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            Ming Dynasty
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            The Chinese Regain Power
            Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty (yuán cháo 元朝). The Ming dynasty (míng cháo 明朝, 1368-1644) was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader Zhu Yuanzhang (zhū yuán zhāng 朱元璋).


            Nanjing (nán jīng 南京, which means Southern Capital) and later at Beijing (běi jīng 北京, or Northern Capital), the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Chinese armies reconquered Annam (ān nán 安南), as orthern 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 (dà yùn hé 大運河) was expanded to its farthest limits and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade.

            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.

            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 (mǎn zhōu rén 滿洲人) took Beijing from the north and became masters of north China, establishing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (qīng cháo 清朝, 1644-1911).

            明朝

                  蒙古貴族內部的爭權奪勢,天災和大量的農民起義導致了元朝的瓦解。明朝是由一個叫朱元璋的判軍首領建立的,他是個漢族的農民,以前還當過和尚。明朝先建都在南京,而后在北京,它的權利在15世紀前25年達到頂峰。漢族軍隊又一次征服了安南(就是現在的越南南部地區,在亞洲東南部),擊退了蒙古軍隊,與此同時,中國艦隊駛向中國海和印度洋,最遠到達了非洲東海岸。亞洲的半島國家,派出使節帶著供品來朝拜明朝庭。國內,大運河延伸到盡可能的遠,促進了國內貿易的發展。

                  明朝的海上探險于1433年某天的最后一次航程后突然停止。歷史學家給出的理由就是,海上探險需要大量的開支,而當時的當務之急就是抵御蒙古人的入侵。朝廷上有人反對也可能是個客觀原因,因為一些保守的中國官員認為,擴張和經濟入侵與政府的傳統觀念背道而馳。新儒家掌權派對政府施加壓力,使得社會恢復到以前的土地集中制模式。明朝的穩定,是和它人口(大約有1億),經濟,藝術或者政治都是分不開的,從而形成了中國人這樣一種觀點,他們的文明是世界上最發達的,不需要也不歡迎任何外國人。

            與蒙古人的長期戰爭,日本人入侵朝鮮,倭寇長期騷擾中國沿海城市,至16世紀,明朝的統治衰弱了,和以往的中國朝代一樣,會出現一個新的勢力來取代它。1644年, 滿洲人從北方攻占北京,統治了中國北部,確立了最后一個封建王朝,清朝(1644-1911)。
             

             

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