Cao Cao besieged Yongqiu for some months and eventually conquered it, after which he massacred its population, along with Zhang Chao and his family. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Miao

Was it common for Chinese warlords to massacre civilians like this, or was Cao Cao an exception?

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    Massacres were not particularly exceptionally in the broader view of history. – Semaphore Oct 29 '15 at 3:49
  • And why did exactly Cao Cao slaughter inhabitants of YongQiu? – Sharen Eayrs Oct 29 '15 at 4:00
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    After several months of siege, there is a natural desire to punish those who have resisted. It is very difficult to maintain the discipline required to take a city peacefully. It is common for the end of a siege to result in uncontrolled looting and slaughter. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 29 '15 at 8:41
  • China's always been keen on collective punishment (most famously...) but Cao Cao was the most well known for this at the time. His massacre of Xuzhou is the only one from the Three Kingdoms period that makes Wikipedia's list of massacres (obviously not a full list but it goes to show his notoriety for it). – lly Feb 29 at 18:32

Wiki says that Zhang Miao betrayed Cao Cao, so Cao Cao killed his whole family for revenge. Previously, though, Cao Cao's family had been killed in Xu province, and he had invaded Xu to kill the whole population. So we can argue he was doing the same thing here, taking his anger out on an entire city.

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