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Heishan Bandits
Historical Information
Main Objective: Maintain indepentant authority and ability to perform banditry
Estimated Numbers: 100,000~1,000,000
Start: 185
End: 205
Major Figure(s): Zhang Niujiao
Zhang Yan
Yu Du
Major Battle(s) Changshan

The Heishan Bandits (黑山賊, literally, Black Mountain Bandits) are an alliance of bandits left over from the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Dynasty Warriors (series) tends to give them the generic purple coloration, until Dynasty Warriors 9, where they received a unique model. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms (series), they use black for their army color when they appear as an independent force.

The Bandits got their start when Zhang Niujue and Chu Yan formed an alliance at Yingtao. The two combined outnumbered the many fractured bandit groups in the Taihang mountains they infested, allowing them to easily bring the rest of the bands under their umbrella. This initial cooperative rule came to a brief end, however, when Zhang Niujue was mortally wounded by an arrow during a skirmish. Niujue insisted his original followers heed Chu Yan as his successor, and Chu Yan took Zhang's name to honor his friend.

The Han Dynasty couldn't effectively suppress these marauders in the post Yellow Turban political situation, so they resorted to offering official titles to Zhang Yan and his cronies for a legal surrender. This bribe slightly reduced the Heishan Bandits' activity, but they were back in full force by the time Dong Zhuo had seized the Han Dynasty for himself.

Back to their banditry, the Heishan Bandit's influence reached all the way down to Yan province, where Cao Cao drove them back in 191. In that same year, as the rivalry between Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan heated up, the Black Mountain bandits took Zan's side, launching two failed attacks, one into Yuan Shao's territory in Ji and another attack into Cao Cao's in Yan. In 193, the Heishan bandit leader Yu Du managed to capture Yecheng from Yuan Shao while he was away dealing with Gongsun Zan. However, the victory was short-lived, as Yu Du's subordinate, Tao Sheng, took pity on the people of Ye and forced his fellow bandits out of the city.

Yuan Shao sought revenge that very year at the battle of Changshan, where he inflicted a massive defeat on the Heishan Bandits. For their own part, the bandits tried to continue their conflict with Yuan Shao, but they wouldn't risk bearing his direct fury any longer. In 199, Gongsun Zan sent a desperate plea for help at Yijing, and although the Heishan bandits gathered 100,000 men to help, they couldn't arrive in time and Zan was defeated, dying shortly afterwards.

Bereft of their ally, the Heishan Bandits didn't have to worry about Yuan Shao anymore, as Shao found himself on the losing end of a war with Cao Cao. By 205, Zhang Yan could read the writing on the wall and chose to submit to Cao Cao instead of facing eradication like he had seen done to the Yuan clan. This surrender ended Zhang Yan and his followers' career as bandits, but several of them were rewarded with positions of authority within Cao Cao's government.

Most of the Black Mountain Bandits used nicknames or self proclaimed names tied to their personalities or traits. As a result they tend to have more "outlandish" names.

Notable Members[]


  • Zhang Niujue - (Oxhorn Zhang) Co-Founder and first leader
  • Zhang Yan - (Flying Swallow Zhang) Co-founder and second leader

Bandit Commanders[]

  • Bai Rao
  • Fuyun
  • Guo Daxian (Guo Great-Virtue)
  • Huanglong (Yellow Dragon)
  • Kujiu (Dry Grub)
  • Li Damu (Big-Eyes Li)
  • Liu Shi
  • Luoshi
  • Pinghan Daji (Grand Design to Pacify the Han)
  • Qing Niujue (Green Ox-horn)
  • Sili Yuancheng (Director of Retainers Who Scales the City Wall)
  • Sui Gu (Fixed Gaze)
  • Sun Qing
  • Tao Sheng
  • Wang Dang
  • Wulu (Five Deer)
  • Yang Feng
  • Yu Digen (Hairy Face)
  • Yu Du (Poison Yu)
  • Zhang Baiqi
  • Zhang Leigong (Zhang, Lord of Thunder)
  • Zuo Zizhangba (Zuo with the Eighty-foot Mustache)
  • Zuoxiao (Enclosure on the Left)