China has one of the deepest histories in the world today. With a civilization that dates back more than 2,000 years, there have been millions of leaders that have taken the reigns to lead others in some way. Some names stand out, such as Genghis Khan, but there are others who made a dramatic impact without as much fanfare. Here are some of the top famous Chinese leaders that you may not know about.
1. Yuan Chonghuan
This military leader served in the 17th century, late in the days of the Ming Dynasty. He often traveled during his childhood and this helped him interact with foreigners more often than the average person in his country at the time. He famously guarded Shanhai Pass with his extreme artillery skills and he defeated the Manchu Army not once, but twice. Despite his successes, however, the Emperor charged him with treason and he was eventually executed, although no crime was ever fully established.
2. Qi Jiguang
This Chinese leader worked hard to repel the piracy of the Japanese Wokou and is often credited with providing the greatest contributions to the effort. You can actually read about his military expertise because he penned two books that are still available. The New Book of Efficiency and his Record of Military Training are still essential reading materials in terms of strategy. He was also very proficient in writing prose and his impact was felt on social levels for a long, long time.
3. Guo Ziyi
Guo Ziyi was an 8th century leader during the Tang Dynasty. He might be best known for putting down the An Shi Rebellion, which helped him become a prince. Known for being very tall and having bravery that equaled his height, some today still consider him to be one of the greatest minds that the Chinese culture has ever been able to produce. He lived to the age of 84 and was still fighting battles and commanding his army at the age. He is credited with more than 20 years of peace in China because of his leadership.
4. Yue Fei
You might know Yue Fei better as Pengju. He was a 12th century Chinese General that fought for the Southern Song Dynasty. The title of his generalship says it all: Most Outstanding Military General. He was the first of the four great generals of Zhongxing, but was poisoned to death while in prison under false charges. His reputation was cleared two generations later and his poems still encourage many people to this day.
5. Li Guang
Li Guang is perhaps the earliest famous Chinese leader you may have never heard of before. Living more than 100 years before the birth of Jesus, he was nicknamed the Flying General because he conducted most of his work up in the north. It is said that all he needed to do was show up at a battle for the enemy to decide to give up and just flee. One day he was late to a battle because he got lost and the dishonor that he felt drove him to suicide.