At the beginning this timeline will mostly focus on the South China Sea area but expands in scope as time progresses. Arrival and departure of major Sea Dragons will be marked in bold.
Our Time Line
1570's- The pirate Limahong becomes the terror of the South China Sea, refusing an imperial bribe to stand down a fleet of 40,000 Ming sailors hunt for Limahong and his army of 3000 outlaws. Taking advantage of the Ming Dynasty's isolationist foreign policy Limahong goes to the OTL Philippines to create a kingdom.
Point of Divergence
Summer 1574- As the Spanish are scattered throughout the Philippines a poorly defended Manila is taken by Limahong's pirates.
Rampage of Limahong
Fall 1574- Limahong consolidates his power on the island of Luzon. Commanded by Limahong's trusted Japanese aside squads of pirates force the submission of the local people.
Winter 1574- News from the Philippines reaches Mexico City, capital of the viceroy of New Spain. In Ming China Zhang Juzheng the effective ruler and advisor to the emperor was hesitant in making a response. Juzheng feared the possibilities of a confrontation with Spain.
1575- Ming Court records indicate a shrinking in silver supply in the country from this year, this will have long term implications for China. The Pirate kingdom becomes a haven for smugglers provided they pay tribute to Limahong for protection
1576- Franciscan emissaries from Mexico are sent to Japan. An expedition of Christian Samurai, Wakou Pirates, Portuguese, and Spanish is organized to reclaim the Filipino colony. The attempted invasion was a disaster, those Samurai who did not commit sepuku join forces with the Sea Dragons.
March 1577- Limahong is poisoned by an assassin commissioned by the Ming, his long time aside Sioco takes command.
Birth of the Sea Dragons
May 1577- A large expedition of 10,000 Ming sailors is sent by an aging Zhang Juzheng. Sioco having prior knowledge due to a network of traders and outlaws confronts the Ming with a smaller fleet. The Pirates scarified dozens of ships sending them burning into the Ming armada, a broken Ming fleet returns to China.In the imperial court Juzheng is rebuked by rival officials and is forced by the minor Wanli emperor to resign.
1580's- Recorded in this decade was the rise of a new generation of pirates of mostly Cantonese origin with other Asian nationalities as well. Attacks increase on European Ships and reach down to East Indies.
1581- A massive fleet is assembled to crush all piracy in the South China Sea. Sioco and his followers flee southwards to Tondo, Manila is subject to scorched earth by the pirates. The Ming Expedition is frustrated by the elusiveness of many pirates, those whose are captured are swiftly executed. A fort is built north of Manila to be garrisoned while the majority of the Ming fleet returns to port.
1582- With Limahong's and Sioco's monopoly of the South China Sea broken by the expedition new pirates begin to rise and fight each other for supremacy. A revenge raid kills many Ming Soldiers in Luzon. Apart from expelling pirates the Ming show little interest in governing the Philippines.
1583- Sioco with a community of Limahong's loyalists re-establishes himself on the island of Mindando battling the Sultanate of Brunei, northwards raids harass the Ming. In this period Sioco discovers and mentors a half Hokkien, half Filipino orphan. This boy will be later called Torahong.
1585- Portuguese in an effort to protect their assets hire deserters from Sioco to protect their gallons of gold and spices.
1587- Damiyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi sends an army of Samurai and Ronin to conquer Luzon, to reinforce loyalty at home. The Japanese employed many pirates including woaku and southern sea dragons.
1588- The Japanese launches an invasion of Korea, successfully sweeping through the country, with additional naval support with privateers foils the efforts of the Korean admiral Sun Yat Sen. However Japanese records report an interest in captured turtle ships. Japanese emissaries convince many sea dragons, including Sioco to attack southern Chinese cities to divert Ming attention.
1590-1592- The Ming respond massively to the Japanese attacks, sending a major fleet to eliminate the Japanese in the Philippines and an army to Korea to turn the tide. The fleet succeeds in wiping out the Japanese in the Northern Philippines, in Korea the Japanese are driven back to the southern coast. These successful missions drain the Ming treasury.
1592- Approximately at the age of fifty Sioco dies, Torahong succeeds him by choice of his trusted followers, Torahong is the second pirate to rule from Limahong's legacy.
1593- The massive Ming/Korean - Japanese battle of the Korea Strait ends in a Pyrrhic Ming victory. The Ming navy is permanently shattered but the Japanese withdraw from the area.
1594- The failure of Japan's overseas wars results in the fall of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, civil war between the samurai clans resumes in Japan.
1596- The Ming Dynasty reluctantly occupies Luzon, the Ming commissions the building of a new city on the site of old Manila and a series of forts around Luzon's coasts. An indigenous Visayan is appointed to rule over his people with the assistance of a Han Chinese governor general. Luzon island is still is now effectively part of the Ming empire. This is the first time in history a Chinese state engages in permanent maritime expansion
Late 1590s- Tora Hong's marries a Brunei princess while he earns his name Tora Hong by terrorizing to the East Indies and the Philippines. His people have become famous for their night raids. The king of Brunei paid a massive tribute and the marriage of one his nieces to Tora Hong to end attacks on his land.
1599- By the end of the 16th century there are at least ten pirate bases in the East Indies of mixed Chinese origin.
Fall of the Ming
1603- An English trader an engineer was captured by Torahong's pirates, Torahong develops an interest in him and the two develop a lifelong friendship.
1605- A major battle in the Takhara river in Japan is inconclusive, former friends and enemies of Toyotomi continue to fight each other.
1608- A former Ming sailor from Fuzhou turns to piracy and establishes a base on Taiwan from which to attack an increasingly fractured Ming. Becoming known as the Black Wave(Chinese:黑波, Hēi bō he spends a career terrorizing the coasts of the Yellow Sea and competition with Torahong.
1610- Using both Junks and European style ships Torahong famously raids Batavia harbor in Indonesia, seriously weakening Dutch interests in the region. Later Torahong invites English and Portuguese sailors to do business with him, on condition they pay protection tribute.
1614- Two Samurai Clans- the Omura and the Date, construct gun manufactures, changing the course of feudal Samurai warfare as handguns are spread to the majority of foot soldiers.
1615- Torahong's pirates beach on the coast of New Guinea for four months, they return with slaves and spices.
1624- The Ming Dynasty faces major domestic results in several provinces that cannot be contained. Peasant revolts occupy the Yellow River valley
1625- Many leading commanders of the Ming army declare their independence and carve out their own states. The Governor general in Luzon invites the royal family to enjoy his protection.
1626- Inspired in part by the style of Christian missionaries. a Japanese Buddhist monk,takes advantage of peasant uprisings inspired by the memory of the revolutionary sect, Ikko Ikki. A religious movement brings a revival of pure land Buddhism which had been dismantled by Oda Nobunga. Peasants and townspeople seize Kyoto. Japan is split between Ikki, Christians, and remaining "traditional" clans.
Era of Many States
1627- Torahong after a career of raiding his neighbors and plundering at hundreds of ships Torahong leads a coordinated attack on Luzon with Portuguese support , but the Ming settlers and the natives fight back. Enlisting the help of the Dutch merchants , Ming Loyalists fight Torahong to a standstill. Other Europeans are eager to sell arms to both sides.
1629- In an upset victory the Ming Loyalist-Dutch alliance crushes Torahong's fleet in Leyte gulf. Torahong narrowly survives.
1630- At the age of 60, Torahong dies allegedly of depression, the pirate kingdom falls to warring factions.
1633-1638- War of Heaven (Japanese:天国の国の時代 Tengoku no kuni no jidai between the resurgent Ikki - and the Spanish supported Christian Omro clan ensues to be most devastating civil war in the nation's history. Daimyo are split in the religious war, many Daimyo supported the Christians for European contacts.
1630s- Spanish, English, Dutch and Portuguese merchants set up dozens of trading posts on China's coast in the power vacuum left by the Ming
1632-1690- Continuous wars between Ming Successor states
1636- Mulattoes Privateers are hired by the state of Bo-hai to attack the shipping lanes of the Later Sung State, this is the first instance of Sea-Dragons being hired by one Chinese state against another.
1638- Buddhist revolutionaries storm the final Christian holdouts in Nagasaki, unifying Japan solidly for the first time in two centuries. A Bodhisattva proclaims himself Guardian of all the Japanese People. The next decade sees implementation of Jodo Shinshu or Pure Land doctrine as a political philosophy.
1639- Russian explorers traveling over Siberia reach Manchuria, Slavic Cossacks will later arrive to claim the region around the Amur river.
1640- From this point on religious minorities from East Asia begin to voyage across the sea to find new places to settle, fleeing from persecution and brutality in their own countries.
1644- A post Ming bureaucrat residing in Hangzhou disillusioned with the collapse of the empire writes The New Legalism blaming Confucianist decadence as the reason for the Ming collapse. The ancient emperor Qin Shi Huang, long denounced for his brutality is rehabilitated as a model for the future. The publication influences Chinese states to restructure on technocratic lines and attack traditional culture.
1650- With a growth of the plantation economy in the East Indies slave raids begin on New Guinea, small port colonies exist on the northern coast but most captives are exported to be used on various Pacific islands and Sea Dragon ports.
1692- The Southern Sung, reunifies mainland China rearranging the county on legalistic and market based principals.
Early 1700's- French and English sail through North American rivers using a smaller turtle boat design inspired by the Korea, covered with furs and skins to protect the top and the hill. Such ships usually have bear heads.SEE NEXT ERA