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Ming, Qing and modern China

A village in China 1650A village in China 1650 The vast nation of China saw huge swings in its fortune during this period. Governed first by the Ming and then the Manchu Qing dynasties, China became the most powerful country in the world. However it fell under the influence of foreign powers in the 1800s and became weak and inefficient. A revolution in 1911 overthrew the emperor and declared a republic, but the country was soon divided by warring political parties and then invaded by Japan. This led to the establishment of the Communist government in 1949, which rules China today.

Emperor HongwuEmperor Hongwu

Ming dynasty

In 1368 a new dynasty of rulers took over from the old Mongol government in China. The Ming dynasty was founded by a Buddhist monk, Zhu Yuanzhang, who took the name of Emperor Hongwu. Hongwu set about improving the life of the peasants and redistributed land to them. He also reformed the army, abolishing senior posts that had traditionally gone to nobles. But Hongwu was also a tyrant, given to executing thousands of people for opposing him—at least until a lightning strike on his palace led him to believe Heaven might punish him for his massacres (it is said), and so he stopped.   

The 61-year reign of the Qing Emperor Kangxi (1654–1722) was the longest of any Chinese emperor.

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