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In the 16th century in China the Ming Dynasty was in power. Though it had several rulers during this time period, it was pretty much the same ethics throughout the century. The Ming followed a program of government that was big into foreign affairs and prospering.
In 1506 Zhu Houzhao begins his reign as Emperor of the Zhengde period. Houzhao was born in 1491 and died in 1521. Liu Jin, who directed the Zhengde Emperors debaucheries while manipulating the government between 1506 and 1510. (Cambridge 199) Liu was a notorious eunuch dictator, (Cambridge 199) that at some point in time dominated the Ming Dynasty.
In 1521 The Jiahing Emperor came into power led by Zhu Houcong. Houcong born in 1507, and took the throne at age fourteen. Came to the throne unexpectedly, after the death of his childless cousin, the Zhengde Emperor, who had one of the most disorderly reigns in Chinese history. (Cambridge 202) The new, young, Emperor took his reign very seriously and was relatively good at governing for such a young age. After a while he turned too strictly Daoist ideas and practices. During this time he allowed Grand secretaries to govern the country while he cut himself off from all duties. He was sternly rebuked for that in 1565 by a minor official Hai Rui. (Cambridge 202) The Ming court had never been able to establish a mutually satisfactory suzerain-vassal relationship with Japan, and further official links with it were cut in 1549. (Asian History 8)
In 1557 the Portuguese set up a trading post in Macao, this helped to open the Ming up to the rest of the west. In the 15th century, the Japanese Shogunate would count on the Chinese for trade. The Japanese needed the Chinese copper coins, silks, ceramics, Buddhist books, and art objects; and in return gave them sulphur, swords, and other materials. This form of trade flourished in the 15th century, and was controlled by a tally system, which controlled how much and where trade came into the country. However, when the Ashikaga (Shogunate) declined in Japan, the system did not work as well anymore. A competition arose among the traders and smuggling and unlicensed trade became a problem. The Chineses solution to the trade problems was a coastal embargo on all trade which occurred in the 1560s.
In 1567 The Longquing Emperor came into power led by Zhu Zaihou. Zaihou was born in 1537 and was the oldest ruler of the Ming dynasty in the 16th century. In 1570 the Ming court worked out a satisfactory treaty relationship with a ruler of the Mongol Empire, Altan Kahn of the Tumet. This reign ended in 1572.
In 1572 the last Emperor took reign for the 16th century. Zhu Yijun, the youngest Ming Emperor, at nine years of age took rule in the Wanli. In the 1570s, there were a number of notable reforms which were carried out by Chief Grand Secretary Zhang Juzheng.
In the late 1500s, Ming wares became a key item for trade in the west. The rest of Asia and Europe were greatly influenced by the ceramics of the Ming Dynasty.
In 1592 the Ming Dynasty decided to intervene into Korea where Japan was invading. China did this out of safety for themselves, due to the situations that had occurred in Vietnam. This did not help relations between China and Japan.
According to historians Yijuns reign marked the beginning of the end for the Ming dynasty.
There was really very little change going on in China during this century. Although there were different Emperors, with different ideas even, the country relatively remained the same. This century was the beginning of the end for the Ming Dynasty, so in effect there was nothing that could have been done by various Emperors that would have changed the fate of the Ming Dynasty.
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