The fate of cruel officials in the Western Han Dynasty: the goshawk was beheaded, butchered, abandoned the city, and Wang Wenshu exterminated the family

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“Cangying” zhidu

The Western Han Dynasty attacked the Qin Yan method, which was generally heavier than that of the spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. However, under strict laws, the society is not harmonious. At that time, local power evolved from clans, or landlords, or giant merchants, or Rangers, domineering, rampant in the countryside, and even allied with prefects, becoming a force parallel to the official regime. Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty took a few measures in this regard, and it was not until Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty that the local giants were comprehensively attacked.

During the period of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, fighting against the powerful and powerful was first of all the political purpose, which was divided into the political purpose of the central court to maintain its rule and the political purpose of local officials to maintain their personal status; The second is the economic purpose, which is mainly the binary opposition between the central government and local powers in the economic field. The means to suppress the powers are often shown as “the country advances and the people retreat”; The last is the trivial purpose of people’s livelihood, rectify social order, reduce mergers and acquisitions, so as to improve people’s lives.

There are four main means to suppress the powerful in the period of Emperor Hanwu: first, use cruel officials to kill the powerful. Second, some local giants were moved to Chang’an to “consolidate the capital at home and sell treacherously abroad”; Third, in order to make up for the financial emptiness caused by the great invasion of the Huns, monopolized the salt and iron industry and excluded the rich and powerful, they issued a decree to encourage the private to report to the rich and powerful, and the latter’s confiscated property was divided between the government and the informants; The fourth is to set up the governor of the state and implement the supervision system of “six inquiries”. The first is to crack down on the powerful.

To suppress the powerful, we must rely on the strength of local officials. The Sheriff of the Han Dynasty was famous and powerful. He could dictate the county administration, employ people freely, and even specialize in killing. Since the central government implemented the harsh line of suppressing the powerful, cruel officials emerged in endlessly.

Zhidu, a cruel official, was the first local senior official sent by the Central Committee of the Western Han Dynasty to suppress local giants. According to the records of the historian, the Ji’nan Liang clan at that time had more than 300 clansmen, who were bold and cunning, and could not be ruled by the local governor. So zhidu was sent as the governor of Jinan, and then the chief villain of the Yin family was destroyed, and the rest were trembling. Zhidu practiced the law and did not avoid nobles and relatives. At that time, the person’s name was “goshawk”.

Although zhidu is cool, it seems that there is still the concept of “rule of law”, and there has been no action taken by the upper and lower levels. The later ones have gone from bad to worse, almost ignoring procedural justice and taking the law as an alias for torture instruments. Yan Yannian was appointed as the governor of Henan Province. “His administration is crushing and powerful”, and he bled for several miles. At that time, his name was “Tu Bo”; Ning Cheng’s attack is powerful, his footwork is zhidu, and everyone is afraid of it. The so-called “seeing a suckling tiger rather than being angry directly”; Zhou Yang’s law enforcement was arbitrary, “those who love will be punished by the law; those who hate will be punished by the law”; Zhang Tang, good at guessing the emperor’s will, the punishment is the crime of desire, and the indulgence is the explanation of desire, “the treatment is the pride, and it must be slandered with cunning”; Wang Wenshu is even more terrifying. He is the governor of Hanoi, and he is a wise and cunning man in the county, sitting in more than a thousand families. The letter asked the big ones to exterminate the family, and the small ones to die. The killing was too heavy, and they bled for more than ten li. When spring came, there were still prisoners who had not been killed and could not be killed for the time being (the execution of the death penalty in the Han Dynasty was only carried out in autumn and winter), Wen Shu beat his chest and said, if the winter was longer than one month, my career would be great! It’s so easy to kill, which makes people shudder, but Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty highly recommended it, “thought it could”.

The prosperity of cruel officials and the rise of cruel soldiers can be seen from the annals of history. “Records of history · biography of Zhou Bo” wrote that “I have tasted millions of people, and now I know the value of prison officials”; “Historical records · biography of Zhou Yafu” records that he vomited blood and died after not eating for five days in prison. It’s possible to die without eating, but it’s not as bad as vomiting blood. Is this a routine death method in the black prison at that time? “Historical records · liguangzhuan” records that he was unwilling to fight against the knife and pencil officials and committed suicide; According to the biography of Sima Qian in the book of Han Dynasty, “when you see prison officials, you will rob the ground, and when you see apprentices, you will be vigilant.”. It can be seen that the prison officials of the Western Han Dynasty were respected, and there were many extrajudicial punishments; From cruel officials to prison guards, procedural justice is rarely observed.

In the process of severely attacking the powerful, due to the lack of procedural justice, cruel officials were eager to get political capital, which sometimes expanded and harmed civilians. Du Zhou, a cruel official, is a Tingwei, who handles more than 1000 cases every year, hundreds of large and dozens of small; Thousands of miles away, hundreds of miles near. If the prisoner refuses to obey, he shall be punished by sweeping and flogging. Finally, “the imperial edict prison caught 60000 or 70000 people, and the number of officials increased by more than 100000”, of which how many unjust prisons and how many dead bones there should be!

Scholar he Weifang said that the most basic requirement of a society ruled by law is that the boundaries between crime and non crime and the use of state power should be clearly stipulated in law. State power cannot act beyond its own legal norms because it has a violent machine. In “historical records, biographies of cruel officials, biography of Du Zhou”, there is a dialogue that reveals the secret of the legal system in ancient China for more than 2000 years, that is, it never ruled the society illegally. A guest scolded Du Zhou and said, “you decide peace for the son of heaven, don’t follow the three foot method, and only point to people’s ideas as prison. Is that the prison?” Du Zhou answered, “is it safe to go out three feet? The former Lord wrote the law, and the latter Lord spared the order. At that time, it was true. What ancient law!” The so-called “what was right at that time” is based on the right of the imperial power at that time and the right of the cruel officials at that time. The so-called laws and decrees are just tools, torture tools, and even toys to meet the first two.

However, the end of cruel officials is often cruel, because an illegal society, a society without rules, is often a society that devours everyone. How can an illegal law enforcer guarantee that he will not be dealt with by another illegal law enforcer one day? The above-mentioned cruel officials, “Cangying” Zhi was beheaded, “Tu Bo” Yan Yannian abandoned the city, “suckling tiger” Ning became a dead family, Zhang Tang died in the hands of three long histories, and Wang Wenshu and five ethnic groups were all destroyed. This is by no means karma in the secular sense, but it may be regarded as karma in the cycle of evil law.

Scholar Li Tie once said that the root of social prosperity and stability lies in setting up a relatively fair system to distribute interests and wealth as reasonably as possible. The root of stability lies in reducing social contradictions, rather than ignoring them or suppressing them by violent torture. The stability gained by violent torture will be short-lived. The words used to criticize cruel officials in the book of the later Han Dynasty are: “although violence prevails at the end, it is better to respect the essence or ignore it”. Cruel officials try to solve social anomie by means of violence, but they just ignore the essence and cannot maintain long-term stability.

Having paid a considerable social and political cost, the result of Emperor Wu’s campaign to fight a powerful country may not be good. The scholar Chen Qiyun found that the cruel officials sent by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty to the local state and county administrative organs disturbed the balance of the local power alliance, but they lacked effective measures to control it. As a result, the Guandong counties (the economic center of the North China Plain) were widely turbulent in the late period of Emperor Wu’s reign, and even groups of robbers broke out and rebelled. Paradoxically, these rebels have good relations with local giants, local officials and even senior officials of the central government. In other words, they are not lower class farmers, but armed local power groups. This can also be seen as a response of local giants to the central high-pressure policy.

In 81 BC, the sixth year after the death of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the court convened a meeting to “promote virtuous literature” to comprehensively review the policies of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Most of the scholars who were elected were spokesmen for local vested interests, and launched a fierce attack on Emperor Wu’s policies, including the suppression of the powerful. Later, in 80 BC, the main officials defending the policies of Emperor Hanwu were dramatically purged. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty’s efforts to employ cruel officials to suppress local giants for many years finally failed.

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