The Ming dynasty came into power in China right after the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The dynasty was in power for close to 270 years and is regarded as one among the greatest forms of government and social order in history (Chan, 3). Zhu Yuanzhang, who was the emperor at that time, installed a number of robust changes that led to the dynasty become one of the most stable and autocratic in China’s history. The reign of the Ming Dynasty was a period of cultural restoration and expansion. Under the rule of the Ming Dynasty, Beijing, the current capital city of China was rebuilt and to date the original design is still maintained. In the course of the reign of the Ming dynasty, China had an immense cultural and political influence on countries in East Asia and Europe as well (Dunne, 4).
One of the most remarkable achievements of the Ming dynasty was the reconstruction works of the new capital, Beijing, and the refurbishments to the Great wall. The emperor embarked on a mission to rebuild Beijing to a modern state capital. Although Beijing was rebuilt by other dynasties, the master plan that was used by the Ming Dynasty was maintained. The Great wall was built in the earlier years but its current image is a reflection of the construction works initiated by the dynasty (Chan, 7). Zhu Yuanzhang organized the government in a way that was effective and initiated a number of policies that ensured prosperity. By embracing of Confucianism philosophies, focus was shifted to the support of the peasants which led to the creation of an agrarian-based society. The emperor implemented a number of policies that were meant to reduce the burden of the peasants and increase production of the whole society. As a result the population of the empire grew tremendously. Economically, the Ming Dynasty was responsible for the development of the agriculture and the handicraft industries that contributed to the wealth of the empire (Chan, 9). China achieved major successes in the fields of science and art during the reign of the dynasty. Culture was restored and explored in the form of paintings and great architectural masterpieces. The period also saw great advancement in science and technology with the publishing of a number of scientific literatures and the invention of powerful artillery such as the “huochong gun” for war. The advancement in science and arts gave the Chinese people great pride and self-confidence in that they had created one of the most advanced civilizations of the earth (Twitchett & Mote, 6).
The Ming Dynasty maintained contacts with foreign nations including European nations. Zheng He had developed diplomatic relations with a number of countries through his excursions along the African coast and parts of Europe. The first Jesuit missionaries visited China during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. The Jesuit mission was part of the diplomatic relations that China maintained with the western world (Dunne, 5). The Jesuits were particularly impressed with the Chinese culture and the civilization that they had undergone at that time. They were particularly wowed by their practicing of Confucianism and the strides they had made in science and technology. They took effort to translate the works of Confucius into European languages and went on further to integrate some of his teachings on morality to Christianity. The Jesuits went on to report the Chinese arts and sciences to the Western world (Dunne, 5). Given the strides the Chinese had made during this period of time, the Jesuits did not exaggerate the greatness of China. China had built a closely-knitted society that emphasized on morality based on the Confucius principles. Vices like corruption were greatly abhorred in the Ming Dynasty. Their reconstruction works all over the empire were so immense and Beijing was a model example to a number of cities all over Europe. Their emphasis on the rights of the peasants was also something worthy of reporting to the European nations. The advances in arts, portrayed in their paintings and architecture, together with scientific advancement showed the greatness of the civilization. As compared to the European culture, the Chinese had made significant strides in terms of culture and civilization and this deserved much praise from the Jesuits.
Chan, Albert. The Glory and Fall of the Ming Dynasty. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982. Print.
Dunne, George H. Generation of Giants: The Story of the Jesuits in China in the Last Decades of the Ming Dynasty. Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1962. Print.
Twitchett, Denis C, and Frederick W. Mote. The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644: Part I. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Print.