Yang Yi

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This article is about the Three Kingdoms period minister. For the contemporary writer, see Yang Yi (author).
Yang Yi
Official of Shu Han
Born (Unknown)
Died 235
Names
Traditional Chinese 楊儀
Simplified Chinese 杨仪
Pinyin Yáng Yí
Wade–Giles Yang I
Courtesy name Weigong (Chinese: 威公; pinyin: Wēigōng; Wade–Giles: Wei-kung)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yang.

Yang Yi (died 235), courtesy name Weigong, was an official of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period.

Early life and career[edit]

Yang Yi was from Xiangyang Commandery (襄陽郡) in Jing Province, which is around present-day Xiangyang, Hubei. He was born sometime in the late Eastern Han dynasty and initially served as a Registrar (主簿) under Fu Qun (傅羣), the Inspector (刺史) of Jing Province. However, later, he defected to Guan Yu, the Administrator (太守) of Xiangyang and a general under the warlord Liu Bei. Guan Yu appointed Yang Yi as an "Officer of Merit" (功曹) and sent him to Chengdu – the capital of Yi Province, which covered present-day Sichuan and Chongqing – to meet Liu Bei. Liu Bei had a discussion with Yang Yi on military strategy and politics and was so pleased with Yang's replies that he recruited Yang to be a Senior Clerk (掾) in his administrative office.[a] He promoted Yang Yi to the position of a "Master of Writing" (尚書) in 219 after declaring himself "King of Hanzhong" (漢中王) following his victory in the Hanzhong Campaign.[1]

In 221, Liu Bei proclaimed himself 'Emperor' and founded the state of Shu Han to challenge Cao Pi's claim to the Han throne.[b] In the following year, when Liu Bei was away on a military campaign against his ally-turned-rival Sun Quan, Yang Yi had disagreements with Liu Ba, the Director of the Imperial Secretariat (尚書令), so he was sent out of Chengdu to be the Administrator of Hongnong Commandery (弘農郡).[2]

Mid career[edit]

After Liu Bei's death in 223, Yang Yi continued serving in Shu under Liu Bei's son and successor, Liu Shan, who was assisted by the chancellor-regent Zhuge Liang. In 225, Zhuge Liang had Yang Yi transferred to the Chancellor's Office, where Yang served as an Army Advisor (參軍). Later that year, Yang Yi followed Zhuge Liang on a campaign against some rebel forces and restless tribes in the southern parts of Shu. In 227, he accompanied Zhuge Liang to Hanzhong Commandery. In 230, he was promoted to "Chief Clerk" (長史) and appointed as "General Who Pacifies the Army" (綏軍將軍). Over the following years, when Zhuge Liang led a series of military campaigns against Shu's rival state Cao Wei, Yang Yi was in charge of managing human resources and logistics.[3]

Yang Yi had disagreements with Wei Yan, a senior Shu general, and frequently quarrelled with him. Zhuge Liang was upset by the lack of harmony between his two subordinates, but was unwilling to side with either of them because he appreciated the talents of both men. In 234, Yang Yi followed Zhuge Liang on another campaign against Wei which led to the stalemate at the Battle of Wuzhang Plains. Zhuge Liang died of illness during the standoff, after which Yang Yi and the others ordered a retreat back to Shu. Around this time, relations between Yang Yi and Wei Yan deteriorated the point of conflict – they accused each other of treason and nearly started a civil war in Shu. The conflict concluded with the downfall and death of Wei Yan.[c][4]

Later life and death[edit]

After returning to the Shu capital Chengdu, Yang Yi perceived himself to have had made great contributions to his state so he strongly believed that he would be chosen to succeed Zhuge Liang as the new head of the Shu government. He asked a Commandant (都尉) Zhao Zheng (趙正) to use the I Ching to predict his fortune for him and felt gloomy when the prediction was not to his expectation. When Zhuge Liang was still alive, he had secretly noted that Yang Yi was impulsive and narrow-minded, so he chose Jiang Wan to be his successor. After Zhuge Liang's death, Jiang Wan was appointed as the Director of the Imperial Secretariat (尚書令) and the Inspector (刺史) of Yi Province; Yang Yi, on the other hand, was appointed as a Central Military Advisor (中軍師) – an appointment with no actual power.[5]

Initially, when Yang Yi was serving as a "Master of Writing" (尚書), Jiang Wan ranked lower than him, but both of them were later appointed as Chief Clerks under Zhuge Liang. Yang Yi viewed himself highly and saw himself as superior to Jiang Wan because he had been serving in Shu longer than Jiang. He openly expressed his dissatisfaction by grumbling and complaining. The others ignored him due to his poor choice of words in conveying his frustration, except for Fei Yi, who comforted him. Yang Yi once told Fei Yi, "When the Chancellor (Zhuge Liang) died, I should have brought along my men and defected to Wei if I knew I would end up in this situation today! I deeply regret but there is nothing I can do now." Fei Yi secretly reported Yang Yi's speech to the Shu imperial court. In 235, Yang Yi was stripped off his appointment, demoted to the status of a commoner, and exiled to Hanjia Commandery (漢嘉郡; around present-day Lushan County, Ya'an, Sichuan). While he was in Hanjia, Yang Yi wrote a memorial to the Shu imperial court and used emotionally charged language to express his anger and lash out at the court. The court deemed Yang Yi's memorial defamatory so it ordered his arrest. Yang Yi committed suicide. His family returned to Chengdu after his death.[6]

Yang Lü[edit]

Yang Yi had an elder brother, Yang Lü (楊慮), whose courtesy name was "Weifang" (威方). Yang Lü was already known for his good moral conduct in his youth and was regarded as a learned scholar in the Jing Province region. He received several invitations to serve in the government but declined all of them. He died at the age of 16. His fellow townsfolk referred to him as "Lord Yang of Virtuous Conduct" (德行楊君).[7]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Liu Bei was nominally serving as "General of the Left" (左將軍) under the Han imperial court, so the full name of Yang Yi's appointment was "Senior Clerk in the Military Affairs Bureau of the Office of the General of the Left" (左將軍兵曹掾).
  2. ^ Cao Pi ended the Han dynasty in late 220 by forcing the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian, to abdicate the throne in his favour. After that, he established the state of Cao Wei with him as its first emperor. This event marked the official beginning of the Three Kingdoms period.
  3. ^ See Wei Yan#Death for details.

References[edit]

  1. ^ (楊儀字威公,襄陽人也。建安中,為荊州刺史傅羣主簿,背羣而詣襄陽太守關羽。羽命為功曹,遣奉使西詣先主。先主與語論軍國計策,政治得失,大恱之,因辟為左將軍兵曹掾。及先主為漢中王,拔儀為尚書。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  2. ^ (先主稱尊號,東征吳,儀與尚書令劉巴不睦,左遷遙署弘農太守。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  3. ^ (建興三年,丞相亮以為參軍,署府事,將南行。五年,隨亮漢中。八年,遷長史,加綏軍將軍。亮數出軍,儀常規畫分部,籌度糧穀,不稽思慮,斯須便了。軍戎節度,取辦於儀。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  4. ^ (亮深惜儀之才幹,憑魏延之驍勇,常恨二人之不平,不忍有所偏廢也。十二年,隨亮出屯谷口。亮卒于敵場。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  5. ^ (儀旣領軍還,又誅討延,自以為功勳至大,宜當代亮秉政,呼都尉趙正以周易筮之,卦得家人,默然不恱。而亮平生宓指,以儀性狷狹,意在蔣琬,琬遂為尚書令、益州刺史。儀至,拜為中軍師,無所統領,從容而已。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  6. ^ (初,儀為先主尚書,琬為尚書郎,後雖俱為丞相參軍長史,儀每從行,當其勞劇,自為年宦先琬,才能踰之,於是怨憤形于聲色,歎咤之音發於五內。時人畏其言語不節,莫敢從也,惟後軍師費禕往慰省之。儀對禕恨望,前後云云,又語禕曰:「往者丞相亡沒之際,吾若舉軍以就魏氏,處世寧當落度如此邪!令人追悔不可復及。」禕密表其言。十三年,廢儀為民,徙漢嘉郡。儀至徙所,復上書誹謗,辭指激切,遂下郡収儀。儀自殺,其妻子還蜀。) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
  7. ^ (楚國先賢傳云:儀兄慮,字威方。少有德行,為江南冠冕。州郡禮召,諸公辟請,皆不能屈。年十七,夭,鄉人宗貴號曰德行楊君。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 40.