The Han Dynasty was a period of frequent natural disasters in Chinese history, especially floods. There are different opinions on the statistics of the number of floods in the Han Dynasty. Deng Yunte’s statistics in the history of China’s famine relief is 76 times, other scholars such as Mr. Chen Yexin’s statistics is 105 times, while Mr. Yang Zhenhong’s statistics is 78 times, and scholar Zhen dutiful’s statistics is 92 times, which are different from each other. But what is certain is that it is an indisputable fact that floods occurred frequently in the Han Dynasty. Frequent floods have caused heavy losses to the development of social economy and the safety of people’s lives and property. After the flood, in order to appease the victims and ensure people’s livelihood and social order, the Han government formed a series of more effective relief measures. Once the flood occurred, it would start the disaster relief procedures step by step to relieve the victims and resume production.
After floods, people’s lives are often in a desperate situation. In order to enable the victims who lost their livelihoods to survive the temporary difficulties and save the people’s strength, the imperial government in the Han Dynasty adopted different relief methods according to the different degrees of disasters. In relevant works, scholar Zhen Jinzhong summarized some practices of the government in flood relief during the Han Dynasty.
Tax relief was the most common relief measure after the floods in the Han Dynasty. According to the extent of the disaster, the government will exempt taxes in whole or in part to reduce the burden on the people. Such records can be found everywhere in history books. In the fourth year of Hongjia, due to the continuous floods in Guandong, Emperor Cheng of Han Dynasty issued an edict: “if the people’s wealth is less than 30000 after being hit by disasters for more than four years, don’t rent taxes. Don’t accept loans before entering.” In the autumn of the second year of Suihe, due to the water coming out of Henan and Yingchuan counties, Emperor AI of the Han Dynasty issued an edict: “order the county towns and other counties injured by the water to suffer more than four disasters, and the people’s wealth is less than 100000, so there is no rent this year.” In the 14th year of the Yongyuan Dynasty, Emperor Hanhe decreed, “Yanzhou, Henan and Jingzhou have suffered too much water and rain this year, which has hurt their agricultural skills. More than four or more of their orders have been killed, and half of them have been rented and ruminated in the field; those who are dissatisfied with them will be eliminated by practice.” In the first year of Yanguang, the capital and twenty-seven prefectures were flooded by rain, and Emperor Han’an issued an edict: “those who have been flooded again, don’t take any land rent.
After the flood, people’s homes were destroyed and they could not continue to live in the local area. The government of the Han Dynasty had begun to take the method of immigration to feed the victims. Immigration for food is one of the most commonly used disaster relief methods in ancient China. Because the transportation of relief grain and rice requires a lot of human and material resources, the government often organizes the victims to migrate to areas that have not been affected and have food reserves to flee the famine, and sends officials to escort them along the way. After arriving at the destination, they will distribute food to relieve the victims, or immigrate to places with a large number of people, and after arriving, they will be given relief, distributed fields and Mu to make them settle down. According to the records of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, in the spring of the third year of Jianyuan, “the river overflowed the plain, hungry, and people ate each other. Those who relocated to Maoling were given 200000 yuan and two hectares of farmland”. According to the records of the historian, in the third year of Yuanshou, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, “Shandong was flooded, and many people were hungry… But the poor migrated to the west of the pass and to the south of chongshufang in the middle of the new Qin Dynasty, with more than 700000 mouths, and all their food and clothing were given to county officials.” “Envoys protect it, covering each other. The cost is billions, countless.” In the fourth year of the Yuan Dynasty, “Shandong was hit by the river”, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty “made the hungry people flow and eat between the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River. If they wanted to stay, they would stay. The messenger’s crown belonged to the Taoist protection, and the chin was filled with Shu millet.”