Week 1

Map of Ming Dynasty land

Chapter one discusses the Ming Dynasty, how it fell, and what happened. The Ming dynasty was an enormous empire and one of the wealthiest dynasties that the world had ever seen. It had fifteen provinces and many prefectures, which were staffed at each level with appointed officials that took examinations connected with the ideas of Confucius. No women were allowed to take the exam, as it states on page 11 “Women were barred by law from taking the state examinations; but those of good family often learned to write classical poetry from their parents or brothers, and courtesans….” This was the only way women could learn during the Ming dynasty. The Ming dynasty was known for its poetry, novels, and short stories because the printing industry was doing very well. China’s urban and rural life was separated by the Huai river, which intersects between the Yellow and Yangzi rivers. In the eastern part of China, it was a more urban way of life because it was “heavily populated” as stated on page 12. It had bureaucratic centers and commercial centers for trade. Local Market towns, as stated on page 12, “were the bases for coffin makers, ironworkers, tailors, and noodle makers.” In the south, each region, as you got further south, was used for different types of agriculture. Such as, the northern part of the south had fish and ducks, which they raised, and south of the Yangzi river had mulberry trees and tea bushes; farther south, sugarcane and citrus were added to the essential crops. Which benefitted each part of southern Ming China. Towards the end of the Ming dynasty, there was a lot of corruption, which led to rebellions because minor officials and employees relied on the government’s income to survive. Li Zicheng used propaganda and violence to turn people and many ming troops against the emperor.  In 1644, the gates opened to avoid a massacre, and the last emperor of the Ming dynasty, Chongzhen, hanged himself. 

The search for when “modern” China began is still a debate among historians because it stated in the summary of chapter one, “There is debate among historians of China when exactly we should begin with “modern” China, or indeed, which definition of “modern” we should use. The choice for 1600 is admittedly subjective, and although some surveys begin in 1800, having the extra two centuries should help us see how devastating the nineteenth and twentieth-century events were.” The word modern has many meanings and is very hard to define, and it is an undefinable word. 






One response to “Week 1”

  1. Dylan Blanco Avatar
    Dylan Blanco

    Question: during the Ming dynasty, you speak on their literature accomplishments of their era, focusing on novels and poetry. What was the most popular novel or poem of their era?

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