Dong Zhuo had been a successful warrior and general since his youth. However, he was defeated by Yellow Scarves rebels in 184 and was demoted. After the death of Emperor Ling, the eunuchs kidnapped the young follower Liu Bian and his brother Liu Xie. Dong Zhuo freed them and intimidated the kidnappers so they committed suicide by drowning in the Yellow River. Dong then brought the emperor and his brother back to the capital Luoyang and seized control over the court. Because Liu Bian seemed too stupid to him, Dong deposed him and made his brother Liu Xie emperor instead (Emperor Xian). In 190 he poisoned Liu Bian.
Dong Zhuo became arrogant and violent. He even forced the emperor to move to the city Chang'an as capital instead and burned Luoyang. Because of that, many warlords and Han generals all over the country formed an alliance to destroy Dong's reign. After some fierce battles, Lü Bu knew that his position was lost, and killed his foster father Dong in 192.
Dong's associates Guo Si and Li Jue continued to control the emperor, but they started struggles and the emperor escaped. He was rescued by Cao Cao in 196.