Manchu to Mao - Modern Chinese History
Welcome to Study Guides!

Manchu to Mao

blue and white china pitcher
Ming Dynasty porcelain pitcher

Early modern Chinese history starts with the Ming Dynasty, about 1500 AD. The Ming Dynasty was very powerful, with a big army and a big navy and a lot of land. When European traders began to sail directly to China with huge amounts of silver from South America, the Ming emperors were able to find all kinds of things to sell to Europeans in exchange for the silver, especially porcelain, silk, and tea.

The Chinese economy used more and more silver. But about 1580, the supply of silver ran out. This combined with the Little Ice Age made the Ming emperors seem like they were doing a bad job, and in 1644 the Ming Dynasty collapsed.

With the Ming Dynasty out of the way, people invaded from the north just like in the time of the Mongols. This time the invaders were the Manchus, and they ruled China as the Ch'ing dynasty.

The Ch'ing dynasty ruled China from 1644 AD until 1911 - nearly three hundred years. Over time, they fell more and more under European control, until by the late 1800s under the Empress Cixi they were unable to defend China against British warships and troops with modern weapons.

In 1911, the idea of a government run by the people reached China. Rebels forced the last emperor of the Ch'ing Dynasty to abdicate (quit) and formed the Republic of China. The Republic of China formed a modern Chinese army, and gradually also transformed Chinese culture and agriculture, creating a modern society that is now once again one of the richest in the world.

Bibliography and further reading:

Ming Dynasty
Ch'ing Dynasty
Opium Wars
Empress Cixi
People's Republic
Ancient China home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more? is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 28 April, 2017