He Jin also known as Ho Chin
or Ordinary name
A character in the first three chapters of Luo Guan Zhong's epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel based on the Three Kingdoms period of China, circa 2nd century A.D.. The character of He Jin is based on a historical figure as almost all of the novel's characters are.
The Han Dynasty was in dire trouble, the Emperor Ling had lost his last two trusted and powerful advisors. All he had left to advise him politicaly, was the corrupt ten eunuchs. The land of China was quickly descending into chaos, and the Mandate of Heaven had been lost. Only one bastion of strength remained for the Han Dynasty to lean itself upon. This was a commoner, the man He Jin.
He Jin was truly a commoner, born from a family of butchers, he had served in the military, but been doomed to low rank. Jin's sister had actually opened up his future for him when she became consort to the emperor. After she bore the emperor a son, named Pien, she became empress. The way was now open for He Jin to truly reach his potential. Jin was quick to do so, he reached the position of Supreme Commander, the very highest military rank in all of China. It was him who commanded the armies and him who the eunuchs feared.
But the politics of the imperial family were not that smooth. Emperor Ling had also had a son by the concubine Wang, this boy's name was Hsien. When the Empress He poisoned Wang, Hsien was given to the Dowager Empress Tung to raise. The Dowager Empress convinced Emperor Ling to name Hsien as hier apparent.
When the Yellow Turbans revolted, He Jin dispatched his commanders Huangfu Song (Huangfu Sung), Lu Zhi (Lu Chih) and Zhu Jun (Chu Chien) to fight them. These generals reported to He Jin and commanded every other lord fighting the rebels. As the war dragged on though, some of Jin's prestige faded, resulting in the eunuchs meddling in the war. Lu Zhi was replaced with the highly incompetant Dong Zhou (Tung Cho).
But the war was won and the rebels defeated, only tiny bands of them remaining scattered through out China. He Jin had commanded the forces that momentarily restored balance to China. After the war the eunuchs began to exert their powers fully again. They demanded presents from every officer rewarded for their contributions, causing some, such as Liu Bei (Liu Pei), to be forced to go into hiding. The eunuchs kept every bit of bad news from reaching the emperor, so much so, that even as the empire once again began to decline into revelolution, Emperor Ling knew nothing of the fact.
In the summer of the year 189 A.D., the emperor became seriously ill. He summoned He Jin to a council, the council though was not in any way for He Jin's benefit. It had long been decided that if the boy Hsien was to follow his father to the throne, then He Jin must be gotten rid of so that non could protect the legitimate heir, Pien. Thus the emperor commanded He Jin to come to court, a command that, had He Jin not been warned of the true meaning for, at the very gates of the palace, would have been the last He Jin ever received.
Having received the warning He Jin did not show himself at court and instead called a meeting of his ministers. The matter of discussion was how to destroy the eunuchs completely. The officer Cao Cao (Tsao Tsao) despaired of any success, but He Jin was determined to try something. As the meeting progressed a messenger arrived, the emperor had died. The eunuchs had summoned He Jin to the palace to settle the succession and the illegimate Hsien had been placed on the throne. At once Cao Cao and He Jin agreed, the main goal was to get the rightful heir to the throne. One Yuan Shao stepped forward. Asking for a small contigent of troops, he promised to destroy the eunuchs.
The stage was now set. Only three possibilities existed.
- The eunuchs would destroy He Jin, thus continuing their contorl of the empire.
- He Jin would destroy the eunuchs, and take control of the throne himself.
- By the time He Jin and the eunuchs would come to a head, Jin had felt a bit too much power, and while he would have been a better choice, he still would have controlled the throne nominally.
- Neither He Jin nor the eunuchs would survive and only an emperor of a line that had not actually ruled for a hundred years would be left.
He Jin at the head of a large group of ministers went to the palace, where they placed Pien on the throne and performed the ceremony making him emperor. Meanwhile Yuan Shao chased down the eunuch Chien Shih who was actually killed by another eunuch. The rest fled to the protection of Dowager Empress He. Convincing her that Chien Shih had been the only one behind the plot to kill He Jin, they got the Dowager Empress to protect them. She send for her brother, who came at her wish. He Jin obeyed his sister's wishes and left the eunuchs alone. Within a few days, things seemed to have settled. The Emperor Pien was on the throne and He Jin was made President of the Board, with his friends receiving offices.
The Lady Tung then summoned the eunuch Chang Jang, asking how the "problem" could be solved. The eunuch commented that Lady Tung should rule from "behind the veil", that she should make Hsien a prince, and that she should make the state uncle, Tung commander over the armies. This was memorialized as stated. When the Dowager Empress He heard of it she was greatly angered, but invited the Lady Tung to a banquet where they could discuss the problems. It did not go smoothly, and a great argument raged. The ladies where finally convinced to retire. Lady He summoned her brother that night to discuss the situation with him.
The next morning He Jin issued a decree. The Lady Tung was to be removed from the palace as she no longer was a part of the government, and the state uncle Tung was to be relieved of command. As soldiers escorted the Lady Tung from Luoyang, the state uncle committed suicide.
Note the state uncle Tung was not truly the state uncle. He Jin was, but to the eunuchs and the Lady Tung who supported Hsien, he was considered the official state uncle.
A few months later, the Lady Tung was murdered in her residence by the order of He Jin. Only the eunuchs stood between He Jin and his family's control of China. When two of the eunuchs began to spread the report that He Jin had ordered the assassination, Jin called up the troops and prepaired to destroy the eunuchs. As the forces of the empire converged on the capitol, including those of Dong Zhou, the eunuchs fled to the Lady He yet again. They convinced her to ask her brother to come to meet her and to parlay with the eunuchs. He Jin did as she asked, with Cao Cao and Yuan Shao leading his guards. He Jin reached the Chingso Gate, where his guards where detained. Not worried he proceeded forward. At the Gate of Abundant Virtue he was suddenly surrounded by the eunuchs and their assassins. Finally realizing his mistake, He Jin had no time to defend himself or flee to his guards. The Supreme Commander of China fell to the eunuch's assassins.
Yuan Shao and Cao Cao had waited outside the gate for a long time. They eventually decided something must be wrong and ventured inside. Seeing the scene before them, He Jin dead and the eunuchs gathered before the gate, the two men and their troops began to slaughter all before them. Some of the eunuchs escaped, taking the empress, the emperor and the prince with them. The empress was rescued, but the emperor and prince were taken from the palace. They eunuchs would later abandon the two and flee for the lives and the emperor would fall into the hands of Dong Zhou, who would use him as a puppet ruler.
The third and worst possibility had happened. The last hope for the Han, the commander He Jin, had died along with the eunuchs. No power structure remained and the land would crash into anarchy.
Note :: All names in parentheses () are alternate spellings, or in some cases familiar names that are used very often in the novel.