(Minghui.org) In ancient China, emperors were also known as “tian zi” (“sons of heaven”). It was widely believed that the divine selected those who were virtuous to govern the country and look after its inhabitants. Were these emperors to fail in their duty and act recklessly, however, they would meet an unpleasant fate. This was clearly seen during the transition from one dynasty to another. 

Throughout history, dynasties rose and fell. When a dynasty neared its end, corrupt emperors and officials and plagues and other disasters were common.


Yu the Great, an ancient sage best known for controlling the flood, established the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC), the first dynasty in China. Jie, its final ruler, indulged in lust, killed loyal officials, and left the people in misery. According to Bamboo Annals, an earthquake occurred in the 15th year of Jie’s rule, and both the Yi and Luo Rivers dried up. Another earthquake and a landslide on Mount Qu took place in the 30th year of Jie’s reign. 

King Tang overthrew the Xia Dynasty and started the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). The last king, Zhou, was a cruel tyrant who was disrespectful of the divine and mistreated people. According to Bamboo Annals and Huainanzi, a major earthquake during that time led to a landslide on Mount Yao and the drying-up of three rivers.

During the following Zhou Dynasty (the “Zhou” here is a different Chinese character with a different tone from that of Zhou, the last king of the Shang Dynasty), the last king, You, was reckless in appointing corrupt officials and abusing the wartime beacon towers to please a woman. Three years into his reign, an earthquake occurred, followed by thunder in winter (often considered bad luck and an indication of calamity in Chinese culture). The following year, there was a summer frost that damaged the crops. 

After Qin Shihuang died in the Qin Dynasty, there was major flooding for three years in a row (209-207 BC) in today’s provinces of Shandong and Anhui, which blocked traffic and led to rebellions. The final years of the Western Han Dynasty saw flooding, a drought, and plagues of insects.


Many people have died of plagues in the course of human civilization. During the Roman Empire, after Nero began to persecute the Christians, the three major plagues were the Autumn Plague (65 AD), the Antonine Plague (165-180 AD), and the Plague of Cyprian (250-270 AD). 

In China, plagues were also reported during the changeover of dynasties. During the reign of Emperor Xian in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), a major plague took place in 217 AD. Cao Cao, poet and penultimate Chancellor for Emperor Xiandi, once wrote,“Out in the field are bones from dead people,I traveled 1,000 li (about 300 miles) without hearing one rooster crow.”

Following flooding in today’s provinces of Shandong and Henan, a plague broke out during the late Sui Dynasty and many people died. Similarly, Emperor Xuanzong of the late Tang Dynasty once described plagues in his reign:“In the recent years, the areas of Yangtze and Huai Rivers have suffered from flooding and drought. Together with plagues, people have fled to other places, leaving nine out of ten households empty.”

The same thing happened in the Song Dynasty. According to History of Yuan, a plague in 1276 (three years before the Song ended) in the Huangzhou area was so rampant that “the number of infected and dead are beyond counting.” During the following Yuan Dynasty, the last emperor, Huizong (also known as Shundi), there were 12 documented plagues, including one that infested the capital city for two years. 

The Last Two Dynasties in China

The last two dynasties in China were also ravaged by plagues in their final years.

The plagues in the late Ming Dynasty were severe and widespread. Fourteen years after Emperor Chongzhen came to power, both the capital city and Wujiang (in today’s Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province) experienced a major plague in 1641. According to Wujiang Zhi (Local History of Wujiang), “Some of the families died together, with no one left behind.” Things got worse in the following two or three years. Some people died as quickly as within two hours and some died in a day or two. 

Besides the plague, there were other threats to the Ming Dynasty, such as the rebelling forces under Li Zicheng (also known as Dashing King). The plague, though, seemed to infect only Ming Dynasty’s soldiers, not Li Zicheng’s or the invading Manchus. After infecting China for decades and weakening the Ming Dynasty forces, the plague faded out in 1644 after the Manchus established the Qing Dynasty.

One of the most renowned physicians combating plagues in the Ming Dynasty was Wu Youxing (1580-1660, also known as Wu Youke). He did extensive research on epidemics and wrote the book Wenyi Lun (Treatise on Pestilence) in 1642.

The main remedy Wu came up with for the plague was called dayuanyin. It helped to strengthen the patients’ immune systems and balance their internal organs. But Wu's remedy did not cure every patient. Only those who heeded his advice to sincerely recite his Daoist verses before taking it had their health restored.

Plagues returned in the late Qing Dynasty. During the era of Emperor Guangxu, plagues ravaged the people for 19 out of 34 years. During the reign of the next and last Emperor, Xuantong, there were plagues two out of three years.

Liu Bowen, a sage in the Ming Dynasty, once described the divine Chinese culture and prophecies in the Taibai Mountain Monument Inscription:“Heaven has eyes, earth has eyes,and everyone has a pair of eyes;Heaven is looking, earth is looking,[by nature] life is happy and worry-free.”

In other parts of the inscription, he predicted plagues that seem to be highly relevant to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in terms of time, location, and susceptible population. Please refer to another article, “Wuhan Coronavirus Epidemic’s Connection with Ancient Prophecies,” for details. 

In the same inscription, Liu also prescribed an antidote to the plague: “Only those who remain upright can survive,” he wrote. For details, please refer to “Plague Predicted in the Ming Dynasty by Liu Bowen.”

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