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Chen Youliang ( ) (1320 – August 23, 1363) was the founder of the rebel Dahan (大漢 Great Han) regime in late Yuan Dynastymarker in Chinamarker.

Chen Youliang was born with the surname Xie (謝) to a fishermen family in Mianyang (沔陽, now in Hubeimarker). He once worked as a district official. As a general in the Red Turbans he worked under Ni Wenjun (倪文俊). Chen later killed Ni with the excuse that Ni intended to assassinate Xu Shouhui, their leader. He later also killed Xu.

In 1357, he proclaimed himself the King of Han in Jiangzhou (江州, today Jiujiangmarker, Jiangximarker), and emperor the next year after Xu died. His era name, as well as empire's name, was Dahan. For a time (from 1359 to 1363 Chen's fleet was the strongest on the upper Yangtze Rivermarker. His power was at least as great as that of young leader Zhu Yuanzhang (future emperor of Ming China).

In 1360 Chen's fleet and army began a long war against the Wu - based at that time in Jiqing (now Nanjingmarker) and was later renamed Ming in 1368. An attack on the Wu capital was defeated thanks to excellent Wu intelligence (likely due to the defection of part of Chen's fleet earlier in the year). The war continued till the climactic Battle of Lake Poyang where the Wu fleet narrowly defeated the larger fleet of Chen Youliang after three days of fighting.

A month after the battle at Lake Poyang, Chen's fleet tried to break out from Lake Poyang, during the resulting ship battles Chen was killed (he is supposed to have died from an arrow in his head). He was 43 years old.

He was succeeded by his son, Chen Li (陳理), who was soon attacked by the fleet and army of the Wu. The conquest of Chen's empire took an additional two years but by April 1365 the "Han" empire was gone and all its lands were now part of now part The Wu power base.

Era names

  • Dayi (大義) 1360
  • Dading (大定) 1361-1363


  • Dreyer, Edward. (1982). Early Ming China: A Political History. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1105-4.
  • The Cambridge History of China Volume 7, pgs 65-89 (this section was written by Dreyer)

In Fiction

  • Chen Youliang is a character in Jin Yong's book The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber and has appeared in most of the TV dramatizations of that book. However, the events in the book have little relation to actual history.

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