Emperor Wanli (reigned 1572 – 1620 AD), he was the Chinese Emperor who sent land and naval forces to aid the Koreans when Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan invaded Joseon Kingdom with nearly 200,000 troops (both campaigns) in the 1590s.
Ming Dynasty era (1368 – 1644) Imperial cavalry guards, notice the saber daos they wield, as well as the long guan dao (pole-swords) they’re wielding in the bottom picture, along with lamellar-scale, brigandine, and jack-of-plate styles of scale armor…
Emperor Jiajing (1522 – 1567 AD) being escorted by Imperial Guard cavalry.
For a century after the Yongle emperor, the empire enjoyed stability, tranquillity, and prosperity. But state administration began to suffer when weak emperors were exploitatively dominated by favoured eunuchs: Wang Zhen in the 1440s, Wang Zhi in the 1470s and 1480s, and Liu Jin from 1505 to 1510. The Hongxi (reigned 1424-25), Xuande (1425-35), and Hongzhi (1487-1505) emperors were nevertheless able and conscientious rulers in the Confucian mode. The only serious disruption of the peace occurred in 1449 when the eunuch Wang Zhen led the Zhengtong emperor (first reign 1435-49) into a disastrous military campaign against the Oyrat (western Mongols). The Oyrat leader Esen Taiji ambushed the imperial army, captured the emperor, and besieged Beijing. The Ming defense minister, Yu Qian, forced Esen to withdraw unsatisfied and for eight years dominated the government with emergency powers. When the interim Jingtai emperor (reigned 1449-57) fell ill in 1457, the Zhengtong emperor, having been released by the Mongols in 1450, resumed the throne as the Tianshun emperor (1457-64). Yu Qian was then executed as a traitor.
The Zhengde (reigned 1505-21) and Jiajing (1521-1566/67) emperors were among the less-esteemed Ming rulers. The former was an adventure-loving carouser, the latter a lavish patron of Daoist alchemists. For one period of 20 years, during the regime of an unpopular grand secretary named Yan Song, the Jiajing emperor withdrew almost entirely from governmental cares. Both emperors cruelly humiliated and punished hundreds of officials for their temerity in remonstrating.
China’s long peace ended during the Jiajiang emperor’s reign. The Oyrat, under the vigorous new leadership of Altan Khan, were a constant nuisance on the northern frontier from 1542 on; in 1550 Altan Khan raided the suburbs of Beijing itself. During the same era, Japan-based sea raiders repeatedly plundered China’s southeastern coast. Such sea raiders, a problem in Yuan times and from the earliest Ming years, had been suppressed during the reign of the Yongle emperor, when Japan’s Ashikaga shogunate offered nominal submission to China in exchange for generous trading privileges. However, changes in the official trade system eventually provoked new discontent along the coast, and during the 1550s corsair fleets looted the Shanghai-Ningbo region almost annually, sometimes sending raiding parties far inland to terrorize cities and villages throughout the whole Yangtze delta. Although coastal raiding was not totally suppressed, it was brought under control in the 1560s. Also in the 1560s Altan Khan was repeatedly defeated, so that he made peace in 1571. For the next decade, during the last years of the Longqing emperor (reigned 1566/67-1572) and the early years of the Wanli emperor (1572-1620), the government was highly stable. The court was dominated by the outstanding grand secretary of Ming history, Zhang Juzheng, and capable generals such as Qi Jiguang restored and maintained effective military defenses.
In 1592, when Japanese forces under Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea, Ming China was still strong and responsive enough to campaign eff ectively in support of its tributary neighbour. But the Korean war dragged on indecisively until 1598, when Hideyoshi died and the Japanese withdrew. It made heavy demands on Ming resources and apparently precipitated a military decline in China.
The reign of the Wanli emperor was a turning point of Ming history in other regards as well. Partisan wrangling among civil officials had flared up in the 1450s in reaction to Yu Qian’s dominance and again in the 1520s during a prolonged “rites controversy” provoked by the Jiajing emperor on his accession; after Zhang Juzheng’s death in 1582, it became the normal condition of court life. Through the remainder of the Wanli emperor’s long reign, a series of increasingly vicious partisan controversies absorbed the energies of officialdom, while the harassed emperor abandoned more and more of his responsibilities to eunuchs. The decline of bureaucratic discipline and morale continued under the Taichang emperor, whose sudden death after a reign of only one month in 1620 fueled new conflicts.