Ming Dynasty

Main

Zhu Yuanzhang's army eliminates the military forces of the Yuan Dynasty.

1367

After a seven-year battle, Zhu Yuanzhang's army ends the rule of the Yuan Dynasty. Several years earlier Zhu had taken his army into Jiqing, established a military base there as part of his plan to control all of China.

Zhu declares himself the emperor of China.

1368

Zhu takes control of China as the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. He makes Jin Ling, now known as Nanjing, the capital.

Construction on the Great Wall of China begins.

1368

Construction starts on the Great Wall of China. It is built to protect the Chinese Empire and will take over 100 years to complete. It is 13,000 miles long.

Maritime trade is banned in China.

1371 - 1405

In an attempt to cut down on piracy, maritime, or sea, trade is banned in China. The only way that foreigners are allowed into China is if they are from a country that is part of China's trade system called the imperial tributary system. The ban ends in 1405.

Construction begins on the Forbidden City

1406

Construction begins in Beijing on the imperial palace, known as the Forbidden City. Over 1 million workers and 100,000 artisans work on the palace, which has 9,999 rooms. Today, it is a museum.

The fourth Chinese domination of Vietnam begins.

1407 - 1428

Ming armies invade Vietnam and the fourth period of Chinese rule over Vietnam begins. Vietnam remains under Chinese rule until forces led by Le Loi defeat the Ming army in 1428.

The Yongle Canon is completed.

1408

An enormous encyclopedia about China called the Yongle Canon is completed after five years. It has 22,877 volumes, about 370 million words, and was written entirely by hand. It is the largest encyclopedia in the world.

Renovation of the Grand Canal is completed.

1415

The 1,100 mile long Grand Canal is almost completely renovated. An important waterway for trade, the canal climbs into the mountains of Shandong and is admired throughout the world.

Beijing is named the capital.

1420

After construction on the Forbidden City is complete, Beijing becomes the new capital of China. It has remained the nation's capital since then and with over 20,000,000 residents is one of the most populated cities in the world.

The Thirteen Tombs are built.

1420

Tombs for the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are built at Tianshou Mountain, northwest of Beijing. The placement of the tombs, which covers about 75 square miles, was carefully thought out and shows the Chinese belief in the importance of the relationship between man and nature.

Emperor Zhengtong is captured and held for ransom.

1449

In the Battle of Tumu Fortress, Mongolia captures Emperor Zhengtong and holds him for ransom. Even Mongolians were surprised that they were able to capture the emperor and he was released four years later, with no ransom paid.

The Compendium of Materia Medica is completed

1578

After 30 years, Li Shizhen finishes the Compendium of Materia Medica. It is a book detailing the use of over 18,000 different Chinese medicines and 11,000 formulas for treating disease.

Japanese invastion of Korea; Ming China helps defeat Japanese

1592 - 1599

Li Zheng leads a peasant revolt against the Ming Dynasty.

1628

Li Zheng rallies peasants with his promise to divide land equally and eliminating grain taxes. He will lead a peasant army revolt against the Ming Dynasty.

The Ming Dynasty army floods Kaifeng.

1642

In an effort to prevent Li Zicheng from taking over, the Ming Dynasty floods Kaifeng with water from the Yellow River. Almost have of the 600,000 residents of Kaifeng are killed, making this the worst war act in history.

Emperor Chongzhen commits suicide and the Ming Dynasty ends.

1644

Li Zicheng's rebel forces march into Beijing and Emperor Chongzhen hangs himself behind the Forbidden City. With the last Ming emperor gone, the Ming Dynasty comes to an end.