Mǎ Chāo appellation Mèngqǐ was a Fúfēng Màolíng man. His father Téng, at Líng-dì’s end with Biān Zhāng and Hán Suì and others together raised affairs in the western provinces. Chūpíng Third Year , [Hán] Suì and [Mǎ] Téng led their armies to visit Cháng’ān. The Hàn Court appointed [Hán] Suì as Defending West General, sending him back to Jīnchéng, [Mǎ] Téng to Campaigning West General, sending him to garrison Méi. Later [Mǎ] Téng attacked Cháng’ān, was defeated and fled, retreating back to Liáng Province.
Colonel Director of Retainers Zhōng Yáo defended Guānzhōng, sending letters to [Hán] Suì and [Mǎ] Téng, to for them explain disasters and fortunes. [Mǎ] Téng sent Chāo to accompany [Zhōng] Yáo in suppressing Guō Yuán and Gāo Gàn at Píngyáng, and Chāo’s officer Páng Dé personally beheaded [Guō] Yuán’s head.
Later [Mǎ] Téng with Hán Suì were not in harmony, and he asked to return to the capital region. Therefore he was summoned to be Minister of the Guard, with Chāo becoming Assisting General, fief as a capital precinct Marquis, commanding Téng’s retainers. (1)
- (1) Diǎnlüè states: [Mǎ] Téng appellation Shòuchéng, was Mǎ Yuán’s descendant. In Huán-dì’s time, his father appellation Zǐshuò, once was Tiānshuǐ’s Lángān Commandant. Later he lost his office, and therefore remained in Lǒngxī, and with the Qiāng mingled and lived. His family was poor and without wife, and therefore he took as wife a Qiāng girl, who begat [Mǎ] Téng. [Mǎ] Téng when young was poor and without property, and always from Zhāng mountain chopped timber and wood, carrying it on back to sell in the city market, to provide for himself. Téng as a man was over eight chǐ [~1.8 m] tall, his body big and large, his face and nose imposing and unique, but by nature he was worthy and generous, and of men many respected him. At Líng-dì’s end, Liáng Province Inspector Gěng Bǐ appointed and trusted treacherous officials, and the commoners Wáng Guó and others with Dī and Qiāng rebelled. The province and prefecture recruited and sent out from among the people the courageous and strong, wishing to suppress them, and Téng was among the recruited. The province and prefecture was impressed with him, and appointed him an Army Attending Official, to manage and command divisions of masses. In suppressing rebels he had achievement, and was appointed an Army Major, later for achievement he was promoted to Assisting General, and also was promoted to Campaigning West General, always garrisoning between Qiān and Lǒng. During Chūpíng, he was appointed Campaigning East General. At the time, the western provinces had little grain, Téng himself memorialized the army men had many shortages, and requested to gather grain at Chíyáng, and therefore moved garrison to Chángpíng’s Àntóu. But General Wáng Chéng and others feared Téng would be harm them, and therefore attacked Téng’s camp. At the time Téng had just gone out and was without preparations, and therefore was defeated and fled west up[river]. It happened that the Three Adjuncts were in chaos, and he did not again come east, but with Defending West General Hán Suì joined as Different Surname Brothers, at first were extremely close with one another, but later changed as their retainers attacked each other, and even more became rival enemies. Téng attacked Suì, Suì fled, gathered his armies to return to attack Téng, killing Téng’s wife and sons, joining weapons without resolution. At Jiàn’ān’s beginning, the state’s net of order was endangered and slackened, and therefore they sent Colonel Director of Retainers Zhōng Yáo and Liáng Province Governor Wéi Duān to reconcile them. Téng was summoned back to garrison Huáilǐ, transferred appointment to Front General, with Acting Staff, and fief as Huáilǐ Marquis. To the north he prepared against Hú bandits, to the east prepared against the White Cavalry [bandits], cared for scholars and advanced the worthy, sympathizing with and saving the people’s lives, and the Three Adjuncts were deeply pacified and favored him. Thirteenth Year , he was summoned as Minister of the Guard, Téng himself observed he was old in years, and therefore entered the Night Guard. Previously, Excellency Cáo became Chancellor, and recruited Téng’s eldest son Chāo, he did not accept, and Chāo later became Colonel Director of Retainers Commander Army Attending Official, suppressed Guō Yuán, was by a stray arrow hit, and therefore with a sack bound his leg and battled, defeating and beheading [Guō] Yuán’s head. Imperial Ordered appointed him Xú Province Inspector, later appointed Remonstrance Discussion Grandee. At Téng entering [the capital], therefore Imperial Order appointed [Mǎ Chāo] as Assisting General, to have him command Téng’s camps. Also Chāo’s younger brother Xiū was appointed Presenting Carriage Commandant, Xiū’s younger brother Tiě as Cavalry Commandant, relocating their family and dependents all to Yè, only Chāo alone remained.
Chāo then gathered his armies, and therefore with Hán Suì joined followers, and with Yáng Qiū, Lǐ Kān, Chéng Yí and others allied together, advancing army to reach Tóngguān. Excellency Cáo with [Hán] Suì and Chāo alone on horse met to talk, and Chāo relying on his great strength, secretly wished to charge ahead to capture Excellency Cáo, but Excellency Cáo’s nearby officer Xǔ Chǔ with fierce eyes glared at him, and Chāo therefore did not dare move.
Excellency Cáo used Jiǎ Xǔ’s plan, driving apart Chāo and Suì, so they again suspected one another, and the army thus was greatly defeated. (1) Chāo fled to defend the various Róng, Excellency Cáo pursued to Āndìng, it happened that the north had problems, and he led the army east to return. Yáng Fù said to Excellency Cáo: “Chāo has [Hán] Xìn’s and [Yīng] Bù’s valor, and has deeply obtained the Qiāng’s and Hú’s hearts. If the main army returns, and does not rigorously against him prepare, the Lǒngshàng’s various prefectures will not be the state’s possessions.” Chāo indeed led the various Róng to strike Lǒngshàng’s prefectures and counties, and Lǒngshàng’s prefectures and counties all answered him, killing Liáng Province Inspector Wéi Kāng, occupying Jìchéng, taking its armies. Chāo declared himself Campaigning West General, with office as Bìng Province Governor, and Commander of Liáng Province’s Military Affairs.
[Wéi] Kāng’s former officials and people Yáng Fù, Jiāng Xù, Liáng Kuān, Zhào Qú and others, together plotted to strike Chāo. [Yáng] Fù and [Jiāng] Xù rose up at Lǔchéng, Chāo went out to attack them, but could not take them down; [Liáng] Kuān and [Zhào] Qú closed Jìchéng’s gates, Chāo could not enter. Advancing and retreating was cut off, and therefore he fled to Hànzhōng to join Zhāng Lǔ. [Zhāng] Lǔ was not sufficient to with him plan affairs, inside he harbored discontentment, heard Xiānzhǔ [Liú Bèi] was besieging Liú Zhāng at Chéngdū, and secretly sent letter asking to surrender [to Liú Bèi]. (2)
- (1) Shānyáng-gōng Zǎijì states: Previously, Excellency Cáo’s army was at Púbǎn, wished to cross west, Chāo said to [Hán] Suì: “It is appropriate to on the Wèi’s north resist them, in no more than twenty days, Hédōng’s grain will be exhausted, and they will certainly flee.” [Hán] Suì said: “We can allow them to cross, and strike them in the river’s middle, would that not be faster?” Chāo’s plan could not be enacted. Excellency Cáo heard this and said: “If the Mǎ boy does not die, I will have no burial land.”
- (2) Diǎnlüè states: Jiàn’ān Sixteenth Year , Chāo with Guānzhōng’s various Generals Hóu Xuǎn, Chéng Yín, Lǐ Kān, Zhāng Héng, Liáng Xīng, Chéng Yí, Mǎ Wán, Yáng Qiū, Hán Suì and others, altogether ten divisions, together rebelled, their armies in the hundreds of thousands, together occupying the Hé and Tóng, establishing rows of camps and battle lines. That year, Excellency Cáo campaigned west, with Chāo and the rest battling at the intersection of the Hé and Wèi, and Chāo and the rest were defeated and fled. Chāo reached Āndìng, [Hán] Suì fled to Liáng Province. Imperial Order arrested and exterminated Chāo’s family and dependents. Chāo again was defeated at Lǒngshàng. Later he fled to Hànzhōng, Zhāng Lǔ appointed him Capital Discussion Libationer, wishing to marry to him a daughter, and someone remonstrated [Zhāng] Lǔ: “Someone like this who does not love his kin, how can he love another?” [Zhāng] Lǔ therefore stopped. Previously, in the time when Chāo had not yet rebelled, his lesser concubine’s younger brother Zhǒng remained in the Three Adjuncts, when Chāo was defeated, Zhǒng first entered Hànzhōng. At New Year’s, Zhǒng sent up long life wishes to Chāo, Chāo beat his breast and spat blood saying: “A whole household of a hundred people, in one morning together lost, today only two people to give congratulations?” Later he repeatedly from [Zhāng] Lǔ requested troops, wishing to go north to capture Liáng Province, [Zhāng] Lǔ sent him to go, but he was without success. Also [Zhāng] Lǔ’s officer Yáng Bái and others wished to harm his ability, and Chāo therefore from Wǔdū fled to enter among the Dī, and turned to flee toward Shǔ. That year was Jiàn’ān Nineteenth Year .
Xiānzhǔ sent people to welcome Chāo, and Chāo led his troops to directly arrive below the city walls. Inside the city was shaken and afraid, and [Liú] Zhāng promptly bowed his head. (1) Chāo was appointed Pacifying West General, Commander of Línjǔ, and his former fief as a capital precinct marquis. (2) Xiānzhǔ became King of Hànzhōng, and appointed Chāo as Left General, with Acting Authority. Zhāngwǔ Inaugural Year , he was promoted to Elite Cavalry General, office as Liáng Province Governor, advanced in fief to Tái village Marquis, the talley said: “As I am not virtuous, I obtained succession to the Utmost Honored, carrying on the Ancestral Temple. Cáo Cāo father and sons, for generations carried on their crime, and I therefore am grieved and distressed, pained as if a raging headache. Within the Seas is in resentment and indignation, returning to correct and wrong foundations, reaching to the Dī and Qiāng coming to submit, the Xūnyù admiring righteousness. As you are trusted and famed in the northern lands, authority and martial ability both shining, therefore you are appointed and awarded, to resist and soar roaring tiger, simultaneously direct ten thousand lǐ, rescuing the people’s distress. This enlightened and renowned Court cultivation, harboring and protecting the distant and close, respectful and cautious in reward and punishment, to serve Hàn’s blessings, to face the realm Under Heaven.”
Second Year  he died, at the time aged forty-seven years. Facing death he sent up memorial: “I your servant’s clan of over two hundred people, was by [Cáo] Mèngdé executed completely, there is only my younger cousin [Mǎ] Dài, able to be for my small clan’s blood and sacrifice succession, and I deeply entrust him to Your Majesty. I have no further words.” Posthumous title on Chāo as Wēi-hóu “Powerful Marquis,” his son Chéng succeeded. Dài’s position reached Pacifying North General, advanced in noble rank to Chéncāng Marquis. Chāo’s daughter was matched to King of Ānpíng [Liú] Lǐ. (3)
- (1) Diǎnlüè states: [Liú] Bèi heard Chāo had arrived, was pleased and said: “I have obtained Yì Province.” Therefore he sent people to stop Chāo, and secretly gave troops and supplies to him. Chāo arrived, ordered to draw the army to camp to the city’s north, and from Chāo’s arrival in not even ten days Chéngdū was defeated.
- (2) Shānyáng-gōng Zǎijì states: Chāo because he observed [Liú] Bèi’s treatment of him was generous, with [Liú] Bèi spoke, and always called [Liú] Bèi by his appellation, Guān Yǔ was angry, and requested to kill him. [Liú] Bèi said: “A man in destitution come to join me, you sirs are angry, and if because he called me by appellation therefore kill him, how can this be shown to the realm Under Heaven?” Zhāng Fēi said: “In that case, it should be shown for etiquette.” The next day at the great meeting, Chāo was invited to enter, [Guān] Yǔ and [Zhāng] Fēi together held sabers and stood in attention, Chāo looked at the seating mat, did not see [Guān] Yǔ and [Zhāng] Fēi, and saw them in attention, and therefore was greatly alarmed, and therefore entirely did not again call [Liú] Bèi by his appellation. The next day he sighed and said: “I now thus now the reason for my defeat. It was calling a ruler of men by appellation, and almost was by Guān Yǔ and Zhāng Fēi killed.” From this afterward he was therefore respectful in serving [Liú] Bèi.
- Your Servant Sōngzhī comments believing Chāo due to destitution joined [Liú] Bèi, received from him rank and position, how could be be so arrogant to call [Liú] Bèi by appellation? Moreover [Liú] Bèi had entered Shǔ, leaving Guān Yǔ to defend Jīng Province, [Guān] Yǔ never was in Yì’s lands. Therefore [Guān] Yǔ hearing Mǎ Chāo coming to surrender, used letter to ask Zhūgě Liàng: “Chāo’s ability can with who be compared?” and it cannot be like what the document [Shānyáng-gōng Zǎijì] says. How could [Guān] Yǔ with Zhāng Fēi be standing in attention? Ordinary people in doing something, all say it can be, and if knowing it cannot be, then do not do it. Chāo if he indeed called [Liú] Bèi by appellation, also is saying that he believed he should do so, and [Guān] Yǔ requesting to kill Chāo, Chāo did not hear it, but seeing the two men standing in attention, how could he from this easily know that calling by appellation was the reason, and say he was almost by Guān [Yǔ] and Zhāng [Fēi] killed? The speech is not logical, and deeply can be angrily resented. Yuán Wěi, Yuè Zī and the rest’s various writings, are filthy, random, false, and wrong, like this sort, and their danger is beyond description.
- (3) Diǎnlüè states: Previously at Chāo entering Shǔ, his lesser wife Dǒng and son Qiū, remained and depended on Zhāng Lǔ. [Zhāng] Lǔ was defeated, Excellency Cáo captured them, bestowed Dǒng on Yán Pǔ, and gave Qiū over to [Zhāng] Lǔ, and [Zhāng] Lǔ with his own hand killed him.