Lan Yu (general)

Lan Yu (general)

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Lan Yu was a Chinese general who contributed to the founding 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...

. His ancestral home was in present-day Dingyuan County
Dingyuan County
Dingyuan County is a county of Anhui Province, China. It is under the administration of Chuzhou city....

, Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

. In 1393 Lan was suspected and accused of plotting a rebellion and eventually put to death by the Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

. About 15,000 people were implicated in the case and executed.

Biography


According to the History of Ming
History of Ming
The History of Ming is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories of China. It consists of 332 volumes and covers the history of Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, which was written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Qing Dynasty, with the lead...

, in his early years, Lan Yu was a subordinate of Chang Yuchun
Chang Yuchun
Chang Yuchun , style name Boren and pseudonym Yanheng , was a Chinese Muslim military general. He was a follower of the Ming Dynasty's founder, Zhu Yuanzhang, and contributed greatly to the founding of the dynasty...

, a general under Zhu Yuanzhang (later the Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

). Lan Yu was also the younger brother of Chang Yuchun's wife. As Lan Yu displayed courage in battle, Chang Yuchun spoke well of him numerous times in front of Zhu Yuanzhang, and Lan was later promoted from guanjun zhenfu (管軍鎮撫; literally: managing and pacifying the army) to an administrative officer in the commander-in-chief's office (大都督府僉事). In 1371 Lan Yu followed Fu Youde (傅友德) to attack Shu (covering present-day Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

) and conquered Mianzhou (綿州; around present-day Mianyang
Mianyang
Mianyang is the second largest prefecture-level city of Sichuan province in Southwest China. Its administrative area includes the city proper of Mianyang, with 985,586 inhabitants in the built up area , the county-level city of Jiangyou, and six counties, covering an area of over and a population...

, Sichuan). In 1372 he accompanied Xu Da
Xu Da
Xu Da was a Chinese military general who lived in the early Ming Dynasty and contributed to the founding of the dynasty. Apart from being a friend of the Hongwu Emperor, founding emperor of the dynasty, Xu was also the father of Empress Xu, who would marry the third ruler of the Ming, the Yongle...

 on a campaign against the Northern Yuan Dynasty (remnants of the Mongol-ruled 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...

 in China), departing from Yan Pass
Yanmenguan
Yanmenguan , also known as Xixingguan is the name of a Great Wall pass. Located in Dai County, Xinzhou of Shanxi province in China. The current Yanmenguan reconstruction was built during Ming dynasty and currently known as one of the announced monuments of China.- Name :Yanmenguan is situated on...

 and defeating the Yuan armies at Mount Luan (亂山) and near the Tula River (土剌河). Seven years later he followed Mu Ying
Mu Ying
Mu Ying was a general during the Ming Dynasty, and an adopted son of its founder, the Hongwu Emperor . Mu Ying was a Chinese Muslim. Mu Ying was one of the few capable generals who survived the massacre of the Hongwu Emperor....

 to attack Tibet, capturing three tribal leaders and around a thousand men. For his efforts, in 1379 Lan Yu was conferred the title of "Marquis of Yongchang" (永昌侯), in addition to receiving 2500 dan (石) of grain and a shiquan (世券; a type of plaque granted by the emperor to officials in recognition of their contributions).

In 1381 Lan Yu was appointed Left Deputy General Who Conquers the South (征南左副將軍) and accompanied Fu Youde to attack Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and pacified the region. He was rewarded with 500 dan of grain and his daughter was granted the title of "Princess Consort of Shu" (蜀王妃). In 1387 Nahachu (納哈出) of Northern Yuan invaded Liaodong so the Hongwu Emperor sent Feng Sheng (馮勝), with Lan Yu and Fu Youde as his right and left deputies respectively, along with a 200,000 strong army to attack Nahachu. Nahachu was defeated and surrendered to the Ming Dynasty. Lan Yu garrisoned the army at Jizhou (薊州).

In 1388 the Hongwu Emperor commissioned Lan Yu as General-in-Chief (大將軍) and sent him with 150,000 troops to attack the Northern Yuan ruler Uskhal Khan. In the fourth lunar month
Lunar month
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two identical syzygies . There are many variations. In Middle-Eastern and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening...

 of that year, Lan Yu's force arrived at Buir Lake and defeated the Northern Yuan army, capturing Uskhal Khan's family members numbering more than 100, more than 77,000 civilians, more than 150,000 livestock, along with several priced items, including Uskhal Khan's imperial seals. Uskhal Khan attempted to flee to the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

's old capital of Karakorum
Karakorum
Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14-15th century. Its ruins lie in the northwestern corner of the Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia, near today's town of Kharkhorin, and adjacent to the Erdene Zuu monastery...

, but was killed shortly after the defeat. The Hongwu Emperor was pleased when he received news of Lan Yu's victory and intended to grant Lan the title of "Duke of Liang" (梁國公), but changed the Chinese character for "Liang" from "梁" to "涼" after he heard that Lan seized a Mongol noble lady for himself and violated her. This resulted in a change in the area that was to be Lan Yu's dukedom. Despite so, Hongwu still praised Lan Yu as "comparable to Wei Qing
Wei Qing
Wei Qing , born Zheng Qing in Linfen, Shanxi, was a famous general during Han Dynasty of China, whose campaigns against the Xiongnu earned him great acclaim. He was the younger half-brother of Empress Wei Zifu, making him the the Emperor Wu's brother-in-law...

 of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 and Li Jing
Li Jing
Li Jing , né Yaoshi , formally Duke Jingwu of Wei , was a general and one time chancellor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

 of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

". In 1392 a surrendered Yuan general Yuelutiemu'er (月魯帖木兒) rebelled in Jianchang (present-day Jianchang County
Jianchang County
Jianchang County is an administrative division within Huludao City in the southwest of Liaoning Province, in Northeast China. It is the largest division of Huludao, with an area of , and is located in mountainous terrain west of that city....

, Liaoning
Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

) and Lan Yu was sent to suppress the revolt. Lan Yu crushed the uprising and captured Yuelutiemu'er and his son, and was appointed as the Crown Prince's Tutor (太子太傅) for his achievement.

As he made more achievements, Lan Yu became more arrogant, self-indulgent and unbridled. He started abusing his power and status and behaved violently and recklessly, sometimes even showing disrespect towards the emperor. Once, after he seized land from peasants in Dongchang (東昌), an official questioned him on his actions, but Lan Yu drove the official away in anger. In another incident, after Lan Yu returned from a campaign in the north, he arrived at Xifeng Pass (喜峰關), where the guards denied him entry as it was already late at night, but Lan led his men to force his way through. When he was away at war, Lan Yu sometimes also demoted officers at his own will and defied orders, to the extent of going to battle without permission. During his appointment as the Crown Prince's Tutor, Lan Yu was unhappy that his post was lower than the dukes of Song and Ying, so he exclaimed, "Am I not fit to be the Imperial Tutor (太師)?" The Hongwu Emperor became more angry with Lan Yu after learning of these incidents.

Lan Yu had a close friendship with the crown prince Zhu Biao
Zhu Biao
Zhu Biao was Emperor Hongwu's first son and Crown Prince of the founder of the Ming Dynasty. He was supposed to be soft hearted. He once questioned his father why many of the ministers and generals who were pioneers of the Empire were being killed or banished...

. Once after Lan Yu returned from a campaign against the Mongols, he warned the crown prince that Zhu Di (the Prince of Yan and future Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

) seemed to be a likely a threat to his succession. Zhu Di heard about this, so after Zhu Biao died in 1392, he cautioned the Hongwu Emperor that Lan Yu and other founding pioneers of the dynasty were becoming a threat to the throne and should be dealt with before they get out of control. Lan Yu and others did not restrain themselves and continued behaving in the same manner as they did. Around this time, Hongwu was already making plans to eliminate them. Five months later when Hongwu appointed Zhu Biao's son Zhu Yunwen (future Jianwen Emperor
Jianwen Emperor
The Jianwen Emperor , with the personal name Zhu Yunwen , reigned as the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty...

) as the new crown prince, he allowed Lan Yu to continue serving as the Crown Prince's Tutor.

Death


In the second lunar month
Lunar month
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two identical syzygies . There are many variations. In Middle-Eastern and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening...

 of 1393, a Jinyi Wei
Jinyi Wei
The Jinyi Wei was the imperial military secret police of the Chinese emperors of the Ming Dynasty and were bound to serving the emperor only. The Jinyi Wei was founded by the Hongwu Emperor in 1368 to serve as his personal bodyguards and it developed into a military organization the following year...

 (secret police) commander Jiang Huan (蔣瓛) accused Lan Yu of plotting a rebellion and a search was conducted in Lan's residence and around 10,000 Japanese swords were found. The Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

 immediately had Lan Yu put to death on a charge of treason. Lan Yu's clan was exterminated to the third degree and his properties confiscated. More than 15,000 people were implicated and executed in this incident, including 12 marquises and two counts. This incident is known historically as the Lan Yu Case (藍玉案).