In 1449, the Ming army of 520,000 soldiers marched for Shanxi province from Beijing. The army, led by Emperor Yingzong and the eunuch Wang Zhen, set off to fight against the army of Esen of Oirat, a group of Mongols, that launched an invasion on the Great Ming. The Ming army had few clear strengths, one of which was gunpowder weapons to help defend fortresses and was particularly efficient against nomadic cavalry. However, the gunpowder weapons became useless at night as they were still not as sophisticated. Knowing their weaknesses better than anyone else, Ming generals implored Emperor Yingzong and Wang Zhen to retreat, but they did not listen to the generals.
The actual leader of the army was not Emperor Yingzong but Wang Zhen. How was he able to be so brave? This level of bravery can only be explained by ignorance. Why did he insist on going to war? Wang Zhen was a eunuch with unprecedented power and authority which enabled him to accumulate enough wealth that could run the entire country for years. This inevitably sparked criticism, and he probably wanted a grand show that could allay the anger. He might have managed to deceive the emperor and himself but could not deceive the reality.
Wang Zhen ordered a retreat only after the Ming army was completely defeated in a battle. However, being afraid of taking responsibility for the defeat, he ordered the army to retreat via the town where his second home was. It is said that he was going to throw a party to comfort Emperor Yingzong. Unfortunately, this decision almost led to the collapse of the entire dynasty. It provided more time for the Mongols to catch them up, which then allowed them to kill Wang Zhen and take the emperor captive. Easy money and easy success makes you believe everything will be easy. Putting up a successful political show makes you believe that the public are foolish and such shows will never fail. A country is more difficult to maintain than gain. The show might help you deceive people but does not make problems go away. Wang Zhen’s story tells us that those who deceive the world end up deceiving and destroying themselves