Manchu to Mao – Quick history of China

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blue and white pottery pitcher, very tall and elegant

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 Qing dynasty.

The Qing 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 Qing 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.

Ming Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
Opium Wars
Empress Cixi
People’s Republic
Ancient China

Bibliography and further reading about Chinese history:

Ming Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
Opium Wars
Empress Cixi
People’s Republic
Ancient China
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By |2018-04-18T09:54:06+00:00June 4th, 2017|China, History|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Manchu to Mao – Quick history of China. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 4, 2017. Web. July 19, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. 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, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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