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Battle of Tangdao
Part of the Jin-Song wars
Date 16 November 1161
Location Tangdao, an island near Shandong Peninsula at the East China Sea
Result Song victory
Jurchen Jin Southern Song
Commanders and leaders
Su Baoheng
Wanyan Zhengjianu
Li Bao
600 warships and 70,000 troops 120 warships and 3000 troops

The naval Battle of Tangdao (唐岛之战) took place in 1161 between the Jurchen Jin and the Southern Song Dynasty of China on the East China Sea during the Jurchen campaigns against the Song Dynasty. It was an attempt by the Jin to invade and conquer the Southern Song Dynasty, yet resulted in failure and defeat for the Jurchens. The Jin Dynasty navy was set on fire by firearms and Fire Arrows, suffering heavy losses. For this battle, the commander of the Song Dynasty squadron, Li Bao, faced the opposing commander Zheng Jia, the admiral of the Jin Dynasty. On the fate of Zheng Jia, the historical text of the Jin Shi states:

Zheng Jia did not know the sea routes (among the islands) well, nor much about the management of ships, and he did not believe (that the enemy, the Song, was near). But all of the sudden they appeared, and finding us quite unready they hurled incendiary gunpowder projectiles on to our ships. So seeing all his ships going up in flames, and having no means of escape, Zheng Jia jumped into the sea and drowned.[1]

This battle was followed by another naval confrontation, the Battle of Caishi (采石之战) taking place in 1161. On the significance of these battles and the development of China's first permanent standing navy during the Song, the historian Joseph Needham stated that from a total of 11 squadrons and 3,000 men the Song navy rose in one century to 20 squadrons totalling 52,000 men, with its main base near Shanghai.[2] The needs of the regular striking force of the Song navy could also be supported by substantial Chinese merchants in the south.[2] In this Jin campaign of 1161 AD, some 340 ships participated in the battles on the Yangtze.[2] Yet there was a long process leading up to this battle; in 1129 (AD) trebuchets throwing gunpowder bombs were decreed standard equipment on all warships,[2] between 1132 AD and 1183 AD a large number of treadmill-operated paddle-wheel craft, large and small, were built, including stern-wheelers and ships with as many as 11 paddle-wheels a side (the invention of the remarkable engineer Gao Xuan).[2] In 1203 AD some of these were armored with iron plates (to the design of another outstanding shipwright Qin Shi-Fu).[2] The navy of the Southern Song Dynasty thus successfully held off the Jurchen Jin Dynasty and then the invading Mongols for the span of nearly two centuries, gaining complete control of the East China Sea.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 157.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 476.


  • Fighting Ships of the Far East 1 - "China and Southeast Asia 202 BC - AD 1419" (2002) Turnbull, Stephen Oxford: Osprey Publishing
  • Needham, Joseph (1986) Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3 Taipei: Caves Books Ltd
  • Needham, Joseph (1986) Science and Civilization in China: Volume 5, Part 7 Taipei: Caves Books Ltd

Coordinates: 37°00′00″N 121°00′00″E / 37°N 121°E / 37; 121

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