The New Sui Empire of Serica (simplified Chinese: 大新隋帝国; traditional Chinese: 大新隋帝國; pinyin: Dà Xīn Suí D'ìguó), commonly known as the Later Sui Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 后隋朝; traditional Chinese: 後隋朝; pinyin: Hòu Suí Cháo) was the ruling dynasty of Serica from March 1418 to 26 May 1644, following the collapse of the Song Dynasty. Although the capital of Beiping fell in 1644 to the rebel leader Li Zicheng, who proclaimed the Shun Dynasty, regimes loyal to the New Sui throne existed until the end of the Shun Dynasty. The Later Sui Dynasty oversaw the construction of a vast navy and a strong army, and the first use of matchlock muskets in Asia. The Forbidden City in Beijing was also built in this period.
Conditions worsened throughout the Song Empire (960-1418) after the First Silk War, which destroyed its silk industry and caused the economy to plummet. Corruption and rebellions became widespread. By 1417, most of northern and western Serica had been lost. In February 1418, the last emperor of the Song Dynasty was assassinated by his own eunuchs after he tried to take control of the government.
Yang Weifeng was the son of a rich general, who claimed descent from the Sui Dynasty emperors. Yang soon gained a reputation after quelling several small peasant revolts, but he soon realized the corruption of the Song Dynasty. In 1418, after hearing news of the assassination of the emperor, Yang Weifeng and his army marched from their post in modern-day Beijing to the capital in Bianjing (modern-day Kaifeng) and easily conquered it.
Due to invasion from Mongols seeking to revive their fallen empire, Yang Weifeng was forced to relocate south of the Yangtze River to Guangzhou. There, he established the New Sui Empire and proclaimed himself the Wanle Emperor.
Wanle Emperor's Reign
Wanle immediately began to send troops to the border between the invading Mongols and the New Sui, which was at the Yangtze River. With the Serican army's prized gunpowder weapons, they destroyed the ships of the Mongols and drove them back to their side of the river. Wanle then ordered the construction of several forts along the river to secure the border.
After successfully repelling the Mongols, Wanle drafted the New Sui Code of Laws and began to work on the state infrastructure. However, he had a deep distrust for the Confucian scholar-officials and was convinced they were the reason for the collapse of the previous dynasty. Therefore he himself took control of the army and abolished the Chancellery. He invited several foreigners from afar to high positions in the Court, angering some of the Serican officials. To counter the threat of rebellion and coup, Wanle created a secret police to protect him and eliminate possible political threats.
Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Hangzhou and Guangzhou, also contributed to the growth of private industry. In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil.
Emperor Wanle aimed to create a strong and efficient central government. Many land estates were confiscated by the government, fragmented, and rented out to peasants and farmers. Private slavery was abolished. Consequently, poverty among the commoners waned.
Reforms of the New Sui
Although weakened by collapse of the Song Dynasty and the Mongol invasion, the New Sui government found ways to bolster its economy. The government sponsored the construction of merchant ships and also sought to revive the naval power that Serica wielded in the previous dynasty. One of the most famous Serican explorer of this time was Zheng He, a Muslim eunuch in the imperial court. Zheng He had already been prestigious in the final years of the Song Dynasty as a loyal adviser and an admiral, and had supported Wanle when he overthrew the top Song eunuchs. In total, Zheng led seven expeditions to the Indian Ocean (known as the "Western Ocean" to the Sericans) from as early as 1405 to his death at Hormuz in 1433, reaching as far as East Africa and Arabia. After his death, the costly government-sponsored expeditions were ended.The reforms made under Wanle continued after the Taiwu Emperor succeeded to the throne in 1447. Taiwu was especially interested in military technology, and encouraged the officials of the court to develop and advance gunpowder weapons. It was around this period that the matchlock was invented and first used by the Serican army.
Conflict with the Mongols
The reason why the New Sui was able to hold back the Mongols for so long was because the Mongol army was busy invading Korea, Siberia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. After Tayisung Khan made peace with the Abbasid Caliphate in 1449, he rushed back to the east and began a large-scale invasion of Serica. The Mongols were initially successful and conquered Sichuan. However, they suffered heavy casualties when they attempted to storm the Serican fort at Fishing Town. During the long siege, Tayisung Khan was killed by a stray matchlock bullet. The Khagan's death and the civil war that followed prompted most of the Mongols to withdraw. Taking advantage of the Khan's absence, the New Sui army crossed the Yangtze River and regained the cities of Fancheng and Xiangyang, situated on the northern and southern sides of the Han River respectively.
In 1451, Esen Tayisi (Chinese: 也先台吉) emerged as the new Khagan and resumed the invasion, laying siege to the cities of Xiangyang and Fancheng. However, the Mongols were repelled when Yu Qian took over as the new commander and reorganized the Serican army. Not only did he use the fortifications fairly well, but he also deployed various schemes to destroy morale in the Mongol army. At one point, he commanded his forces to pretend losing control of the city gate and lured a large force of Mongol riders into the city. Once a portion of the Mongols were inside, the gate was shut and the Mongols were ambushed. Esen's sworn brother was killed in that attack. Esen was forced to retreat when Serican reinforcements arrived. After Esen was murdered by his political enemies, civil war raged on between the Mongols. With a powerful, disciplined army of spears, fire arrows, and gunpowder weapons, the Sericans regain most of central Serica. The new border between the Mongol Yuan Dynasty and the New Sui Dynasty was now at the Wei River.
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