Zhang Ni

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For other people named Zhang Yi, see Zhang Yi.
Zhang Ni
Zhang Ni 2016 Han Zhao Lie Miao.jpg
General of Shu Han
Born (Unknown)
Died 254
Traditional Chinese 張嶷
Simplified Chinese 张嶷
Pinyin Zhāng Ni
Wade–Giles Chang Ni
Courtesy name Boqi (Chinese: 伯岐; pinyin: Bóqí; Wade–Giles: Po-chi)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.

Zhang Ni (died 254), courtesy name Boqi, was a military general of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. He was instrumental in pacifying the indigenous tribes residing within and around the border of Shu. He spent at least 18 years dealing with the continuum of domestic uprisings around Yuesou and Ba commanderies, and only entered the central government after numerous petitions. He was slain by Cao Wei's defending general, Xu Zhi, during one of Jiang Wei's Northern Expeditions. His name is sometimes rendered as "Zhang Yi".

Early life and career[edit]

Zhang Ni came from Ba commandery, and became a county clerk during his youth. During Liu Bei's takeover of Yi Province, bandits took the opportunity to ransack the county Zhang worked in. Overran by the rebels, Zhang Ni engaged close combat and protected the wife of his supervisor from the mob. This incident made him famous, and the commandery summoned his service.[1]

Later, the Sou tribes (叟) of Yuesui (越巂) rose up and retaliated Zhuge Liang's Southern Campaign by killing two officials who Shu-Han regime assigned as superintendents. Due the local resistance, future designated Administers of Yuesou dared not enter their appointed jurisdiction. As a result, Shu-Han could only claim its rule over the area, while the state was actually impuissant to control the commandary under collar.[2]

At this juncture, Zhang Ni was chosen as the new Administer. During his tenure, Zhang Ni successfully persuaded some tribes to recognize Shu-Han's rule, and he was rewarded with a marquis title in return. Zhang Ni stayed in Yuesui for three years until he was repatriated to his native commandery of Ba.

Subjugation of the indigenous tribes[edit]

When Zhang Ni learned local tribes of Dingji (定莋), Taideng (台登), and Beishui (卑水) counties discovered iron and lacquer, he led his troops to pillage the counties and assigned officials to watch over the minorities.[3] Zhang Ni himself moved to Dingji county, where he expected tribal leaders to personally greet him.

However, an uncle of a tribal king, Lang Cen (狼岑), who was trusted by the tribesmen, sent only representatives to the administrator's abode and refused to meet the rapacious Zhang Ni in person, because Lang Cen was indignant upon Zhang's previous plunder.[4] In response, Zhang Ni led tens of his strongest guards to the reputable Lang Cen and flogged him to death. Zhang Ni then brought back the corpse to the tribal forum for public demonstration. Zhang Ni warned the public, "don't move (don't try to take revenge); otherwise, you will be killed."[5] Zhang Ni bribed the tribesmen and told them Lang Cen was evil, so the tribes surrendered.

When Zhuge Liang was assembling Shu Han troops in Hanzhong, local bandits pillaged the villages, where the majority of male had been drawn to the frontier. Thus, Zhang Ni acted on the authority of a colonel and led the defensive forces to quash the rebels. However, the bandits dissembled and hid in different lairs when they got wind of Zhang's coming. Zhang Ni had difficulty engaging the bandits in battle, so he feigned "heqin" with the rebel leaders and coaxed them to join a banquet to celebrate the peace. After the leaders were intoxicated, Zhang Ni and his soldiers killed all 50 of them; he then sent out troops to search and kill each of the mob. The massacre lasted ten days and the area was purged.[6] For his effort, Zhang was promoted to "General of the Standard" (牙門將軍), and worked under Ma Zhong's command. They subsequently quelled many uprisings and were feared by the different tribes around Shu-Han.

Battle of Xiangwu, and death[edit]

Zhang Ni's finesse in dealing with the local tribes was highly appreciated by the central government of Shu-Han, but Zhang himself was not particularly enthusiastic at his current job as he had been on the same post for over 15 years. He solicited the emperor Liu Shan to let him join the central politics on numerous occasions, and his wish was finally granted in 254.[7] However, by the time he reached the capital of Chengdu, Zhang Ni had been plagued by an inveterate rheumatism for some years.

In the same year, after Li Jian (李簡), a Cao-Wei county magistrate of Didao, clandestinely contacted Shu-Han that he would defect, a meeting was held to discuss the issue. Many officials were concerned that the surrender might only be a ruse, but Zhang Ni argued against his colleagues and believed Li Jian was genuine; in the end Liu Shan allowed Jiang Wei to start a campaign in accord with Li's defection.

As Zhang Ni had just returned and been suffering from rheumatism, he was considered by many as incompatible for the upcoming operation. Still, Zhang Ni left Liu Shan saying he would rather die on a battlefield should the campaign fail in order to pay back the emperor's grace; Liu Shan was moved and wept for the stricken general's speech.

When the expedition force arrived in Didao, Zhang Ni's prediction was confirmed - Li Jian led his troops out from a fastness and surrendered the county. However, the campaign went amiss when the Shu-Han army pressed against the periphery of Xiangwu, where the county defensive force led by Xu Zhi struck back. Zhang Ni led a raid and inflicted a great damage on Xu Zhi's unit, forcing the defenders to retreat, but Zhang Ni also lost his own life in that encounter.[8]

In light of Zhang Ni's contribution, his eldest son, Zhang Ying (張瑛), was enfeoffed as the Marquis of Xi Village, while the second son Zhang Huxiong (張護雄) succeeded the father's original marquis title.

In fiction[edit]

In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Zhang Ni was a late Shu Han general. He participated in many of Zhuge Liang's campaigns and displayed a fiery passion for Zhuge's endeavors. Due to this, he sometimes found himself over his head and in dangerous situations, nearly being killed by Wang Shuang at Chencang before being rescued by Liao Hua and Wang Ping and being led into a trap and captured by Lady Zhurong during the Southern Campaign. While on his deathbed, Zhuge Liang named Zhang Ni, along with Liao Hua, Ma Dai, Wang Ping and Zhang Yi, as the loyal generals of Shu who should be retained after his passing.

During Jiang Wei's Northern Expeditions, Zhang Ni often urged Jiang to concentrate on internal affairs rather than attacking Cao Wei. He forfeited his life in Chapter 111, while saving Jiang Wei from Chen Tai.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (先主定蜀之际,山寇攻县,县长捐家逃亡,嶷冒白刃,携负夫人,夫人得免。由是显名,州召为从事。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  2. ^ (越巂郡自丞相亮讨高定之后,叟夷数反,杀太守龚禄、焦璜,是后太守不敢之郡,只住安上县,去郡八百馀里,其郡徒有名而已。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  3. ^ ( 定莋、台登、卑水三县去郡三百馀里,旧出盐铁及漆,而夷徼久自固食。嶷率所领夺取,署长吏焉。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  4. ^ (嶷之到定莋,定莋率豪狼岑,槃木王舅,甚为蛮夷所信任,忿嶷自侵,不自来诣。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  5. ^ (嶷使壮士数十直往收致,挞而杀之,持尸还种,厚加赏赐,喻以狼岑之恶,且曰:"无得妄动,动即殄矣!"种类咸面缚谢过。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  6. ^ (嶷度其鸟散,难以战禽,乃诈与和亲,克期置酒。酒酣,嶷身率左右,因斩慕等五十馀级,渠帅悉殄。寻其馀类,旬日清泰。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  7. ^ (在郡十五年,邦域安穆。屡乞求还,乃征诣成都) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  8. ^ (军前与魏将徐质交锋,嶷临陈陨身,然其所杀伤亦过倍。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.