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Xu Da

Xu Da (Chinese: 徐達) (1332–1385) 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 Emperor.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Xu joined the Red Turban rebels in 1353 to overthrow the Mongolian-ruled Yuan Dynasty in China. He was placed under the command of Zhu Yuanzhang (future Hongwu Emperor of the Ming Dynasty) and he helped Zhu conquer several regional warlords. In 1369, two years after the founding the Ming Dynasty, Xu, along with various deputies, led an attack on the Yuan capital city of Beijing and forced the last Yuan ruler, Emperor Huizong, to flee northward.[1]

Xu led a pursuit on the retreating Yuan forces and he encountered Yi Seonggye (founder of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea), who was commanded to take out the Chinese army. Xu's presence struck fear into the Korean generals, who in turn, allied themselves with the Chinese instead. Afterwards, Xu's army entered Mongolian territory and routed Mongol reinforcements throughout the empire. Eventually, Xu's force sacked the Mongolian capital at Karakorum,[1] and captured thousands of Mongol nobles in 1370. His army ventured to Transbaikalia and reached the furthest north that any other Chinese army had never reached before.[1]

Xu died in 1385 under mysterious circumstances. He was not accused of plotting an assassination on the Hongwu Emperor, although many others who contributed to the Ming Dynasty's founding had been put to death by the emperor for allegedly plotting rebellions. In legend, an illness made Xu allergic to goose and the Hongwu Emperor sent him goose to eat, ensuring that Xu ate it and died.[2]

Popular culture[edit | edit source]

Xu Da is featured as a character in Louis Cha's Wuxia novel The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. As a member of the anti-Yuan Ming Cult, Xu participated actively in the rebellions to overthrow the Yuan Dynasty, together with Zhu Yuanzhang, Chang Yuchun and others, under the leadership of Zhang Wuji. Zhang passes Xu the Book of Wumu, a textbook on military strategies written by the Song Dynasty general Yue Fei, and Xu benefits greatly from reading the book. Xu becomes a brilliant military commander and leads the rebels to victory in the battles against the Yuan forces. He later aids Zhu Yuanzhang in founding the Ming Dynasty in China.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Xu Da." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Oct. 2008
  2. Deng, YinkeHistory of China Beijing : China Intercontinental Press, 2007. ISBN 978-7-5085-1098-9 pp.131-132
Preceded by
Li Shanchang
Left Chancellor of Ming Dynasty
Succeeded by
Hu Weiyong
Preceded by
Right Chancellor of Ming Dynasty
1368 - 1371
Succeeded by
Wang Guangyang

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