Yellow Turban Rebellion
The Yellow Turban Rebellion or the Yellow Scarves Rebellion was a peasant revolt that got a little too out of hand, and broke out in 184 CE in China during the reign of Emperor Ling of the Han Dynasty. The name of the rebellion was taken from the color of the rebels' undies and turbans (which were white when purchased). The rebellion also marked an important date in the Taoist calendar and in modern day video games.
The rebellion itself wasn't just a rebellion. It was an introduction to an era. An introduction to a whole new level of warfare. Due to the Yellow Turbans' use of "dark magic", it is possible that China was one of the first countries in which magical warfare was used. In Luo Guanzhong's historical heavenly-slice-of-China romantic drama, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the rebellion is used as the opening event. In the video game Dynasty Warriors (which consists of American looking Chinese warriors), the rebellion marks the first stage of the game, except for those Jin Dynasty warriors, who came later (like 265 CE, or something like that). According to modern day mathematics, the beginning of the Jin Dynasty and the beginning of the rebel uprising is separated by a grand 81 years. They are also within two different eras. By the time the Jin Dynasty had begun, the Yellow Turbans were a significant factor in the riddance of the Han from the face of the earth (you'll learn about some of that in a few minutes). 45 years also separate the Han from the Jin. Now, let's get back on topic.
- 1 Causes
- 2 Rebels
- 3 The Rebellion
- 4 Aftermath and impact
- 5 Historical inaccuracies in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- 6 References
- 7 See also
A major cause of the rebellion was the fact that many Chinese people were either hungry, infected, insane, poor, or uneducated. As was the case with the Boston Tea Party, refusal to buy goods prompted violence in the Chinese people up north. Some may even go as far as saying that they were "rebelling".
At the same time, the Han Dynasty was dying a horrible, slow death from the inside out. Many civilians started cutting off their own genitals in order to qualify for employment as a eunuch and get closer to the Emperor. As civilians were cutting off their own penises and ripping out their own eggs from their ovaries, it is not known why China's population is still increasing (pictured below).
Zhang Jza decides to get frisky
In a northern Chinese province, a man who resembled Jesus Christ named Zhang Jza had started deviously performing rituals and spiritual practices in the Han's own backyard. It was often rumored that Zhang Jza was a god descended from the Heavens to share his wisdom and religious knowledge. Zhang Jza would end up doing just that. Before long, he established his own religious sect and many people began to follow him. It wasn't long before the government sent spies to watch Zhang Jza's movements. It was assumed that the Han feared that Zhang Jza's propaganda was a threat, so they were prepared to intercept any movements he made that they felt could damage their health and their chi.
It was no coincidence that Zhang Jza had a hankering for the Han's demise. In fact, Zhang Jza passionately hated the Han Dynasty. One day, Zhang Jza decided to gather his followers for a meeting in order to come to an agreement on what they should do in their efforts against the great Han. He did so without hesitation and gave the following speech:“My followers, you have gathered here today for a sermon on my wisdom, on Taoism, on my knowledge, and on why what I have to share with you is good for the soul. We are still in a great crisis of panic because of the Han infidels, and a time for change is nigh. A time for great change. A time for change greater than any of you have ever witnessed in all your lifetimes. We shall protest and revolt against the government! I have taken the liberty of collecting thoughts on a fear-striking uniform for our army! So, out of all the things I could have chosen to use as a uniform for our rebellion forces, I have decided that we shall be marked by wrapping turbans around our heads. Yellow turbans, that is.”
~ Zhang Jza
Thus, with Zhang Jza's followers' hearts filled with passion, they adorned their heads with turbans. The Han would be dealing with a new threat to their existence: the Yellow Turban Rebels, who had the numbers and commitment to match the Han's forces. The Yellow Turban Rebellion had begun.
The rebellion was led by Zhang Jza (also referred to as Zhang Jue, Zhang Jiao, or the "General of Heaven, Immortality, and Powerful Sex") and his two younger brothers and only friends, Zhang Lza and Zhang Bza. All three were born in the place known as "Jew-loo". The three butt buddies had founded a Taoist sect and part time drug dealing organization known as the "Way of Peace". They were health care agents (without degrees), usually accepting free visits from "pro boners" who were too cheap to afford the bargain-basement price of two yuan pieces and a handful of various lingerie.
The brothers had witnessed the harshness of the world as they had seen rape, molestation, abuse, the first signs of teen pregnancy, stripes with plaid, and the enforcement of the infamous "No rent, no food" policy (which much of the population needed to survive) first-hand.
The rebellion spreads
The rebellion spread mostly through three areas: Eastern China, Central China, and the small slice between the two. Zhang Jza, the leader of the rebellion, ordered some of the eunuchs (who were starting to go crazy and corrupt) to start shit within the capital. Within a few days it was reported back to Zhang Jza that the riot within Luoyang was a success, and the police had sanctioned multiple death row sentences, as ordered by Emperor Ling. General He Jin (who was only powerful because his whore sister was the Emperor's royal bitch) suggested he should be appointed commander to tame the rebellion within the capital. Emperor Ling gave it a go and soon He Jin came with more shiny heads and fresh meat than even the Emperor himself could handle, resulting in an imperial feast.
Soon, word came to the Emperor about who the rebels' actions in Jew-loo were being ordered by: Zhang Jza. Emperor Ling dealt a quick blow to the hearts of the rebels and meted out extreme punishment to those who were members of the rebel army. After He Jin, Zhu Jun, and Huangfu Song returned with some bruises and unexpected shame due to defeat, it was clear that an effort needed to be made throughout the land against the Yellow Turban Rebels. A call for troops was sent throughout China in order to gather volunteers (in reality, they didn't really have a choice if they were over fourteen, male, and poor).
The tide turns
While He Jin was once again sent to deal with Zhang Jza at Jew-loo and Zhu Jun and Huangfu Song were dispatched to their targets, Sun Jian was called upon to rally his stylish, ferocious, and "tiger-like" troops to help attack the rebels. Due to the rebellion spreading to such an unexpected degree, the imperial army looked broken soon after their second attack. When three dudes from Lousang named Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu arrived with some volunteer troops, it became clear that the Han's forces were replenished and ready to rumble.
In the third month of 184, Yellow Turban commander Zhang Mancheng had unexpectedly killed the Grand Administrator of Nanyang. In the fourth month, Bo Cai had swiftly defeated Zhu Jun yet another time, only this time it was done in style. Coincidentally, the Grand Administrator of Runan had also KOed like his counterpart from Nanyang during this time. It was then that Zhu Jun and Huangfu Song both decided that there is no "I" in team and combined their mighty forces to destroy Bo Cai's. By the sixth month of 184, the army under Bo Cai was just a mere gang of once-honorable soldiers. Soon, the Grand Administrators of Nanyang and Runan were avenged when Zhang Mancheng was killed in action by a new, Grander Administrator.
A shameful loss for the Yellow Turbans
For the next several months after the fall of the rebel Zhang Mancheng, there was consistent fighting around Wancheng. After a while, Zhu Jun announced that "this is so gay" and committed Holocaust like attacks on the rebel defenders, bathing Wan in a fresh coat of red paint. This capture of Wancheng proved to be the last great loss for the Yellow Turbans. Their forces in the plains were destroyed, all their bases are belong to the Han, and the three Zhangs croaked (not Zhang Fei, he wasn't related to Zhang Jza and his brothers, and neither was Zhang Mancheng).
The rebellion is almost quelled
After the fall of Wancheng, some of the remaining Yellow Turbans scattered and became bandits in various locations throughout China. During Chinese New Year, the Emperor confirmed that the rebellion was pacified. The Emperor even decided to change the name of the era from Wǒmen xìngjiāo (我們性交; "We're Fucked") to Zhongping (中平; "Pacification Achieved").
In the February of 185, the rebels were defeated. But the times for celebration and fiestas didn't last. Two months after the last military conflict with the rebels, the rebellion spread to other parts of the country, leading to the disruption of the court all over again.
Cao Cao ended up saving the day.
Aftermath and impact
The Han armies had ended up achieving a fabulous victory and the Yellow Turbans had suffered a shameful defeat. The quelling of Zhang Jza's rebellion was so fantastic that it is even used to mark to the beginning of the Dynasty Warriors games and the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The cost of pacifying the rebellion, however, was very high. Government offices were destroyed, magistrates were laid off, and whole districts lost their connection with the internet. The enemy had been slaughtered by the tens of thousands, many innocent people became homeless, many homeless people became innocent, and the economy of the Han began to look like the economy of the present-day United States. Leftover rebel bandits filled every (yes, every) district (we're not kidding), so the government was forced to actually do something, and many soldiers were in need of counseling. A rather extended period of consolidation was required to restore honor, the balance of peace, and prosperity. However, the Han were not given time to breathe.
Even though the rebellion had been quashed, many more conflicts of greater bloodshed would follow. Little did the Han know they would be no more in the year 220— that this was coming. Emperor Ling croaked in 189— could do nothing to stop this destined terror. The eunuchs became corrupt and assassinated He Jin— and Yuan Shao became hostile. Yuan Shao killed them. HE KILLED THEM ALL! Then, the tyrant Dong Zhuo ended up gaining control of the Han throne by toying with the young heir, and was a giant douchebag— becoming an important figure in this famous period of Chinese history. Dong Zhuo burned the capital to the ground, an important event that triggered stuff like his assassination at the hands of his own son, Lu Bu. Indeed, China would be facing an unexpected turn of events. Cao Cao rose to power.
Historical inaccuracies in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
It is notable that Luo Guanzhong's retelling of the events of the rebellion in Romance of the Three Kingdoms was somewhat flawed. For example, Luo told of the Zhang brothers being fake sorcerers instead of real sorcerers (most evidence proves otherwise) and fictional people appearing in the rebellion. Some of these fictitious people include Du Yuan (killed by Liao Hua for kidnapping both of Liu Bei's wives), Zhou Cang, Deng Mao, Bian Xi, and some guy whose last name cannot be pronounced without second guessing oneself about whether one has said his name correctly. Though Liao Hua isn't a made-up person, he most likely did not fight in the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Due to his lifespan from before 184 to a few years after 265, it is often theorized that he participated as an infant, if he participated at all. But, the battlefield is no place for women and babies.
- They ordered them from me. I know, right? What chumps!
- I played Dynasty Warriors once! Yeah, that's right! I can't wait for Dynasty Warriors 8, boy!!
- Noob Book of Magic, Page 22
- My calculator says so
- My calculator also supports this
- Where I've heard these names in order: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dynasty Warriors, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, I made this one up, your mom
- Book of Era Name Changes, Chapter Sixty-Four, The Yellow Turban Rebellion, Eras of OMG to Oh Shit
- Common sense
- Dynasty Warriors
- Samurai Warriors
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- People's Republic of China