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East Asia 1450-1750 . Continuities and Changes. Confucianism Mandate of Heaven Ethnocentric/Middle Kingdom. Global Trade Silver Economic Growth. Comparison of European development? Comparison of Exploration/Colonization?. The Ming Dynasty ( 1368–1644 ). Overview: Beijing

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east asia 1450 1750

East Asia 1450-1750

Continuities and Changes


Mandate of Heaven

Ethnocentric/Middle Kingdom

Global Trade


Economic Growth


Comparison of European development?

Comparison of Exploration/Colonization?

The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)



Forbidden City

Zheng He

Great Wall


mandarins, eunuchs, and imperial officials carry out policy

prevent invasions

restore Chinese traditions

Brilliant = Centralized

Political Goals & Organization


All potential rivals to the throne were expelled to estates in the provinces

Reinstatement of the civil service system

Corrupt bureaucrats faced public beatings

  • Productivity…- and appeal?
  • Promoted public works such as wall & dike building and irrigation systems
  • Unoccupied lands would become tax-exempt property of those who cultivated the land- incentivize agricultural production
  • Lowered forced labor demands on the peasantry by the government and gentry class
  • Promoted silk and cotton cloth production –incentivize commercial production

Economic Growth

  • New food crops continued to contribute to population growth
  • Revival of commercial growth as overseas trading link multiplied through tribute system
    • Merchants made great gains with much of the wealth being transferred to the state

Consequence of Ming Organization/Policy


Consequence of timing?

How is this different than Mercantilist Europe? Similar?


This detail of Macau in the late 1500s reveals Westerners being carried in palanquins or walking through town accompanied by servants with umbrellas. The inner harbor is busy with Western ships. Macau, the earliest city inhabited by European traders, also attracted Christian converts, including Chinese, mixed-race Chinese, and Japanese.

“Amacao,” ca. 1598, by Theodore de Bry

documents 1 and 2

Documents 1 and 2

What do we know?

Increasing European involvement – missionary and trade

Attempts to embrace some aspects of European culture

religious blending


chinese retreat and the arrival of europeans change
Chinese Retreat and the Arrival of Europeans… CHANGE!

Modest progress by Franciscans and Dominicans among common people

Jesuits adopt a top-down strategy

  • Did win interest of Ming and Qing emperors
  • Some conversion among elite, but many were hostile
  • Matteo Ricci and Adam Schallspend time in the imperial city correcting faulty calendars, forging cannon, and fixing foreign clocks

Public works fell into disrepair, floods, drought, famine –Little ice Age

Incompetent Rulers

Faulty taxation code

Rampant political corruption

What happened?

Landlords take advantage of peasantry

‘Japanese’ pirate attacks ravaged the Southern coast – Wokou Piracy

Seeds of capitalism?

  • By 1644, the failure to fully pursue these policies allows the “pure” dynasty to prevail
  • Nurhaci was the architect of unity among Manchu tribes by combining cavalry into a cohesive fighting unit

(Ming government official invited the tribes beyond the Great Wall to put down local rebellion)

  • These forces captured Beijing within a year
document 3

Document 3

What do we know?

Confucian principles – Model of Han


All Things Chinese…

  • By this time, the Manchu elite had already
  • adopted a Chinese style bureaucracy and court ceremonies
  • employed a number of Chinese scholar-officials
  • Manchu commoners were less affected as many remained nomadic herders, although a fair percentage had become sedentary farmers.
  • While only 2% of the population, Manchus occupied most of the highest political positions

The Qing dynasty established an empire larger than any other in Chinese history, except the Tang.

Demanded tribute from kingdoms such as Vietnam and Burma


This determination to preserve Chinese traditions paralleled an equally conservative approach to Chinese society as a whole.

How does their conservative approach transfer to trade/economy/European intervention?




commercial and urban expansion
Commercial and Urban Expansion

Continued growth that had begun under the Song

Cultivation of new lands, large work force, silk, lacquer ware, tea production

  • The State and individual merchants profited until the end of the 18th century from the influx of silver
  • New wealthy merchants (compradors) specialized in the import-export business on Southern coast

New System of Limited trade


Spheres of Influence

The Canton System




Factory System


The Qing (or Ch'ing) Dynasty (1662–1911) is the political matrix from which the Canton System emerged.

Economically, the preceding Ming Dynasty (1368-1662) was characterized by a relatively laissez-faire approach which saw an increase in private enterprise and foreign trade. Although its difficulties in collecting taxes and chronic underfunding are cited in the dynasty’s downfall, prior to its ultimate collapse the Ming saw a period of economic growth and increased prosperity. The government under the Qing Dynasty became highly centralized and structured about an Emperor who was an absolute monarch. This centralized, authoritarian approach was reflected in its economic policies which saw a return to state-run enterprise and interventionist practices. The Qing also saw an inward turning and a rejection of things not Chinese. …

It is significant that the Qing Dynasty was Manchu not Han. For the entirety of its rule the dynasty was perceived by the Han as being a foreign occupation and it was as much threatened from within as it was from without. Many of the economic and political structures put in place were based on the inescapable Manchu distrust of Han.

struggle to unify
Struggle to Unify

Sengoku Period

Regional Kingdoms

New Military Tactics

European Firearms

The Unifiers of Japan

  • Oda Nobunaga
  • ToyotomiHideyoshi
    • Loyal to Oda
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu
    • Bakufu or “tent government”
document 4

Document 4

What do we know?


Reorganized daimyo

  • Many lands were directly controlled by the Tokugawa family or held by daimyos closely allied with the shoguns.
  • All daimyo required to take a pledge of personal allegiance to the shogun.
  • Many estates broken up –
  • Policy of alternate attendance enforced

Why did the Shogun break up estates and institute attendance policies at Edo?

Japanese Unification

economic growth
Economic Growth
  • Rooted in agricultural growth as a result of water control, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers.
  • Brought rapid population growth
    • Curbed by birth control, late marriage, abortion, and infanticide
    • Why?
documents 5 and 6

Documents 5 and 6

What do we know?

dealing with the european challenge
Dealing with the European Challenge
  • 1543 Portuguese initiate contact after washing upon shore
  • European middlemen brought goods from India, China, and SE Asia and traded them for silver, copper, pottery, and lacquer ware
  • Also brought firearms, printing presses, and Christianity
  • Francis Xavier and others worked a “top-down” approach to convert many daimyo and their samurai retainers
  • Many thought Nobunaga might convert—although he did not
  • Subsequent leaders concerned with reports of converts refusing to obey their overlords’ commands
social changes
Social Changes
  • Class lines blurred: Land-owing daimyo became less prosperous than merchants
    • Rice dealers, producers of sake and silk, and pawnbrokers were quite wealthy
  • Samurai were left with nothing to do (compare to feudal Europe) and many fell into debt
changing policies
Changing Policies
  • 1580s Christian missionaries ordered to leave the islands
  • By 1614 the faith is officially banned and thus began the persecution of any remain missionaries and Japanese Christians
  • 1630s Japanese ships were forbidden to sail overseas
  • By the 1640s only the Dutch and Chinese were allowed on Deshima in Nagasaki
    • Export of silver and copper restricted
    • Western books banned

How does the Japanese Policy compare to Chinese?


A six meter Japanese silk screen mural (called a makimono) produced between 1840-1850 illustrates the interior of the Dutch factory at Deshima.


Intellectual Pursuits…

School of National Learning

Dutch Learning

Thinkers championed a new ideology which laid emphasis on Japan’s unique historical experience and the revival of indigenous culture at the expense of the Chinese imports.

Japanese elite at Deshima followed developments in the West far more than scholar-gentry of China.

east asia

Struggling to control/work with Western Penetration of trade networks and exchange

Insular Societies

Attempting to maintain tradition

East Asia


Qing (Manchu)


Tokugawa (Edo)