Zhang Yi (Bogong)

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For other people named Zhang Yi, see Zhang Yi.
Zhang Yi
Zhang Yi 2016 Han Zhao Lie Miao.jpg
General of Shu Han
Born (Unknown)
Died 264
Traditional Chinese 張翼
Simplified Chinese 张翼
Pinyin Zhāng Yì
Wade–Giles Chang I
Courtesy name Bogong (Chinese: 伯恭; pinyin: Bógōng; Wade–Giles: Po-kung)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.

Zhang Yi (died 264), courtesy name Bogong, was a general of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period.

Early Life[edit]

Originally from Wuyang county (武陽; present-day Pengshan County, Meishan, Sichuan) and a descendant of Zhang Liang, Zhang Yi became Liu Bei's secretary after the latter had captured Yi Province from Liu Zhang. The secretary received several promotions during his service to the Shu regime, and became an area commander responsible for overseeing the Nanzhong region.

As an area commander[edit]

However, Zhang Yi lacked the flexibility to acclimate Shu's law (蜀科; which was dictated by Legalism) to local customs, so common people around the area disliked him. Finally, such public outcry precipitated a major revolt, which effectively absolved Zhang Yi from governorship. The Shu emperor Liu Shan (Liu Bei's son) sent an envoy to summon Zhang Yi back to the capital because of the uprising. Zhang Yi's close aides also urged him to quickly return and admit guilt, but Zhang dissented and grunted, "I was called back because I am not suitable for my post, but I should gather the grain for my successor, (Ma Zhong), so that the army would vanquish the rebels. How can I neglect the affairs of the State just because I am demoted?"[1] Thus, he prescribed the transport of food supplies to a staging area, and kept the army in full alertness. Zhang Yi's action laid the foundation for Ma Zhong's later success and received the panegyric from the chancellor Zhuge Liang.

War with Wei[edit]

After he returned to the capital Chengdu, Zhang Yi was selected by Zhuge Liang as the latter's Front-Commander during one of his northern expeditions against Shu's rival state, Cao Wei. He was also made the designated Governor of Fufeng. After Zhuge Liang's death, Zhang Yi received the post of Front-Leader (the Front-Commander was supposed to be a temporary post created for an expedition, while the Front-Leader served as a regular or permanent counterpart of the former). Since then, he was tasked with the defense of Jiangwei commandery, whict sits on the border between Shu and Wei.

When the general Jiang Wei urged for an assault on the Wei-controlled Didao county (狄道, present-day Lintao County, Gansu), Zhang Yi controverted, stating Shu was small and its citizens were exhausted — it was unwise to wage war continuously. Jiang Wei annulled Zhang's concern, and Liu Shan acquiesced in the war plan Jiang Wei had prepared. Then, the careworn Zhang Yi was promoted to "Senior General Who Guards the West" (鎮西大將軍) and was "recommended" by Jiang Wei to join the operation. Nevertheless, they did break Wang Jing's army at Tao River, and dealt the enemy a loss up to tens of thousands.

At this juncture, Zhang Yi again advised Jiang Wei to acquit the campaign and return, so the deed could be retained. However, the annoyed Jiang Wei related his wish to add a punch line to the novel by citing a parable/idiom of Chu people adding feet to the drawing of a snake (為蛇畫足; a Chinese idiom which has the same meaning as "to gild the lily". It is unlikely Jiang Wei did not understand the meaning of the idiom he used.) Ironically, Jiang Wei's campaign fitted the idiom exactly when Shu-Han army could not breach the city of Didao. Since then, Jiang Wei bore a grudge against Zhang Yi, but he brought the latter with him every time he battled Wei; Zhang Yi had no choice but to accompany his commander.[2]

Fall of Shu[edit]

Further information: Conquest of Shu by Wei

Using the pretext of Jiang Wei's frequent invasion, the Wei regent Sima Zhao ordered his generals Zhong Hui and Deng Ai to conquer Shu once and for all. Zhang Yi was thus sent by Liu Shan to assist the defence of Yang'an.[3] There, he and general Dong Jue were swiftly defeated by Zhong Hui, and they were forced to retreat to Jiange (劍閣, present-day Jiange County, Sichuan). When the duo arrived their destination, they only learnt Jiang Wei was also defeated by Deng Ai, and was on his way to Jiange. Perceiving the great pass of Jiange as the last gate into Chengdu, they persevered a staunch defence, and managed to hold the advance of Zhong Hui.

However, Deng Ai adroitly slithered 350 km through a nearly impassable route to bypass Jiange and attacked the unprepared city of Jiangyou. After Jiangyou was lost and the defensive forces under Zhuge Zhan were totally crushed in Mianzhu Pass, Liu Shan relinquished the defence of Chengdu and surrendered. Zhang Yi followed Jiang Wei to surrender to Zhong Hui in November 263.

Within two months, Zhong Hui suddenly revolted under the influence of Jiang Wei, but the two men were butchered by the Wei soldiers who did not cater to their caprice. As a consequence, the disturbance burgeoned into a catastrophe in which the northerners razed the city of Chengdu, and Zhang Yi was also killed during the turmoil.

In fiction[edit]

In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Zhang Yi was a late era general for Shu, typically serving below or alongside Liao Hua. Right before Zhuge Liang died, he named Zhang Yi, along with Liao Hua, Ma Dai, Wang Ping and Zhang Ni, as the loyal generals of Shu who should be retained. He died in chapter 119 during the confusion of the failed uprising by Jiang Wei and Zhong Hui.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (「不然。吾以蠻夷蠢動,不稱職故還耳,然代人未至,吾方臨戰場,當運糧積穀,為滅賊之資,豈可以黜退之故而廢公家之務乎?」) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  2. ^ (自翼建異論,維心與翼不善,然常牽率同行,翼亦不得已而往。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  3. ^ (及鐘會將向駱谷,鄧艾將入沓中。然後乃遣右車騎廖化詣沓中為維援,左車騎張翼、輔國大將軍董厥等詣陽安關口以為諸圍外助。) Sanguozhi vol. 44.