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In 1368, the Mongol dynasty fell and the Ming emperors gained power.
It is important to remember that the Chinese believed in the Mandate of Heaven or the right to rule. The gods selected the dynasty but could replace a corrupt dynasty with a new dynasty.
Ming emperors constructed a magnificent imperial palace in Beijing, known as the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was home to all later emperors.
The Ming emperors expanded Chinese territory, increased trade, and even sponsored naval expeditions.
Zheng He was an important Chinese navigator. He led many Chinese naval expeditions to South Asia, Southwestern Asia, and Africa.
Eventually, the Chinese discontinued the expeditions due to ethnocentrism. The Chinese believed that they were superior to other cultures.
The Chinese believed that they were the “Middle Kingdom.” They believed that they could learn nothing important from other inferior cultures.
The Ming Emperors decided to end the naval expeditions and isolate China. They kept foreigners out of China and Chinese in China.
Though China was very advanced for the time period, isolationism caused China to fall behind.
In 1644, the Manchus, a people from northeast Asia, invaded and conquered China.
The Manchu conquerors founded the Qing of Ch’ing dynasty. Like the Mongols, the Manchus adopted many Chinese traditions like the civil service examination.
However, the Manchus did force Chinese men to wear their hair in pigtails as a symbol that they had submitted to Manchu rule. This is the pigtail of the last emperor.
The Manchus improved roads and canals. However, European technology surpassed China. China’s isolation from the West and the imperial resistance to change, led China to fall behind.
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