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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 14: Eastern Eurasia, 1200-1500


The Mongol Empire in the Thirteenth Century
The best map of the Mongol Empire on the Internet.  It includes tributary states and invasion routes.

The Mongol Empires, 1200-1480
This map provides a global perspective, including the Mongol invasion route of Japan.

Hyperhistory: Ming China
This map shows the peak of Ming Chinese expansion, plus the voyages of Zheng He.

The Ming Empire

The Ming Dynasty
This map shows the Ming Empire at its largest.

European Voyages of Exploration: Ming Dynasty Voyages
Scroll down to the end of the page for this map.

Medieval Japan and Korea


Yuan and Ming Dynasties
This lecture outline contains many images of art and artifacts from both periods.

Yuan Dynasty: Paintings

The Ming Dynasty

The Yongle Emperor

The Ming Tribute System
A painting depicting the presentation of ambassadors and gifts from tributary states to the Ming emperors.

The Ming Dynasty: Paintings

The Forbidden City
Analyze images or view the 3-D enhancements of this Ming Dynasty construction.

The Land of Beauty
This site contains three panaromic images of the Great Wall built during the Ming Empire.

The Glory of Chinese Printing
Trace the evolution of printing in China by clicking the links to the Yuan and Ming Empires.

Early Japanese History
This lecture outline contains many images of art and artifacts from Japan between 1200 and 1500.

Activity One:

As you discovered in Chapter 13, "Western Eurasia, 1200-1500," the Mongols created large, centrally controlled kingdoms throughout Eurasia (see The Mongol Empire in the Thirteenth Century).  Yet, the Mongols were often as influenced by the people they governed as conquered peoples were influenced by them. To analyze whether this phenomenon was similar in Eastern Eurasia, read the essays at The Mongolian Empire: The Yuan and Khubalai Khan: The Last Great Ruler? (read Chapters 11-14 by clicking the left-hand frame).  What kind of government did the Mongols create in China?  What were its policies toward economy, religion, education, and foreign trade?  Considering what you know about previous regimes in China, explain what was different and similar in the way the Yuan Empire governed.   What factors of Chinese political culture allowed for such continuity?

Activity Two:

A native Chinese empire, the Ming, was restored to China in 1368.  The Ming leaders opened a new era in the evolution of Chinese political traditions.  For more information, read the essay at The Ming State.  What political institutions or policies did the Ming emperors retain from the Yuan?  Which institutions or policies did they abandon?  Upon reflection of Activities One and Two, identify the major effects of Mongol rule on Chinese government.

Activity Three:

Although not as large as the Yuan, the Ming Empire (see the map at The Ming Dynasty) oversaw one of the most brilliant periods in Chinese history.  Early on, the Ming Empire was famous for the maritime expeditions it sponsored in the Indian Ocean.  Study the map at the bottom of European Voyages of Exploration: Ming Dynasty Voyages and read the essay at The Admiral of the Western Seas - Cheng Ho (Zheng He).  While doing so, keep the following questions in mind.  How did the maritime expeditions reflect the strength, power, and wealth of the Ming Empire?  What were the initial goals of the fleets?  How do these goals reflect traditional Chinese attitudes toward foreign relations?  Why did these fleets end?  For more information, see "Ming China on a Mongol Foundation" on pages 355-358 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition).

Activity Four:

The Mongols never conquered the peripheral states of Eastern Eurasia such as Japan, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asia kingdoms, although they attempted to several times.  These invasions proved momentous in the history of these regions.  Read the essays at Vietnam's Warrior Heritage (read up to China Invades Again) and Divine Wind and Ancient Heroes: Reconstructing the Kamikaze Ideology.  Explain how the Mongol threat helped to develop a "national conciousness" in Japan and Vietnam.