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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
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Wiki says that Zhang Miao betrayed Cao Cao. So Cao Cao killed his whole family for revenge. Previously, Cao Cao's family was killed in the Xu province, and he 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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