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The Qiang rebellion of 185 and Ma Chao's supposed folly.

Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 4:56 am
by Jimayo
Over the 200 years of the Later Han, the Qiang were pretty much brutalized and rebelled many times. Each time the northern army was dispatched, and order was restored. However after the YT rebellion, the Qiang rebelled once more and there success was such that Liang province was abandoned. Han Sui and Ma Teng, officers in that region, mutinied, and join the rebels, eventually becoming their leaders.

As Cao Cao made his successes, trouncing foe after foe, Ma Teng accepted his leadership, nominally. He served Cao, but the Qiang remained independent under his son, Ma Chao.

When Zhong Yao was sent by Cao Cao to take Han Zhong from Zhang Lu, Ma Chao attacked Cao Cao, and his father, serving in the capital, was executed. This has generally been viewed as treason of the worst kind, and Ma Chao has been much vilified because of it.

However, the vilification occurs, because people assume Ma invaded in order to preserve his own personal power. However, what if he had much more laudable reasons. What if he was in fact preserving Qiang independence? He had much reason to do so, considering chinese atrocities against the Qiang for 2 centuries. Would not his father's life be a small price to pay to keep the chinese away?

Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:20 am
by Morg
No matter what Ma Chao's reason for the attack was, he endangered his father's life, which was a serious breech of the whole idea of filial piety. So, by the standards so the time, perhaps there is no justification. However, by our standards, I think it is possible to say that he was justified, if we only knew for sure what his reasoning was. If his motive was Qiang independence then perhaps his cause was justified, but if his motive was to retain his own power then it can't be justified.

It is interesting to note that if the roles had been reversed and it had been Ma Chao killed for Ma Teng's rebellion, then it would have been perfectly acceptable.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 1:17 am
by PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
There is no justification. Ma Chao served Cao Cao, he went and setteled a rebellion in Wei territory. He obviously served him and rebelled.

And the stupid thing is, that he whined about Cao Cao killing his family. It's almost like he is too stupid to realize that he caused Cao Cao to kill his family. I hate him. For this reason, and the whole losing to Xiahou Yuan part, and being scared of Xu Zhu and Guan Yu. Yeah, he definatly has no idea what he was doing.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:25 am
by harshbarge
I dont recall him being scared of either Xu Zhu or Guan Yu. If you fight someone that you will lose to but your people/goals still need you thats not heroic its moronic

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:35 am
by PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
In Xu Zhu's SGZ, it mentions him guarding Cao Cao during a meeting with Ma Chao alone, no one else but him and Cao Cao. Ma Chao tried to capture Cao Cao but was worried about Xu Zhu so he asked Cao Cao who that guy next to him is, when Cao said Xu Zhu, Chao didn't dare make a wrong move. And when he called Liu Bei by his styled name, Guan Yu got mad and was going to kill him and Ma Chao got very scared so he stopped.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:53 am
by Six_and_Up
Ma Chao campaign's against Cao Cao are pure opportunism. However, like most generals he lacked the ability to deliver the final stroke to defeat Cao Cao. Mengde was concerned about Ma Chao (refer to Ma Chao's SGZ bio for Cao Cao's quote about knowing where he'd be buried if Ma Chao lived). As for the style name incident with Liu Bei, that event should be taken with a grain of salt as Guan Yu never went to Yizhou and supposedly the incident occured there. Pei points this out.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 7:46 pm
by harshbarge
In Xu Zhu's SGZ, it mentions him guarding Cao Cao during a meeting with Ma Chao alone, no one else but him and Cao Cao. Ma Chao tried to capture Cao Cao but was worried about Xu Zhu so he asked Cao Cao who that guy next to him is, when Cao said Xu Zhu


I still dont see whats so wrong with this. Cao had a chance to kill Dong Zhou but Lu Bu was there. Guan Yu had many chances to cut Cao Cao down.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:02 pm
by Jon
I suppose the first comparison you brought up is fair, but I doubt Guan Yu ever historically had a chance to gack Mengde. Still, if Ma Chao valued revenge for his family he probably should have been willing to live up to his name and atleast try.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:42 pm
by PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
I still dont see whats so wrong with this. Cao had a chance to kill Dong Zhou but Lu Bu was there. Guan Yu had many chances to cut Cao Cao down.


Guan Yu was serving Cao Cao at the time. And Cao Cao is weaker then Dong Zhou himself, not just Lu Bu.

Ma Chao on the other hand is always seen as strong and skilled, better then Xu Zhu, especially in rotk games. Yet he feared him so much.

Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:46 pm
by Shield of Rohan
The topic surfaces again, I see :? ... Oh well, I suppose it is time once more.

First off, do we know for sure if Ma Teng was a direct servant of Cao Cao? I thought he was appointed an Imperial position, just like how Cao Cao was still technically a servant of the Han Emperor in terms of rank.

Ma Chao's SGZ bio wrote:[Ma Teng] was then appointed as Weiwei (Commandant of the Palace Guards)


Wasn't Cao Cao overstepping authority in killing a fellow ranking Han official, when that official had done no wrong? My view on the matter is that Cao Cao is the traitor here, not Ma Chao. He displayed again his blatant abuse of power to murder those whom he wanted.

Regarding Ma Chao, I have two theories as to why he acted the way he did with Ma Teng in the capital.
1) He honestly underestimated Cao Cao's tyranny in the Han courts, and was too trusting that loyal men would protect his father.
2) Ma Teng himself was plotting something secretive, so Ma Chao was going to aid the plot by rebellion. Ma Teng may have not realized Cao would kill him, or a plan of escape could have fallen through.

However, the vilification occurs, because people assume Ma invaded in order to preserve his own personal power. However, what if he had much more laudable reasons. What if he was in fact preserving Qiang independence? He had much reason to do so, considering chinese atrocities against the Qiang for 2 centuries. Would not his father's life be a small price to pay to keep the chinese away?


I like this idea, and do not believe that Ma Chao would invade simply in search of power. His family had sat off in Liang most of their lives and simply were not ambitious enough to seek territory elsewhere. Cao Cao would have turned to Liang soon enough, and Ma Chao saw a chance to keep him away for good.

There is no justification. Ma Chao served Cao Cao, he went and setteled a rebellion in Wei territory. He obviously served him and rebelled.


And Cao Cao rebelled against Dong Zhuo, a tyrant who widely abused his power in the Han courts. And he did not do it to save the Han. He wanted power for himself. So is he justified?

And the stupid thing is, that he whined about Cao Cao killing his family. It's almost like he is too stupid to realize that he caused Cao Cao to kill his family. I hate him. For this reason, and the whole losing to Xiahou Yuan part, and being scared of Xu Zhu and Guan Yu. Yeah, he definatly has no idea what he was doing.


Whining implies no action. Cao Cao was preserved only by great fortune and a great defender from Ma Chao's burning anger and desire for revenge. And when did he lose to Xiahou Yuan? His force was broken up by Jia Xu's brilliant plot and was forced to flee. There is adequate historical information to conclude that his might on the field was unmatched by Wei. And if you are attempting to capture a man, with his bodyguard glaring at you all the while, a man who you fought in battle and was evenly matched by, would you do it? And how was he scared of Guan Yu. If anything, he realized that it would be unwise to be at contention with a high ranking and incredibly strong general who serves the same ruler. Such contention would only hurt Shu.

Ma Chao campaign's against Cao Cao are pure opportunism. However, like most generals he lacked the ability to deliver the final stroke to defeat Cao Cao. Mengde was concerned about Ma Chao (refer to Ma Chao's SGZ bio for Cao Cao's quote about knowing where he'd be buried if Ma Chao lived). As for the style name incident with Liu Bei, that event should be taken with a grain of salt as Guan Yu never went to Yizhou and supposedly the incident occured there. Pei points this out.


Well, thanks to Chen Shou we will never know about Ma Chao as fully as we would like. He had the ability to deliver the blow though, there is no doubt of that. He progressed all the way to Tong Gate, and comparable bios suggest that his battlefield prowess was great. We know Cao Cao was saved from certain death at least twice by Xu Zhu, when by all means he should have met his end.

Ma Chao lacked a strategist with the capabilities of Jia Xu - that is the only reason why he lost, and is not anything we can blame him for. It is as simple as that. Yuan Shao similarily beat a superior army under Gongsun Zan using great strategies.