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A youxia (遊俠), also known as a xiake (俠客), was an individual in Chinese society who used their martial skills to help the lives of the common people and combat injustice.[1] Originating in the Warring States period, they were not only seen as heroes and defenders of their local communities[2] but often ranged far from their homes in their quests to avenge perceived wrongs inflicted against either marginalized groups or the network of friends, kin, and associates to whom they were loyal to.[3][4] The ideal youxia therefore exemplified courage and altruism and upheld the principle of universal love (兼愛; jiān ài) in which compassion was extended to all humanity.[1]

These values informed their signature willingness to put their own lives in mortal danger while personally intervening to help resolve the ordeals of strangers.[1] Such problems could range from the mundane, like resolving a billing dispute at a teahouse;[5] to the therapeutic, like helping a dying soldier compose his final poem to his wife and delivering it;[6] to humanitarian crises like human trafficking[7] and civil war.[8] Youxia such as Yu Ying and Chu Huan were themselves victims of child slavery before Wei Yu rescued them,[7] and youxia undertook numerous missions to save innocent people abducted by bandits or arbitrarily imprisoned by the state.[9]

Simultaneously, their ethos of taking justice into their own hands translated into a norm of defying the law whenever it fit their cause.[3][4] While youxia at times found themselves on the side of the government, lending their aid to criminal investigations[10] or partaking in wars against foreign invasions[11] and rebels,[8] they were also known to rob merchants they deemed corrupt,[12] infiltrate restricted government offices and steal state secrets,[13] liberate political prisoners,[14] sabotage military forts,[15] loot tombs,[16] and even assassinate state officials and military generals.[17][18] They were the preeminent form of the vigilante throughout Chinese history, and to figures of political authority, youxia could be seen as little more than violent, criminal youths and free-lancing adventurers without productive vocations in times of peace.[4][19][20] In times of turmoil, they became a ready pool of revolutionaries that would spell the end of dynasties.[20]

Despite their violent and lawless underground activities, the youxia have been popularly eulogized as champions of the downtrodden and heroes of justice. Their deeds were romanticized in classical Chinese literature throughout the ages, and their figures not only passed into fiction as legendary archetypes but also served as real inspirations for Chinese society.[3][4] When the Hidden Ones moved into the northwest frontier of the Tang, locals were apt to understand them as a group of youxia. The famous poet Li Bai, who spent his childhood in that region, dreamed of being a youxia in his youth.[21] Later in life, he spontaneously composed the poem "The Moving Xiake" (俠客行) one night in Chang'an after being awestruck by the sight of the Hidden One Li E sprinting across the rooftops.[22] Likewise, the young scholar Yan Jiming, son of Grand Protector Yan Gaoqing of Changshan, also expressed a dream of being a youxia. After befriending Li E, he was inspired by both his example and his father's resolute principles to raise just arms against An Lushan, a warlord who rebelled against the Tang in 755 and terrorized all the lands and people he marched through. [citation needed]

Appearances[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Assassin's Creed: Jade – Manual: Memories
  2. Assassin's Creed: JadeThe Longest Day
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Liu, James J. Y. (1967). "The Historical Knight-Errant". In The Chinese Knight-Errant. London, England: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1–54.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Masubuchi Tatsuo. "The Yu Hsia 遊俠 and the Social Order in the Han Period". The Annals of the Hitotsubashi Academy 3, no. 1 (1952): 84–101.
  5. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Delicious Suspicion
  6. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Dying Vow
  7. 7.0 7.1 Assassin's Creed: JadeThe Joys of Youth: Travel with Chu Huan
  8. 8.0 8.1 Assassin's Creed: Dynasty
  9. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Liberate
  10. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Murder Mystery
  11. Assassin's Creed: JadeThe General on the Great Wall
  12. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Stolen Wealth
  13. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Secure Secret
  14. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Nobility of the Xiongnu
  15. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Forts
  16. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Salvage
  17. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Assassin's Mark
  18. Assassin's Creed: Jade – Nemesis
  19. Ho Ping-Ti. "Records of the Grand Historian: Some Problems of Translation: A Review Article". Pacific Affairs 36, no. 2 (1963): pp. 171–182.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Lewis, Mark Edward. (2007). "Imperial Cities". In The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 75–101.
  21. Assassin's Creed: DynastyThe Flower Banquet (Part 1)
  22. Assassin's Creed: DynastyThe Flower Banquet (Part 7)
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