History of China/Ming Dynasty

The Ming dynasty (明朝), lasting from 1368 AD to 1644 AD, was the second-last imperial dynasty in China and the last to be ruled by ethnic Chinese. The Ming established the custom in English of referring to an emperor by his year name since they only had 1 during their entire reign, rather than their posthumous or temple names. This custom was adopted in Chinese during the later Qing dynasty. After overthrowing the Mongols and driving them back to the north, the Ming established order back in China and restored the ancient Great Wall to defend against northern invaders. Also noteworthy were the 7 naval expeditions by the Muslim eunuch admiral Zheng He (鄭和). Sent by Emperor Yong'le (永樂皇帝), these expeditions comprised of huge fleets of ships with massive crews unparalleled in Europe at the time, whose mission was to trade with locals, increase prestige of China, and bring back representatives from states willing to be tributaries. These voyages followed known trade routes, yet they reached India, Arabia and East Africa. The later half of Ming was plagued by power struggles between eunuch factions in the court, and was conquered by the Manchus in 1644 AD.