A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the by Kenneth M. Swope

By Kenneth M. Swope

The invasion of Korea through jap troops in could of 1592 was once no traditional army day trip: it was once one of many decisive occasions in Asian background and the main tragic for the Korean peninsula until eventually the mid-twentieth century. jap overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi expected conquering Korea, Ming China, and at last all of Asia; yet Korea’s entice China’s Emperor Wanli for tips prompted a six-year warfare regarding millions of infantrymen and encompassing the total zone. For Japan, the struggle was once “a dragon’s head via a serpent’s tail”: a powerful starting with out actual ending.

Kenneth M. Swope has undertaken the 1st full-length scholarly research in English of this significant clash. Drawing on Korean, jap, and particularly chinese language assets, he corrects the Japan-centered standpoint of past bills and depicts Wanli no longer because the self-indulgent ruler of bought interpretations yet quite one actively engaged in army affairs—and involved particularly with rescuing China’s buyer kingdom of Korea. He places the Ming in a extra lively gentle, detailing chinese language siege war, the advance and deployment of leading edge army applied sciences, and the naval battles that marked the climax of the battle. 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 battle marked either the emergence of Japan’s wish to expand its sphere of effect to the chinese language mainland and an army revival of China’s dedication to protecting its pursuits in Northeast Asia. Swope’s account deals new perception not just into the heritage of struggle in Asia but additionally right into a clash that reverberates in diplomacy to this day.

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

The invasion of Korea through eastern troops in may possibly of 1592 was once no traditional army day trip: 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 attract China’s Emperor Wanli for advice prompted a six-year struggle concerning thousands of infantrymen and encompassing the total quarter.

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

Sample text

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. Ming China provided in excess of 40,000 troops to help Korea in 1592 and more than twice that many in 1597, even as hundreds of thousands of its soldiers were simultaneously engaged in quelling uprisings at home. Although the actual number of Koreans involved is difficult to estimate since many fought as guerrilla troops or assorted irregulars under the command of local elites or even Buddhist monks, tens of thousands of Korean combatants and the majority of the civilian population were directly involved in the war at one time or another.

The opening lines to the English-language foreword of a Japanese work on the war published in 1936, a year before the massive invasion of China, are illuminating. Written by Hiroshi Ikeuchi and published by the prestigious Toyô Bunko, they encapsulate the valorization of Japan’s imperialist enterprise in nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalist scholarship. The war of Bunroku and Keichô (the last years of the sixteenth century), brilliant in history as the foreign expedition of Taycosama or Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the greatest hero of these days, was the one ambitious enterprise of his last years.

After the defeat at Sarhu, however, the increasingly factionalized Ming court engaged in endless rounds of scapegoating, finger-pointing, and partisan wrangling. Concerning the Liaodong campaign itself, among the fall guys was Yang Hao, the supreme civil commander of the expedition, who had been embroiled in controversy during his tenure as commissioner of Korean affairs in the 1590s. Accordingly, Yang’s defeat was viewed as part of a pattern of failure by the Ming military during the previous decades.

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