Chen Youliang

Chen Youliang

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Chen Youliang was the founder of the insurgent state of Dahan (大漢; literally: "Great Han") in the late Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 period of Chinese history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

.

Biography


Chen was born with the surname Xie
Xie
Xie is a Chinese family name; it is estimated that there are about 2 million people worldwide with this surname, the majority of whom live in southern China, and a 2006 study found that Xie was the 24th most common surname in China, with 0.27% of the population having this surname.The greater...

 (謝) to a fishing family in Mianyang (沔陽; in present-day Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

). He once served as a district official before becoming a general under Ni Wenjun
Ni Wenjun
Ni Wenjun was a general during the Red Turban Rebellion. He served under General Xu Shouhui. One of Ni's famous subordinates was Chen Youliang, who later founded the Han Empire....

 during the Red Turban Rebellion
Red Turban Rebellion
The Red Turban Rebellion was an uprising much influenced by the White Lotus Society members that targeted the ruling Yuan Dynasty.- Causes :...

. Chen later killed Ni Wenjun on the excuse that Ni planned to assassinate Xu Shouhui
Xu Shouhui
Xu Shouhui was a 14th century Chinese rebel leader who proclaimed himself emperor during the late Mongol Yuan Dynasty period. He was also known as Xu Zhenyi ....

, the Red Turban rebels' leader. Chen later turned on Xu Shouhui and killed him.

In 1357, Chen proclaimed himself "King of Han" in Jiangzhou (江州; present-day Jiujiang
Jiujiang
Jiujiang , formerly transliterated Kiukiang, is a prefecture-level city located on the southern shores of the Yangtze River in northwest Jiangxi Province, China. It is the second-largest prefecture-level city in Jiangxi province, the largest one being Nanchang...

, Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

), and emperor the next year after Xu Shouhui died. His era name
Chinese era name
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers . Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back...

, as well as his empire's name, was "Dahan" (大漢; literally "Great Han"). For 1359 to 1363 Chen's fleet was the strongest on the upper Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

. His power was at least as great as that of another rebel state, Wu, led by Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

.

In 1360 the Dahan fleet and army began a long war against Wu forces - based at that time in Jiqing (present-day Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

) and was later renamed "Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

" in 1368. An attack on the Wu capital was defeated thanks to excellent Wu intelligence (likely due to the defection of part of the Dahan fleet earlier in the year). The war continued till the climactic Battle of Lake Poyang
Battle of Lake Poyang
The naval battle of Lake Poyang took place 30 August – 4 October AD 1363 and was one of the final battles fought in the fall of China's Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty...

 where the Wu fleet narrowly defeated the larger fleet of Dahan after three days of fighting.

A month after the battle at Lake Poyang, the Dahan fleet tried to break out from Lake Poyang, during the resulting ship battles Chen was killed (he was alleged to have died from an arrow wound in the head). He was 43 years old at the time of his death.

As his crown prince Chen Shan (陳善) had been captured, Chen Youliang was succeeded by his second son, Chen Li
Chen Li
Chen Li , was the second and the last emperor of Dahan regime in late Yuan Dynasty in China. He reigned for two years from 1363 - 1364 before forced to surrender to Zhu Yuanzhang. He was then created Marquis Guide. In 1372, he was sent to Korea and died there...

, who was soon attacked by the fleet and army of Wu. The conquest of Dahan took an additional two years but by April 1365 the Dahan empire was gone and all its lands were now part of now part the Wu power base.

Family

  • Father: Chen Pucai (陳普才) - created a count by Zhu Yuanzhang after the downfall of Han

  • Brothers:
  • Chen Youren (陳友仁) - killed in the Battle of Poyang Lake
  • Chen Yougui (陳友貴) - killed in the Battle of Poyang Lake

  • Two other brothers would also be created counts by Zhu Yuanzhang after the downfall of Han

  • Spouses:
Chen Youliang had several concubines respectively surnamed Yang, Lou, Tao and Du (阇). Consort Du was captured along with Chen Shan. Concubines Yang and Lou predeceased Chen Youliang.

  • Children:
    • Chen Shan, crown prince
    • Chen Li
      Chen Li
      Chen Li , was the second and the last emperor of Dahan regime in late Yuan Dynasty in China. He reigned for two years from 1363 - 1364 before forced to surrender to Zhu Yuanzhang. He was then created Marquis Guide. In 1372, he was sent to Korea and died there...

      , his successor

In fiction



Chen Youliang is featured as a character in Louis Cha's wuxia
Wuxia
Wuxia is a broad genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists. Although wuxia is traditionally a form of literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to diverse art forms like Chinese opera, manhua , films, television series, and video games...

novel The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber as a minor antagonist.