The surging Yellow River and the towering Songshan Mountain bear witness to vicissitudes of Chinese history. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, Henan as the southern gateway of the imperial capital held an extremely important political position. In the beginning of the Ming dynasty, princes were dispatched by the emperor to settle in Henan, demonstrating the presence of the imperial court and defending the territory of the empire. In the Qing dynasty, Zhili Province was established under the direct rule of the imperial government, an administrative region governing present-day Hebei, Henan and Shandong provinces. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, both agriculture and handicraft industries outraced the previous dynasty, commerce and trade saw unprecedented prosperity. At that time, Henan enjoyed a highly-developed network of transportation, with the Ten-Thousand-Mile Tea Trade Rout and the Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal running through its territory. Tributary grain transport was carried out regularly, guild halls of merchants constructed, and towns built along rivers. Bursts and floods occurred frequently to the Henan section of the Yellow River in this period of time, as Henan lies at the division between the middle and lower reaches of the river. The Yellow River changed its course several times in the Ming and Qing dynasties, affecting economic and cultural development of the Central Plain. Despite ups and downs over the sweep of history, Henan has continued to cultivate and enrich Chinese civilization.
Part1 Governance in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
After the Ming dynasty was founded in 1368, the emperor set up local administrative organs, instituted military and legal systems, and stationed the prince in Henan in order to tighten the imperial court's rule over the region. Meanwhile, people were relocated to reclaim wasteland, enabling the restoration and development of society and economy. The Qing dynasty followed the Ming's systems while reforming the land system and using efforts to ease contradictions among diffrent ethnic groups, consolidating and further contributing to the prosperity of China as a unified, multiethnic empire.
Part2 Social and Economic Development in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Henan remained a major grain growing area in the Ming and Qing period,providing a solid foundation for the development of handicraft industries and commodity economy. Its easy access to water and land transport gave rise to prosperous trade, economic boom and social progress.
Part3 Culture and Arts in Henan in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
The Ming and Qing dynasties mark the late period of dynastic China, developing new ideas while carrying on traditions. This era gave rise to early ideas of democracy and enlightenment and saw remarkable accomplishments in science and technology. The booming urban economy led to prosperity of citizen literature. A number of scientists, writers dramatists and artists emerged in Henan, not only securing an important position in Chinese history but also exerting considerable influence on the rest of the world.