Late Imperial China: the Pinnacle of Imperial Power

Late Imperial China: the Pinnacle of Imperial Power
Political Power in the Late Empire (Late Imperial China)
– Ming Dynasty Despotism 1368-1644
– Rebel leader, Ming Tai Zhu or Emperor Hongwu, the founding emperor of the
Ming dynasty
– Despotic and tyrannical dynasty
– The Emperor didn't trust his bureaucracy and scholar-officials
– He thought that they were corrupt
– He thinks they colluded with the Mongol dynasty
– He controlled them tightly and treated them abusively
– He wanted all power in his hands
– He abolished prime minister and took over his duties
– Conducted purges
– He thought that scholar-officials tried to take him down from the throne
– Therefore, he killed 15,000 people
– He punished, whipped when other emperors did not do that
– Thus, there were weak bureaucracy
– Who was controlling the emperor?
– No one; therefore, there is a despotism
– After his death, his grandson tried to moderate and soften his policies
– But the uncle stole the throne and restored the Ming dynasty
– Zhu Di or Yongle Emperor
– By the end of the Ming dynasty, there were a couple of weak emperors, where
the servants used his power
– Also, there was a new barbarian threat
– 1644, new barbarian conquest and end of the Ming dynasty

– Qing Dynasty Autocracy 1644-1911
– Kangxi Emperor 1661- 1722 – peace and stability was reestablished
– Policy to recruit scholars back; restores all privileges and benefits
– The civil service exam system is also restored
– China returned to autocratic rule (autocracy) – power is shared btw
emperor and scholar class
– China is prosperous, stable, and secure
– 1840, china almost loses its power and suffers because

The Projection of Chinese Power
– The Zheng He Voyages
– This voyage was taking place during Yongle Emperor
– The fact that he is emperor will explain the motives of the voyages
– He stole the throne of his nephew
– He was always concerned about showing his legitimacy
– 1. The motivation of these voyages was to Boost his legitimacy

– The Tributary system was used for military protection and trade
– Ming emperors will use this system
– 2. Expansion of the empire magnifies the emperor because they think the
emperor is sent by heaven
– 3. Prestige
– Foreign relations involve political and economical power
– 1405-1407: the first voyage; reach India
– 1407-1409: the second voyage; reach India
– 1409-1411: the third voyage; reach India
– 1413-1415: the fourth voyage; reaches Persian gulf and east coast of Africa
– 1417-1419: the fifth voyage;
– 1421-1422: the sixth voyage
– Difference: emperor dies in 1425, so there was a pause on the voyage
– 1431-1433: the seventh voyage
– The giraffe was a tributary gift that exalts emperor and qilin – a mythical animal only
appearing in dynasties with a good emperor ruling
– 50 new nations participate in the Chinese tributary empire
– West coast of India, the head of the voyage conceived the seal
– Chinese extending their tributary empire to the other countries
– Chinese were sovereign and were recognized for their power
– 1430 Chinese ended their expeditions?
– Emperor who was sponsoring these voyages was interested in supporting his
legitimacy, so the other emperors will not care about it

– China’s relationship with the world
– Curious about the outside world
– They never showed any attempt to control other countries
– Did not use its power with evil
China and the Emerging World Economy
– China has long been the richest, industrial countries in the world
– What are the origins of the world economy:
– 16th century during voyages of exploration
– Europeans began this system as a result of the trade
– China and India constituted 50% of the world economic GDP


– The world economy began in Asia in 14-1500 centered in China and India

– Columbus wanted to find another route to India, he wasn’t looking for America
– China let the economy bloom by itself

Tokugawa Japan, 1600-1668
Tokugawa Government
– Tokugawa Ieyasu wins
– Becomes the new shogun until 1868
– Powerful feudal lords are names Daimyo
– Well defined geo areas and populations
– Lords exercise power at the local level
– During Tokugawa shogun, he would limit the powers of the lords
– The laws of the military houses limited the power of the lords
– At the top, there were the council of elders and with the shogun, they ruled over the
national affairs
Tokugawa Society
– Concerned about political stability through limiting social mobility
– The adapted Chinese way of classifying society
– Classes should be fixed and defined
– In China: classes were Scholar class, peasants, craftsmen, merchants
– In Japan, classes were first is samurai
– Samurai is a hereditary class and should be born into a social elite
– If you have peace all the time, there’s nothing for them to do
– So they were the gov bureaucrats, not warriors (identity crisis)
– They learned martial art for Character building ability
– The literacy rate for samurai was 100%
– Even peasants had a 20% rate of literacy
– Japan's 79% of boys went to school, and girls were going to school (22%)
Tokugawa Thought and Culture
– Interest in Confucianism and European learning
– Banned Europe bc he thought it will bring instability
– Besides Germany; the Japanese learn things though dutch literature
– Culture developed in large cities
– Development of woodblock printing
– Pictures of the floating world
– Most famous printer: Hiroshige 1797-1858
– Collection: 100 views of Edo
– Influenced westerners like van Gogh

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