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Yuan Dynasty (12711368) was the empire or ruling dynasty established

by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. Although the Mongols had
ruled territories including today's North China for decades, it was not until 1271 that
Kublai Khan officially proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style. His
realm was, by this point, isolated from the other khanates and controlled most of
present-day China and
modern Mongolia and Korea. It was the first foreign dynasty to rule all of China and
lasted until 1368, after which its Genghisid rulers returned to their Mongolian
homeland and continued to rule the Northern Yuan dynasty. Some of the Mongolian
Emperors of the Yuan mastered the Chinese language, while others only used their
native language (i.e. Mongolian) and the 'Phags-pa script.
The Yuan dynasty is considered both a successor to the Mongol Empireand
an imperial Chinese dynasty. It was the khanate ruled by the successors of Mngke
Khan after the division of the Mongol Empire. Inofficial Chinese histories, the Yuan
dynasty bore the Mandate of Heaven, following the Song dynasty and preceding
the Ming dynasty. The dynasty was established by Kublai Khan, yet he placed his
grandfather Genghis Khan on the imperial records as the official founder of the
dynasty as Taizu. In the Proclamation of the Dynastic Name (), Kublai
announced the name of the new dynasty as Great Yuan and claimed the succession
of former Chinese dynasties from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to
the Tang dynasty.

Since the late period of the 12th century, an ethnic minority group
called Mongolian had grown up in the northern areas of China. In 1204, one of the
leaders of the Mongolian tribes, Tiemuzhen, unified all the internal tribes. Two years
later, Tiemuzhen was honored as Genghis Khan (meaning - the ruler of the world)
and soon established the Mongolian Empire. Successively, it captured Xixia and the
Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234), after which the combative Mongolian army sent its military
forces into Central Asia and Europe.
In 1260, the grandson of Tiemuzhen, Kublai Khan, ascended the throne. In
1271, he formally established the Yuan Dynasty with Yuandadu (currently Beijing) as
the capital. (The new dynasty was not territorially the former Mongolian Empire as
three parts had broken away before the new dynasty was founded.)
In 1276, not long after the founding of the dynasty, Kublai Khan led his army,
capturing the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279) and thus he unified
the entire China.

At that time, Yuan's territory stretched to Mongolia and Siberia in the north,
the South Sea in the south, Yunnan Province and Tibet in the southwest, eastern
part of Xinjiang Province in the northwest and the Stanovoi Range in the northeast.
The total area of the country was over 4.6 million square miles.

As a mighty state, the Yuan Dynasty enjoyed economic development and

prospered in the fields of science and literature. The economy was mainly based on
agriculture. The agricultural techniques used were superior to those of previous
dynasties and food output increased. Additionally, the use of paper currency
stimulated the development of commerce. Meanwhile, trade with foreign countries
was greatly encouraged following an open policy adopted by the rulers. In the area
of science, astronomy, mathematics and medicine reached a very high level. In
literature, the Yuan drama, along with the Tang poem and 'ci' poem of the Song
Dynasty (960 - 1279), was considered another heritage of Chinese literature.
During the glorious period, diplomatic activities with foreign countries were
quite frequent with many foreign envoys, merchants and travelers traversing the sea
to come to China. Among them, the famous Italian merchant Marco Polo was a
successful cultural transmitter who wrote the historic travel notes, The Travels of
Marco Polo, informing the West about China.
In the late period, the internal contradictions of the ruling class, serious natural
disasters, and unreasonable grading system together aroused the indignation of the
people. In 1367, the rebel army led by Zhu Yuanzhang captured the Yuan capital,
ending the ever mighty Yuan regime.

The structure of the Yuan government took shape during the reign of Kublai
Khan (12601294). While some changes took place such as the functions of certain
institutions, the essential components of the government bureaucracy remained
intact from the beginning to the end of the dynasty in 1368.

The system of bureaucracy created by Kublai Khan reflected various cultures

the Han
Chinese, Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols and Tibetan Buddhists. While the official
terminology of the institutions may indicate the government structure was almost
purely that of native Chinese dynasties, the Yuan bureaucracy actually consisted of a
mix of elements from different cultures. The Chinese-style elements of the
bureaucracy mainly came from the native Tang,Song, as well as Khitan Liao and

Jurchen Jin dynasties. Chinese advisers such asLiu Bingzhong and Yao Shu gave
strong influence to Kublai's early court, and the central government administration
was established within the first decade of Kublai's reign. This government adopted
the traditional Chinese tripartite division of authority among civil, military,
and censorial offices, including the Central Secretariat(Zhongshu Sheng) to manage
civil affairs, the Privy Council (Chinese: ) to manage military affairs, and
the Censorate to conduct internal surveillance and inspection. The actual functions
of both central and local government institutions however showed a major overlap
between the civil and military jurisdictions, due to the Mongol traditional reliance on
military institutions and offices as the core of governance. Such a civilian
bureaucracy, with the Central Secretariat as the top institution that was (directly or
indirectly) responsible for most other governmental agencies (such as the traditional
Chinese-style Six Ministries), was created in China. At various times another central
government institution called the Department of State Affairs (Shangshu Sheng) that
mainly dealt with finance was established (such as during the reign of Klg Khan or
Emperor Wuzong), but was usually abandoned shortly afterwards.

While the existence of these central government departments and the Six
Ministries (which had been introduced since theSui and Tang dynasties) gave a
Sinicized image in the Yuan administration, the actual functions of these ministries
also reflected how Mongolian priorities and policies reshaped and redirected those
institutions. For example, the authority of the Yuan legal system, the Ministry of
Justice did not extend to legal cases involving Mongols and Semuren, where there
were separate courts of justice for them. Cases involving members of more than one
ethnic group were decided by a mixed board consisting of Chinese and Mongols.
Another example was the insignificance of the Ministry of War compared with native
Chinese dynasties, as the real military authority in Yuan times resided in the Privy

Under the wise governing the Mongolian rulers, the social economy in the
Yuan Dynasty in early period developed fairly well in agriculture, handicraft industry,
commerce and foreign trade. The agriculture was the major economy of the Yuan
Dynasty. Although the Mongolian people were a nomadic people who originally lived
on the grassland for generations, Kublai Khan focused much attention on the
agricultural production after the founding of Yuan Dynasty. The following emperors
also advocated replacing the traditional animal husbandry with agriculture. As a
result, no matter in the production technique, the farming area or the food output, the
Yuan Dynasty surpassed the previous dynasties.

The most prosperous handicraft industry in the Yuan Dynast was the textile
industry. As the cotton planting became more and more popular in the southern
areas of China, the development of the textile industry was greatly stimulated and
reached a fairly advanced level. A woman named Huang Daopo from Songjiang area
(currently in Shanghai urban area) improved and invented the new cotton textile
technology, which made Shanghai and the near regions become the earliest national
cotton textile industry center.

Both the surplus goods and the convenient water transport was the
prerequisite of the commercial development of the Yuan Dynasty. In the early period
of Yuan, a 51-mile long grand canal, named Tonghui River by Kublai Khan, was
constructed in the capital city Dadu (currently Beijing). This provided much
convenience for the food transport from southern areas to the capital. Additionally,
the large circulation of paper currency further prospered the domestic business

Meanwhile, rulers of the Yuan Dynasty adopted an open policy to develop the
economy. On the one hand, more ports in the coastal areas were opened for goods
transport; on the other hand, foreign goods were welcomed to enter the domestic
market. Under this policy, great amount of spices and medical materials were
imported from Arabia, Persia and India while China's silk and porcelain in large
number were exported to Europe.

The unprecedented prosperity of the marine Silk Road became the most
direct momentum of the domestic economical development hence was the highlight
of the social economy of the Yuan Dynasty. Thanks to this, the Yuan Dynasty in that
period was regarded as one of the richest countries in the world.

Due to encouragement from the Mongolian rulers, the religious culture of the Yuan
Dynasty received an all-round development. The Mongolians' own religion,
Buddhism as well as the traditional Chinese religion of Taoism simultaneously
acquired their positions in the Yuan society.

There were two original religions that belonged to the Mongolian Minority,
respectively called Shamanism and Totemism. The followers of Shamanism believed
in the existence of Jinn. Early in the period of the Mongolian tribes, Shamans were
allowed to take part in the discussion of crucial issues, such as electing leaders and
affairs of war and peace. Also, the practice of Totemism had a great psychological
influence upon the Mongolian people. There were two principal totems - 'wolf totem'
and 'deer totem' worshiped by the Mongolians. In the Mongolians' heart, wolf was
their grandfather while deer was their grandmother. Genghis Khan always ordered
that wolves and deer should be freed if caught during hunting.
Since the Mongolian people were keen academics, they were pleased to
integrate religions from other ethnic minorities. That is why Tibetan Buddhism
became the dominant religion of the Yuan Dynasty. Ever since Tibetan Buddhism
came to the Mongol area, it was greatly advocated by generations of Khans. During
the reign of Emperor Chengzong of Yuan, a great many Buddhist sutras were
translated from Tibetan into Mongolian, which further contributed to the development
of Tibetan Buddhism in the Yuan Dynasty. Meanwhile, the traditional Chinese religion
of Taoism was also free to develop in a impartial atmosphere. As a branch of Taoism,
the Quan Zhen religion was established in 1167 and was well developed under the
favorable policy carried out by Yuan rulers. Emperor Taizu Genghis Khan authorized
the master of Quan Zhen religion to govern the national Taoist groups.
We have to say that the scientific advancement was the highlight of the
cultural development in this period. It is said that achievements in science and
technology reached their peak during this period. In particular, advancements made
in astronomy, mathematics and medicine were the forefront among the world.
However, almost all these achievements were gained with the help of foreign
As for astronomy, many astronomy books from foreign countries were
introduced and translated during the reign of Kublai Khan. Later, a special
astronomical observatory called 'Sitiantai' was constructed and a group of
astronomers from Arabia and Persia were appointed to administrate the observatory.
Among them a Persian named Zhama Lading made great contributions to
Astronomical observations and the establishment of a calendar. Meanwhile, a
Chinese astronomer (who was also a water scientist and mathematician) invented
many Astronomical Instruments and also helped to establish a precise new calendar
called 'Shoushili'.
In mathematics, the Arabic numbers were introduced to China during this
dynasty, a golden period of China's mathematical development. At that time, Muslims
coming to China brought a great amount of mathematical knowledge with them.
Chinese mathematicians made many important discoveries during this period of
enlightenment. Simultaneously, due to the medical communications between China

and those Arabian countries, traditional Chinese medicine and pharmacy made great
leaps forward in this dynasty. Many kinds of Arabic pharmacies were first introduced
to China and gradually became widely used. Formal hospitals were also set up by
some Muslims. Additionally, a comprehensive medical book containing both Chinese
and western medical treatment, called HuiHui Prescription, was edited by the Hui
Nevertheless, the achievements in literature and art of this dynasty were no
less than the previous dynasties. A new kind of literature form called Yuan drama
was rather prosperous during that period. Together with the Tang poem and 'ci' poem
in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), this drama was one of the outstanding Chinese
literary heritages. A large number of influential works successively came out. The
most famous being, the Wang Shifu's Romance of the Western Chamber, Guan
Hanqing's Dou E Yuanand many verses by Ma Zhiyuan. Also, novels from this
dynasty had a great influence upon those of the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 1911) dynasties. With regard to art, the main contribution was in music - musical
instruments of the Hui people, including Urheen, Huobusi and Sheng, were
vigorously promoted. The Urheen and Sanxian (a three-stringed plucked instrument)
have been widely used in Chinese opera music until the present day, becoming
official members of China's national musical instrument collection.


Generally, there were two major factors that led to its decline: one was the
class conflict caused by the heavy taxation, the other one was the ethnic
contradiction resulting from the 'Four Class System'.

The Yuan court actually first began to decline during the reign of Emperor
Renzong, when peasant uprisings emerged in southern China. However, despite the
warning of the uprisings, corruption of the Yuan court officials continued. Also, power
struggles within the ruling class became more and more serious. For instance in the
short period from the beginning of Emperor Wuzong's reign in 1308 to the start of
Emperor Huizong's reign in 1333, there were eight emperors. During this period, the
corruption became severe as subordinate officials were commonly appointed on the
basis of bribery rather than merit; the land was gradually concentrated in the hands
of Mongolian aristocrats and a select group of powerful Han landlords; a fiscal crisis
in the Yuan court also broke out due to the luxurious lifestyles of the ruling class.
Even worse, the Mongolian army became corrupt and gradually disintegrated.

During the reign of the last emperor, the real power of the Yuan regime fell
into the hands of Cheng Xiang (prime minister) named Bo Yan, who was born of a
Mongolian noble family. He was rather hostile to the Han people and introduced a
series of policies unfavorable to the Han. This magnified the seriousness of the ethic
contradiction. Misfortunes never come singly. The Yellow River burst its banks three
times in the late Yuan Dynasty. As a result, serious natural disasters broke out and
the masses were forced to live in dire poverty. Under such circumstances, groups of
farmers left the land and successively launched armed uprisings. Although many
peasants' uprisings were successfully suppressed by the Yuan army, the corrupt
regime of the Yuan Dynasty was constantly impacted by this surging wave and
teetered on the verge of collapse.

The Yuan Dynasty was eventually destroyed by the peasants' uprising. In

1351, the 'Hongjinjun (army with red head-scarves) Uprising', led by a man named
Liu Futong, broke out in Yingzhou (in current Anhui Province). Fierce battles took
place progressively between the Hongjinjun military force and the Yuan army.

Simultaneously, a group of the Hongjinjun military forces led by a man named

Zhu Yuanzhang won a series of victories in battle, and his military forces gradually
became stronger. In the management of military affairs, Zhu Yuanzhang set strict
military discipline and was good at delegating duties to different human resources.
Soon after, in 1356, his military forces captured Jiankang (currently Nanjing which
later became their military base. With increasing military strength and more talented
people joining him, Zhu's army succeeded in defeating the separatist military forces
in the northern areas of China. In 1367, Zhu Yuanzhang officially launched a deadly
attack on the Yuan regime which was riddled with corruption and intrigue. Within a
year, Zhu's army captured Dadu (currently Beijing), the capital of Yuan. Soon after, a
new dynasty - the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) displaced the Yuan Dynasty.

Significance of Yuan Dynasty

The most significant achievement of the Yuan Dynasty was the unification of
the whole territory. Prior to this China had been, for more than 300 years, a country
of separate states. From the Fanzhen Separatist Regions in the later period of the
Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) to the isolated states in the Five Dynasties and Ten States
period (907 - 960): from the confrontation of the Northern Song (960 - 1127) and Liao
(916 - 1125) to the rivalry between the Southern Song (1127 - 1279) and the Jin
Dynasty (1115 - 1234), China's history has been characterized by conflict.
This situation changed with Kublai Khan's accession to the throne, when he
defeated all the separatist military forces and unified them under a mighty centralized

power system. Meanwhile, a close connection between the central court, the
regional administrations and the border areas was set up. Thus a unified state was
well consolidated by the later dynasties. Especially, the 'Xingsheng' administrative
system, established by Yuan rulers to enhance the ruling of the centralized power,
had profound influence on later rulers. Even today the Chinese government still
uses 'Sheng' (province) as the title of local administrative units.
Naturally, the unification of the territory enhanced the communication between
different ethnic minorities, thus strengthening the national integration process. After
the founding of the Yuan Dynasty, many ethnic minorities migrated to the central
plain. They brought their techniques of production as well as their unique culture and
art, which enriched the economic and social life of people living in the central plains.
Meanwhile, a number of Han people flowed to the residential areas of the ethnic
minorities. Taking the advanced agricultural and handicraft techniques with them,
these Han people contributed a lot to the exploitation of the frontiers.
Another significance of the Yuan Dynasty was the outstanding achievements
in the natural sciences and technology. Due to the open policy implemented by the
Yuan rulers, a great many advanced science and technology innovations were
introduced to China. One example of these achievements is the unprecedented
progress in the fields of astronomy and mathematics, made possible by the refined
knowledge gained from foreign experts.
On the other hand, the unified territory objectively promoted the development
of geography, water conservation and agriculture. In a word, the technological
developments of the Yuan Dynasty surpassed any other dynasties in Chinese
Last but not least, the much more frequent communication with foreign
countries during the Yuan Dynasty was of influential significance. Because of the
external expansion of the early period of the Mongolian Empire, many foreign
countries from continental Europe, Asia and Africa started to turn their eyes upon this
piece of oriental land. Through the comings and goings of envoys, merchants and
travelers between China and many foreign countries, the western world developed a
deeper understanding of the splendid Chinese civilization .



(Borjigin Temujin)

Also known as Genghis Khan the great military leader; Temujin founded the great
Mongolian Empire, with his territory stretching across the entire Eurasian Continent. 1

(Borjigin Tolui)

The fourth son of Temujin, he governed the empire for two years after Temujin died


(Borjigin gedei)

The third son of Temujin; during his reign, he formed an alliance with the Southern
Song to fight against Jin (1115 - 1234).


Empress Zhaoci
(Tregene Khtn)

After the death of Taizong, a grandson of Temujin was due to succeed the throne,
but the empress Zhaoci usurped the throne.


(Borjigin Gyk)

The eldest son of Taizong


Empress Qinshu

Empress of Dingzong; she ruled for three years after the death of Dingzong .

(Oghul Ghaymish)

(Borjigin Mngke)

During his reign, the Yuan army began to fight against the Southern Song (1127 1279). In 1259, he died while on march.


Yuan Emperors

Yuan Shizu
(Borjigin Kublai)

Grandson of Genghis Khan, and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. He moved the
capital to Beijing and settled there. In 1279, he defeated the Southern Song (960 1279).


Yuan Chengzong
(Borjigin Temr)

Grandson of Kublai Khan; a conventional emperor



Yuan Wuzong
(Borjigin Qayshan)

Nephew of Chengzong



Yuan Renzong

Younger brother of Wuzong; he ascended the throne after Wuzong died



Yuan Yingzong
(Borjigin Suddhipala)

Son of Renzong; he was killed by political enemies in a coup.



Taiding Di
(Borjigin YesnTemr)

Grandson of Kublai Khan; an unremarkable emperor



Tianshun Di
(Borjigin Arigaba)

The youngest son of Taiding Di; he was placed on the throne following a coup, but
ruled for only a month.


Yuan Wenzong
(Borjigin Toq-Temr)

The second son of Wuzong; he died of illness in 1332.



Yuan Mingzong
(Borjigin Qoshila)

The eldest son of Wuzhong; He was poisoned by Wenzong and reigned for only
eight months.


Yuan Ningzong
(Borjigin Irinchibal)

The second son of Mingzong; after ruling for less than two months, he died of


Yuan Huizong
(Borjigin ToghanTemr)

The eldest son of Mingzong; during his reign, the Hongjinjun Uprising broke out and 1
subsequently the capital was captured by Zhu Yuanzhang.

Interesting Facts about the Yuan Dynasty

The word "yuan" means "origin of the universe."

The social classes were dictated by the order that people groups were
conquered by the Mongols. The Southern Song Chinese were the last to be
conquered, so they were at the bottom.

The Yuan introduced paper money throughout all of China. The money later
experienced high inflation.

Today, the "yuan" is the basic unit of money in China.

The capital city was Dadu. Today, the city is called Beijing and is the current
capital city of China.

Kublai also had a "summer" capital city in Mongolia called Shangdu. It is

sometimes called Xanadu.

Ming Dynasty (13681644) was the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years
(13681644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming,
described by some as "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social
stability in human history," was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han
Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li
Zicheng (who established the Shun dynasty, soon replaced by theManchu-led Qing
dynasty), regimes loyal to the Ming throne collectively called the Southern Ming
survived until 1662.

The Hongwu Emperor (ruled 136898) attempted to create a society of selfsufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee
and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty: the empire's standing
army exceeded one million troops and thenavy's dockyards in Nanjing were the
largest in the world. He also took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs
and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting
to guide these princes through the Huang Ming Zu Xun, a set of published dynastic
instructions. This failed spectacularly when his teenage successor, the Jianwen
Emperor, attempted to curtail his uncles' power, prompting theJingnan Campaign, an
uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in
1402. The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed
it Beijing, constructed theForbidden City, and restored the Grand Canal and the
primacy of theimperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his
eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the
Confucianscholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of
exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the eastern coasts of Africa.

The rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances;
the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor during the 1449Tumu Crisis ended them
completely. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced
labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall
of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were
conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of
storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate
figures. Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million but
necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers
as more disappeared from the official records or "donated" their lands to tax-exempt
eunuchs or temples. Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from "Japanese"
pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves.
By the 16th century, however, the expansion of European trade albeit
restricted to islands near Guangzhou like Macau spread the Columbian
Exchange of crops, plants, and animals into China, introducing chili
peppersto Sichuan cuisine and highly productive corn and potatoes, which
ofPortuguese, Spanish, and Dutch trade created new demand for Chinese products
and produced a massive influx of Japanese and American silver. This abundance of
specie allowed the Ming to finally avoid using paper money, which had
sparked hyperinflation during the 1450s. While traditional Confucians opposed such
a prominent role for commerce and the newly rich it created, the heterodoxy
introduced by Wang Yangming permitted a more accommodating attitude. Zhang
Juzheng's initially successful reforms proved devastating when a slowdown in
agriculture produced by the Little Ice Age was met with Japanese and Spanish
policies that quickly cut off the supply of silver now necessary for farmers to be able
to pay their taxes. Combined with crop failure, floods, and epidemic, the dynasty was
considered to have lost the Mandate of Heaven and collapsed before the rebel
leader Li Zicheng and a Manchurian invasion.
During the final 40 years of the Yuan Dynasty era (12791368), there were
famines, drought, flooding on the Yellow River, a bubonic plague pandemic, and
other natural disasters. Perhaps tens of millions of people died, and these disasters
were seen as signs that the Yuan Dynasty had lost the Mandate of Heaven.
This ancient political doctrine encouraged people to rebel. Starting in the 1350s,
there were almost 20 years of rebellions. The Yuan troops tried to quell the
rebellions, but they grew in size, and rebel armies started holding cities and large
tracts of territory.

These armies became large and powerful. A powerful army south of the
Yangtze River was led by Zhu Yuanzhang a local young man from a peasant family
joined the army. After that, Zhu served with distinction in the battles. He was then

chosen as general by a rebelling warlord named Guo Ziyi. After the death of the
rebelling warlord, Zhu took control and continued forth to realize his plan to take
control over all of China. In 1356, Zhu led his army into the city of Jiqing (currently
Nanjing in Jiangsu Province), changed the city name into Yingtian and established
his own military base there. Through several years' efforts, both the military and
economical strength of Zhu's army quickly became stronger. From 1360 to 1367, his
army managed to eliminate the remaining separatist military forces.
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang officially proclaimed himself emperor in Yingtian and
founded the Ming Dynasty.

In the same year, the Ming army captured Dadu (currently Beijing), the capital
city of Yuan, and rid China of most of the remaining Mongols, ultimately
ending Yuan.
The government was run by an organization called the civil service. In order to
get a job with the civil service, applicants had to take difficult exams. The men with
the highest scores would get the best jobs. Some men would study for years to try
and pass the exams and earn one of these prestigious positions. The exams often
covered a number of subjects, but a significant portion of the testing was on the
teachings of Confucius.
The central government of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was also
structured in this pattern: the Grand Secretariat (neige ), successor of the
Imperial Secretariat (zhongshusheng ) was assisting the emperor and
coordinated by means of the Department of State Affairs (shangshusheng )
the work of the Six Ministries (liubu ) for Personnel (libu ), Revenue
(hubu ), Rites (libu ), War (bingbu ), Justice (xingbu ), and Public
Works (gongbu ). The Censorate (duchayuan ; before called yushitai
) surveyed and assessed the work of imperial officials was also an old institution
with a new name. The nominal heads of government were the Three Dukes
(sangong : the Grand Mentor taifu , the Grand Preceptor taishi and the
Grand Guardian taibao ), but these posts were often vacant. This is also true for
the traditional Three Minor Solitaries (sangu ).
Economically, the Ming Dynasty was a period during which the feudal society
began to show the declining trend while the capitalism started to originate. In
agriculture, both the food output and the implements of production surpassed that of
the Song and Yuan Dynasties. From the early period, the handicraft industry in the
southern areas developed rapidly. Especially, the porcelain making industry reached

an unprecedented level. Since the reign of Zhu Yuanzhang, it had been a major
source of the state finance. The currently famous Jindezhen kiln was once the
imperial kiln in that period.
The development of the handicraft industry promoted market economy and
urbanization. During the reign of Emperor Shizong and Emperor Shenzong, a great
amount of commodities including silk, alcohol, porcelain, tobacco, crops, vegetable
and fruits was sold in the market. Meanwhile, many foreign commodities such as
clocks from Europe and tobacco from America were on sale in many cities of China.
Also, a series of commercial metropolises including Beijing, Nanjing, Yangzhou,
Suzhou, Guangzhou, Xian and Chengdu were successively formed. However, the
later policy of restraining commerce and the stringent ban on shipping greatly
hampered commercial development.
The dominant religious beliefs during the Ming dynasty were the various forms
of Chinese
religion and
the Three
Teachings Confucianism, Taoism,
and Buddhism. The Yuan-supported Tibetan lamas fell from favor and the early Ming
emperors particularly favored Taoism granting its practitioners many positions in the
state's ritual offices. The Hongwu Emperor curtailed the cosmopolitan culture of the
Mongol Yuan dynasty, and the prolific Prince of Ning Zhu Quan even composed one
encyclopedia attacking Buddhism as a foreign "mourning cult" deleterious to the
state and another encyclopedia that subsequently joined the Taoist canon.]
Islam was also well-established throughout China, with a history said to have
begun withSa'd ibn Abi Waqqas during the Tang dynasty and strong official
support during the Yuan. Although the Ming sharply curtailed this support, there were
still several prominent Muslim figures early on, including the Hongwu Emperor's
generals Chang Yuqun, Lan Yu, Ding Dexing, and Mu Ying and the Yongle Emperor's
powerful eunuch Zheng He.
The advent of the Ming was initially devastating to Christianity: in his first year,
the Hongwu Emperor declared the eighty-year-old Franciscan missions among the
Yuan heterodox and illegal. The centuries-old Nestorian church also disappeared.
The later Ming saw a new wave of Christian particularly Jesuit missionaries
arrive, who employed new western science and technology in their arguments for
conversion. They were educated in Chinese language and culture at St. Paul's
College on Macau after its founding in 1579. The most influential was Matteo Ricci,
whose "Map of the Myriad Countries of the World" upendedtraditional
geography throughout East Asia and whose work with the convert Xu Guangqi led to
the first Chinese translation of Euclid's Elements in 1607. The discovery of
a Nestorian stele at Xi'an in 1625 also permitted Christianity to be treated as an old
and established faith, rather than a new and dangerous cult. However, there were
strong disagreements about the extent to which converts could continue to perform
rituals to the emperor, Confucius, or their ancestors: Ricci had been very
accommodating and an attempt by his successors to backtrack from this policy led to
the Nanjing Incident of 1616, which exiled four Jesuits to Macau and forced the

others out of public life for six years. A series of spectacular failures by theChinese
astronomers including missing an eclipse easily computed by Xu Guangqi
and Sabatino de Ursis and a return by the Jesuits to presenting themselves as
educated scholars in the Confucian mold restored their fortunes. However, by the
end of the Ming the Dominicans had begun the Chinese Rites controversy in Rome
that would eventually lead to a full ban of Christianity under the Qing dynasty.
During his mission, Ricci was also contacted in Beijing by one of the approximately
5,000 Kaifeng Jews and introduced them and their long history in China to
Europe. However, the 1642 flood caused by Kaifeng's Ming governor devastated the
community, which lost five of its twelve families, its synagogue, and most of its Torah.
Art flourished during the Ming Dynasty. This included literature, painting,
music, poetry, and porcelain. Ming vases made of blue and white porcelain were
prized at the time throughout the world. They are still considered quite valuable.
Three of the four great classical masterpieces of Chinese literature - Journey
to the West, Outlaws of the Marsh, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms were
written in during this period. Besides, another two well-known novels - Peony
Pavilion and The Plum in the Golden Vase were also excellent works in that period.
Meanwhile, folk literature prospered, represented by a group of writers such as Tang
Yin, Song Lian, Zhang Dai, Wu Weiye and Yuan Hongdao. In philosophy, Wang
Yangming's new thoughts called 'philosophy of the mind' formed a new thinking wave
which helped shape a new social trend.

Before the 16th century, the scientific development of the Ming Dynasty had
been in the forefront of the world.Many scientific books appeared in the early and
middle period, namely, medical book Compendium of Materia Medica by Li Shizhen,
Yingxing's Heavenly
Creations about
Guangqi'sComplete Treatise on Agriculture and Xu Xiake's Travels of Xu Xiake. All
these have been the precious documents for today's study of the ancient technology.
Additionally, the military technology was relatively advanced in that period. A kind of
gun called 'huochong gun' and powerful artillery were invented in the late period. It is
said that a man named Wan Hoo even tried to fly to the sky by sitting in a chair
propelled by gunpowder sticks. Unfortunately, he failed and became the first sacrifice
in human conquest of the sky.
In the end, the greatest achievements accomplished during this time were on
architecture. The Forbidden City in Beijing was crafted this time. Porcelain making
was also relevant during this time, which contributed to arts of present day.
The turning point from prosperity to decline was the reign of Emperor
Shenzong. In the early period, under the wise assistance of a skillful chancellor,
Zhang Juzheng, Emperor Shenzong made much improvement in the national

economy, agriculture, water conservancy and military affairs. However, after the
death of Zhang Juzheng, the emperor began to neglect state affairs. In his late reign,
the Ming army was defeated by the leader of the so-called 'Latter Jin' regime Nurhachu in the Battle of Sarhu. Since then, the Ming court fell into a passive state in
confrontation with the 'Latter Jin' set up by Nuzhen ethnic minority.
The end of this dynasty started from the last emperor, Emperor Weizong's
reign - the reign went by the name Chongzhen. The crisis was caused by the
corruption of the court officials and the domination of the eunuchs. In that period,
both the exploitation from the ruling class and natural disasters in successive years
caused the people to live in extreme hardship. In 1628, dozens of rebel military
forces launched battles in the northern area of Shaaxi Province. Among them, one of
the leaders of the rebel army was named Li Zicheng, and he was deeply trusted and
supported by most peasants. In 1644, Li Zicheng captured Xian and founded a new
regime called Dashun. In the same year, Emperor Weizong hanged himself in
Jingshan Hill of Beijing, signifying the end of this dynasty.





Ming Taizu /
Founder of the Ming Dynasty; once entered a monastery and later
a leader of the peasant's uprising army. In 1368, he proclaimed
himself emperor in Yingtian (today's Nanjing).
(Zhu Yuanzhang)
Grandson of Zhu Yuanzhang; Originally, his father Zhu Biao was
Ming Huizong
designated as the heir. He came to the throne because of Zhu
(Zhu Yunwen)
Biao's early death.
The fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang; He usurped the throne by from
Ming Chengzu
the hands of Zhu Yunwen. His reign was said to be the most
(Zhu Di)
prosperous period of the Ming Dynasty.
Ming Renzong
The eldest son of Zhu Di; His reign was short because of his early
(Zhu Gaochi )
death. But he was remembered as an innovative emperor.
Ming Xuanzong
Son of Emperor Renzong; ruled for ten years and died of illness
(Zhu Zhanji)
Ming Yingzong
(Zhu Qizhen)

Son of Emperor Xuanzong; He ascended the throne at eight and

was later imprisoned by Mongols. After being house arrested for
seven years, his launched a coup and regained his second reign.

Ming Daizong
(Zhu Qiyu)
Ming Xianzong
(Zhu Jianshen)
Ming Xiaozong
(Zhu Youtang)
Ming Wuzong
(Zhu Houzhao)

Younger brother of Yingzong; He was put on the throne after his

brother was captured by Mongols.
Son of Emperor Yingzong; He ascended the throne at 17 and was
once infatuated with a consort who was 19 years old than he was.
Son of Emperor Xianzong; He was the sole perpetually
monogamous emperor in the whole of Chinese history.
The eldest son of Emperor Xiaozong; He was irresponsible and
indulged himself in playing with women.







Cousin of Emperor Wuzong and nephew of Emperor Xiaozong; He

was also infatuated with women as well as Taoist alchemical
Son of Emperor Shizong; He was considered as an open-minded
Ming Muzong
emperor since he used to adopt a series of positive policies the
(Zhu Zaihou)
reverse the declining situation.
Son of Emperor Muzong; His reign was the longest one among the
Ming Shenzong
Ming emperors. He also received Matteo Ricci the first christian
(Zhu Yijun)
The eldest son of Shenzong; His reign was less than a half year
Ming Guangzong
due to his mysterious death which was probably caused by the so(Zhu Changluo)
called red pills.
The eldest son of Guangzong; He came to the throne at 15 and his
Ming Xizong
reign was controlled by a treacherous court official named Wei
(Zhu Youxiao)
Son of Guangzong and younger brother of Xizong; He reign was
Ming Weizong
thought to hasten the end of the Ming Dynasty. In 1644, he
(Zhu Youjian)
committed suicide in Jingshan Park after Li Zicheng captured
Ming Shizong
(Zhu Houcong)







Fun facts about the Ming Dynasty

The Forbidden City took 15 years and over 1 million workers to complete.

Folding fans became very popular. They were brought over from Japan and

Portuguese traders first arrived in China in 1517.

People could only enter the Forbidden City if they had permission from the

Yingzong became emperor when he was just 8 years old. He was later
captured by the Mongols. When he was released he found his brother was
emperor. He would later regain his rule.

When Emperor Hongwu became worried about losing his thrown, he

established a secret police called the Jinyi Wei to spy on people.







REFERENCES: /Date Retrieved: January 5, 2016 Retrieved: January 5, 2016 Date Retrieved: January
5, 2016 Date Retrieved: January 5, 2016 Date Retrieved: January 5,
2016 Date Retrieved: January
5, 2016
January 5, 2016