Ancient China is well known for the rich heritages of politics, culture and art that it possesses. However, none of the Chinese events and realities can ever surpass the glory and ardor of the dynasties. These are the powerful families and leaderships of the past which canonized China into its currently celebrated state.
One of these dynasties is the Ming. It was founded in 1368 and ended in 1644. Unlike most dynasties, this one was founded by a peasant. This peasant would later be known as Emperor Hongwu. He is one of only three emperors who were able to reach such prime status despite the impoverished pasts previously possessed.
The Ming Dynasty's capital was located in Nanjing in the beginning. However, the shift of power from the Yuan dynasty began movements both in politics and geographical segregation. The third emperor of the Ming dynasty then decided to move it to Beijing, the capital which remains to be China's primary city up to the present.
As a former peasant, the new emperor of the Ming made sure that reforms were made when it comes to the treatment of the peasant class. It is where Emperor Hongwu earned the reputation of being champion to the poor masses. However, his noveau footing on the Chinese dynasty caused him lots of anxiety. The irony of his reign can be seen with his use of violence against plotters, while continuously preaching homilies of peace and tranquility.
A main focus in this dynasty was the elimination of poverty which was widespread among peasants after the former dynasty's failure. Hongwu made sure that agriculture was maintained to primary levels. He also maintained the dike projects of the Yangtze River whose yellow mud served as the main propagator of the land. These moves were of Confucian and peasant viewpoints combined.
The newly instituted Ming dynasty however failed when it came to the advancement of trade. The new dynasty saw trading as a parasitic practice. It deemed it as something which can be ignored. The emperor and his government believed that the main source of income in china must be the land, for it was what was aplenty.
The focus on food and sustenance can also be attributed to Hongwu's hungry and impoverished past as a peasant. During the latter years of the former dynasty, people died of famine. It has become a fear of great gravity which was resolved when the Ming stepped into power.
The Ming also strengthened its army, contrary to the Confucian philosophy by which it lived. This was done in order to keep the Mongols at bay despite earlier defeats in the past. Emperor Hongwu instated a high ranking militant class which was higher than any other. To this day, Hongwu still means vast armies which spelled prestige and glamour.
Another great achievement of the Ming dynasty was the novel. It is during this time that the boom of Chinese stories came into place. The peasant friendly government earns credit for this literary success. Due to the paradigm societal shift, story tellers began writing in every language. This gave wider literary exposure, contrary to then literary practices which was aimed only for the satisfaction of the nobility. To publish these books, they employed wood block printing which has been invented by Western civilizations.
Porcelain manufacturing also reached its peak during the Ming dynasty's reign. The diversity and designs then came, adding much color to Chinese culture. Although blue and white is the standard combination, three color combinations and experimentation soon boomed into reality.
Even the search for historic remembrance reached full bloom during this time. Encyclopedias containing the records of events, discoveries and others were written. They also recorded breakthroughs in geography, medicine and music. Dictionaries and writing guidelines were also written during these times.
Such importance on accumulating and passing knowledge became a legacy of success for those who lived during the time of the Ming. It successfully kept records for future generations. Some even became bases of modern scientific experiments.
The Great Wall of China is also a living proof of the Ming's success. Up to this day, the great wall still stands, marking the ingenuity of the Chinese race. It still is sturdy and successful in warding enemies away.
Although some parts of the wall were built during the times of the Ch'in Dynasty, it is still the Ming who can be credited for its completion and enhancement. Having seen the wall's incapacities after the Yuan dynasty, the Ming added a few innovations which led to the wall's timelessness.
The bricks and granites were enlarged to give the wall a thicker and sturdier exterior. Watchtowers and stations were also redesigned to serve their purposes better. Cannons which were inspired by westerners were also used to make the wall even scarier and all the way deadlier to enemies.
The Ming dynasty also had problems, mostly on money. As a peasant, Emperor Hongwu was not educated enough to understand principles of economy. Too much money was produced which reduced the value of the currency exponentially within so little time.
The use of paper money as rewards and too much production caused the money to reach 1/70 of its original value by 1425. To avoid the worsening of the situation, the use of copper coins were once again practiced and all paper money lost its value. However, it did not successful solve the problems once for all.
Many scoundrels alloyed lead with the copper which made the coins once again decrease in value. Together with the continuous disruption in the currency, the country is also gaining more problems with trade increase. The growth in trade and the lack of monetary solutions proved to be quite a difficulty.
However, China still managed to thrive through the discovery of sea faring routes. These paths were utilized for overseas trading with Japan and South Eats Asia. They were discovered through the naval voyages of the General Zheng He. These expeditions even reached Africa.
In the beginning, the main purpose was to create diplomatic routes to neighboring countries. However, the need for trade growth soon made these commercial routes. The entry of merchandise into the situation gave way to new problems.
No matter, China still remained ahead with the presence of big boats which can carry as much as 500 people. However, for an unknown reason, the boat manufacturing stopped. All naval records were burnt and only small boats were built from then on.
The smaller boats made pirates confident. They attacked and stole from coastal communities at all times. This continuous problem instilled fear and disappointment in the hearts of the people.
By the end of the Ming, the government was distraught with internal struggles. Much like the first emperor's fears, power grabbing and corruption took toll on the dynasty. Weak leaders were overpowered. Children with puppet powers were placed on the throne to be controlled by malicious forces.
Most of these troubles occur in Beijing. As the prime city began to collapse, the silently strengthening outer cities of china began to strengthen. The Manchu gained power over Manchuria then set its eye on China later on.
When the Manchu attacked, the Ming was doomed. With its corroding capital, the Manchurian cities gained power and eventually took over. China greeted another hopeful era after another dynasty's fall.