Battle of Yamen

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Xiangyang – Yamen –

The naval Battle of Yamen (simplified Chinese: 崖门战役; traditional Chinese: 崖門戰役) (also known as the Naval Battle of Mount Ya; simplified Chinese: 崖山海战; traditional Chinese: 崖山海戰) took place on 19 March 1279 and is considered to be the last stand of the Song Dynasty against the invading Mongol-controlled Yuan Dynasty. Although outnumbered 10:1, the Yuan navy delivered a crushing tactical and strategic victory, destroying the Song.

Today, the battle site is located at Yamen, in Xinhui County, Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province, China.

Contents

Background

In 1276, the Southern Song court fled the capital Lin'an from the Mongol invaders to Fuzhou, leaving Emperor Gong behind to be captured. Hopes of resistance centered on two young princes, Emperor Gong's brothers. The older boy, Zhao Shi, who was nine years old, was declared emperor.

In 1277, when Fuzhou fell to the Mongols, the exiled dynasty fled to Quanzhou, where Zhang Shijie, the Grand General of Song, hoped to borrow boats to continue their flight. However, the Muslim merchant Fu Shougeng denied them, prompting Zhang to confiscate Fu's properties and flee on stolen boats with the Song court. In fury, Fu slaughtered the imperial clan and various officials in Quanzhou and surrendered to the Yuan, strengthening the Mongols' naval power.

At this point of the war, it was obvious the Song did not stand a chance when fighting Yuan head-on. Zhang Shijie decided to build a vast fleet with what remained, to allow the Song court and soldiers to move from place to place until the situation improved.

The Song court sailed to Guangdong from Quanzhou. However, Zhao Shi's boat capsized in a storm while on the way to Leizhou. While he survived, he fell ill because of this ordeal. The imperial court later sought refuge in Lantau Island's Mui Wo, where Emperor Zhao Shi eventually died[citation needed]; he was succeeded by his younger sibling, Zhao Bing, who was seven. Zhang Shijie brought the new emperor to Yamen and prepared the defense against Yuan there.

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