The Chinese Empire was large and controlled most of Asia at one point in time. One of the dynasties that ruled the empire was the Ming Family. Ruling from 1368-1644, almost three hundred years, the Ming Dynasty impacted Chinese history very much. The purpose of this paper is to tell the history of the Ming Dynasty's impact on the Chinese Empire, and to explain why the Chinese Empire was in fact an empire.
The Ming Dynasty had created an empire. They had the government, the military, and the economic system to prove it. At different points in time, The Chinese Empire was the greatest in the world, for trade, military, and other key factors in a society. The main reason for the creation of the Ming Dynasty was the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The word Ming means "brilliant" and "bright." The creator and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty was Chu Yuan-chang, who later changed his name to suit him and his new government. Chu Yuan-chang was the youngest of the Yuan dynasty and due to the collapse of the dynasty; Chu never got to rule, and was left as a peasant.
So after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, Chu created the Ming dynasty. Chu's new name, Hongwu, was made to describe the new government that he wanted to create. The name Hongwu means, Vast Military and it reflects the increased prestige of the military during his reign. Due to the fact that Hongwu was a peasant before his reign, he established rules and laws that applied only to those who were peasants. The laws sort of boosted their lives; he kept the land tax low, and the granaries stocked to guard against famine.
During his reign he also attempted and succeeded in building up the class of those of the peasant and working class. Hongwu's new government did not cause any change for those in other social classes. Hongwu's reign affected the government of China greatly. In Hongwu's government, he felt that "Principle was the diffusion of the imperial government." (web). So in order to correct the situation of the government, he tried to strengthen rule into absolute rule by emperor. One of the single most important innovations that Hongwu made to the Chinese government was the abolishment of the Chief Minister.
By eliminating the Chief Minister, Hongwu essentially took over the administration. In a way he was proclaiming absolute power by one emperor. Hongwu also established complex rituals in order to give himself an office, a "rarefied and divine air." (web). He also tightened the bureaucracy to allow himself absolute power and control. Military to Hongwu was also important. He had discarded the belief that Military life was inferior and developed a militant class.
This class ranked higher than any civil servant. Hongwu's name is also known to mean vast military, and reflects the increase of the military. At the height of the Ming Dynasty were the Maritime Expansion, Agricultural Revolution and the Commercial Revolution. Although the agricultural and commercial revolutions had impact on the Chinese Empire, the Maritime expansion seemed to give China more power as "an empire." The Maritime Expansion was under the third ruler Yung-lo (1403-1424). Yung-lo began to sponsor Naval expansion between 1405 and continued under the leaders who followed him, Hung His (1425) and Hsu an Le (1426-1435). There are many reasons for the Naval expansion but the Yung- lo emperor expanded trade with other countries and imported exotic goods.
Expedition went to East Asia and Southeast to Asia, Southern India, Ceylon, the Persian Gulf and Africa. Trading from Africa to Southeast Asia made China the world's greatest commercial Naval power in the world at the time. A great accomplishment of the Ming Dynasty was the building of the Great Wall. Even though the Great Wall had been started earlier most of what is seen was either built or repaired by the Ming (see map with Great Wall). The brick and granite works were enlarged; this was a symbol of strength and stabling, necessary to an empire.
The watchtowers were also redesigned and cannons were placed along the wall. Just like in the rise of the dynasty the Military was a big part during this time. The Great Wall was rebuilt and refurbished for Military purposes. Cannons were added along with the watchtowers for more security and military power. The government was still using the code of laws called Ta-Mingle, written by Hongwu in 1634 to his death in 1638. Many of the laws in the code had been changed to suit those changes in the Chinese Empire over time, like growth in economy, government and technology.
The fall of the Ming dynasty was no surprise. From the beginning, money was a problem for the Dynasty. First paper currency had been used. But Hongwu did not understand inflation and gave out most of the paper money as rewards. So by 1425 A. D.
the currency was worth only 1/70 of its original value. After paper currency, the use of copper coins returned (see pictures attached), which further led to the binding the empire over to poor economic parties. But another problem in the currency irrupted, the government did not make enough of the coins and counterfeit coins became a problem. The coin problems were amplified by an increasing growth of trade. The lack of money was the beginning of the decline. There are numerous causes of the decline and complete fall of the Ming.
The most immediate causes were the rebellions that racked the country in the 17 th century, as well as the aggressive military expansion of the Manchu's. The Ming Dynasty declined because the virtue and the competing of emperors gradually declined. Another key issue in the decline was the Ming political innovation of concentration power in the hands of one absolute ruler. After the fall, The Ming Dynasty was the last native Chinese dynasty to rule the empire. Spanning almost three centuries between the call of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the rise of the Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Ming reunited what is now called China after almost 400 years of foreign incursion and occupation.
The definition of empire is a political unit in which a number of peoples or country is controlled by one ruler. Although this definition is general and vague; the Chinese Empire fits this definition. The Chinese Empire was ruled by dynasties for centuries, dynasties that went emperor after emperor, a line waiting to rule the empire. Each empire always has a rise and fall and the Chinese empire has had many rises and falls. The Chinese Empire has also been recognized as the greatest empire in the entire world at one point in time. The Chinese Empire is a true empire; it had a power, government, and an economy.
This Empire has ruled over almost all of Asia, and is the largest empire that Asia has seen. If the Chinese Empire is not considered a true empire, then I will ask you this: Why has the Chinese Empire been called one of the most powerful empires of its time? Author Unknown. Empires Past: China: Ming Dynasty. 9 Dec. 2004 web. Author Unknown.
Ming China, 1368-1644. 9 Dec. 2004 web. Author Unknown.
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Ming Dynasty. 9 Dec. 2004 web. Hall, John Whitney and Rene Grosset. "The Establishment of the Ming Dynasty." 1300's Headlines in History.
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