Kublai Khan had conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty in 1279. Kublai Khan died in 1291. He had no able successors, and the weakness and tyranny of the next five Yuan emperors roused the people to revolt. One of these factions was led by Zhu Yuanzhang, the son of a peasant family. He had risen through the ranks after joining as a common soldier, by distinguishing himself in battle, and succeeded to command the rebel troops on the death of his predecessor. He declared himself emperor Ming Taizu (T`ai Tsu) in 1368, and set about conquering the rest of China. By 1387 the conquest of China was complete.
1368-1398: Zhu Yuanzhang, Hung Wu emperor, reigns.
1403-1424: Reign of Yong Lee, emperor.
1405-1433: Voyages of Zheng He.
1420: Ming capital moved to Beijing.
1421: Construction begins on the Forbidden City in Beijing.
1406-1427: Chinese occupy Vietnam.
1449-1459: War with Wala. Chinese army suffers disastrous defeat at Tumubao fort in 1449. Emperor Ying Zong captured.
1459: Wala repulsed at gates of Beijing by Defence Secretary Yu Qian; Wala leader Yexian asks for peace, returns Ying Zong to China.
1549: Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary, attempts to enter China.
1550: Altan Khan attempts to take Beijing.
1559-1626: Nurhaci, Jurchen Manzhou leader.
1581: Christian missionaries Matteo Ricci and Lazaro Cantteo visit China; are warmly received by Ming court.
1592-1599: Japanese invasion of Korea; Ming China helps defeat Japanese.
1616: Nuehachi establishes Qing Dynasty in northern China; declares himself Qing Taizu.
1621: Liaoyang and Shenyang are taken by Nurhaci.
1628: Famine; rebellion led by Li Zicheng.
1626-1643: Abahai succeeds Nurhaci as Manzhou leader.
1644: Li Zicheng captures Beijing; Li Zicheng defeated by Manchu(Qing)forces under Dorgun and Wu Sangui, last Ming emperor Ming Si Zu commits suicide; end of Ming Dynasty.
Zheng He(1371-1433)is perhaps China's greatest ever explorer and adventurer. In his seven ocean voyages between 1405 and 1433, he reached the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, Ceylon and even parts of Africa. The name of China spread far and wide, and China enjoyed an unrivalled mastery of the oceans. Zheng He was born in 1371, in Yunnan, China, to poor Muslim parents. At 10 he was captured by the army of Zhu Yuanzhang and castrated, as most prisoners of that time were treated. However, he distinguished himself by helping Zhu Yuanzhang defeat the Yuan Dynasty, and was rewarded with an official post in the government. When he helped Ming Chengzu Zhu Di gain the throne in 1403, he was given command of the Chinese navy. The emperor looked beyond China's borders, and ordered the construction of a vast and grand fleet. Foremost among these were the nine-masted "treasure ships", 440 feet long, and with a crew of over a thousand.