Basalawarmi (died January 6, 1382), commonly known by his hereditary title, the Prince of Liang, was a descendant of Kublai Khan and a Yuan Dynasty loyalist who fought against the ascendant Ming Dynasty in China.
Before the fall of the Yuan
Before the Yuan Dynasty's fall in 1368, Basalawarmi had been the Yuan Viceroy of Yunnan, a province in southwestern China; his governorship also extended over some parts of modern-day Guizhou. He held the title of Prince of Liang, a hereditary title passed down from one of his forebears, a son of Kublai Khan. Following the Ming Dynasty's overthrow of the Yuan, from his capital city of Kunming, Basalawarmi began leading one of the last pockets of Mongol resistance to Ming rule in China.
Defeat and death
The Hongwu Emperor initially sent a diplomat, Wang Wei, to attempt to negotiate with Basalawarmi in 1372, but Basalawarmi executed Wang Wei in 1374 after negotiations broke down. The Hongwu Emperor then dispatched the generals Fu Youde and Ma Hua to deal with Basalawarmi. In 1381, Ma Hua attacked Basalawarmi from Guiyang while Fu Youde's deputies, Mu Ying and Lan Yu, attacked from another direction. The combined Ming forces, which numbered 300,000 men, met Basalawarmi's 100,000 units. Basalawarmi's forces were decisively defeated. Following his defeat, Basalawarmi drowned his wife, ordered his ministers to commit suicide, and committed suicide himself on January 6, 1382.
Zheng He, the renowned Ming eunuch admiral and head of the Ming "treasure fleet", would rise to his position indirectly because of Basalawarmi's resistance to the Ming. Zheng He was born in Yunnan in 1371 while Basalawarmi ruled the province. The Ming army that had been sent to deal with Basalawarmi captured and castrated Zheng He at the age of 11 and brought him to the Ming imperial court.
In The Deer and the Cauldron, a novel written by Jin Yong, the main character retells a humorous mythical account of Basalawarmi's defeat. In this legend, Basalawarmi is said to have hundreds of war elephants, obtained from what is now Myanmar, in his army. The Ming general Ma Hua defeats Basalawarmi by unleashing ten thousand mice which drive Basalawarmi's war elephants to terror, alluding to the widespread myth that elephants are afraid of mice. Basalawarmi himself is not presented favorably; he is described as a drunken, fat, and cowardly old man.
- Parker, E. H. (1893). "The Old Thai or Shan Empire of Western Yunnan". The China Review 20.6: p. 345.
- Twitchett, Denis, and John K. Fairbank (2004). The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge University Press. pp. vol. 7, p. 25, 143–146.
- Crossley, Pamela; Helen F. Siu, and Donald S. Sutton (2006). Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern China. University of California Press. p. 143.
- Dillon, Michael (1999). China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement, and Sects. Curzon Press. p. 34.
- "Chronology of Zheng He: His Life and Voyages and Related Events". International Zheng He Society. 2006-09-25. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-06-13. "1382 15th yr Hongwu: Ma He’s father, Ma Haji, passed away. Ming army occupied Yunnan and defeated the remnants of Yuan forces led by prince of Liang. Ma He aged 11 was captured and castrated."