(; style name
: Yuánsù 元素 and Zìrú 自如; 6 June 1584 – 22 September 1630) was a famed patriot and military commander of the Ming Dynasty
who battled the Manchus
. He was known to have excelled in artillery warfare and successfully incorporated western tactics into the East. Yuan's military career reached its height when he defeated Nurhaci
and the Manchurian army in the first Battle of Ningyuan
's son and successor, Huáng Táijí
, was defeated by him in the second Battle of Ningyuan
. However, Yuan was a tragic figure, and was executed by his emperor under false charges which Huang Taiji deliberately planted against him.
Yuan Chonghuan was born in Dongguan
. During his adolescence, Yuan spent time travelling from town to town, and befriended many Jesuits and foreigners along the way. Although he took the imperial examinations repeatedly with little success, on his journeys to the capital he was able to see far more than the average examiners could see. Some say that he befriended westerners during this time, and together they spent time modifying European cannons.
Early military career
He passed the imperial examinations in 1619 and was appointed to the minor post of magistrate in a remote place. In 1619, the imperial Ming army was very badly defeated by the Manchus in the Battle of Sarhu
. Subsequently, the Chinese armies suffered successive defeats and in 1622 they were forced to retreat to Shanhaiguan
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