By Kenneth M. Swope
The invasion of Korea by means of eastern troops in may possibly of 1592 used to be no usual army excursion: it was once one of many decisive occasions in Asian historical past and the main tragic for the Korean peninsula till the mid-twentieth century. jap overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi predicted conquering Korea, Ming China, and finally all of Asia; yet Korea’s entice China’s Emperor Wanli for assistance brought on a six-year conflict related to thousands of infantrymen and encompassing the entire area. For Japan, the warfare used to be “a dragon’s head by way of a serpent’s tail”: a powerful starting with out genuine ending.
Kenneth M. Swope has undertaken the 1st full-length scholarly research in English of this significant clash. Drawing on Korean, eastern, and particularly chinese language assets, he corrects the Japan-centered viewpoint of prior money owed and depicts Wanli now not because the self-indulgent ruler of obtained interpretations yet relatively one actively engaged in army affairs—and involved in particular with rescuing China’s customer country 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 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 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 war in Asia but additionally right into a clash that reverberates in diplomacy to this day.
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Additional resources for A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592–1598
5 While most ignored these entreaties or replied with artful diplomacy, some, like the kingdom of Ryukyu, were forced to assist him at least indirectly. But Siam and Ryukyu both allegedly contributed military support to the allied effort against Japan. The Chinese clearly saw Hideyoshi’s gambit as an audacious attempt to usurp Ming (1368–1644) hegemony in East Asian commercial and diplomatic affairs and therefore responded to his challenge with appropriate military force. The broad scope of this conflict has even prompted one Chinese scholar, Li Guangtao, to call this war the single greatest event in the history of East Asia.
But others recognized that mercenaries, if properly trained and led, could be much more effective in battle than peasant conscripts. As in contemporary Europe, where the most effective fighting forces typically used mercenary Swiss infantry, if the state could afford them (and with the massive influx of foreign silver into China, the Ming could pay for such services), mercenaries constituted the more desirable option, though as was the case in Europe, they continued to serve alongside rural recruits and conscripts.
Overwhelmed by an enthusiastic desire to conquer the Asiatic continent, he dispatched his troops to the Korean peninsula as a preliminary step in fulfilling his purpose of defeating the Ming dynasty. Swope FM-End 12 10/19/09 3:39 PM Page 12 INTRODUCTION his foolish ignorance of the proper diplomatic forms and protocols. Furthermore, Emperor Wanli picked up the gauntlet cast by Hideyoshi and tossed it back in his face with threats of million-man armies sent from China in addition to the combined military might of the Ming’s other tributary states.