By Kenneth M. Swope
The invasion of Korea via eastern troops in might of 1592 was once no usual army day trip: it used to be one of many decisive occasions in Asian historical past and the main tragic for the Korean peninsula until eventually the mid-twentieth century. eastern overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi anticipated conquering Korea, Ming China, and finally all of Asia; yet Korea’s entice China’s Emperor Wanli for guidance brought on a six-year conflict concerning thousands of infantrymen and encompassing the complete sector. For Japan, the battle used to be “a dragon’s head via a serpent’s tail”: a powerful starting without genuine 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 resources, he corrects the Japan-centered standpoint of past debts and depicts Wanli now not because the self-indulgent ruler of bought interpretations yet relatively one actively engaged in army affairs—and involved specifically with rescuing China’s customer nation of Korea. He places the Ming in a extra full of life mild, detailing chinese language siege conflict, the improvement and deployment of cutting edge army applied sciences, and the naval battles that marked the climax of the conflict. 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 conflict marked either the emergence of Japan’s wish to expand its sphere of impact 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 war in Asia but in addition right into a clash that reverberates in diplomacy to this day.
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Additional info for A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592–1598
37 The rebellion was reported to the throne on April 19, 1592, by a Shaanxi surveillance official, who reported that the entire province was in an uproar and only a single official (Xiao Ruxun at Pingluo) was resisting the mutineers with any degree of success. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Wanli immediately called for a meeting with Minister of War Shi Xing (d. 1597). They decided that the uprising needed to be settled quickly lest it engulf the entire northwest frontier. They issued an edict for the selection of 7,000 fearless men from Xuanda and Shanxi to come to the rescue.
22 Even as these institutional changes were being implemented, some officials began calling for wider recruitment of mercenaries, both to improve efficiency and to lighten the burden of military costs for local areas. It is interesting to consider this development in light of mercenary use elsewhere. 23 Ming officials often complained that such troops never trained, ignored all regulations, and frequently caused local problems, including riots. But others recognized that mercenaries, if properly trained and led, could be much more effective in battle than peasant conscripts.
As Liew Foon Ming points out: “The lot of the Ming Ministers of War was precarious in a court divided into ambitious antagonistic factions who seemed to be in perpetual conflict stimulated more by personal interest rather than by differences of appearance in matters of policy. ”21 Wang called for the dismissal of the offending officials and speedy military reorganization, to which Emperor Jiajing (r. 1522–66) assented. New training positions, albeit posts that still subordinated military officials to civilian oversight, were created.