Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

In 1368, the Ming Dynasty became the ruling dynasty of China which followed the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty.

Reason for take-over

In the years 1271-1368, the late period of Yuan Dynasty, a peasant’s uprising erupted. The rebel army had captured the county of Haozhu, a local peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang joined the army. He served in different battles. In 1356, Zhu and the army entered the city of Jiqing and changed the name of the city into Yingtian. Then, he created his very own military base there. Several yeas later, the efforts attempted were worthwhile. Both the economic and military strength rapidly grew more powerful. Only in seven years time, Zhu’s army managed to eliminate separatist military forces. A year after, in 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang officially became the emperor in Yingtian and founded the Ming Dynasty. Later in the same year, the army of Ming captured the capital city of Yuan, Dadu, eventually leading to an end of the Yuan Dynasty.

Chinese believed in God, Chinese folk religion. During the Ming period, other religions were Taoism and Buddhism. Chinese recognized Christianity when Jesuit Missionaries arrived in China, Matteo Rici and Nicolas Trigault. Chinese found the European knowledge impressive. Nevertheless, the Chinese were suspicious of Christianity because of its own religion that did not coincide with Christian faith.


China experienced the greatest economic expansion in its history during the Ming dynasty. The economic of the Ming dynasty was a period of capitalism. The trend of the feudal system began to decline originating capitalism. The change in the economy made a major impact on many areas such as commerce and agriculture.

During the reign of Ming, China went through a major change in commerce and made it the world’s most powerful nation during its time. The commercial life was advanced to a whole new level. Terrace farming was introduced, which was innovative for the Chinese farmers. It allowed them to be able to use more land by cutting sections from hills to make them flat plains possible for farming. A new type of rice called Champa rice was introduced which allowed the farmers to produce more rice in less time. The new system abruptly increased the food supply of China.

The weak Chinese navy was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. The Ming emperors built a fleet of over 400 ships. This not only gained the Ming war power but also greatly progressed their trading. A Ming emperor, Yung-lo set up a series of naval expedition in order to broaden the trading area of China. Through these expeditions, China was in touch with many regions of the world from South-East Asia to Africa making it the world’s greatest naval powers, superior to any European power. This led to an expansion in the Chinese economy. As the large urban areas grew, they inspired the industry to grow. This growth in the Chinese commerce was called Third Commercial Revolution. Different businesses that focused on paper, silk, cotton and porcelain products grew.

Social Changes

As the distance between towns and the Ming regions shrink, its society became less isolated. Members of organizations increased, schools and religious associations did too. This means that contact between educated men and local villagers occurred more often. It was said that the distinction between urban and rural areas of Ming China was blurred because the farms were located within the city walls. Furthermore, artisans, from time to time, worked on farms, and farmers traveled into the urban areas in search for jobs.

There were many occupations one could choose such as coffin-makers, ironworkers, tailors, cooks and wine-house managers. Shops sold variety of items such as luxury goods, fine cloth, and teas. For people who could not afford these products, they obtained these products from traveling peddlers. Schooling, religious festivals, news and gossip were provided in small towns. The jobs of the villagers were to harvest crops such as wheat and millet. People who lived along the mountains in the southwest sell lumber from bamboo. They also turned wood into charcoal for living.


The Ming dynasty had strived to restore their long-lost culture that was repressed by the non-Chinese dynasties. To restore the lost arts of China was Ming’s goal. Classical prose, literary works, traditional drama and poetry styles that were banned during the Mongol rule were restored by the Ming. Porcelain, the art they China was most famous for was restored as well. Porcelain items included plates and cups that are elaborately decorated with bright colors on white background.

The Forbidden City

The Ming emperors were also well-known for constructing the Forbidden City, an imperial palace located in the middle of Beijing. It was constructed on a 186-acre land and took up to 14 years to complete the construction. An estimated number of 200,000 men were involved in this construction. It contains 75 buildings and 9,999 rooms. Part of the city was destroyed by the attacks of the Manchus. However, the Forbidden City still stands today and is a landmark that would be a representation of Chinese history all over the world.

Leaders of the Civilization

Tai Zu Zhu Yuanzhang 1368 - 1398
Hui Di Zhu Yunwen 1399 - 1403
Cheng Zu Zhu Di 1403 - 1424
Ren Zong Zhu Gaozhi 1425 - 1426
Xuan Zong Zhu Zhanji 1426 - 1436
Ying Zong Zhu Qizhen 1436 -1450
Dai Zong Zhu Qiyu 1450 - 1457
Ying Zong Zhu Qizhen 1457 -1464
Xian Zong Zhu Jianshen 1465 - 1487
Xiao Zong Zhu Youtang 1488 - 1505
Wu Zong Zhu Houzhao 1506 - 1521
Shi Zong Zhu Houzong 1522 - 1566
Mu Zong Zhu Zaihou 1567 - 1572
Shen Zong Zhu Yiju 1573 - 1620
Guang Zong Zhu Changluo 1620
Xi Zong Zhu Youxiao 1620 - 1627
Si Zong Zhuang Lieli 1628 - 1643

Emperor Hongwu (Zhu Yuanzhang)

Emperor Hongwu or Zhu Yuanzhang, who reigned from Jan. 23 1368 until Jun. 24, 1398, wanted to see China as a self-sufficient, rural community without the commercial life and trade of urban regions. The improvements in agriculture and communication route he made had led to an unexpected result. They created an agricultural surplus that could be sold along the routes. Consequently, the rural trends and commerce was influenced by urban’s. With the increase of food supply from Hongwu’s new reforms, the population grew dramatically. In the end of the dynasty, the population increased up to fifty percent. During his reign, paper currency was discovered. Not being aware of inflation, Hongwu printed out so much paper money that copper coins was introduced, for paper currency had sunk. After reigning for thirty years, Hongwu died.
Leader from Another Civilization

Queen of England: Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 1603. During her reigning, Queen Elizabeth I depended on her advisors heavily. One of the first things she did was to support the organization of an English Protestant Church. She had major influence on the church. Her religious settlement even evolved into today’s Church of England. The Queen was never married. Therefore, she was well-known for her virginity. This era of Elizabethan was, above all, famous for English drama led by William Shakespeare. In the end of her reign, economic and military problems began to increase, they were so severe to the point that many were relieved at her death. Her forty-five years of reigning created a sense of national identity for England.


In the history of China, the Ming dynasty was considered the most successful period of printing. The inventions from the early dynasties such as woodblock carving, wood movable type, metal movable type, metal plates and techniques of printing were used in this period of time. Most importantly, the volume and variety of printing reached the highest standard in history. Plays, novels and books on craftsmanship were printed out in a massive amount. The biggest printing house of the time was run by the Ming court. It was called Directorate of Ceremonies. Approximately, it had 1,000 artisans working on woodblocks, printing, binding, ink-making and brush-making. This factory was considered the largest in Chinese history.


The governmental institution during the Ming dynasty has been kept the same.The eunuchs gained power over state affairs. They had secret service stationed in the Eastern Depot. The ranks of the eunuchs were equivalent to civil service ranks. Princes were the ones who command the military and large land estates. Military generals receive evaluations every five years. However, they had less prestige than officials because of the hereditary service. Each family was classified depending solely on their heredity status. In the chief category, there were civilian, military and artisan. Neighboring families were grouped into groups for self-government and mutual help.

Reason for fall

During the reigning period of emperor Shenzong, the Ming Dynasty encountered a turning point from affluence to downfall. In the early period, because the emperor was under the wise assistance of his talented chancellor—Zhang Juzheng, great improvements in many areas were made including the national economy, agriculture, military affairs and water conservancy. Unfortunately for Shenzong, Zhang Juzheng died leaving him to handle the empire on his own. He started to neglect state affairs. The Ming army lost to the leader of the ‘Latter Jin’ regime. Consequently, after facing the ‘Latter Jin’ formed by Nuzhen ethnic minority, the Ming court lost its power.

The corruption of the court officials brought catastrophe to the Ming Dynasty. At that time, the exploitation of the ruling class and natural disasters caused the people to go through extreme suffering. They no longer feared the frequently-defeated Chinese army, and they could not afford to pay taxes and buy food. Rebel military forces fought in the northern part of Shaaxi Province in 1628. One of the leaders was Li Zicheng, and most of the peasants had faith in him. Beijing fell to the Li Zhicheng’s rebel army. During the uproar, the last emperor of Ming committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree outside the Forbidden City. The Manchus seeked opportunity by crossing the Great Wall with the alliance of Wu Sangui, the Ming border general who opened the gates for the Manchus. Wu and Manchus finally entered the capital and declared Shunzhi Emperor the ruler of China. Li Zheng died after being forced of Xian and chased by the Manchus. When the city fell, the last Ming emperor, Chongzhen, committed suicide. In 1644, it was official that the Ming dynasty had finally ended.


Reason for Take Over and Fall
"Ming Dynasty.” December 11, 2007. <>

Richard Hooker. "The Commercial Revolution." 1996. <>

Religion, Government, Emperor Hongwu, Social Changes
Wikipedia Foundation. “Reign of the Yongle Emperor” 16 January 2008

Queen of England
Deborah Vess. “SAT Subject Test World History.” <,M1.>

“Printing of the Ming Dynasty.” <>

No comments: