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The Ten Attendants (also known as the Ten Eunuchs) (Traditional Chinese: 十常侍, pinyin: shí chángshì) were a group of eunuchs from the Eunuch Faction of the Han Imperial Court in China. They wielded strong power at the court.
In 189, the Ten Attendants used widowed Empresses and support from Emperors to rise to a position of power. When the Emperor Han Ling Di died, the eunuchs, without a military power base of their own, relied on the support of Empress Dowager He and He Miao. Yuan Shao sent Zhang Jin to advise He Jin, who was Empress He's brother. Zhang Jin argued that the Yellow Gates (palace guard) and Ten Attendants had usurped power and that the Empress Dowager He was corrupt and interloped with them. He urged He Jin to destroy this source of trouble. He Jin agreed and began conspiring with Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao further advised He Jin to summon the frontier general Dong Zhuo and various warlords to the capital to threaten the Empress Dowager, which he did. Sensing an impending threat to their lives, the Ten Attendants and Yellow Gates both came to apologize to He Jin for their "misdeeds."
Yuan Shao advised He Jin to take this opportunity to dispose of the eunuchs but He Jin rejected this advice. Subsequently, He Jin appointed Yuan Shao to govern the martial and civil officials of Luoyang and investigate the dealings of the eunuchs in the capital. Yuan Shu was ordered to select two hundred good-natured ‘Rapid As Tigers’ (Hu Ben) officers to replace the arms-bearing ‘Yellow Gates’ eunuch guards in the Forbidden Palace.
Finally, in the ninth month of that year He Jin requested the Empress Dowager to execute the eunuchs. The conversation was overheard and relayed to Zhang Rang, the head eunuch following the death of Jian Shuo. Not long after, Duan Gui (the eunuch holding the appointment of Zhong Chang Shi), influential members Zhang Rang and Zhao Zhong, and some other eunuchs used a forged decree from the Empress Dowager to lure He Jin to meet them. They beheaded He Jin in the palace garden. As a result, the palace was thrown into disorder.
Dou Wu, who in the past had planned to put them to death, was assassinated himself. This was due to word having leaked out from officers of the five regiments of the Northern Army, the professional standing army normally stationed at the capital.
In a bid to force Duan Gui and his group out of their hiding place, Yuan Shu ordered his tiger troops to burn the Green Lock Gate (Qing Suo Men) of the Southern Jia De Palace in the Southern Palace. Instead of surrendering, Duan Gui kidnapped the Han Emperor Shao of Han and King of Chen Liu (Liu Xie) and fled in the direction of Xiao Ping Jin. Yuan Shao beheaded Xu Xiang. At the same time, Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu, followers of He Jin, both with significant control of military forces within the capital, stormed the palace and massacred the rest of the eunuchs in the capital. The soldiers were directed to apprehend all eunuchs and to kill them all without regard of age. Benevolent eunuchs who had refused to be contaminated by evil influences were likewise slaughtered. Some two-thousand eunuchs were killed, not counting those people killed by mistake.
Yuan Shao sent troops in pursuit of Duan Gui. Seeing that he was about to be captured, Duan Gui ended his life by throwing himself into the river. The remaining of the Ten Attendants initially took the young emperor and Prince Xie hostage, but eventually were forced to commit suicide when the enemy closed in on them. The Emperor was then able to return to the palace.
- Zhang Rang (張讓)
- Zhao Zhong (趙忠)
- Xia Yun (夏惲)
- Guo Sheng (郭勝)
- Sun Zhang (孫璋)
- Bi Lan (畢嵐)
- Li Song (栗嵩)
- Duan Gui (段圭)
- Gao Wang (高望)
- Zhang Gong (張恭)
- Han Li (韓悝)
- Song Dian (宋典)
The ten attendants are listed in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Four attendants who kidnapped the Emperor and fled
- 後漢書/卷78: "是時讓, 忠及夏惲, 郭勝, 孫璋, 畢嵐, 栗嵩, 段珪, 高望, 張恭, 韓悝, 宋典十二人皆為中常侍，封侯貴寵，父兄子弟布列州郡，所在貪殘，為人蠹害。".
- Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel: Volume I, translated by Moss Roberts. chapter 1, page 3. Foreign Languages Press. Tenth Printing 2007. First Edition 1995. Beijing, China 1995. ISBN 978-7-119-00590-4