Skip to content

How chaotic was the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty?

Because of the emergence of heroes and heroes, many Chinese people are very interested in the history of the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. In their eyes, it was a period of shining stars and unprecedented excitement. In addition to compliments, they hated that they could not live in that “passion-burning” years in this life, so as to build an immortal merit. In fact, as a super-turbulent time, the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty is really not worthy of praise. There is no other reason, the death rate is extremely high, and the scene is too terrible.

Eastern Han Dynasty melee endless number of population decline

How terrible the great turmoil in the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty was can be seen from the total number of people lost. According to the population statistics of the mid-Eastern Han Dynasty (about 65 million) and the estimated population of the three countries in the early years (about 23 million), then in just a few decades, China at that time lost nearly 60% of its population, as many as 42 million. (All data refer to Ge Jianxiong’s “Chinese Population History”)! The main reasons for the sharp decline in population are war, famine, and plague. Here I will briefly describe them one by one.

The warlord’s melee was the main reason that led to the sharp decline in the population of the Eastern Han Dynasty. At the end of the Han dynasty, the world was in great chaos and vassals arose. The strong ran across the prefectures and counties, and the weak slaughtered counties and counties. And just behind this endless melee, is the heavy price of the bones and the ground. There are no accurate data on how many people died in the war. However, according to the data listed in the previous article, it is estimated that at least 20 million people died, and a large part of them died in the massacre.

Dong Zhuo is tyrannical and cruel, likes to slaughter the city

As a means of intimidating and weakening opponents in wars, warlords from all over the world are enthusiastic about slaughtering the city, especially the national thief Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo’s Liangzhou Army had the worst military discipline. After conquering the enemy’s city, he robbed the city of property and killed all the remaining people. In fact, not only cruel warlords like Dong Zhuo like to slaughter the city, but even Cao Cao, who has always promoted “saving the fire and saving the drowning”, has done such disdainful things.

In the fourth year of Chuping (193), Cao Cao attacked Tao Qian by avenging his father, and vented his deep hatred on the people of Xuzhou. Wherever he went, he took revenge on the city, and many people died at his hands. Up to hundreds of thousands (“everyone who kills hundreds of thousands of men and women, there are no more chickens and dogs, but Surabaya does not catch it.” See “Book of Hou Han·Volume Seventy-three”). Although the data is seriously exaggerated, the number of victims will never be less than tens of thousands.

When Cao Cao attacked Tao Qian, he massacred the people of Xuzhou

Throughout the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, endless wars and large-scale slaughter of cities have led to a sharp decline in the population of the world, so that the whole country is “white bones exposed in the wild, no chickens in a thousand miles, more than a hundred people, and a broken heart. “(See Cao Cao’s “Walking in Hao Li”). Living in this era, it is a luxury to be able to save one’s life.

In addition to war, the number of people who died of famine is also uncountable. Due to the large-scale requisition of young and middle-aged as soldiers by warlords in various regions, coupled with the impact of wars and natural disasters, a large number of farmland was abandoned and grain harvests were widespread in various regions, which led to the spread of famine. Under the circumstances at that time, the warlords in various regions generally suffered from severe food shortages, so that “Yuan Shaozhi was in Hebei, and the soldiers were eating mulberries; Yuan Shu was in Jianghuai and he took them to Pupin” (see “Three Kingdoms Volume 1”).

Warlords such as Yuan Shao are severely short of food, and there are many who do not attack and destroy themselves.

In the face of famine, soldiers cannot fill their stomachs, and the living conditions of ordinary people can be imagined. Due to the extreme lack of food, the people, driven by hunger, even began to feed on the same kind, leading to the phenomenon of “eating each other” frequently. For example, after the drought and locust plague in June in the first year of Xingping (194), “there is 500,000 Shigu Yihu, 200,000 soybeans and wheat, 200,000 people will eat each other, and the bones will accumulate.” (see “Hanshu· Volume Nine)). There are many such records, and it is not difficult to imagine the tragic situation at that time.

Wars and famines will inevitably be a pandemic of plague, and the number of victims cannot be counted either. In the last 30 years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, there were as many as 12 major national plagues in the annals of history. When the plague struck, the dead often fell close to each other, and families extinct abound. As a witness of the times, Cao Zhi once wrote with extremely painful strokes in his poem “Speaking of Epidemic Qi”, “Every family has the pain of a corpse, and every room has wailing and weeping. And mourning”.

Cao Zhi once described the tragedy of the plague in “Speaking of the Epidemic Qi”

Among this series of plagues, the great plague of 204-219 was the most terrifying, which directly turned the densely populated and economically developed Central Plains into a “hell on earth”. Even the “Seven Jian’an sons”, who were noble as the upper class, even had the most terrifying. 4 people died of the plague. When the historian of the Eastern Jin Dynasty Pei Songzhi described the terrible nature of the plague when he made a commentary on the “Three Kingdoms”, he said, “Since the Central Plains was cruel and chaotic, as for Jian’an, the lives and people were wiped out in decades. Comparing to the well-off society, it is more than a hundred deaths.” “Ear”, this shows the extreme terrifying nature of the plague.

To sum up, under endless wars, large-scale massacres, famines, and plagues, the total population dropped by more than 60% in the early years of the Three Kingdoms, and many places are thousands of miles away. Living in this era, if you can live your life safely, you will be as lucky as the Chinese “Mark Six”. As the saying goes, “I would rather be a peaceful dog than a chaotic person.” Although the Three Kingdoms at the end of Han Dynasty are wonderful from an artistic point of view, no one really wants to travel to that era to live, do they?

%d bloggers like this: