Shao Kang’s Rejuvenation-少康中兴

After capturing Diqiu, Han Zhu believed that the descendants of the Xia Dynasty had been exterminated, and he could now rule the land. Consequently, he intensified his debauchery and tyranny, fueling public discontent and garnering dissatisfaction among the courtiers. However, Han Zhu never anticipated that when Diqiu fell, the consort of the Xia King, Hou Min, was already pregnant. In order to preserve the bloodline of the Xia royal family, Hou Min, disregarding her grief and dignity, crawled out from a dog hole. Originally the daughter of the leader of the Reng family, she escaped to her maternal home in Reng (present-day southern Shandong, near Jinan).

The following year, Hou Min gave birth to a son in Reng and named him Shao Kang. Shao Kang grew up in his maternal grandfather’s house and displayed remarkable intelligence. His mother, keeping the memory of the country’s humiliation alive, began recounting the tragic history of the Xia Dynasty’s loss to him from a young age. She entrusted him with the mission to restore the Xia Dynasty and avenge past humiliations. Thus, from an early age, Shao Kang was determined to exert himself and reclaim the throne.

As Shao Kang matured, his maternal grandfather appointed him as a shepherd, responsible for managing livestock. With a strong resolve, Shao Kang not only managed livestock and engaged in agriculture but also tirelessly cultivated his mind and body. Whenever possible, he learned the skills of leading troops into battle, preparing for the future while also guarding against Han Zhu’s pursuit.

News of the survival of a member of the Xia royal family reached Han Zhu’s ears. Alarmed, Han Zhu, convinced that Shao Kang posed a future threat, immediately dispatched his son Han Jiao to Reng to assassinate Shao Kang.

Upon learning of the threat, Shao Kang traveled day and night and sought refuge in the territory of the Youyu clan. Youyu provided sanctuary to Shao Kang, who, after observation, displayed great composure and grace. Impressed, Youyu appointed him as the supervisor of the household, overseeing culinary matters and learning financial management. Recognizing Shao Kang’s intelligence, Youyu married both of his daughters to him, bestowed the city of Lun to him, and rewarded him with five hundred soldiers.

Though Lun was a small place, only ten miles in circumference, its fertile land and favorable climate made it suitable for development. Additionally, Shao Kang had jurisdiction over five hundred people.

Shao Kang, never forgetting his mission, used Lun as a base for diligent efforts. He managed finances meticulously and organized the community efficiently. Seeing Shao Kang’s competence, Youyu’s two daughters were married to him, and the city of Lun was granted to him as a fief. Shao Kang also received five hundred soldiers as a reward.

Shao Kang, driven by his determination to restore the Xia Dynasty, worked hard to strengthen Lun’s foundation. He sympathized with the suffering of the people, propagated the virtues of their ancestor Yu, and recruited brave and virtuous individuals from all over the country. He also actively promoted ethical governance and won the support of the people. Former officials of the Xia Dynasty, who had escaped or been expelled during Han Zhu’s rule, gradually came to join him. Among them was Bo Mi, a loyal minister of the Xia Dynasty, who, after Han Zhu ascended the throne, had fled to the territory of Yegong (northwest of present-day Pingyuan County, Dezhou City, Shandong). There, Bo Mi gathered refugees, built up strength, and secretly contacted the remnants of the Zun and Zhun clans.

With the support of the Youyu clan, the assistance of Bo Mi, and the loyalty of Bo Mi, Shao Kang’s army rapidly expanded from the small area of Lun. They actively developed agriculture, engaged in military training, and Shao Kang, personally engaging with the people, understood their hardships. He treated the soldiers with care, hunting and training with them, boosting their morale. Simultaneously, he continued to propagate the merits of their ancestor Xia Yu among both the military and civilians. During this period, officials who had been in exile or expelled during Han Zhu’s rule began to join Shao Kang, who integrated them into the army for training. Through these efforts, Shao Kang had made sufficient preparations for the war against Han Zhu and began deploying for the offensive.

Shao Kang decided to use Han Zhu’s own methods against him and dismantle his main forces one by one. He sent General Nu Ai to infiltrate the territory of Han Jiao, gathering intelligence and discovering internal conflicts within Han Jiao’s army. Believing it was an opportune moment, Shao Kang, leading the Youyu clan’s army, attacked Han Jiao’s fief, seizing it in one stroke and beheading Han Jiao.

Subsequently, Shao Kang dispatched his son Zhu to attack the fief of Han Xi, Han Zhu’s second son. The first battle was a success, and with high morale, the Xia army easily defeated the defenders of Ge Yi. Zhu recovered Ge Yi and executed Han Xi, displaying his head publicly.

Shao Kang’s restoration army successively captured Han Zhu’s two major fiefs, reclaiming most of the Central Plains and weakening Han Zhu’s power.

Next, Shao Kang led his army from Lun, marching along the Yellow River, towards Han Zhu’s capital. The Xia army advanced like an unstoppable force, annihilating the entire Han Zhu clan. Shao Kang regained the throne, established the capital Yangxia, and restored the ruling position of the Xia Dynasty.

Having endured various hardships, Shao Kang finally restored the Xia Dynasty. Once in power, he focused on diligent governance, attentive to political affairs, and implemented a series of policies beneficial to the people. The country’s strength rapidly recovered under his rule. Shao Kang’s governance ensured a peaceful and prosperous life for the people, fostering growth in both social production and culture. He gained the support of various tribes, and the Xia Dynasty flourished once again, marking the historical era known as the “Shao Kang Restoration.”

From the “Loss of the Xia Dynasty under Tai Kang” to the “Restoration under Shao Kang,” the interruption in the rule of the Xia Dynasty lasted for over forty years. The establishment of the Xia Dynasty marked China’s first attempt at “centralized rule.” Xia Qi was the first legitimate sovereign, Tai Kang the earliest incompetent ruler, setting a precedent for dynastic change through usurpation. With Shao Kang’s restoration, a new cycle of rise and fall was initiated in Chinese history. This illustrates that, during the initial stages of state formation, complex internal struggles among different classes and ruling groups existed. However, it is precisely because of these complexities that numerous legendary stories have been passed down through history.