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Chinese Empire: Ming Dynasty

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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."( 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."( 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 Hsuan 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-Minglu, 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 1425A.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



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