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Li Chengliang (Chinese: 李成梁; pinyin: Lǐ Chéngliáng; Korean: 이성량; 1526 - 1618) was a Chinese general of Korean descent in the reign of the Wanli Emperor during the Ming Dynasty who was in charge of maintaining peace and relations with the Jurchen tribes. He was from Tielin and was from a military family.
He never had a very prosperous childhood and early life, so he was age 40 before he received an official appointment. He slowly rose up the ranks to eventually become Liaodong Regional Commander (Chinese:遼東總兵) with the backing of the Chief Grand Secretary Zhang Juzheng. Li Chengliang was twice appointed Liaodong Regional Commander. The first commission lasted 22 years, the second 8 years.
Military career against the Mongols
During the Longqing era, the Tuman Mongols migrated east and often harassed the Liaotung region. These Mongols are very powerful. Their forces totalled several hundred thousand strong. the situation was very serious. this was Li Chengliang's first tenure as Liaodong Regional General scored five major victories against the Tuman Mongols.
- 1575 Wanli 3 (萬歷三年)Tuman Khan commanded over a hundred thousand cavalry troops to attack and pillage the Yizhou, Jinzhou(Chinese:锦州) region. Li Chengliang soundly defeated the Tuman Khan and was greatly rewarded.
- 1578 Wanli 6 (萬歷六年)Tuman Khan once again attacked, this time in Liaoyang (Chinese:遼陽), Li Chengliang successfully defeated the Tuman once again.
- 1579 Wanli 7 (萬歷七年)Tuman Khan again attacked Yizhou, Jinzhou (Chinese:錦州) region. and besieged Guangning (Chinese:廣寧 now 北寧), Li Chengliang once again scored a major victory.
- 1580 Wanli 8 (萬歷八年)Tuman Khan gathered 40,000 cavalry, each horse tailing a cattle and three sheep. Li Chengliang once again victorious.
- 1581 Wanli 9 (萬歷九年)Tuman Khan gathered nine tribes totaling a hundred thousand men and horse and attacked Liaodong (Chinese:遼東)with the intention of attacking Beijing.
In the battle, Li was in command of Giocangga and Taksi's forces, and Li had also intended to side with the Jurchen chieftain Nikan Wailan (Chinese:尼堪外蘭). When Giocangga and Taksi (Chinese:塔克世) abandoned Li to side with chieftain Atai who was their relative, Li thought they had mutinied and so left them behind in the midst of battle. When Atai was later defeated by Nikan Wailan, both Giocangga and Taksi were killed by Nikan Wailan in the aftermath.
The Ming policy on the Jurchen tribes during that period was to side with different tribes during each conflict to maintain a balance and not allow one tribe to dominate and eventually unite the Jurchen tribes. Spurred by the actions of Li, Nurhaci was eventually able to unite all the Jurchen tribes, creating the Manchu. Nurhaci then blamed Li Chengliang for the death of his father, which formed part of the Seven Grievances.
Of his nine sons, five Li Rusong, Li Ruzhen, Li Rubai, Li Ruzhang and Li Rumei would rise to become full generals (Chinese:總兵) and four Li Ruzi, Li Ruwu, Li Rugui, and Li Runan would become accompanying generals (Chinese:參將) for the Ming Dynasty.