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Ma Yuanyi 馬元義

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Ma Yuanyi 馬元義 was a Large Division Leader of Yellow Turbans and a leader in planning for rebellion. He had followers in the provinces of Jing and Yang and even in the capital city of Luoyang.


Ma Yuanyi was one of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who joined Zhang Jue 張角 somewhere between the early 170's and 184 A.D.[n 1] When Zhang Jue spread his forces over thirty-six Divisions (Fāng 方), Ma Yuanyi was made a Large Division leader, meaning he controlled over 10.000 men.[4] He was also a leader in planning for rebellion.[1]

Ma Yuanyi, together with some others, gathered these men from the provinces of Jing and Yang and they made arrangements for a rising at Ye city in Henan commandery.[5] Ye city was the administrative center of Wei commandery and Ji Province.[5]. It is said he collected several ten thousand followers from these provinces.[1] Ma Yuanyi visited the capital city of Luoyang on several occasions and claimed adherents even among the palace eunuchs Feng Xu and Xu Feng.[1]

Planning a RisingEdit

Together with the eunuchs Ma Yuanyi agreed on the fifth day of the third month, which was 3 April[6][7][8] for a massive rising which included an attack from within the capital and an attack from without[1] that were to coincide with the local risings throughout the empire.[8]

The Yellow Turbans were concentrated in three areas. One group was led by the three Zhang brothers north of the Yellow River near the commanderies of Julu and Wei. Another major rising was to take place in the Guangyang and Zhuo commanderies in You Province. The third centre of rebellion took place in the three commanderies of Runan, Nanyang and Yingchuan. This third force was intended to co-operate with the traitors in Luoyang.[9]


In the spring of 184 A.D. a former disciple of Zhang Jue, a man named Tang Zhou, wrote a letter to the emperor in which he revealed the plot.[4] Thereupon Ma Yuanyi was arrested and torn into pieces by chariots in Luoyang. Other followers and sympathizers of the Yellow Turbans in Luoyang were tracked down and executed.[1] Orders were sent to Ji Province that Zhang Jue and his followers should be arrested, but Zhang Jue had already learned of the fact his plot was leaked and a messenger was sent to inform all Division leaders.[10]


  1. This has been said about pretty much every other Yellow Turban rebel active in 184 on this Wiki, but this has never been mentioned in any historical files, but it seems assumable because the Zhang brothers only recruited people between the early 170's and 184 A.D.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Ma Yuanyi, page 661
  2. de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Zhongping 1
  3. Michaud, The Yellow Turbans, page 112
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Michaud, The Yellow Turbans, page 76
  5. 5.0 5.1 Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, page 80
  6. de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Guanghe 6
  7. Twitchett & Fairbank, Cambridge History of China vol. 1, page 338
  8. 8.0 8.1 Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, page 81
  9. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 88
  10. Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, page 82


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