Yang Feng Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Yang Feng Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Tue May 14, 2013 7:13 pm

Yang Feng

In the year 192, the warlord Dong Zhuo, who had controlled the Han court since 189, was assassinated by his general Lü Bu under the direction of the Minster over the Masses [situ] Wang Yun.[1] After this, Wang Yun took control of the Imperial Secretariat and ran the government with Lü Bu.[2] A group of Dong Zhuo’s former officers, led by Li Jue, sent word to the capital asking Wang Yun to grant them a pardon. However, Wang Yun refused this request. One of Li Jue’s officers, Jia Xu, suggested gathering up those who had been disenfranchised by Dong Zhuo’s death and attacking the capital at Chang’an. Following this advice, Li Jue managed to gather several tens of thousands of soldiers with which to attack Chang’an.[3] Li Jue united with Dong Zhuo’s other former followers and besieged the city. For eight days, Li Jue attacked Chang’an without success. However, Lü Bu’s soldiers mutinied against him and opened the gates for Li Jue.[4] Lü Bu fled the city, though Wang Yun refused to go with him.[5] Li Jue’s soldiers killed many people within the city[6] including Wang Yun.[7]

After this, Li Jue controlled affairs of the court, along with Guo Si and Fan Chou, though Li Jue was the senior partner in this triumvirate.[8] Li Jue and the others always competed for authority and influence.[9] In 195, Li Jue killed Fan Chou, dispossessing himself of one rival.[10] Li Jue and Guo Si also had a falling out at in this year.[11] Guo Si intended to move the emperor from the palace and keep him under guard in his own camp as a way of safeguarding himself against Li Jue. However, one of Guo Si’s soldiers informed Li Jue, who instead removed the emperor to his own camp. He then proceeded to burn down the Imperial Palace. Li Jue sent the high officials of the court to make peace with Guo Si, but Guo Si held them as hostages instead.[12]

Yang Feng, one of the leaders of the White Wave Army found himself in the middle of this conflict.[13] Early in 188, some remnants of the Yellow Turban rebels gathered in Bobo Valley Xihe. This was the White Wave Army, which plundered the commanderies of Taiyuan and Hedong.[14] Shortly after taking power in the capital in 189, Dong Zhuo sent his general Niu Fu to attack the White Wave Army.[15] Yang Feng got the best of the fighting, thanks in part to his talented subordinate, Xu Huang.[16] Li Jue and Guo Si both served as colonels [xiaowei] under Niu Fu[17] so it seems likely that Yang Feng joined Li Jue during his march on Chang’an.

On May 22 of 195, Guo Si brought his soldiers to attack Li Jue’s camp. The emperor was almost hit by an arrow while Li Jue was wounded in the ear. Yang Feng led Li Jue’s forces in defending the camp and his stout defense forced Guo Si to retreat.[18]

Li Jue and Guo Si continued to fight without conclusive victories. After several months of this, in August, Xu Huang advised Yang Feng to betray Li Jue and escort the emperor to Luoyang.[19] Yang Feng planned to murder Li Jue, but his plot was discovered. He made due with leading his forces in a mutiny against Li Jue, weakening the army. Shortly after this, another of Dong Zhuo’s former supporters, Zhang Ji, arrived and convinced Li Jue and Guo Si to agree to a temporary truce.[20]

In September, the captive emperor and court issued promotions to the various warlords. Yang Feng was made General Who Brings Righteousness to Flourish [jianyi jiangjun?]. He was also enfeoffed as a marquis.[21]

On September 27, the emperor reached Xinfeng. Guo Si intended to force him to relocate to Mei, but one of Guo Si’s officers warned Yang Feng to gather his soldiers at Xinfeng to resist this. Yang Feng did so, along with two other warlords named Yang Ding and Dong Cheng. Guo Si realized that his plan had been revealed, so he fled.[22]

On November 20, some of Guo Si’s partisans attempted to force the emperor to move back west by setting fire to the schoolhouse where the emperor was sleeping.[23] The emperor’s counselor Liu Ai urged him to select one of the warlords to shelter him. Yang Ding and Dong Cheng brought their soldiers in order to escort the emperor to Yang Feng’s camp. Guo Si’s partisans attempted to take the emperor by force while he was in transit, but Yang Feng defeated them and protected the emperor. On November 24, Yang Feng escorted the emperor to Huayin, in Hongnong commandery.[24]

A local warlord named Duan Wei sent supplies to the emperor and high officials, then invited them to shelter with him. Yang Ding’s subordinates bore a grudge against Duan Wei and slandered him, so the emperor was unsure what to do. Yang Feng, Yang Ding, and Dong Cheng led their forces to attack Duan Wei. Duan Wei held his defense for ten days, all the while sending food and other supplies to the emperor. After ten days, the emperor ordered Yang Feng and the others to make peace with Duan Wei, so they returned to their various camps.[25]

Hearing that Yang Feng and his colleagues were attacking Duan Wei, Li Jue, Guo Si, and Zhang Ji united in hopes of seizing the emperor again. Fearing this, Yang Ding fled alone to Jing province. Late in 195, the emperor reached Hongnong county. Li Jue and the others caught up to the emperor’s party and fought with Yang Feng and Dong Cheng at Dongjin. Yang Feng was defeated and many of the court officials died in the battle. Li Jue captured the emperor and, on December 24, brought him to Caoyang. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng pretended to make their peace with Li Jue. However, Yang Feng had secretly sent for the other leaders of the White Wave Army to bring reinforcements. Li Le, Hu Can, and Han Xian arrived with several thousand soldiers to bolster Yang Feng and Dong Cheng. The Xiongnu leader Qubei also arrived with a contingent of his own people. Yang Feng led an attack on Caoyang and utterly defeated Li Jue’s forces. As a result of this victory, the emperor was able to continue his journey east. Yang Feng served as the rearguard for the company. Li Jue’s forces attacked and Yang Feng was defeated, suffering great casualties.[26]

The emperor and his party fled to Shan with Li Jue close behind them.[27] From Shan, the emperor fled across the river by boat with only a few of the high officials and his warlord protectors. They reached Dayang, where they were joined by the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Henei, Zhang Yang, who supplied them with soldiers and food. The party then advanced to camp in Anyi[28] The emperor’s party reached a temporary truce with Li Jue, who released the various officials he had been holding captive, as well as many important symbols of the state.[29]

By the start of 196, the various warlords grew suspicious of one another. Zhang Yang and Dong Cheng wanted to move the emperor to Luoyang, but Yang Feng would not agree. In the second month of 196, Han Xian’s forces attacked Dong Cheng’s camp. Dong Cheng withdrew to Yewang. Han Xian camped in Wenxi while Yang Feng and Hu Cai camped at Wuxiang. Hu Cai wanted to attack Han Xian but the emperor forbade it.[30]

In June, the emperor ordered Yang Feng and the others to escort him to Luoyang. The emperor arrived in Wenxi in July.[31] The emperor entered Luoyang on August 12. Zhang Yang left the city to camp at Yewang. Yang Feng camped in Liang county while Han Xian and Dong Cheng remained to guard Luoyang. On September 20, Yang Feng was made General of the Chariots and Cavalry [juji jiangjun].[32]

Upon learning all of this, Cao Cao sent his cousin Cao Hong to Luoyang in order to escort the emperor to a more secure location. However, Dong Cheng held the mountain passes and Cao Hong’s army could not get through.[33] The scholar Dong Zhao sent a letter to Yang Feng on Cao Cao’s behalf, offering him friendship and alliance. Upon receiving this letter, Yang Feng was greatly pleased and spoke in Cao Cao’s favor to the other warlords. Due to Yang Feng’s efforts, Cao Cao was made General Who Guards the East [zhendong jiangjjun] and Marquis of Bi.[34] Xu Huang had also advised Yang Feng to support Cao Cao.[35]

Cao Cao entered Luoyang and charged Han Xian and Zhang Yang with various crimes. Han Xian, fearing punishment, fled to Yang Feng for protection. Because of their efforts in helping him escape Li Jue, the emperor pardoned Han Xian and Zhang Yang.[36] On September 28, Cao Cao was made Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei] with control over the Imperial Secretariat. He richly rewarded those who helped the emperor reach Luoyang.[37]

Cao Cao consulted with Dong Zhao and decided to move the emperor to Xu city. However, he was worried about Yang Feng’s soldiers in Liang county. On Dong Zhao’s advice, Cao Cao sent letters to Yang Feng saying that he wanted to move the emperor to Luyang because Luoyang had no provisions. Since Luyang was close to Xu city, it would be easy to move the emperor there.[38] Though Yang Feng initially believed Cao Cao, he quickly grew suspicious and attempted to intercept the emperor on his way to Xu city. However, he failed to catch the imperial party. In winter of 196, Cao Cao turned his army against Yang Feng. Yang Feng fled to Yuan Shu.[39] At this time, Xu Huang left Yang Feng to serve Cao Cao.[40]

In 197, a few months after Yang Feng’s arrival, Yuan Shu declared himself Emperor of the Zhong dynasty.[41] Up until this time, Yuan Shu had maintained an inconsistent alliance with Lü Bu, who now ruled much of Xu province. Lü Bu severed his relations with Yuan Shu’s army upon learning of Yuan Shu’s declaration. Yuan Shu sent his generals Zhang Xun and Qiao Rui to attack Lü Bu in Xiapi. He also sent Yang Feng and Han Xian to support them.[42] Lü Bu’s adviser, Chen Gui, sent Yang Feng and Han Xian a letter on Lü Bu’s behalf, reminding them that they had once protected the emperor and that Lü Bu had killed Dong Zhuo. He urged them to abandon the false emperor Yuan Shu and ally with him instead. Yang Feng then agreed to defect to Lü Bu’s army. Together with Lü Bu, they attacked Zhang Xun and Qiao Rui, utterly destroying their armies.[43] This combined army then marched towards Yuan Shu’s capital of Shouchun, plundering the various commanderies as they went. They advanced as far as Zhongli but stopped north of the Huai river. They left an insulting letter for Yuan Shu before returning home.[44]

Later that year, Yang Feng and Lü Bu had a falling out. Yang Feng and Han Xian plundered across Xu and Yang provinces. Because his army was short on supplies, Yang Feng asked Lü Bu for permission to raid Jing province as well. However, Lü Bu refused to send his soldiers so far from his base of power in Xu. As a result, Yang Feng turned against Lü Bu and conspired with his enemy, Liu Bei, to attack Xiapi. Liu Bei welcomed Yang Feng to Pei and threw a banquet for him. However, Liu Bei betrayed Yang Feng and executed him at this gathering.[45]

Han Xian attempted to flee to Bing province, but he was killed the local leader Zhang Xuan, along the way.[46]

Yang Feng demonstrated skill in battle, often achieving victory in spite of disadvantages, though he also lost nearly as many battles. Though Yang Feng guarded the Han emperor during a turbulent time, he also betrayed Li Jue, Cao Cao, Yuan Shu, and Lü Bu. Furthermore, he had once been one of the Yellow Turbans, declared enemies of the Han emperor who he later defended; he cannot be considered a loyal servant of any leader. Furthermore, Yang Feng never gave up his bandit ways and plundered throughout the empire until the end of his days. Nevertheless, the other warlords who assisted the emperor looked to Yang Feng as a leader and many of his followers remained loyal to him despite his own shifting allegiances. Though always a treacherous bandit at heart, Yang Feng possessed skill as a commander of armies and a leader of men.

[1] Chuping 3, I
[2] Chuping 3, J
[3] Chuping 3, Q
[4] Chuping 3, S
[5] Chuping 3, T
[6] Chuping 3, V
[7] Chuping 3, Y
[8] Xingping 1, O
[9] Xingping 2, E
[10] Xingping 2, F
[11] Xingping 2, G; allegedly this was caused by the jealousy of Guo Si’s wife, but this is a cliché trope. Most likely, the dissention between Guo Si and Li Jue simply came from competing desires for power – and from the fact that Li Jue had proved he was willing to kill his rivals almost on a whim.
[12] Xingping 2, H
[13] In Xingping 2, L; Huangfu Li describes Yang Feng as one of the leaders of the White Wave Army. The name of this group is often given as The Bobo Bandits.
[14] Zhongping 5, A
[15] Zhongping 6, FF
[16] Extrapolated from Xu Huang’s sanguozhi, which reads, “[Xu Huang] followed the General of Chariots and Cavalry [juji jiangjun], Yang Feng to fight against Dong Zhuo. Because of his merits in battle, he was promoted to Chief Commandant of the Cavalry [ji duwei].” The reference to Yang Feng as General of the Chariots and Cavalry is anachronistic, as he did not receive this title until September 20 of 195, 3 years after Dong Zhuo’s death.
[17] Chuping 3, B
[18] Xingping 2, L
[19] Xu Huang’s sanguozhi
[20] Xingping 2, Q
[21] Xingping 2, S
[22] Xingping 2, T
[23] de Crespigny’s note34 of Xingping 2
[24] Xingping 2, V
[25] Xingping 2, W
[26] Xingping 2, X
[27] Xingping 2, Z
[28] Xingping 2, AA
[29] Xingping 2, BB
[30] Jian’an 1, B
[31] Jian’an 1, E
[32] Jian’an 1, G; the General of the Chariots and Cavalry [juji jiangjun] was one of the highest titles in the Han military. It was inferior only to the Grand General [da jiangjun] and General of the Agile Cavalry [biaoji jiangjun].
[33] Jian’an 1, L
[34] Jian’an 1, M
[35] Xu Huang’s sanguozhi
[36] Jian’an 1, N
[37] Jian’an 1, O; the Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei] was the top administrator of the capital province. In another province, he would be called the Inspector [cishi] or Governor [mu].
[38] Jian’an 1, P
[39] Jian’an 1, V
[40] Xu Huang’s sanguozhi
[41] Jian’an 2, G
[42] Jian’an 2, L
[43] Jian’an 2, M
[44] Jian’an 2, N
[45] Jian’an 2, X
[46] Jian’an 2, X
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Re: Yang Feng Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:41 pm

Reading RoTK I was struck again at how under appreciated Yang Feng seems to be. Despite being a bandit originally he stays and fights for the Emperor at a time when all seems lost. The people with the Emperor treat him with respect and seem content to follow his leadership. There is a lot I find to like about him.

In this excellent bio Capn lists people he betrays and presents that as a major problem of his:

Li Jue, Cao Cao, Yuan Shu, and Lü Bu

It seems to me at the very least he didn't betray Cao Cao, Cao Cao betrayed him by lying about moving the Emperor. As for betraying Li Jue and Yuan Shu, I find both of them difficult to condemn. Particularly Li Jue, the guy has all the personality flaws of Dong Zhuo without the talent.

Interestingly though, no-one seems to criticise Xu Huang who I think seems more at fault. He persuades Yang Feng to work with Cao Cao who as I noted above betrays Yang Feng, and then Xu Huang jumps ship to him. Scandalous. My respect for Huang was diminished as a result.
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Re: Yang Feng Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby ky9ersfan » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:41 am

He seemed solid, I think him Dong Cheng, and Han Xian were solid generals due to helping Emperor Xian escape from Li Jue/Guo Si, who had way superior numbers. As far as how good he was, I 'll take the novel Chen Gui & Chen Deng's opinion of disposing of Yang Faeng & Han Xian before they joined Lu Bu, that letting Lu Bu employ them" would be like adding claws to the tiger."

I see Yang Feng as a solid general. He attracted Xu Huang, and Han Xian as subordinates, so he had to atleast of been a halfway decent leader, and he was a good enough warrior to survive battles against Li Jue, Guo Si, Cao Cao, and Yuan Shu's forces. So he also had to have been a decent warrior aswell.
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