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Zhang Yan

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Zhang Yan
Zhang yan.png
Name: Zhang Yan
Game: Total War: Three Kingdoms
Culture: Han
Starting Faction: The Heishan Bandits
Faction Leader: Yes
Title:General Who Brings Peace to the North, Marquis of Anguo

Zhang Yan is one of the 12 playable starting warlords in the Total War: Three Kingdoms grand campaign.

Historical Background

From Zhending County, Changshan Commandery, Ji Province, he was originally Chu Yan, a young man known for his swiftness. During the Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184AD, he created his own bandit army out of local youths that was said to number over ten thousand men and plundered much of the area around his home county. He then joined an even greater bandit army under a certain Zhang Niujiao from Boling Commandery, to whom he deferred to as his "general." During a raid on Yingtao County, Zhang Niujiao was hit by an arrow and passed command of their army to Chu Yan before he died. Chu Yan changed his name to Zhang Yan in honor of his deceased commander.

Zhang Yan united the bandit armies of northwestern Ji, eastern Bing, and Henei in the capitol region into a vast horde, with many smaller bandit chiefs deferring to him as leader. They were called the "Black Mountain" or Heishan Bandits. His force was so strong that Emperor Ling of Han could not dislodge him and instead had to parlay, appointing him both the military governor of the unofficial province of Heishan and the Cadet-General Who Pacifies Internal Disasters. When Dong Zhuo seized power in 189AD, this arrangement presumably came under threat, so Zhang Yan initially joined the coalition against him, though he isn't recorded as taking part in any of the battles in that campaign. However, once Dong Zhuo fled Luoyang in 191AD, the threat was gone, and Zhang Yan decided to contest control of the empire as a warlord. He sent men to Yan Province to take on Cao Cao, and allied with the horde of Yellow Turbans spilling out of Qing Province into Ji, while he himself continued to hold northeastern Ji. His attack on Yan was defeated by Cao Cao, despite help from Yuan Shu, and Gongsun Zan ended up crushing the Yellow Turbans who eventually surrendered to Cao Cao as well. However, war soon erupted between Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao, which allowed Zhang Yan to jump in on Gongsun Zan's side.

The war for Ji Province went back and forth for some time, but after Gongsun Zan's initial campaign into Ji was stopped at Jieqiao, Yuan Shao launched a counteroffensive against him which opened the door for Zhang Yan to attack and sack his capitol of Ye. However, one of Zhang Yan's men betrayed him during the siege and shut the gates on the rest of the army long enough to evacuate some of the civilians, including Yuan Shao's family, thereby depriving Zhang Yan of valuable hostages. Yuan Shao returned and reconquered his capitol, just in time for peace to be brokered between him and Gongsun Zan, which allowed Yuan Shao to focus his military on driving the Heishan Bandits out of Ji. He launched a major offensive on Changshan itself, enlisting the aid of the then-wanderer Lu Bu to help. In response to the attack on his home, Zhang Yan called upon the Chuge Xiongnu under the exiled Chanyu Yufuluo to assist him. The ten day battle ended in a tactical stalemate, but Yuan Shao's men could not take the field, so Zhang Yan was able to claim strategic victory by holding Changshan.

Yuan Shao turned his efforts back on Gongsun Zan, surrounding him at the fortress of Yi, causing Gongsun Zan's son Gongsun Xu to come to Zhang Yan for aid. They formed a plan to break through the siege, but the plans were intercepted and Gongsun Zan was led into a trap which he barely survived. Yuan Shao eventually conquered Yi, Gongsun Zan committed suicide, and Zhang Yan was forced to return to Changshan. His Xiongnu allies killed Gongsun Xu at some point, but he didn't seem to care. In 200AD, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao went to war, but during this and the subsequent campaigns across Ji, Zhang Yan remained cooped up in Changshan and the surrounding commanderies, content to ride out the storm and not risk open battle again. When Cao Cao conquered Ye in 204AD, Zhang Yan surrendered to him without a fight. He was made General Who Brings Peace to the North and enoffed as Marquis of Anguo, but is never mentioned again in the histories, so it seems he was kept on his fief and forcibly retired into luxury.

Start Location

Zhang Yan starts as the faction leader of The Heishan Bandits, in Yanmen Commandery.

Start Overview




Zhang Yan starts as friends with Li Damu and Yu Du, his historical subordinates.

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