Government Chinese rebels overthrew Mongol rule and started the Ming Dynasty.
Economics At first, Ming emperors encouraged trade and exploration, but they later became less interested in maintaining relations with the outside world.
Government The Qing Dynasty ruled for almost 300 years. It was China’s last dynasty.
Terms and Names
Terms & Names
Forbidden City imperial family’s walled palaces in Beijing
Maritime related to the sea
Tribute payment made by one country to another as a sign of respect
Zheng He admiral who led a huge Chinese fleet on seven voyages
Manchus people from the region northeast of China who founded the Qing Dynasty
Build on What You Know
A Return to Chinese Rule
Build on What You Know The Chinese were a proud people with a long history of great achievements. Many did not like being ruled by the Mongols.
Overthrowing the Mongols
ESSENTIAL QUESTION How was the Ming Dynasty established?
After Kublai Khan’s death in 1294, Mongol rule slowly weakened. In 1368 a rebel army led by Zhu Yuanzhang (joo yoo•ahn•jahng) overthrew the Mongol emperor.
The First Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang established the Ming Dynasty and became its first emperor under the name Hongwu (hung•woo). He encouraged Confucianism and brought back the state exams. To help trade, he rebuilt roads and canals.
In addition, he rebuilt and extended the Great Wall to improve China’s defenses. Hongwu also helped farmers by lowering taxes and providing them with land. In addition to these positive steps, Hongwu began to increase his personal power. He did away with the position of prime minister and took control of all government offices. He made all decisions himself without consulting his advisers. He also set up a secret service to spy on his people. And he had tens of thousands of people arrested for treason and killed.
Yongle’s Rule Hongwu died in 1398. He had chosen his grandson to succeed him. Not everyone supported this decision, however. A struggle for power began. After nearly five years of fighting, Yongle (yung•law)—one of Hongwu’s sons—won victory. He declared himself emperor in 1403.
Yongle, like his father, was a strong, capable leader. Under his leadership, the Ming Dynasty reached the height of its power. One of his greatest achievements was the enlarging of the capital city at Beijing. A great complex of palaces and temples, surrounded by 35-foot-high walls, stood at the center of the city. In time, this collection of buildings became known as the ForbiddenCity because commoners and foreigners were not allowed to enter it. (See the photograph on the previous page.) The Forbidden City symbolized Yongle’s, and China’s, power and might. Yongle wanted not just China but also the rest of the world to know of his greatness. This desire led to another of his great achievements.
Check for Understanding 1
How was the Ming Dynasty established? A rebel Chinese army overthrew the .
What improvements did the Ming emperors make in China? rebuilt roads, , and irrigation systems; rebuilt and extended the ; lowered taxes; gave land to farmers; enlarged capital at
Trade and Overseas Voyages
ESSENTIAL QUESTION How did China’s relations with the outside world change under the Ming emperors?
In the early 1400s, Yongle sent a series of maritime expeditions to other civilizations. Maritime Maritime means “related to the sea.”
The Voyages of Zheng He Yongle wanted to extend Chinese influence and win tribute from other countries. Tribute Tribute is a payment made by one country to another as a sign of respect. To achieve this goal, Yongle built a great fleet of ships for exploration.
China completed seven long voyages between 1405 and 1433. Admiral Zheng He Zheng He (juhng huh) led the fleet. He had as many as 300 ships and nearly 28,000 crew members. Zheng He sailed around Southeast Asia to India, Arabia, and Africa. (See the map opposite.) He returned with tribute that included gold and jewels. China’s foreign trade and reputation grew because of his voyages.
A Change of Policy
A Change of Policy By the 1430s, Yongle and Zheng He had died. Most Confucian officials thought the government gained little from trade and contact with foreigners. They were more concerned with threats of invasion from Central Asia. So the Ming government ended the maritime voyages and banned the building of seagoing ships.
China did not remain isolated, however. Chinese merchants expanded trade with the rest of Southeast Asia. In addition, European ships were traveling to China by the early 1500s. The Chinese traded silk, tea, and porcelain for a variety of Western goods, including silver.
was a great Chinese Explorer
Check for Understanding 2
How did China’s relations with the outside world change under the Ming emperors? sought contact with the outside world to extend Chinese influence and win from other countries
How did China’s policies change after the 1430s? China its maritime voyages; banned building of seagoing ships.
The Last Dynasty
ESSENTIAL QUESTION How was the Qing Dynasty established?
The Ming Dynasty declined after almost 300 years in power. Weak rulers, high taxes, and poor harvests led to rebellion. To the northeast of China was a region called Manchuria. The people were known as the Manchus. In 1644, the Manchus took advantage of Ming weaknesses and conquered China. They started the Qing (chihng) Dynasty.
Like the Ming rulers, the Manchus allowed some trade. But in general, they limited foreign contacts and tried to restrict foreign influence in China. The Qing Dynasty, China’s last, endured until 1911.
Check for Understanding 3
How was the Qing Dynasty established? The conquered China.
Forbidden Cityimperial family’s walled palaces in Beijing
maritimerelated to the sea
tributepayment made by one country to another as a sign of respect
Zheng Headmiral who led a huge Chinese fleet on seven voyages
Manchuspeople from the region northeast of China who founded the Qing Dynasty
• The Ming Dynasty restored China to a great empire.
• The Ming Dynasty greatly expanded overland trade and maritime voyages.
• After the 1430s, China focused on its northern borders.
Why It Matters Now . . . Today the Chinese government still tries to limit foreign influence in political and economic affairs.