- “Silly fool, how dare you defy me! Am I not in charge of the affairs of state? If I want to do it, who shall say me no? Do you doubt the temper of my sword?”
- —Dong Zhuo
Dong Zhuo was a regional warlord in service of the Han. He was known as a man with a cruel ambition which came to fruition when he seized control of the capital city of Luoyang in 189 A.D., after the battle against The Regular Attendants. To fuel his power, he deposed Emperor Shao and set the very young Emperor Xian upon the throne, which he used as his puppet to indirectly control the land.
Dong Zhuo was from Lintao in Longxi Commandery. In his youth he was chivalrous. He made travels to the Qiang tribes and made many friends with the commanders. After he returned home, he was visited by some of the tribal leaders. When Dong Zhuo invited them into his home he killed his prize bull to feed them. Apparantly the leaders were moved by this because when they returned they brought with them 1,000 sheep and presented them to Dong Zhuo.
In the latter years of Emperor Huan's reign Dong Zhuo became Gentleman of the Feather Forest. This was because of his good relations in the six regions.
Dong Zhuo was a talented individual. He carried two quivers and could shoot them while riding a horse. He served as a military major. With Central Gentleman General, Zhang Huan, he attacked Bingzhuo (rebels) and won merit. He was then appointed Gentleman of the Palace and awarded 9,000 spools of silk. Dong Zhuo divided it among his soldiers. He became the prefect of Guangwu, then Controller Commandant of northern Shu prefecture, and then Colonel of the Western Peripheral. He was also appointed Inspector of Bingzhou and Grand Administrator of Hedong.
Yellow Turban RebellionEdit
- Main article: The Yellow Turban Rebellion
Dong Zhuo was one of the four generals directly under General-in-Chief He Jin during the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Initially he wasn't one of the four, but when Lu Zhi was sentenced to death commuted by one degree by Emperor Ling following slander from Zuo Feng, Dong Zhuo, who was General of the Gentlemen of the Household of the East at that time, was sent to replace him.
Lu Zhi had been fighting a succesful battle against Zhang Jue and driven him back to Guangzhong. It appeared however, that Zhang Jiao had fallen ill after Lu Zhi's initial attack and his youngest brother Zhang Liang had replaced him.
When Dong Zhuo took over, presumably in early summer, he attempted to follow up on Lu Zhi's succes. The Yellow Turban rebels, however, were now concentrated in a stronghold rather than spreading out across the field and, moreover, the imperial troops might have lost morale after Lu Zhi was treated so badly. In any case, Dong Zhuo failed to gain any succes against Zhang Liang's troops and was called back to be replaced by Huangfu Song.
Soon after, as rebellion broke out in Liang province and Chang'an came under threat Dong Zhuo was sent to the west as a subordinate general, first under Huangfu Song and then under his replacement Zhang Wen.
Later, in 185 A.D., Han Sui rebelled in Liang province and Dong Zhuo was sent to resist him. For this assignment he was re-assigned as General of the Gentlemen of the Household.
In the eleventh month of 185 A.D. Dong Zhuo combined forces with Bao Hong of Youfufeng and they attacked Bian Zhang and Han Sui together and completely defeated them. Bian Zhang and Han Sui fled to Yuzhong.
Struggle Against The EunuchsEdit
- Main article: Struggle against The Regular Attendants
In 189 A.D. , after the passing of Emperor Ling, tension between He Jin and the Imperial eunuchs Jian Shuo and Zhang Rang reached its peak and warlords were summoned to assist the General-in-Chief in his struggle against the eunuchs. One of the summoned warlords was Dong Zhuo, but this action was met with criticism by the Intendant Imperial Clerk Zheng Tai, who said:
"Dong Zhuo is extremely brutal and has small sense of honour, while his ambitions have no limit. If you involve him in the imperial government and entrust him with great affairs you will lose control over his evil intentions and you will certainly endanger the court. Through your own personal qualities, and by your close relationship to the throne, you hold the authority of Aheng with power to make your own decisions and to take your own action against criminals. It is quite inappropriate for you to favour Dong Zhuo by asking for his assistance. Furthermore, if you delay matters, there will be changes. The example of Yin is not far off. You must make your mind up soon."
The Master of Writing Lu Zhi agreed on this, but He Jin listened to neither and Dong Zhuo was summoned. Zheng Tai resigned his position because of this.
When Dong Zhuo set out, directly after he had received He Jin's summons, he sent a memorial in reply:
"The Regular Palace Attendant Zhang Rang and his fellows have usurped favour and played for advantage. They have corrupted and disrupted all within the seas. I have heard of people who would fan a fire to stop the soup from boiling, but it is far better to take away the firewood. To burst an abscess is painful, but better than a malignant growth. "In ancient times Zhao Yang raised the armed men of Jinyang to drive away the wicked from the side of his lord. Now and at once I sound the bells and drums and march to Luoyang. I beg permission to arrest Zhang Rang and his fellows, to clear out the evil and wickedness."
Fact vs. FictionEdit
- All quotes in this article are translated from historical sources by Professor Rafe and taken from his work.