By Kenneth M. Swope

The invasion of Korea by means of eastern troops in might of 1592 was once no usual army excursion: it used to be one of many decisive occasions in Asian historical past and the main tragic for the Korean peninsula till the mid-twentieth century. eastern overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi predicted conquering Korea, Ming China, and at last all of Asia; yet Korea’s entice China’s Emperor Wanli for information prompted a six-year struggle concerning millions of squaddies and encompassing the complete area. For Japan, the battle used to be “a dragon’s head through a serpent’s tail”: a magnificent starting without actual ending.

Kenneth M. Swope has undertaken the 1st full-length scholarly learn in English of this crucial clash. Drawing on Korean, eastern, and particularly chinese language assets, he corrects the Japan-centered viewpoint of past debts and depicts Wanli no longer because the self-indulgent ruler of acquired interpretations yet really one actively engaged in army affairs—and involved particularly with rescuing China’s shopper country of Korea. He places the Ming in a extra lively gentle, detailing chinese language siege battle, the improvement and deployment of cutting edge army applied sciences, and the naval battles that marked the climax of the struggle. He additionally explains the war’s repercussions outdoors the army sphere—particularly the dynamics of intraregional international relations in the shadow of the chinese language tributary system.

What Swope calls the 1st nice East Asian struggle marked either the emergence of Japan’s wish to expand its sphere of impression to the chinese language mainland and an army revival of China’s dedication to protecting its pursuits in Northeast Asia. Swope’s account bargains new perception not just into the heritage of conflict in Asia but additionally right into a clash that reverberates in diplomacy to this day.

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Extra resources for A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592–1598

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25 In marked contrast to standard portrayals that cast Wanli as irresolute, covetous, and self-indulgent, the emperor took an active interest in the action in Korea from the outset and made the decision to send troops and supplies. 26 Furthermore, he authorized the appointment of military officers to high posts formerly reserved solely for civil authorities, often over the protests of some of the most powerful officials in the empire. Swope FM-End 10/19/09 3:39 PM Page 23 EMPEROR WANLI AND THE MILITARY REVIVAL OF THE MING 23 This interest in military affairs stemmed from the tutelage of Zhang Juzheng, who served as the emperor’s chief grand secretary (equivalent to the prime minister of the late Ming system) and teacher.

After considering both sides, Wanli decided that the suppression of the mutiny was paramount, appointing Li Chengliang as military superintendent, with Mei to accompany him as army inspecting censor for Ningxia. After all this Li Chengliang ended up not going on account of his advanced age (sixty-six) and the need for him in Liaodong in light of the rumored Japanese invasion of Korea. In his place his eldest son, Li Rusong, was appointed military superintendent of Ningxia and commander of Shaanxi in charge of suppressing the mutiny.

Japanese sources from the Tokugawa (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) eras often refer to the war as either the Seikan (Glorious Conquest of Korea) or the Seibatsu (Glorious Pacification of Korea). In China the war has been called the yuan Chaoxian (the Rescue of Korea) or the dong zheng (Eastern Expedition). This war was the single largest military conflict in the world during the sixteenth century. The Japanese mobilized more than 150,000 troops for their first invasion in 1592 and more than 140,000 for their second major invasion in 1597.

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