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An adventurer from peasant stock, poorly educated, a man of action, a bold and shrewd tactician, a visionary mind, in many respects a creative genius; Naturally coarse, cynical, and ruthless, he eventually showed symptoms of paranoia, bordering on psychopathy.
— Pierre Ryckmans on Zhu Yuanzhang

The Hongwu Emperor, personal name Zhu Yuanzhang, was the founder and first emperor of China's Ming dynasty.

In the middle of the 14th century, with famine, plagues, and peasant revolts sweeping across China, Zhu Yuanzhang rose to command the force that conquered China and ended the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty, forcing the Mongols to retreat to the Central Asian steppes. Following his seizure of the Yuan capital, Khanbaliq (present-day Beijing), Zhu claimed the Mandate of Heaven and established the Ming dynasty in 1368. Trusting only in his family, he made his many sons powerful feudal princes along the northern marshes and the Yangtze valley.

The emperor continued to hunt for the Mongols after founding the dynasty, believing that the Mongols would always be a threat for Ming if they hadn't been eliminated. So he organized his troops to march into the Northern part in order to completely kick the Mongolians out of sight. These long marches led by Zhu himself had been proved successful due to the fact that Mongolian harassment in Northern boarder disappeared for decades of years.

Battle vs. Ivan the Terrible (by Battlefan237)[]

Ivan The Terrible : RedRedRedRedRed

Zhu Yuan Zhang : GreenGreenGreenGreenGreen

In an abandoned campsite located in Northern China, two Russian soldiers were torturing a Chinese farmer by chaining him on a wooden pile sticking out of the ground. The leader of the Russians, Ivan the Terrible, chuckled formidably as he witnessed his subordinates cut the face of the poor farmer with an improvised dagger. All in a sudden, strange noises came from the gate where two of the Russians should be guarding. Ivan slightly frowned, then turned to the gate, where a group of Ming Warriors emerged from the hill nearby. The two Russian guards immediately aimed their pischals at the Chinese. The Mings also held up their own matchlocks. Zhu Yuan Zhang, the leader of the Ming Warriors, ordered his fellows to charge at the Russians. The first Ming Warrior who reached the range of the Pischal was instantly gunned down . The second one fired his matchlock in haste, randomly hitting one Russian in the chest which was protected by armors. The matchlock made an impact that forced him to slip down, but failed in doing any physical harm. However, another Russian wasn't so lucky as his friend. Chinese matchlock hit him right in the head, blasting out half of his face. He groaned with pain , coughing out blood. The second Ming soldier finished him by slashing his neck with Dao sword. The first Russian tried to stand up, but another Ming Warrior pierced his throat with a Qiang.

Ivan The Terrible : RedRedRed

Zhu Yuan Zhang : GreenGreenGreenGreen

Ivan, who'd realized that his opponent was a pretty tough one, grabbed up his own sabre and led his last two men to join the battle. One brave but reckless Ming soldier managed to use his Dao to match with a Bardiche, but got stabbed in the back by Ivan. Another Chinese burst into a tent in which a Russian had been sent to get the last Pischal. Clearly unprepared for the result, the Chinese's chest got devastated by firearm.

Ivan The Terrible : RedRedRed

Zhu Yuan Zhang : GreenGreen

Zhu, who'd lost most of his men, was forced to retreat to the small hill, chased by two fierce Russians. As they ran up the hill, one Russian stepped on something strange, he sensed it, but didn't realized that it's a Ming landmine buried by Zhu before the whole battle in case of this sort of situation. The mine went off, flying body parts of the Russian into the sky while sending another Russian rolled down the hill with one of his arm broken, and the other one badly twisted. Zhu ordered his last men to march back while he himself taking the opportunity of finishing the Russian by cutting his head in the same way they'd done to the Chinese farmer.

Ivan The Terrible : Red

Zhu Yuan Zhang : GreenGreen

The last Ming Warrior charged towards Ivan holding a Dao, but Ivan simply disarmed him by defending himself with one improvised iron bar which hit the Chinese in the arm, causing him to scream in shock. Then Ivan cut his head with a bardiche . Now Zhu faced a fatal conflict between him and the terrible Russian king. Though he wasn't capable of getting close to Ivan, he managed to lure him into waving his bardiche into a tent that Zhu fled into. The bardiche cut the wooden kingpin of the tent . At this very moment, Zhu ran back to Ivan who used all his strength to pull off the Bardiche. Being helpless, Ivan used his other hand to get the sabre, but was neither quick enough or powerful enough to outfight Zhu's strike with Dao. Zhu cut off Ivan's left arm, then slashed him like an animal hanging in a butcher shop.

Ivan The Terrible :

Zhu Yuan Zhang : Green

‘满城尽带黄金甲!’ Zhu yelled in victory.

Winner: Zhu Yuan Zhang

Expert's Opinion[]

Though Ivan is better armed, but Zhu has fought more sophisticated enemies such as the Mongols. Also Zhu's mental stability and quality as a duelist secured his victory.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Pier Gerlofs Donia (by Pygmy Hippo 2)[]

Burgundian Netherlands

Pier Gerlofs Donia and four of his Frisian rebels are resting in the mountains after another successful pirate raid against the Habsburgs. While Pier converses with his men and sharpens his legendary Zweihander, one of them scouts the area for intruders and resources before spotting several branches sticking out of the ground. As he approaches them, the Frisian realizes that these are spears although they don't look European with the tassels but any weapons will help their efforts.

"Kijk hier!" (Over here, look!) Donia and his men turn to see the rebel pull out a spear...and immediately get blown up by the Mechanical Landmine which sends his head tumbling down to them. The Frisians are unable to get past their shock when they hear several people marching towards them. "準備開火了!" "Maak je klaar om te vuren!" (Get ready to fire!) Both leaders shout but Zhu Yuanzhang's Ming soldiers started first and get the first shot off with their 3-Barrel Pole Guns which bounces off Gerlofs' steel breastplate. The Arquebus shot afterwards has much better results, punching right through the iron-studded leather lamellar of a Ming and through his heart.

Another soldier has more luck and sends a second lead ball through a rebel's eye but in the chaos, neither side can get another hit and drop their firearms for melee weapons. "In rekening brengen!" (Charge!) "堅守陣地!" (Hold your ground!) Pier and his Frisians charge at Zhu and his Mings who hold out their Qiangs to stop the charge but once again the steel breastplates beat out the iron-studded leather lamellar. The extra length of the Pikes help too as one soldier takes a stab to the leg and another gets impaled through the stomach, causing him to fall over with the weapon left in him and bleed out.

The rebels now are only wielding swords which Yuanzhang takes advantage of by distracting one of them with rapid tassel movements before plunging the spear point into his throat. Donia roars in fury and cleaves through the wooden shaft with his Zweihander, sending his foe scrambling backwards before drawing his Dao and Rattan shield. The last Frisian cautiously approaches the remaining Ming and dodges a Qiang thrust before swinging at the man's throat with his Katzbalger, causing it to spurt out blood.

Unfortunately that left the rebel open for the other soldier to slash his Dao at the back of his neck, completely cutting through and sending his head rolling next to his ally's. Pier has been dominating Zhu in their duel with his longer weapon and giant size causing his foe to rely purely on his martial arts training and speed to stay alive. Yuanzhang gets frustrated with only being able to take pot shots that don't get past the chainmail and makes a terrible mistake with charging into Donia to knock him over.

Pier takes the impact with ease and punches Zhu into the face, making his nose bleed from the force and causing him to fall over, before swinging the Zweihander down at him. The massive sword demolishes Yuanzhang's Rattan shield and is only kept away from cutting off his arm by the last Ming's Dao blocking it. He still has a nasty cut and grimaces as he drops the shield and fights through the pain to get back up only to see his soldier's sword fly through the air followed by his head and Donia stomping towards him again.

Zhu has an idea and baits Pier into taking another massive swing by pretending to be sluggish from his wounds and narrowly dodges the Zweihander which gets stuck in the dirt from the force of the swing. The Frisian barely avoids losing his hand and gets a deep wound on his palm which he yells off and draws his Katzbalger to keep on fighting the Ming. Yuanzhang starts gaining ground with his longer and lighter Dao made for single-handed combat but once again gets overconfident and his cut gets blocked by the s-shaped guard before he gets headbutted by Donia.

Zhu cries out in pain as the blow gives him a headache and Pier seizes the opportunity to thrust forward with his Katzbalger. The Ming gasps as his heart is run through and the Frisian lets him topple to his knees as he retrieves his Zweihander and takes a moment to gather his strength. Yuanzhang yells in horror as Donia yells out in triumph and stabs the 7-foot blade down on the bronze helmet first, actually punching through a bit but it doesn't kill his foe yet.

Unluckily Zhu still suffers for a couple more seconds before Pier's Zweihander cuts off another of his foe's heads and grabs it with his bad hand before lumbering up a hill. Pier Gerlofs Donia uses his Zweihander as a cane to steady himself before he raises Zhu Yuanzhang's head up in the air and cries out in the victory. "Vrijheid voor Friesland!" (Freedom for Frisia!)

Winner:Pier Gerlofs Donia

Expert's Opinion[]

In this battle of blackpowder rebels, Pier Gerlofs Donia won due to his superior technology in the Arquebus and his more practical Zweihander along with having better armor and fighting with his men in battle. Zhu Yuanzhang had a good sword in the Dao but the Katzbalger held its own against it and his Qiang narrowly prevailed as the better spear but he wasn't used to this style of combat and his Eastern martial arts couldn't match the Western giant's guerrilla warfare tactics despite being historically more successful.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.