1368 - 1643

The start of the dynasty

Zhu Yuanzhang was part of the Hongjinjun rebel group that overthrew the Mongols and reclaimed China. He joined the army when the army captured Haozhou, which is currently Fenyang in Anhui Province.

After joining, Zhu Yuanzhang served and fought excellently. Guo Ziyi, the rebel leader, noticed his performance and appointed Zhu Yuanzhang as general. After Guo Ziyi's death, Zhu Yuanzhang took his place and lead the army to establish a home base in (formerly Jiqing) the current city of Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, and changed the name to Yingtain.

After many years' struggle, Zhu Yuanzhang's military and economic strength grew quickly. From 1360 to 1367 his military eliminated all of the separatist soldiers. He declared himself emperor in Yingtain and founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368. That same year, the Ming military captured current Beijing (Former Dadu), Yuan's capital city, and rid the land of all remaining Mongolians, ending the Yuan Dynasty.

The fall of the Ming

Natural disasters lead to thinking that perhaps the emperor had lost the mandate of heaven.

Earthquakes shook China as well, toppling buildings and killing possibly 800,000 people.

A mini Ice Age dominated the first half of the 1600s, making famine common and the militaries weak. Climate changed, floods were common, and people grew more uneasy.

Bubonic plague, similar to the plague that haunted the Yuan Dynasty, was believed to kill 90% of the population of China.

Silver, a popular currency, grew scarce and costly when the Spanish demanded their metal be exported directly to Spain rather than from the Americas and to Asia first. Because of this, Farmers could not pay taxes and many soldiers could not be paid. This provoked soldiers to leave in masses because they were underpaid.


People started to form resistances in multiple places. Poor, homeless, starving people in debt became unafraid of the Ming courts and formed rebel bands. The soldiers, underfed, unpaid, and unenthusiastic, started to leave the government's side entirely.

One soldier by the name of Li Zicheng mutinied (rebelled against his leader) in the 1630s because the government had failed to send supplies on time. This established a rebel base in Hubei.

In the 1640s, another rivaling rebel base was created in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

In 1644, rebel troops entered Beijing when they were let in. Before the soldiers could get there, however, the last Ming emperor had hanged himself from a tree, signaling the end of the Ming dynasty.