The Three Kingdoms Wiki
Yellow Turban Rebellion

Date 184-205
Location northern China
Result Han victorious
Han Dynasty Yellow Turbans
He Jin Zhang Jiao
Zhang Bao
Zhang Liang
Guan Hai

The Yellow Turban Rebellion was the first conflict fought in the Three Kingdoms Era.


In AD 184, the wise man Zhang Jiao founded a religious group known as the "Yellow Turbans" for the yellow scarves worn around Zhang's followers' heads. Hundreds of thousands of young men enlisted in Zhang Jiao's rebellion for their own reasons. Poverty, injustice, corruption, robbing; their reasons drove them to join the rebellion. Emperor Ling formed an Imperial Edict with a call-to-arms concerning all governors and warlords loyal to the Han Dynasty. Several joined up, and the Imperial Court raised an army under Regent Marshal He Jin to combat the Yellow Turban menace.

One day, Liu Bei, a general under Gongsun Zan, became acquainted with two townsfolk named Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, and they swore an oath of brotherhood. They joined the army of Governor Liu Yan of Yi Province, and were sent to defeat the insurgency there, led by Cheng Yuanzhi. He fell to the spear of Zhang Fei in seconds, and the turbans fled. Following that battle, the Yellow Turbans escalated their uprising and slew Chu Gong, Prefect of Nanyang. Qin Jie, his successor, led a counterattack and killed the turban commander Zhang Mancheng. The government forces gathered to fight again, destroying the army of Zhang Jiao's younger brother Zhang Liang at Xiapi Castle, the government army being commanded by Huangfu Song, Cao Cao, Sun Jian, and Liu Bei. The retreating Yellow Turbans fled to Henan-Yin, where Liang's brother Zhang Bao constructed a makeshift fortress to shelter the Yellow Turbans temporarily. Zhu Jun attacked the stockade, and crushed Zhang Bao. He was assassinated by Yan Zheng, and soon, Zhang Jiao fell ill and died on the battlefield at Julu in Ji Province. Shortly after, Zhang Liang fell to a spear thrust. The splintergroup known as the "Avengers of Master Zhang Jue", led by Zhao Hong, Sun Zhong, Sun Xia, and Han Zhong. They were holed up in Wan Castle, and were clamped down upon and annihilated, all four commanders lying dead on the field of battle. This ended the AD 184 rising.

In AD 193, Guan Hai led the second Yellow Turban Rebellion in Xu Province. His target was Kong Rong, Governor of Beihai. Kong Rong's commander Taishi Ci was sent to Tao Qian to request assistance, and Tao Qian dispatched Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei (under his service) to assist lifting the siege of Doucheng. Guan Hai fell at Guan Yu's spear and the second rebellion was quelled.

In AD 195, He Yi, Huang Shao, and He Man organized the last major uprising. They rose up in Yan Province, which was under the governorship of Bao Xin and Cao Cao. Bao Xin was killed at the outset, and the Yellow Turbans gained some success in pillaging the region. But assisted by his new recruits Dian Wei and Xu Zhu, Cao Cao slew all of the Yellow Turbans in Yan Province and ended the last rising. Cao Cao sent his massive armies to finally quell the remnants of the Yellow Turbans in AD 205.