Red Turban Rebellion
The Red Turban Rebellion (红巾起义) was an uprising much influenced by the White Lotus Society members that targeted the ruling Yuan Dynasty.
Since the 1340s, the Mongol-ruled Yuan Dynasty was experiencing problems. The Yellow River flooded constantly, and other natural disasters also occurred. At the same time, the Yuan Dynasty required considerable military expenditure to maintain its vast empire. This was solved mostly through additional taxation that fell mainly on the Han Chinese population which constituted the lowest two castes in the four castes of the people under the Yuan Dynasty.
The Red Turban Army (红巾军) was originally started by the followers of White Lotus (白莲教) and Manichaeism (摩尼教) to resist the Mongols. The name "Red Turban" was used because of their tradition of using red banners and wearing red turbans to distinguish themselves.
These rebellions began on a sporadic basis, firstly on the coast of Zhejiang (浙江), when Fang Guozhen (a Han) and his men assaulted a group of Yuan officials. After that, the White Lotus society led by Han Shantong (韩山童) in the north of the Yellow River became the centre of anti-Mongol sentiment. Few of the rebellion groups made overtures to the Korean Kingdom of Goryeo, technically a tributary ally of the Yuan Dynasty. Though initially successful, they were eventually expelled by the Goryeo army lead by Choe Yeong and Yi Seonggye.
In 1351, the society plotted an armed rebellion, but the plan was disclosed and Han Shantong was arrested and executed by the Yuan Government. After his death, Liu Futong (刘福通), a prominent member of the White Lotus, assisted Han's son, Han Lin'er (韩林儿), to succeed his father and establish the Red Turban Army. After that, several other Han rebels in the south of the Yangtze River revolted under the name of the Southern Red Turbans. Among the key leaders of the Southern Red Turbans were Xu Shouhui (徐寿辉) and Chen Youliang (陈友谅).
One of the more significant Red Turban leaders was Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋). At first, he followed Guo Zixing (郭子兴), and in fact later married Guo's daughter. After Guo's death, Zhu was seen as the leader of the rebellion and took over Guo's army.
Between 1356 and 1367, Zhu began a series of campaigns seeking to defeat his opponents in the Red Turbans. At first, he nominally supported Han Liner to stabilize his northern frontier. Then he defeated his rivals Chen Youliang, Zhang Shicheng and Fang Guozhen one by one. After rising to dominance, he drowned Han Liner. Calling for a racial revolution to overthrow the Mongols and restore the Han Chinese, Zhu gained popular support.
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang proclaimed himself emperor in Yintian, historically known as the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The next year, the Ming Army captured Dadu, and the rule of Yuan Dynasty was officially over. China was unified again.