A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23 – 220 AD) Online

Rafe de Crespigny

He Jin 何進

A Biographical Dictionary of later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23-220 AD)

He Jin 何進 [Suigao 遂高] (d.189); Nanyang. He Jin was a son of He Zhen, but not by the Lady Xing, who became the mother of the Empress He of Emperor Ling. When his younger half-sister entered the imperial harem and received the emperor's favours in the 170s, He Jin was made a gentleman cadet. He later became General of the Household Rapid as a Tiger and then Administrator of Yingchuan.

In 180 the Lady He became empress and He Jin, her senior male relative, was appointed Palace Attendant and Court Architect, then Intendant of Henan.

When the Yellow Turban rebellion broke out in 184 He Jin was named General-in-Chief, commanding the Northern Army for the defence of Luoyang; he was enfeoffed for having uncovered a conspiracy of Yellow Turbans in the capital. Later that year he petitioned in favour of Wang Yun, imprisoned for his hostility to the eunuchs, and secured his release.

In 188 He Jin commanded a great levy and grand parade at Luoyang, but at the same time the emperor also established the Western Garden corps of personal guards, and the eunuch Jian Shi, named senior colonel, was given authority even over He Jin. He attempted to have He Jin sent against the rebels of Liang province, but He Jin was able to delay the expedition.

When Emperor Ling died in 189, He Jin aided his sister, now regent Dowager, to place her son Liu Bian upon the throne; he shared control of the Secretariat, and hence formal command of the government, with the Grand Tutor Yuan Wei. Jian Shi and other eunuchs planned two assassination attempts, but he had Jian Shi killed and took over his troops, while he also destroyed the Dowager Dong, mother of Emperor Ling, and her brother Dong Cheng.

Yuan Shao and other young gentlemen now urged He Jin to attack all the eunuchs, but the Dowager He and other members of the family argued in their favour. He Jin could not make up his mind, but in an attempt to impress the recalcitrants he called up fighting men from the east of the empire and also summoned the frontier general Dong Zhuo.

On 22 September 189, as He Jin was leaving the palace after a further discussion with his sister, he was waylaid and killed by a eunuch group headed by Zhang Rang. In revenge, Yuan Shao led mutinous troops against the palaces, the eunuchs were massacred, and Dong Zhuo seized power in Luoyang. -HHS 69/59:2246-52*; Bn 76:98-100, deC 89:164, 177, 208-212, deC 96:1-15.

Rafe de Crespigny

He Jin” in: A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23 – 220 AD), edited by: Rafe de Crespigny. Consulted online on 28 Oct 2020 <> First published online: 10 2017