Skip to main content
The Cambridge History of China
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Soulliere, Ellen 2016. The Writing and Rewriting of History: Imperial Women and the Succession in Ming China, 1368–1457. Ming Studies, Vol. 2016, Issue. 73, p. 2.


    Hammond, Kenneth J. 1998. THE DECADENT CHALICE: A CRITIQUE OF LATE MING POLITICAL CULTURE. Ming Studies, Vol. 1998, Issue. 1, p. 32.

  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    The Cambridge History of China
    • Online ISBN: 9781139054751
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

This volume in The Cambridge History of China is devoted to the history of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), with some account of the three decades before the dynasty's formal establishment, and for the Ming courts that survived in South China for a generation after 1644. Volume 7 deals primarily with the political developments of the period, but it also incorporates background in social, economic, and cultural history where this is relevant to the course of events. The Ming period is the only segment of later imperial history during which all of China proper was ruled by a native, or Han, dynasty. The volume provides the largest and most detailed account of the Ming period in any language. Summarizing all modern research, both in Chinese, Japanese, and Western languages, the authors have gone far beyond a summary of the state of the field, but have incorporated original research on subjects that have never before been described in detail.


    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
  • 1 - The rise of the Ming dynasty, 1330–1367
    pp 11-57
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Chu Yüan-chang, the founder of the Ming dynasty, was born into a family of desperately poor tenant farmers in the Huai River plain of modern Anhwei province. Factionalism is endemic to politics and was present throughout the Yüan dynasty. The factional infighting had shifted from coups aiming at control over puppet emperors to struggles among Mongol holders of regional military power for control of the court through its chief offices. The Yüan government's military forces had been in decline since the end of the thirteenth century. Local leaders in government or in private life who assembled limited local resources in order to maintain relatively small, unauthorized defenses. The expansive phase of military activity directed by Liu Fu-t'ung from a central capital of the northern Red Turbans thus had more or less come to an end by 1359. Yüan forces sent by the court attempted to clear the central and eastern Huai River region of rebels in 1352 and 1353.
  • 2 - Military Origins of Ming China
    pp 58-106
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The founding of the Ming dynasty was the end of the anti-Yüan peasant rebellions of the 1350s. The conquest of the southwest marked the end of the military consolidation of the Ming state. Since 1340, the chancellor dominating the Yuan central government had been Toghto of the Merkid tribe of the Mongol nation; he had come to power in a coup supported by the emperor Toghōn Temür. The breakup of the Yüan armies after the dismissal of Toghto permitted the Red Turban movement to revive on the North China plain. From 1353, Chu Yüan-chang rose to a position of leadership in the Hao-chou regime which came to eclipse that of his former patron Kuo Tzu-hsing. The Ming-Han ar, whose critical phase lasted from 1360 to 1363, destroyed the balance of power in the Yangtze basin. The elimination of the Yüan presence in Shansi, Shensi, and the contiguous areas was the first Ming military objective after the fall of Peking.
  • 3 - The Hung-wu reign, 1368–1398
    pp 107-181
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Ch'ang Yü-ch'un was a Hao-chou native who became a warrior, and he joined Chu's camp in 1355. The enthronement of Chu Yüan-chang, who would now become the Hung-wu emperor, involved ceremonies that were detailed in advance and recorded in the veritable record of the reign. Yüan shih was highly regarded as a literary figure by the Hung-wu emperor, who invited him to compose the formal tomb stele inscription for the imperial mausoleum at Feng-yang. In 1380, the thirteenth year of the reign, counsellor Hu Wei-yung, his associates Ch'en Ning and T'u Chieh, and thousands of their alleged followers were executed. Maritime Trade Intendancies had been established by the emperor in accordance with practices initiated during the Sung and Yüan dynasties. From 1396 to 1398 Chu Ti engaged in a number of military maneuvers north of the border wall and became, with his brother Chu Kang, a leading power in the north.
  • 4 - The Chien-wen, Yung-lo, Hung-hsi, and Hsüan-te reigns, 1399–1435
    pp 182-304
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The period from 1399-1436 spans the reigns of four descendants of the founding emperor. They are Chien-wen reign, Yung-lo reign, Hung-hsi reign, and Hsüan-te reign. The Chien-wen emperor, following the advice of the Confucian tutors, initiated political and institutional changes that appear to have been intended to depart significantly from the arrangements made by the dynastic founder. The Yung-lo emperor has often been called the second founder of the Ming dynasty. The character of the Yung-lo era reflected the new emperor's political and military background and his personal perception of the imperial institution. The strategic considerations that underlay these wars and diplomatic missions also led the emperor to undertake a prodigious task. Military organization under the Yung-lo emperor involved several major changes in the structure of the armed forces. During the Hsüan-te reign the Ming court actively sought to promote relations with Japan and Korea. In later times the Hsüan-te reign was remembered as the Ming dynasty's golden era.
  • 5 - The Cheng-t'ung, Ching-t'ai, and T'len-shun reigns, 1436–1464
    pp 305-342
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The death of the Hsüan-te emperor at the early age of thirty-seven sui and his succession by a boy emperor Chu Ch'i-chen brought an implicit in the political institutions established in early Ming. The eunuch members of the regency were the chief officials of the Directorate of Ceremonial, the office with the highest prestige within the palace eunuch hierarchy. In 1413 the Lu-ch'uan state came under the rule of an ambitious and aggressive ruler, Ssu Jen-fa, who gradually increased his territories and raided Chinese territory. Mongols living close to the borders of Chinese settled society became increasingly dependent on the availability of agrarian produce from China. The Ching-t'ai period, the reign of Ching-ti, is generally judged to have been one of renewed stability, effective government by competent ministers, reasonable reforms, and adequate defense policies for Peking and the northern frontiers. The events of few reign periods can have so utterly belied their name as those of the T'ien-shun era.
  • 6 - The Ch'eng-hua and Hung-chih reigns, 1465–1505
    pp 343-402
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Chu Chien-shen the restored emperor Ying-tsung, on 23 February 1464, proclaimed the reign title Ch'eng-hua. Chu Yu-t'ang, came to the throne at the age of seventeen, and under the reign title Hung-chih reigned for eighteen years. The Ch'eng-hua reign period witnessed much abuse of eunuch power at the court and throughout the administration, and in Wang Chih the period had traditionally labeled the 'four evil eunuchs of the dynasty'. The Ch'eng-hua and Hung-chih reigns witnessed the further growth of the eunuch bureaucracy. The twenty-three years of the Ch'eng-hua reign and the eighteen of the Hung-chih differed from each other both in the kinds of military problems they faced, domestically and on the frontiers, and in their responses. The distinction between banditry and rebellion in the Chinese taxonomy of social disorders is like that between mice and rats in traditional Chinese zoological taxonomy. The largest rebellion of Chinese people against the Ming dynasty in the fifteenth century is the Ching-Hsiang rebellion.
  • 7 - The Cheng-te reign, 1506–1521
    pp 403-439
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    In 1505, eleven days after the Hung-chih emperor's death, his thirteen-year-old son Chu Hou-chao ascended the throne as the tenth emperor of the Ming dynasty. The emperor inherited from his father three grand secretaries, the youngest of whom was fifty-six. Early in 1506 the eunuch Liu Chin began to suggest a number of ways to raise revenues, and the emperor gave him free rein to implement them. With the imperial administration under Liu Chin that Chu Chih-fan, the Prince of An-hua, used as a pretext for his uprising in 1510. Chu Chih-fan succeeded to the fief of An-hua in central Shensi in 1492. Chu Ch'en-hao, the Prince of Ning, had had designs on the imperial throne since the first years of the reign, although at first he thought to secure it by cunning rather than by force. Ming historians characterized the Cheng-te emperor as a sharp-witted, intelligent man who was very accomplished in poetry, music, and the martial arts.
  • 8 - The Chia-ching reign, 1522–1566
    pp 440-510
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Chu Hou-ts'ung, the eleventh emperor of the Ming dynasty, was born on his father's estate in An-lu, Hu-kuang province. The history of Ming dynastic succession had already been marred by usurpations and a series of revolts, the last of which took place in 1519, when the Prince of Ning tried to depose the Cheng-te emperor. The debate on proper imperial rituals revolved around an unvoiced anxiety: that the Chia-ching emperor sought to establish ritual norms which set dangerous precedents. In 1548 or 1549 an important change took place in the eunuch administration: the director of the Directorate of Ceremonial was put in charge of the Eastern Depot, the imperial security and surveillance agency. For the first half of the fifteenth century, the Oirat tribes in western Mongolia controlled the steppe and imposed their policies on the Mongolian hordes. The emperor's interest in Taoism first centered on rituals and practices that were said to induce or to increase fertility.
  • 9 - The Lung-ch'ing and Wan-li reigns, 1567–1620
    pp 511-584
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The character of the Ming monarchy had changed markedly over the two centuries preceding the reigns considered here. Early emperors directed military campaigns, proclaimed laws, organized state institutions, and managed the bureaucracy. The Chia-ching emperor partially revived the early style of monarchy, but his infatuation with Taoist practices and his neglect of state affairs drew criticism from his officials. Information on Chu Tsai-hou, the Lung-ch'ing emperor is vague and contradictory. The reign of the Lung-ch'ing emperor's son, Chu I-chün, the Wan-li emperor, should not be summarily dismissed as one of indolence and irresponsibility. A power struggle began immediately after the death of the Chia-ching emperor. During the Wan-li reign the Tung-lin movement derived its ethicalm superiority from a narrow interpretation of the moral law. The term "three major campaigns" is a historiographical invention of late Ming historians. Nurhaci was born in 1559, which made him the Wan-li emperor's seniorm by four years.
  • 10 - The T'ai-ch'ang, T'ien-ch'i, and Ch'ung-chen reigns, 1620–1644
    pp 585-640
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    To view the T'ai-ch'ang, T'ien-ch'i, and Ch'ung-chen reigns in terms of what is known about the end of the Han, Tang, or Sung dynasties, for in crucial aspects of economic, social, cultural, and political life. China during the first half of the seventeenth century was a vastly different country from that of previous ages. Of all the problems confronting the T'ai-ch'ang emperor when he came to power, perhaps none demanded important attention than the staffing of the imperial bureaucracy. Tsou Yüan-piao and Feng Ts'ung-wu, both of whom were associated with what has come to be known as the Tung-lin movement. During much of the T'ien-ch'i reign, the Chinese economy stagnated or declined. Early in 1623 Chao Nan-hsing, a Tung-lin leader newly installed as censor in-chief, took advantage of the sexennial capital evaluation of officials in Peking to settle some old scores. Ch'ien Ch'ien-i, a Tung-lin adherent was removed from grand secretariat office by Wei Chung-hsien and recently recalled to Peking.
  • 11 - The Southern Ming, 1644–1662
    pp 641-725
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    Confusion, dilatoriness, and lack of direction prevailed among Ming military authorities south of the Yellow River. The first Southern Ming court sought to establish a base for recovering the north and restoring the Ming empire. The factionalism of the Hung-kuang court is revealed in unbelievable cases of disputed identity, which seized attention from 1645 until the end of the regime. The Lung-wu emperor had long been especially concerned to maintain the Ming hold on southern Kiangsi. The Yung-li court had lost control of Hu-kuang and Kiangsi in 1649. Throughout the summer of 1649, Jirgalang's forces gained control over all major cities in the southernmost parts of Hu-kuang, but their hold on the territory was tenuous. The odyssey of the Yung-li court on land was matched in time, distance, and complexity by the maritime odyssey of regent Lu. Regent Lu received naval support from the groups that had carried on large-scale illicit trade between China and Japan in late Ming times.
  • 12 - Historical writing during the Ming
    pp 726-782
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The nearly three centuries of the Ming dynasty's rule can be considered a homogeneous period, and the changes touched all aspects of Chinese cultural and intellectual life. The most salient advance in historiography during the Ming period was the critical attitude adopted toward historical materials. The Chu Hsi school of neo-Confucianism dominated intellectual life during the first half of the Ming. Under the first Ming emperor, the bureau was not reestablished as an independent institution, but was incorporated into the Hanlin Academy. The compilation of the veritable records was more a political enterprise than a detached exercise in academic scholarship. The most important product of Ming official historiography was the Ming shih lu. Official compilation and publication was not limited to works supervised by the Hanlin Academy and carried out under imperial sponsorship. Biographical writing has had a prominent place in Chinese historiography of all periods. The major part of all dynastic histories is assigned to the biographical section.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

JohnW. Dardess The transformation of messianic revolt and the founding of the Ming dynasty.” Journal of Asian Studies, 29, No. 3 (1970), pp. 539–58.

JohnD. Langlois Jr.Political thought in Chin-hua under Mongol rule.” In China under Mongol rule, ed. JohnD. Langlois Jr. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981.

EdwardL. Dreyer The Chi-shih-lu of Yü Pen: A note on the sources for the founding of the Ming dynasty.” Journal of Asian Studies, 31 (1972), pp. 901–04.

Hok-lam (Ch'en Hsüeh-lin) Chan . “The rise of Ming T'ai-tsu (1368–98): Facts and fictions in early Ming official historiography.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 95, No. 4 (October–December 1975).

CharlesO. Hucker Governmental organization of the Ming dynasty.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 21 (1958) and 23 (1960–61).

HaroldL. Kahn Monarchy in the emperor's eyes: Image and reality in the Ch'ien-lung reign. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.

FrederickW. Mote The T'u-mu incident of 1449.” In Chinese Ways in warfare, ed. FrankA. Kierman Jr., and JohnK. Fairbank . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974, pp. 243–72.

ArthurN. Waldron The problem of the Great Wall.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 43, No. 2 (December 1983), pp. 643–63.

I-t'ung Wang . Official relations between China and Japan, 1368–1549. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953.

CharlesO. Hucker Hu Tsung-hsien's campaign against Hsü Hai, 1556.” In Chinese ways in warfare, ed. FrankA. Kierman Jr., and JohnK. Fairbank . Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1974, pp. 273–307.

Heinrich. Busch The Tung-lin shu-yüan and its political and philosophical significance.” Monumenta Serica, 14 (1949–55), pp. 1–163.

EarlJ. Hamilton American treasure and the price revolution in Spain, 1501 – 1650. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1934.

Ping-ti Ho . Studies on the population of China, 1368 – 1953. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959.

Angela. Hsi Wu San-kuei in 1644: A reappraisal.” Journal of Asian Studies, 34, No. 2 (February 1975), pp. 443–53.

JamesB. Parsons The culmination of a Chinese peasant rebellion: Chang Hsien-chung in Szechwan, 1644–46.” Journal of Asian Studies, 16, No. 3 (May 1957), pp. 387–400.

RichardC. Rudolph The real tomb of the Ming regent, Prince of Lu.” Monumenta Serica, 29 (1970–71), pp. 484–95.

Peter. Olbricht Die Biographie in China.” Saeculum, 8, No. 2–3 (1957), pp. 224–35.

WillardJ. Peterson The life of Ku Yen-wu (1612–1682).” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 28 (1968), pp. 114–56 and 29 (1969), pp. 201–47.

Henri Serruys , trans. “Pei-lou fong-sou, les coutumes des esclaves septen-trionaux de Siao Ta-heng suivi des Tables généalogiquesMonumenta Serica, 10 (1945), pp. 117–208.

Silas. Wu Transmission of Ming memorials and the evaluation of the transmission network.” T'oung Pao, 54 (1968), pp. 275–87.

Jean François Billeter . Li Zhi, philosophe maudit (1527–1602): Contribution à une sociologie du mandarinat chinois de la fin des Ming. Travaux de Droit, d'Économie, de Sociologie et de Sciences Politiques, No. 116. Genève and Paris: Librairie Droz, 1979.

RobertB. Crawford Eunuch power in the Ming dynasty.” T'oung pao, 49, No. 3 (1961), pp. 115–48.

RobertB. Crawford et al. “Fang Hsiao-ju in the light of early Ming society.” Monumenta Serica, 15 (1956).

EdwardL. Dreyer The Poyang campaign, 1363: Inland naval warfare in the founding of the Ming dynasty.” In Chinese ways in warfare, ed. FrankA. Kierman Jr., and JohnK. Fairbank . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.

JohnK. Fairbank , and S. Y. Teng . “The types and uses of Ch'ing documents.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 5 (1940).

JosephF. Fletcher China and Central Asia, 1368–1884.” In The Chinese world order: Traditional China's foreign relations, ed. JohnK. Fairbank . Harvard East Asian Series, No. 32. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968.

Wolfgang. Franke Yü Chien, Staatsman und Kriesminister, 1398–1457,” Monumenta Serica, 11 (1946), pp. 87–122.

Chiao-min Hsieh . “Hsia-ke Hsu, pioneer of modern geography in China.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 48 (1958).

William. Hung The T'ang bureau of historiography before 708.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 23 (1960–61).

Atsushi Kobata . “The production and uses of gold and silver in sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Japan,” trans. W. D. Burton . The Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 18, No. 2 (August 1965).

JohnD. Langlois Jr.Yü Chi and his Mongol sovereign.” Journal of Asian Studies, 38, No. 1 (November 1978).

JohnD. Langlois Jr. and K'o-K'uan Sun . “Three teachings syncretism and the thought of Ming T'ai-tsu.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 43, No. 1 (June 1983).

VictorB. Lieberman Provincial reforms in Taung-ngu Burma.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 43, No. 3 (1980), pp. 548–69.

DavidS. Nivison Aspects of traditional Chinese biography.” Journal of Asian Studies, 21, No. 4 (1962).

Paul. Pelliot Le Ḫōǰa et le Sayyid Ḥusain de l'histoire des Ming.” T'oung pao, Series 2, 38 (1948), pp. 81–292.

Paul. Pelliot Michel Boym.” T'oung pao, Series, 2, 31, No. 1–2 (1935), pp. 95–151.

Morris. Rossabi Two Ming envoys to Inner Asia.” T'oung pao, 62, No. 3 (1976).

Henry. Serruys Chinese in southern Mongolia during the sixteenth centuryMonumenta Serica, 18 (1959).

Henry. Serruys Four documents relating to the Sino-Mongol peace of 1570– 71”. Monumenta Serica, 19 (1960), pp. 1–66.

Henry. Serruys Mongols ennobled during the early MingHarvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 22 (December 1959), pp. 209–60.

Romeyn. Taylor Social origins of the Ming dynasty”. Monumenta Serica, 22, No. 1 (1963), pp. 1–78.

William. Willets The maritime adventures of Grand Eunuch Ho.” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 5, No. 2 (September 1964).

K. T. Wu Ming printing and printers.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 7 (1942–43), pp. 203–60.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 2342 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 674 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.