Restoration of the Great Ming: A Tianqi Timeline

1645
367px-Tasman%2C_Abel_Janszoon.jpg

Abel Tasman, one of the more competent captains in the employ of the Dutch East India Company

There are many things one can say about Abel Tasman, foremost among them being that he is a highly competent captain who had up until now been leading Dutch East India Company expeditions to the various far-flung lands south and east of Batavia. Now he heads north; specifically, to the coast of Dongshan, with a flotilla of heavily armed vessels.

The Descent Upon Luoyang catches the sailors of Dongshan by surprise, many of their ships at anchor, and Tasman takes the opportunity to blast away as much as he can before withdrawing in the face of another of Zheng’s fleets bearing hard upon them from the direction of Fujian. The intention was to bleed the locals enough that Dutch hegemony could be reasserted elsewhere on the island -- potentially the northern bits, with the gold being extracted. And also, fuck the Portuguese, who continue their operations on Dongshan under the Admiral's protection.

(Granted, both the Portuguese and the Dutch are currently fighting wars with the Spanish, nominally over the question of whether Portugal and the Dutch Republic are independent, but at this point it’s pretty clear they’re both independent and are gonna stay that way, so there isn’t all that much in the way of camaraderie between the two nations. And in any case, colonial affairs are a separate thing from European affairs.)

Admiral Zheng is furious. He immediately gathers together as many ships as he can and stages a raid-in-force on Batavia. The Dutch retaliate with another inconclusive expedition to the east coast of Dongshan. Some opportunists from Zheng’s men make attempts to seize Dutch ships coming from Japan.

Honestly, a lot of this is basically what everyone had been doing all along. But the large-scale expeditions are a little bit of an escalation. Zheng is pretty sure he’ll be able to pummel the Dutch into backing off, eventually. The only question is, how long will it take?

Zheng has the Portuguese on his side, at least. They are not able to give much help. Zheng’s ships can stop for supplies at any of Portugal’s colonial possessions, such as the village of Lifau, on the island of Timor; while today Lifau is known as a bustling metropolis, at the time it was a tiny Portuguese outpost. The main reason why the Portuguese have settled there is because the Dutch had kicked them out of some more profitable islands.[1]

Relations with the Spanish are complicated. On the one hand, they don’t care for the Dutch. On the other hand, they don’t care for the Portuguese. Things are still quite chilly, but the Spanish are largely content to sit out this weird colonial slapfight, as long as the Manila Galleons keep making it through.

Meanwhile, Ejei Khan (who is still officially regarded as successor to the Yuan emperors, although he’s been pulling back on such rhetoric out of circumspection towards China) has been conducting raids -- to the west, this time, because a certain proportion of his followers like raiding, and while seizing a lot of land from the Jurchens was a great boon, now the young men are getting restless. Ejei Khan manages to direct the raids towards the west -- he does not want to worsen relations with the Joseon or the Ming -- and like his father, he is nominally a partisan of the Nyingma school. The degree to which his religious values were sincere or a convenient excuse to fight people is still debated, although consensus leans to the former. Records kept by the Dalai Lama indicate that Ejei Khan’s forces may have raided as far afield as the Tibetan Plateau, although this was undoubtedly an extraordinary event and not entirely representative of relations between the two states.

Part of the reason why the Joseon are not being targeted for raids is that Ejei Khan’s half-sister (despite later questions about exact parentage), Erdani, is married to the king of Joseon and is the mother of his son. While she is called Hyeonryeol[2] in Joseon-originating sources, she is more often called Erdani (meaning something like “jewel”) or a direct translation in sources from anywhere else. The Crown Prince Gyeongwan is a healthy infant, and his parents hope to give him many siblings. For what it’s worth, given their dedication to the task, it’s likely not going to be very long.

Shi Kefa, meanwhile, is creating vast embankments and retaining walls along Hongze Lake in order to prevent future flooding. His project is, of course, in the beginning stages, but in later years it will grow into something truly beautiful. Just like that other work of Ming-era engineering, the Great Wall (preserved in segments to the present day, having long since lost its military use as a barrier against northern barbarians), the walls of Shi Kefa (referred to variously as the “Short Wall,” the “Jiangsu Wall,” and the “Zuling Wall”) are a modern-day tourist destination. Indeed, a later emperor will order additional walls and levees built to protect the walls from deterioration, pushing Hongze Lake further away from the great tombs built nearby.

That’s years to come in the future. And while Shi Kefa’s walls will end up surviving the test of time, in 1645 people are paying much more attention to events unfolding in Beijing...



Footnotes
[1] IOTL the Dutch eventually pushed the Portuguese off the western part of Timor, but that hasn’t happened ITTL.
[2] Regnal name given to a Joseon queen consort from OTL.
 
And also, fuck the Portuguese
Mood
Zheng has the Portuguese on his side, at least. They are not able to give much help
Every alliance with Portugal be like
The main reason why the Portuguese have settled there is because the Dutch had kicked them out of some more profitable islands.[1]
And the dutch are there because the portuguese kicked them from their more profitable "island"
On the other hand, they don’t care for the Portuguese.
Oh please, dont fall for that
They're being reverse tsundere
They fucking hate the portuguese
Records kept by the Dalai Lama indicate that Ejei Khan’s forces may have raided as far afield as the Tibetan Plateau, although this was undoubtedly an extraordinary event and not entirely representative of relations between the two states.
Now I want an AH scenario where they successfully take the place and he becomes the Dalai Khan of the Tibetan Khanate
Part of the reason why the Joseon are not being targeted for raids is that Ejei Khan’s half-sister
Ah family problems

Not destroying your girlfriend's home country is truly the ultimate form of flattery
Shi Kefa, meanwhile, is creating vast embankments and retaining walls along Hongze Lake in order to prevent future flooding. His project is, of course, in the beginning stages, but in later years it will grow into something truly beautiful
Like Noah's Arc!
...except its a wall this time
Well it at least follows the chinese tradition
in 1645 people are paying much more attention to events unfolding in Beijing...
Uh oh
[1] IOTL the Dutch eventually pushed the Portuguese off the western part of Timor, but that hasn’t happened ITTL
Great!
 
So Zheng is now in all out war against Dutch and Portugal is doing shit.

Gelug school is about to be kicked in the balls by Mongols invading Tibet. Awaiting a big Khanate extending from eastern steppes to Himalayas!


people are paying much more attention to events unfolding in Beijing...
Somebody died??
 
Prologue: A Storm Over China
Imperial palace, Beijing

“When you’re a father,” the emperor confided in his guest, “you’ll want to spend every minute you can with them. It seems only yesterday when my eldest was born, and now my sons are both men.” He gestured to his daughter. “She is still young, but I do not think I will have any children after her. So I take all the time I can.”

Zheng Chenggong,[1] son of the great admiral, nodded respectfully. He was a handsome young man, very much built in the image of his father, and he was of an age with the emperor’s two sons, the imperial princes. Admiral Zheng had sent him as his representative to deliver his report to Beijing; the newly hot war against the Dutch was going about as well as could be expected, but it occupied all of his attention.

“My father was away for much of my youth,” the younger Zheng replied. “I’ve never doubted him, but I do wish he wasn’t away for so long.” He sighed. “Attached to his duty. Or his business,” he said. “He was born for the high seas, and I don’t think he’s ever had much interest in the affairs of the land.”

The emperor agreed with that. Admiral Zheng was a fine man, but he was definitely a piratical type at heart. A loving father, if an absent one. But just as the emperor had done his best to raise his children -- to hopefully impart upon them the learning that he never seemed to be able to grasp -- the Admiral had hired only the best scholars to teach his son. The younger Zheng was dressed in the finery of a gentleman.

There hadn’t been many seeking an audience with the emperor that day. It had still been very boring. The emperor never understood how sovereigns of ages past could sit through hours upon hours of that nonsense. And he thought he understood his grandfather now, the emperor whose diligence had waned by his later years, when the old man had all but quit the court.

Well, he was the emperor now. So when he decided to call the audience period to a close and retire to his private quarters, that was that. And he liked talking to the younger Zheng. It was a blessing to have fine sons, and he was content with his two boys, but having spent so much time with the imperial court in his youth, Zheng was practically family, too.

The princess -- and everyone still called her the Princess Yining, although she had chosen the Christian name Maria, which the emperor thought sounded strange -- was listening to Master Jin,[2] her tutor, as he read to her from a book of stories. The emperor had made sure that his sons got a literary education, partly because it was the right thing to do, and partly so that he’d be able to listen to the stories sometimes. So it was fine that the princess got her stories, too. This story, that Master Jin was reading aloud, was about a man who had gone to sea and had been swallowed by a great fish. It was a fine enough story, the emperor thought, since men ate fish so often that they should not be surprised when a fish got some measure of revenge. And the man didn’t die, anyways, which was more than could be said about most fish that were eaten by men.

The emperor allowed himself to relax, stretch out his legs, lean up against his wife. She was dozing a little. These were quiet days, and he was perfectly content to-

What was that sound?

A distant commotion, muffled shouting. Then the pounding of fast-approaching feet.

Three men burst through the door. They carried swords. They were definitely not his loyal guards. And as they recognized him, they raised their weapons.

“The usurper!” One of them shouted. “Kill him!”

The emperor was frozen in shock. He wanted to say something like, “what is this?” or “how dare you!” but the words would not leave his mouth.

Zheng Chenggong did not hesitate. The young man grabbed a small porcelain figurine and hurled it at the nearest interloper. It rebounded off the man’s skull with a painful-sounding thud; as he staggered, Zheng was running forward, stabbing him (stabbing him? he’d extracted a small knife from his robes, it looked like, which would have been highly illegal, considering he’d been armed in the presence of the emperor), yanking the sword from the man's hands, swinging it wildly at the other two who dodged backwards, warded off by the sheer ferocity Zheng displayed.

The empress screamed. The emperor hurried her backwards, towards his daughter and Master Jin. “Stay back,” he ordered, then he turned his attention again to the fight. A weapon -- he needed something. Young Zheng had bought them some time, but he was visibly tiring, and now as the bandits rained heavy blows at him it seemed all he could do was to parry them with his knife and sword. The emperor grabbed for the nearest piece of heavy furniture -- a chair, something that had cost his father a fortune, as it had been purchased from an avaricious provincial noble -- and was advancing to aid his friend when he froze. More rapid footsteps approaching.

Two more men burst through the door, but these were not like the first set of intruders. Their skin was quite dark, their apparel expensive-looking, and in their hands they carried long guns.

“Young master! Get down!”

Zheng Chenggong threw himself to the side, out of the way, and a moment later the emperor dropped to the floor as well. Twin thunderclaps rang out; he tasted acrid smoke. His ears rang.

The two remaining interlopers fell like so much dead meat. One had a chunk missing from his torso; the other had lost a cavernous wedge from his head, just about half of it gone entirely.

The princess was crying, but so far as he could tell she was unharmed. The emperor staggered to his feet. The two newcomers did not so much as glance at him; they ran to the younger Zheng, who, the emperor saw, was bleeding from a cut to his arm. One of the men tore part of a nearby tapestry to bandage it.

Once more, the sound of running feet. This time, the emperor was relieved to see a familiar face: Dong Kewei, his longtime Minister of Works.

“Urgh. I’m getting too old for this shit,” Minister Dong gasped, leaning over, hands on his knees. “Lucky I ran into the Zheng family’s bodyguards on my way here. Your majesty, we have a problem.”

“What is it?” The emperor demanded. “What’s going on?”

“Unknown number of traitors in the palace. Not sure how long it’ll take to get them all; they had help from someone important, looks like.” Minister Dong looked angry. “Sorry, your majesty. There’s street fighting in the city, and who knows what kind of unrest in the provinces. Someone’s pushing things along. It’s all happening too fast.”

“What?”

“Like I said, we have a problem. Rebels popping out of the fucking woodwork. We can’t evacuate you from the palace, and that would be foolish anyways, but this place isn’t short of bolt-holes. Shouldn’t take long at all. Come with me, all of you. If those dogs-heads managed to get in here,” he waved at the dead men, “then it’s clear they know the layout of the palace, and there might be more coming. We’re on the alert now, obviously, but I won’t risk your life, your majesty.”

“Wait.” The emperor’s mind raced. “My sons. They were supposed to be with Minister Wang, touring the Ministry of War. Where are they now? Minister Dong, you must find my sons.”

“I will. I promise.” Minister Dong helped the younger Zheng to his feet. “I need just a little time. Come on, your majesty. You’ll be safe, but we have to move quickly.”



Footnotes
[1] Remember that IOTL he became known as Koxinga.
[2] As you may recall from previous chapters, this is the Chinese name for the Jesuit Nicolas Trigault.
 
Well, shit’s about to go down apparently
Juuuuust a little.
Good to see Koxinga gets to be cool in this timeline too.
Of course! Can't let his father steal all the attention, here.
This is alienating. Emperor will need to address forgein influence in the court eventually as i see it being a big propaganda point for the coming rebellion.
Yep. I mean, there is an active rebellion. She's still a child, and her brothers are maybe more directly relevant to ruling the empire -- anyways, we'll have to see what happens!
 
Good to see Koxinga getting some audience with the emperor, not so good with all the rebellion. But at least he got some action. I do hope the two princes are fine.
 
This is alienating. Emperor will need to address forgein influence in the court eventually as i see it being a big propaganda point for the coming rebellion.
Yep. I mean, there is an active rebellion. She's still a child, and her brothers are maybe more directly relevant to ruling the empire -- anyways, we'll have to see what happens!
She's still a child at this point ITTL so no help in abating the upcoming rebellion, but maybe they can get her out of the country when she grows up and have her serve as an emissary of sorts with the European courts? Should downplay her presence back home to mitigate future rebellions while having her do something useful abroad methinks​
 
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She's still a child at this point ITTL so no help in abating the upcoming rebellion, but maybe they can get her out of the country when she grows up and have her serve as an emissary of sorts with the European courts? Should downplay her presence back home to mitigate future rebellions while having her do something useful abroad methinks

She can be married off to one of the tributaries as i don't think that member of Imperial family is a decent for position emissary, especially a female member.

Otherwise problem here lies with Christian presence at the court, it bigger than what is decent for Imperial court, to the point that most of the ministers and burocrats would talk about it, especially given the fact that member of Imperial family converted.

Some sort of distance would be recommended. Not a purge, but a crub of influence.
 
She can be married off to one of the tributaries as i don't think that member of Imperial family is a decent for position emissary, especially a female member.
Any idea which of the tributaries could be furthest? Def agreeing with you on the need for distance.

As for Christian presence (Setting Maria aside for the short term, she's prominent, sure, but ultimately powerless for now, unless...), at least the Court can console themselves that Trigault is beginning to get long in the tooth. Who knows if the Emperor or his successor will call on another such advisor after Trigault passes away tho...​
 
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kholieken

Banned
This is alienating. Emperor will need to address forgein influence in the court eventually as i see it being a big propaganda point for the coming rebellion.
I disagree. One daughter converting is irrelevant. Rebellion is political and should be crushed. Ming court can and should be able to deal with varying religion and foreign contact. As for Maria, I hope Maria can be famous nun and had long life.
 
Agreed with above
This isnt some rebellion against the Ming being religiously oppressive or having disastrous policies, they have been doing the exact opposite these last chapters doing what they can to reduce misery in the country
Instead the rebels tried to murder the royal family, including a little girl, over their own religious prejudice
"How dare this kid have a foreign name" kind of mindset from the same people who ironically follow buddhist beliefs as well
 
Agreed with above
This isnt some rebellion against the Ming being religiously oppressive or having disastrous policies, they have been doing the exact opposite these last chapters doing what they can to reduce misery in the country
Instead the rebels tried to murder the royal family, including a little girl, over their own religious prejudice
"How dare this kid have a foreign name" kind of mindset from the same people who ironically follow buddhist beliefs as well
Well they could use the justification that the religion is a tool use to undermine and weaken their country.
 
Well they could use the justification that the religion is a tool use to undermine and weaken their country.
Either side could use any justification they want
The fact is that the Ming have no ill will against the christians at this point and the rebels are trying to kill the Emperor and his daughter over a xenophobic tantrum, one aimed at the Empire's weakest religion
Said religion that - in their eyes - proved to be so easily defeatable that their far weaker neighbour Japan managed to beat it when it was much stronger there and had foreign support, something they would definitely lack here as no european nation wants to go up against the Ming
 
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