|Central Military Adviser (中軍師)|
234 – 235
|General Who Pacifies the Army|
230 – 234
|Chief Clerk of the Imperial Chancellor|
230 – 234
|Army Adviser (參軍)|
225 – 230
|Administrator of Hongnong (弘農太守)|
222 – 225
|Monarch||Liu Bei / Liu Shan|
|Master of Writing (尚書)|
219 – 222
Lushan County, Sichuan
|Courtesy name||Weigong (威公)|
Early life and career
Yang Yi was from Xiangyang Commandery 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, 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 his replies that he appointed Yang Yi as a Senior Clerk (掾) in his administrative office.[a] He promoted Yang Yi to a Master of Writing (尚書) in 219 after declaring himself "King of Hanzhong" (漢中王) following his victory in the Hanzhong Campaign.
In 221, Liu Bei declared 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 offended Liu Ba, the Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令). Liu Ba reassigned Yang Yi to be the Administrator of Hongnong Commandery (弘農郡; around present-day Lingbao City, Henan); this was only a nominal appointment because Hongnong Commandery was not Shu territory.
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 Imperial Chancellor, Zhuge Liang. In 225, Zhuge Liang had Yang Yi transferred to the Imperial Chancellor's Office, where Yang Yi served as an Army Adviser (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.
Yang Yi had disagreements with Wei Yan, a senior Shu general, and frequently quarrelled with him. Wei Yan often drew his sword and brandished it in front of Yang Yi; Yang Yi sobbed as tears rolled down his cheeks. Fei Yi then stepped in to stop them from fighting and managed to keep them under control until Zhuge Liang's death. Zhuge Liang was upset by the lack of harmony between Yang Yi and Wei Yan, 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 Cao 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]
Later life and death
After returning to Chengdu, Yang Yi thought that he had made great contributions so he strongly believed that he would be chosen to succeed Zhuge Liang as the new head of the Shu government. He asked one 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 Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令) and the Inspector (刺史) of Yi Province; Yang Yi, on the other hand, was appointed as a Central Military Adviser (中軍師) – an appointment with no actual power.
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 Wan. 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 Fei Yi, who comforted him. Yang Yi once told Fei Yi, "When the Imperial Chancellor (Zhuge Liang) died, I should have brought along my men and defected to Wei if I knew I'd end up in this situation today! I deeply regret but there's nothing I can do now." Fei Yi secretly reported Yang Yi's speech to the Shu government. In 235, Yang Yi was removed from office, demoted to the status of a commoner, and exiled to Hanjia Commandery (漢嘉郡; around present-day Lushan County, Sichuan). While he was in Hanjia Commandery, Yang Yi wrote a memorial to the Shu imperial court and used emotionally charged language to express his frustration and lash out at the imperial court. The imperial court found Yang Yi guilty of contempt of imperial authority and ordered his arrest. Yang Yi committed suicide. His family returned to Chengdu after his death.
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).
- Liu Bei held the nominal title of General of the Left (左將軍) under the Han central government, 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).
- 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.
- See Wei Yan#Death for details.
- (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.
- (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.
- (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.
- (值軍師魏延與長史楊儀相憎惡，每至並坐爭論，延或舉刃擬儀，儀泣涕橫集。禕常入其坐間，諫喻分別，終亮之世，各盡延、儀之用者，禕匡救之力也。) Sanguozhi vol. 44.
- (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.
- (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.
- (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.
- (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.