even if she commits a crime or tries to kill him? In theory, no. In practise, that no no line had been crossed a long long time ago.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:49 pm

Hey thank you very much for the link Sun! It was a great read and well put together! By the way, who is this Yun guy that kept coming up?
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:00 pm

Good question!

In the 3K community he is best known as a member on a now deceased site called China History Forum. He wrote a considerable amount there on Chinese history as a whole, and also contributed a lot of knowledge about the Three Kingdoms.

However he is also a professor at a university now, and he has an academia.edu page where he's uploaded a couple of things he's written.

Here's his page

So whilst what I quoted was from a forum post he is an academic and so his writings can be treated with a degree of reliability.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:40 pm

Correct me if I am wrong but looking through the entire Zztj translated by Rafe who else other than Cao who else can claim they they pillage the entire Western half of a province twice? Apart from the already mentioned Lü Bu and Dong Zhuo.

GuangWu of Han desposed two Empress but never killed any.

Ming of Han never desposed or killed any Empress.

Zhang of Han never desposed or killed any Empress.

He of Han desposed one who later died of sorrow.

Shang of Han was an infant.

An of Han never desposed or killed any Empress.

Shun of Han never desposed or killed any Empress.

Chong of Han died at 3 years old.

Zhi of Han died at 8 years old.

Huan of Han desposed one who died of anger.

Ling of Han desposed one who died in despair.

Prince of Hongnong never desposed or killed his one Empress. Granted, he was 14 at that time.

Xian of Han had one Empress who was forcibly killed. Cao Cao petitioned Xian(putting it very very nicely) to kill her but Xian refused. Cao Cao then forcibly dragged her away and then had her and her entire family including two sons killed.

Cao Cao is the only person in the history of East Han who killed an Empress.

Therefore, your statements that "A empress that was deposed "died of grief" (and sadly wasn't that rare) very very quickly in that era."

And " Empress dies if she loses favour."

And " In practise, that no no line had been crossed a long long time ago."

Is factually wrong. Two Empress were spared from being killed after being desposed while three Empress were killed and as you said " died of despair". All those that "died of despair" did so under the Emperors orders. None were forced to die by a Minister.

Feel free to support your claims with evidence. 8-)
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby DragonAtma » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:28 pm

It goes both ways, as the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Changyi (aka Mr. 1127 conducts in 27 days) was deposed by Empress Dowager Shangguan!

Technically she was a figurehead (Huo Guang spearheaded the deposing and undoubtedly ran the government), but she was de jure the one in charge for the month from the deposing to the next emperor's coronation.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:26 pm

Enpress dowager and minister desposing Emperors is a whole different matter.

The point Im trying to make is Emperor usually despose Empress instead of killing them, and even these occur very rarely.

Cao Cao as a minister had zero right to despose an Empress.

Likewise Cao Cao is the only minister in East Han history to despose an Empress.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:26 pm

Han wrote:Correct me if I am wrong but looking through the entire Zztj translated by Rafe who else other than Cao who else can claim they they pillage the entire Western half of a province twice? Apart from the already mentioned Lü Bu and Dong Zhuo.


I suspect Cao Cao gets away with that one as Tao Qian killed his father. It is though highly unusual to do that twice, I don't know if it is becuase usually you get the place and then massacre so it is one time thing whereas Cao Cao got defeated so had to come back.

I never said every Empress got killed just to clarify. So we agree Empresses were killed (and two of the last adult Emperor's did so is a recent pattern for Han), I would imagine we would agree that a fair few Empress Dowagers died of less then natural causes (in Dowager Dou's case, possibly not of Emperor's hand and Dowager He certainly not) as well in recent decades. So there was a pattern that the imperial woman's lives were not seen wholly sacred of late. It wasn't for Wei or Wu either (Shu is a proud exception) to be fair to Han.

I do agree that Cao Cao himself arranging the execution was a one off for the Han (or it being a blatant execution, usually the courts hid their deeds rather more) but if Dowagers and Emperors killings are almost a rite of passage (apart from for Cao Cao who did neither) for controllers, I'm not sure why the Empress is the shock line? Cao Cao like rest of gentry, did rig against an Emperor's own wishes Ling's succession so I'm not arguing Cao Cao was a Liu Yu Han loyalist or anything like that

I am very curious as to GuangWu deposed but Liu's, Cao's, Sun's and Sima's (pre unification at least) went with kill if Empress was out of favour, what changed to make it that death was the expected answer.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:25 am

Right. So no one else can claim that they pillage half an entire province twice(according to the histories). That means that other than Dong and Lü, Cao massacred and pillaged at a higher level according to the histories that we read.( RDC Zztj).

I do not know why you are talking about Dowages when we are debating about Empresses. Dowagers getting into power feuds with Ministers were very common and something Han Gaozu even feared. However, Empresses dieing of grief( forced to suicide) was very rare if we look at the list of Emperors in East Han and even in the Three kingdoms.

Likewise, Cao Cao as a minister had zero right to kill any Empress. Throughout the history of East Han and three kingdoms, no Empress were killed by a minister. He is pretty much the first one to do so. Furthermore, Cao should just request the Empress be desposed or jailed for life. Granted, Cao Cao as a minister also had zero right to despose or imprison an Empress. But he should have done so instead of killing her instead of stepping wayyyyy over his boundaries. Desposing her and imprisoning her would have therefore been more valid and proper reason especially when one considers the fact that Dong Cheng rebellion was pretty much over by that point.

Because desposing and killing an Empress was very rare in the first place. And there was zero set logic that Cao needed to kill an Empress. And when presented with the choice of choosing three options - Imprisonment, Despose, Execution - Cao should have picked the more benevolent two considering that he intended to overstep his boundaries as a minister.

Lastly, not everyone went with kill if Empress was out of favour.

Pi kill one.

Rui kill one.

Sun Hao fell out of favour with his Empress and wanted to despose - not kill - her but Dowager intervened so he did nothing. But ehhh this is Hao we are talking about... so granted its possible that he will eventually killed her. However history is not about possibilities but what already happened. And fact of the matter is Sun Hao the tyrant first option was always to despose her.

8-)
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby waywardauthor » Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:28 am

A thing to note about the Wei Dynasty empresses is that they were typically commoners who lacked effective support networks, while in the Han Dynasty empresses represented some of the most powerful clans in the empire.
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