China under the Ming dynasty

China was conquered by the Mongols and became part of their vast empire, but is now under the native Chinese Ming dynasty.

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What is happening in China in 1453CE

The past few centuries have been ones of great upheaval in Chinese history. The Mongols from central Asia conquered northern China in the 1230s, annexing it to their empire which stretched as far west as the Middle East and (within a few years) Russia. Southern China fell to them in the 1270s. The Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan (reigned 1260-94), presented himself as a legitimate Chinese ruler, of the Yuan dynasty, and maintained the traditional Chinese bureaucracy, though with Mongols in the topmost positions.

After Kublai Khan, the Mongols weakened and their vast empire fragmented into separate states. Yuan dynasty China was one of these. From the 1330s, an increasing number of rebellions culminated in the expulsion of the Mongols from China. Native Chinese rulers of the Ming dynasty were installed on the throne.

The Ming emperors have restored the Confucian bureaucracy, along with the examination system, to its predominant position in the state. In the early 15th century they briefly sent out a number of major naval expeditions to South East Asia and beyond, reaching as far as Africa. In Inner Asia, however, the Mongols remain a dangerous threat to China, and the Ming have completely rebuilt the Great Wall – one of the greatest feats of engineering in world history.

Internally, the country is largely tranquil, and the economy and population is expanding strongly.

Next map, China in 1648

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