Northern Eurasia, 1500–1800
I0. Japanese Reunification
A0. Civil War and the Invasion of Korea and Manchuria, 1500–1603
10. In the twelfth century, with imperial unity dissolved, Japan came under the
control of a number of regional warlords called daimyo.
20. Warfare among the daimyo was common, and in 1592 the most powerful of
these warlords, Hideyoshi, chose to lead an invasion of Korea.
30. Although the Korean and Japanese languages are closely related, the dominant
influence on Yi dynasty Korea was China.
40. Despite the creative use of technological and military skill, the Koreans and their
Chinese allies were defeated by the Japanese.
50. After Hideyoshi's death in 1598, the Japanese withdrew their forces and, in 1606,
made peace with Korea.
60. The Japanese withdrawal left Korea in disarray and the Manchu in a greatly
B0. The Tokugawa Shogunate, 1603–1800
10. In the late 1500s Japan’s Ashikaga Shogunate had lost control and the country
had fallen into a period of chaotic wars between local lords; a new shogun,
Tokugawa Ieyasu, brought all the local lords under the administration of his
Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600.
20. The Tokugawa Shogunate gave loyal regional lords rice lands close to the
shogunal capital in central Japan, while those lords who had not been supporters
of the Tokugawa were given undeveloped lands at the northern and southern
extremes of the islands. The Japanese emperor remained in Kyoto but had no
political power. This political structure had an important influence on the
subsequent development of the Japanese economy.
30. The decentralized system of regional lords meant that Japan developed well-
spaced urban centers in all regions, while the shogun’s requirement that the
regional lords visit Edo frequently stimulated the development of the
transportation infrastructure and the development of commerce, particularly the
development of wholesale rice exchanges.
40. The samurai became bureaucrats and consumers of luxury goods, spurring the
development of an increasingly independent merchant class whose most
successful families cultivated alliances with regional lords and with the shogun
himself. By the end of the 1700s the wealthy industrial families were politically
influential and held the key to modernization and the development of heavy
C0. Japan and the Europeans
10. Jesuits came to Japan in the late 1500s, and while they had limited success in
converting the regional lords, they did make a significant number of converts
among the farmers of southern and eastern Japan. A rural rebellion in this area in
the 1630s was blamed on Christians; the Tokugawa Shogunate responded with
persecutions, a ban on Christianity, and, in 1649, the closing of the country. 20. The closed country policy was intended to prevent the spread of foreign
influence, but not to exclude knowledge of foreign cultures. A small number of
European traders, mainly Dutch, were allowed to reside on a small island near
Nagasaki, and Japanese who were interested in the European knowledge that
could be gained from European books developed a field known as “Dutch
30. Some of the “outer lords” at the northern and southern extremes of Japan relied
on overseas trade with Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan, China, and Southeast Asia for
their fortunes. These lords ignored the closed country policy, and those in the
south, in particular, became wealthy from their control of maritime trade, giving
them an advantage over the shogunate and the “inner” lords.
D0. Elite Decline and Social Crisis
10. Patterns of population growth and economic growth also contributed to the
reversal of fortunes between the “inner” and “outer” lords. Population growth in
central Japan put a strain on the agricultural economy, but in the outer provinces,
economic growth outstripped population growth.
20. The Tokugawa system was also undermined by changes in rice prices and in
interest rates, which combined to make both the samurai and the regional lords
dependent on the willingness of the merchants to give them credit.
30. The Tokugawa shoguns accepted the Confucian idea that agriculture should be
the basis of the state and that merchants should occupy a low social position
because they lacked moral virtue, but the decentralized political system made it
difficult for the shogunate to regulate merchant activities. In fact, the
decentralized system stimulated commerce so that from 1600 to 1800 the
economy grew faster than the population and merchants developed relative
freedom, influence, and their own vibrant culture.
40. The ideological and social crisis of Tokugawa Japan’s transformation from a
military to a civil society is illustrated in the “Forty-seven Ronin” incident of
1702. This incident demonstrates the necessity of making the difficult decision to
force the military to obey the civil law in the interests of building a centralized,
standardized system of law with which the state could protect the interests of the
II0. The Late Ming and Early Qing Empires
A0. The Later Ming Empire, to 1644
10. The cultural brilliance and economic achievements of the early Ming continued
up to 1600. But at the same time, a number of factors had combined to exhaust
the Ming economy, weaken its government, and cause technological stagnation.
20. Some of the problems of the late Ming may be attributed to a drop in annual
temperatures between 1645 and 1700, which may have contributed to the
agricultural distress, migration, disease, and uprisings of this period. Climate
change may also have driven the Mongols and the Manchus to protect their
productive lands from Ming control and to take more land along the Ming
30. The flow of New World silver into China in the 1500s and early 1600s caused
inflation in prices and taxes that hit the rural population particularly hard.
40. In addition to these global causes of Ming decline, there were also internal
factors particular to China. These included disorder and inefficiency in the urban
industrial sector (such as the Jingdezhen ceramics factories), no growth in
agricultural productivity, and low population growth.
B0. Ming Collapse and the Rise of the Qing 10. The Ming also suffered from increased threats on their borders: to the north and
west, there was the threat posed by a newly reunified Mongol confederation, and
in Korea the Ming incurred heavy financial losses when it helped the Koreans to
defeat a Japanese invasion. Rebellions of native peoples rocked the southwest,
and Japanese pirates plagued the southeast coast.
20. Rebel forces led by Li Zicheng overthrew the Ming in 1644, and the Manchu
Qing Empire then entered Beijing, restored order, and claimed China for its own.
30. A Manchu imperial family ruled the Qing Empire, but the Manchus were only a
small proportion of the population, and thus depended on diverse people for
assistance in ruling the empire. Chinese made up the overwhelming majority of
the people and the officials of the Qing Empire.
C0. Trading Companies and Missionaries
10. Europeans were eager to trade with China, but enthusiasm for international trade
developed slowly in China, particularly in the imperial court.
20. Over the course of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch
gained limited access to Chinese trade.
30. By the seventeenth century, the Dutch East India Company had become the
major European trader in the Indian Ocean.
40. Catholic missionaries accompanied Portuguese and Spanish traders, and the
Jesuits had notable success converting Chinese elites. The Jesuit Matteo Ricci
(1552–1610) used his mastery of Chinese language and culture to gain access to
the imperial court.
D0. Emperor Kangxi (r. 1662–1722)
10. Kangxi (r. 1662–1722) took formal control over his government in 1669 (at the
age of sixteen) by executing his chief regent. Kangxi was an intellectual prodigy
and a successful military commander who expanded his territory and gave it a
high degree of stability.
20. During the Kangxi period the Qing were willing to incorporate ideas and
technology from Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean