Saturday, December 24, 2011
Book VII : Revolution of the Seventeen Warlords
When he arrived home, Ts’ao Ts’ao gained the help of his wealthy father Ts’ao Kao. The two of them forged documents calling people to arms against Tung Ch’o on behalf of the Han emperor. Not many people questioned the authenticity of the documents as people all over the land hated Tung Ch’o, so the armies of seventeen warlords assembled with Ts’ao Ts’ao.
Then, it was time to elect the great army leader. Ts’ao Ts’ao was in a position to nominate himself, but instead, he nominated Yuan Shao of Hebei who had the largest army. Yuan Shao also came from a powerful family.
The next question was who would lead the first attack. The volunteer was none other than Sun Jian, warlord of Changsha. Sun Jian was known as “the Little Tiger” for his prowress in battle. In one time, he single-handedly crushed a group of pirates. In the first battle, he easily defeated Lu Bu’s general and marched towards the capital city of Loyang. During this time, he found an ancient Imperial Seal. Sun Jian felt this was Heaven’s way of telling him that he was destined for greatness, and perhaps, it was.
In the meanwhile, Supreme Commander Yuan Shao grew jealous of Sun Jian and didn’t send him reinforcements. In the end, Sun Jian had to retreat. He was very angry and wanted to kill Yuan Shao, but Yuan Shao put the blame on one of his advisors and beheaded the scapegoat.
Later, he got wind of the Imperial Seal. He accused Sun Jian of being a rebel. The Hebei forces and those of Chingchou (led by Yuan Shao’s ally Liu Biao) pursued Sun Jian, and he barely escaped back with a few men. Sun Jian vowed to get revenge on both Yuan Shao and Liu Biao.
The glue that held the revolutionary army together was weakening. Hua Xin, one of Tung Ch’o’s general, defeated the revolutionaries in several skirmishes. The revolutionaries could not field a great general after Sun Jian left, and were in panic.
Suddenly, Kuan Yu who had followed Liu Pei to serve in Gongsun Zan’s army volunteered himself, but Yuan Shao was arrogant.
Yuan Shao: “How dare you present yourself? You are only a private. Do you think you even have a chance of beating a mighty general like Hua Xin?”
Ts’ao Ts’ao: “Wait, my lordship. Let this warrior have his chance.”
Ts’ao Ts’ao looked at Kuan Yu in admiration, for he saw greatness in him. He gave Kuan Yu a cup of hot tea and said “Brave young man, let me drink to your courage. May you bring us victory over Hua Xin.”
To which Kuan Yu replied, “My general, let me take your drink once the task is done.”
So Kuan Yu rode out and slew Hua Xin in a single stroke. He came back a drunk the tea before it was hot. Such was the greatness of Kuan Yu!!
The revolutionaries now approached Loyang, and Tung Ch’o felt that defeat was imminent. So Tung Ch’o ordered all the imperial Han graves to be uprooted, and he also took the treasures from the wealthy noble families and ordered everyone in the capital to evacuate to Chang’an.
Ts’ao Ts’ao urged the revolutionaries to invade Chang’an, as there was no point resting on their laurels in Loyang (now captured). However, Yuan Shao was a complacent man, and he insisted on staying on the capital. Ts’ao Ts’ao then invaded Chang’an on his own but was ambushed and defeated by Li Yu. He managed to return to Loyang and was welcomed by Yuan Shao, but by then, Ts’ao Ts’ao was disgusted by Yuan Shao’s lack of leadership qualities, so he left.
Without Ts’ao Ts’ao acting as the charismatic glue of the revolutionary army, they quickly fell apart. So this is how the revolution against Tung Ch’o ended…an empty victory with the capture of Loyang, but Tung Ch’o remained firmly in control of power at Chang’an.