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Ten Eunuchs

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Ten Eunuchs
Historical Information
Main Objective: Maintain their positions of power.
Estimated Numbers: 10 (12 historically) members
Several dozen supporters
Start: June 185
End: September 24, 189
Major General(s): None
Major Battle(s) Luoyang

The Ten Eunuchs, otherwise known as the Ten Regular Attendants (十常侍), was a group of eunuchs who served as close advisors to the ruling Emperor in the imperial court of the Han Dynasty. Due to the excellent service they provided during the Yellow Turban Rebellion, their numbers increased to include a total of twelve members. Using the influence and trust they had garnered with Emperor Ling, they would directly implicate any political detractors to maintain their power and often escaped punishment for their crimes by using poor excuses or laying the blame on others.

The Emperor established eight Colonels of the Western Garden in 188 in light of the recent Yellow Turbans upraising; he consulted with He Xun for his opinion on raising an army which cast doubts on the wisdom of the attendants and their integrity. Jian Shuo, who was just made Colonel of the First Army, had He Xun sent away and tried to do the same with He Jin. His scheme was not accepted by the attendants and he was executed by He Jin once the ploy was revealed.

Enraged at learning of the plot against him, He Jin sought allies against the eunuchs and eventually agreed to Yuan Shao's plan to have Dong Zhuo stage a false rebellion to pressure the Empress He to execute the attendants. Gathering troops for his cause, He Jin eventually confers with the Empress He to condemn the twelve; learning of the proposal to have them all executed, the eunuchs rallied dedicated followers. Forging an imperial order from Empress He, the attendants lured He Jin into an ambush toward their armed, hidden supporters and he was killed. He Jin's death quickly gathered his supporters, Wu Kuang and Yuan Shu, and their troops to the palace. Yuan Shao guarded the gates to slaughter any escaping eunuchs. Zhang Rang and Duan Gui tried escaping with Emperor Shao and King of Chenliu across the Yellow River but were caught by Min Gong and committed suicide.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms depicts the Ten Eunuchs as a group of greedy and corrupt schemers who deceive the Emperor and blamed as the primary cause for the Yellow Turban's rebellion. Learning of He Jin's plans of raising a massive army to destroy the eunuchs, the ten ask Empress He to issue her brother a personal summons and command to lay down his arms. Not trusting the edict, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao gather five hundred of their best men to wait outside the city with Yuan Shu, and personally went as armed escorts with He Jin. The two are detained and He Jin is isolated and killed by the eunuchs.

MembersEdit

  • Bi Lan (畢嵐) - Mainly known for his artistic and engineering feats, he helped to cast bronze bells and statues for the Southern Palace and constructed water lifting and suction machines to supply the palace aqueducts. He was part of the group which way-laid and killed He Jin in an ambush.
  • Duan Gui (段圭) - Considered the secondary leader of the faction; he sent a spy to follow He Jin and uncovered his proposal to have the eunuchs executed and participated in the ambush. Tried to escape with Zhang Rang and was either killed by Min Gong or drowned himself in the Yellow River.
  • Gao Wang (高望) - Noted to have been close to Emperor Shao in his youth, he was killed in the massacre following He Jin's death.
  • Guo Sheng (郭勝) - Also known as Guo Mai. A close confidant of He Jin, he dissuaded the other eunuchs to accept Jian Shuo's suggestion to scheme against He Jin and eventually revealed the plot to his friend.
  • Han Kui (韓悝) - Simply noted to have been granted his rank.
  • Li Song (栗嵩) - Simply noted to have been granted his rank.
  • Song Dian (宋典) - Highly favored and placed in charge of repairing the Jade Palace, he was of the few Jian Shuo tried to convince to eliminate He Jin.
  • Sun Zhang (孫璋) - Simply noted to have been granted his rank.
  • Xia Yun (夏惲) - Greatly favored by Emperor Ling and Empress Dong, he used slander to remove fellow attendant, Lu Qiang, from power to avoid a possible execution.
  • Zhang Gong (張恭) - Simply noted to have been granted his rank.
  • Zhang Rang (張讓)
  • Zhao Zhong (趙忠) - Greatly favored by Emperor Ling, he slandered Lu Qiang along with Xia Yun. He was contacted by Jian Shuo but refused to be complicit in the plot, killed in the massacre by Yuan Shao and He Miao.

SupportersEdit

  • Dong Zhong (董忠) - He sought to diminish He Jin's influence in the court; after hearing this scheme from Empress Dong, Empress He relayed this to her brother. He Jin arrested and stripped Dong Zhong of his ranks; he committed suicide.
  • Fan Ling (范陵) - Granted a suspiciously high ranking position by the eunuchs after He Jin's death; beheaded by Yuan Shao and Yuan Wei.
  • He Miao (何苗) - Empress Dowager He and He Jin's half-brother, favored the eunuchs and cautioned He Jin to not oppose them. Took part in avenging his half-brother's death but was killed by Wu Kuang and Dong Min for failing to strongly support He Jin.
  • Qu Mu (渠穆) - A eunuch and close follower of attendants, he rallied with several other followers and beheaded He Jin.
  • Xu Xiang (許相) - Granted a suspiciously high ranking position by the eunuchs after He Jin's death; beheaded by Yuan Shao and Yuan Wei.

Fictional FollowersEdit

  • Cao Jie (曹節) - Appears in chapters 1 and 3 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Historically considered to be previous leader of the attendants before Zhang Rang, he expanded much of the eunuch's influence with the royalty prior to the Yellow Turban Rebellion while cleverly dispatching dissenters in the court; died in 181. In the novel, he is part of the ten, replicates his historical power plays and flees with the young Emperor Shao.
  • Cheng Kuang (程廣) - Possibly fictional, appears in chapters 1 and 3 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. One of the ten, he is killed by Yuan Shao and Cao Cao.
  • Feng Xu (封諝) - Appears in chapters 1 and 2 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Historically was an attendant favored by Emperor Ling but discovered to have conspired in a coup with the Yellow Turbans; presumably executed in 184. Appears as one of the ten attendants in the novel while serving as Zhang Jiao's liaison; he is discovered and thrown into prison but is found innocent due to lack of proof.
  • Hou Lan (侯覽) - Appears in chapters 1 and 3 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Historically was one of the ten who was stripped of his ranks for practicing extreme indulgence and over-excessive use of his powers and committed suicide in 172. Part of the ten in the novel, he flees with the young Emperor Shao.
  • Jian Shuo (蹇碩) - Also known as Jian Shi, appears in chapters 1 and 2 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. A military expert and leader of his own eunuch faction within the court, he plotted against He Jin and was executed. A member of the ten in the novel, he is executed by Guo Sheng instead of He Jin.

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