Ming Dynasty, China Culture

Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader. Having its capital first at Nanjing (which means Southern Capital) and later at Beijing (or Northern Capital), the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Chinese armies reconquered Annam, as northern Vietnam was then known, in Southeast Asia and kept back the Mongols, while the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Internally, the Grand Canal was expanded to its farthest limits and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade.

Ming Dynasty, China

Hung-Wu (National Palace Museum, Taipei)After Hung-Wu threw the Mongols out in 1368 AD, he established the Ming Dynasty. But Hung-Wu's power was still pretty weak after the Mongol invasion. He only ruled China from the Great Wall to the east of Tibet - smaller borders than modern China or than T'ang Dynasty China. Hung-Wu modelled his government on the T'ang Dynasty, trying to keep as much power as possible in the central government and especially in his own hands. To deal with the extra work this made for him, he created a council of his advisers to help him. Examinations came back as a way to select governors and judges.

China Culture

The Ming maritime expeditions stopped rather suddenly after 1433, the date of the last voyage. Historians have given as one of the reasons the great expense of large-scale expeditions at a time of preoccupation with northern defenses against the Mongols. Opposition at court also may have been a contributing factor, as conservative officials found the concept of expansion and commercial ventures alien to Chinese ideas of government. Pressure from the powerful Neo-Confucian bureaucracy led to a revival of strict agrarian-centered society. The stability of the Ming dynasty, which was without major disruptions of the population (then around 100 million), economy, arts, society, or politics, promoted a belief among the Chinese that they had achieved the most satisfactory civilization on earth and that nothing foreign was needed or welcome.


In 1451 AD, after a civil war, the emperor Yung-Lo moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing (bay-ZING), where he began work on the imperial palace, which still stands today.


Kings / Kingdoms

Events In China

Comments / Worldwide Events

Ming Dynasty (1368 1644 A.D.)


Ming Tai Zu

(1,368 1,399 A.D.)

Zhu Yuan Zhang made Jin Ling his capital. Attacked Yuan Dynasty in and forced the Mongols to flee to Kai Ping (1,368 A.D.) and later to He Lin (1,369 A.D.) Set up a puppet government in Korea (1,398 A.D.)

Decline of the Mali Empire (1,400 A.D.)

India- Ahmed Shah built Ahmadabed as his capital (1,411 A.D.)

Portuguese Prince, Henry the Navigator, organized many voyages of discovery along coast of West Africa (1,432 A.D.)

Incas established empire in Peru (1,438 A.D.)

Germany- Invention of printing by machinery and movable letters (1,450 A.D.)

End of Hundred Years War between England and France. Turkey Mohammed II conquered Constantinople, end of Byzantine Empire (1,453 A.D.)

Africa- Rise of Songhai Empire (1,468 A.D.)

Spanish began conquest of North Africa; Columbus reached America (1,492 A.D.) discovered South America (1,498 A.D.)

Italian Renaissance (1,500 A.D.)

Martin Luther outlawed. Beginning of Protestant Reformation (1,521 A.D.)

First Tsar of Russia (1,547 A.D.)

Puritan Pilgrim Fathers from England reached Cape Cod in Mayflower (1,620 A.D.)

Dutch settled in New Amsterdam, later called New York (1,625 A.D.). French found Montreal (1,642 A.D.)



Ming Hui Di

(1,399 1,403 A.D)


Ming Chen Zu

(1,403 1,425 A.D.)

Death of Tamerlane; Mongol Empire disintegrated (1,405 A.D.)

Seven voyages of Zheng He to the South (1,405 1,433 A.D.), reaching as far as the east coast of Africa. Sent messengers to Japan and occupied Vietnam (1,406 A.D.). Constructed Dong (East ) Chang (1,420 A.D.). Moved to Beijing (1,420 A.D.)

Ming Ren Zong

(1,425 1,426 A.D)


Ming Xuan Zong

(1,426 1,436 A.D.)


Ming Ying Zong

(1,436 1,450 A.D.)

Ying Zong captured by Wa Ci in 1,449 A.D. (a Mongol tribe)

Ming Jing Zong

(1,450 1,465 A.D.)

Wa Ci asked for peace. Ying Zong returned to China (1,459 A.D.)

Ming Xian Zong

(1,465 1,488 A.D.)

Built Xi (West) Chang (1,477 A.D.)

Ming Xiao Zong

(1,488 1,506 A.D.)


Ming Wu Zong

(1,506 1,522 A.D)

Liu Jin established his power in the government, and imprisoned more than 300 officials (1,508 A.D.)

Ming Shi Zong

(1,522 1,567 A.D.)

Attacked Vietnam (1,539 A.D.)

Francis Javier, Jesuit missionary attempted to enter China (1,549 A.D.)

Japan invaded ZheJiang (1,554 A.D.)

Ming Mu Zong

(1,567 1,573 A.D.)


Ming Sheng Zong

(1,573 1,620 A.D.)

Missionaries Matteo Ricci and Lazaro Cantteo came to China in 1581. Japan invaded Korea (1,592 A.D.). China helped Korea to expel the Japanese (1,599 A.D.). Missionaries Nicolas Trigault (1,609) and Alvarus de Semedo (1,613) came to China. Manchurian leader, Qing Tai Zu crowned himself king (1,616 A.D.). Nanjing Missionary Case (1616 A.D.)- Clash between Chinese practice of ancestor worship and Catholic doctrine lead to deportation of foreign missionaries. Missionary John Aaden Scall von Bell came to China.

Ming Guan Zong

(1,620 1,621 A.D.)


Ming Xi Zong

(1,621 1,628 A.D.)

The Manchurians occupied Shen Yang, and made Liao Yang their capital. Rebellion of Li Zicheng (1,621 A.D.). JiaDing Christian Conference- discussion of Christian terminology and practices.

Ming Si Zu

(1,628 1,644 A.D.)

Manchurians established the Qing Dynasty (1,636 A.D.).

Li Zi Cheng occupied Kai Feng in 1,642 A.D., and seized Beijing in 1,643 A.D.

Si Zu hung himself and the Ming Dynasty ended in 1,644 A.D.

Long wars with the Mongols, incursions by the Japanese into Korea, and harassment of Chinese coastal cities by the Japanese in the sixteenth century weakened Ming rule, which became, as earlier Chinese dynasties had, ripe for an alien takeover. In 1644 the Manchus took Beijing from the north and became masters of north China, establishing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911).

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