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China in the Early Modern Period



Basic Features


Political Organization: Empire

                                     The Emperor ruled with the Mandate of Heaven.

                                     Concept of Middle Kingdom

                                     Recurring cycle of dynasties that first win, and then lose the

 Mandate of Heaven.

                                    Highly developed bureaucracy.  Exam system for public service.


Social Organization: (hierarchy taken from Confucius) Scholars

                                                                                        Peasants (in reality peasants were

 at the bottom of society)





Value Systems:    Traditional rites and religion. (polytheistic)

                             Heaven, Mandate of Heaven, ancestor worship

                             Confucius- “Rational humanism”- emphasized duty, tradition,

                                    maintenance of social harmony. Analects.

                             Taoism- “intuitive mysticism”- emphasized harmony with nature.

                             Buddhism- Sought release from this world.


China was characterized by extraordinary cultural continuity spanning thousands of years.



Timeline of the Ming and Qing Dynasties



Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.)


1368-    The leader of the successful Chinese rebellion against the Mongol rulers of

            China proclaimed the beginning of a new dynasty in China.


1402-1424-   Reign of Ch’eng-tsu who moved the capital to Peking (1421).


1405-1433      - Voyages of Cheng-Ho announced the potential of Chinese supremacy at

 sea between China and the east coast of Africa.


1408-     Under Ch’eng-tsu’s patronage a compendium of  22,877 rolls of Chinese

            literature was completed.


1460’s-1470’s-  The Great Wall was strengthened.


1514    - Portuguese reached China


1549-     St. Francis Xavier landed in China.

1551-1610   - Matteo Ricci worked in China.


1557    - The Portuguese established a base at Macao.


1550’s-1560’s-  The Ming held off renewed Mongol attacks.


1600-   China’s population reached about 150 million.



Qing (Ching, Manchu) dynasty (1644-1912)


1644-  Qing dynasty came to power in northern China.


1662-1727     - reign of K’ang-hsi


1681-   Final resistance to Qing rule eliminated. Southern China brought under

 Qing control.


1683-  Coastal pirates were brought under control with European help, and with Japan’s

self-imposed isolation.


1689- Treaty of Nerchinsk settled border problems with Russia.


1697-  K’ang-hsi led the conquest of western Mongolia.


1700-    The population of China recovered to 150 million after tumultuous

17th century.


1704-1742      -  Papal decisions issued against the Jesuit positions in the Rites Controversy.


1707-    The Chinese kicked out all European missionaries but the Jesuits.


1720-    Chinese extended influence into Tibet.


1727-    Treaty with the Russians stabilized the northern border and secured Chinese

 control over the eastern steppes.


1737-1795-  Reign of Ch’ien-lung.  Under this e