Chronologic Timeline of Ming Emperors 1368 AD - 1644 AD ; Descendancy of the Ming House explained.
Imperial Ming-styled Dragon Logo, symbolising the Emperor, his might, longevity of Reign and prosperity. During the early Ming Dynasty China was the most influential trade nation and most important military power in East and South-East Asia.
Zhu Zaihou was the third Son of the Zhu Houcong, the previous Emperor Shizong. Zhu Zaihou received the title of Prince Yu in the year 1539 AD, making him Crown Prince. In the year 1567 AD he succeeded to the Throne at age 30. In the year 1567 AD the reign was named LongQing. The Emperor died only five years later making the Longqing Reign the shortest reign period of the Ming Dynasty.
Achievements: After his taking to the Throne, the young Emperor was left with a declining and dissatisfied Nation. Hence, the LongQing Reign of the Ming Dynasty started off with an attempt at reorganization, purging various persons and cliques in the upper echelons of the Court. Among the first targets of the Imperial purge were the many soothsayers, "magicians", and so called wise men which had led the former Emperor astray.
Meanwhile, as a defense against the ever restless Mongolian Tribes who had so recently ravaged the northern regions and nearly taken the Capital, the Emperor issued various decrees with the aim of further strenghtening the defenses in the form of the now famous and notorious stone built Great Wall of China.
In the Ming Dynasty Era (1368 AD 1644 AD), during the Reign of Emperor Muzong, two tribes called Anda and Tuman (sub-groups of the Khalka Mongols) who had their homes outside of the Great Wall of China frequently invaded the border near Ji Men (Ji Gate), threatening the Ming Era Imperial Capital City of Beijing. In the year 1550 AD these hordes led by their ruler Altan Khan had made it as far as the gates of the city of Beijing itself. It was an unacceptable threat that had to be dealt with.
Although Emperor Ming Muzong and his courtiers eventually consented to only 1000 towers, it is said that it was the General who won out since he purposely over-asked and therefor got what he needed. The (re)construction of these Great Wall of China sections to the East and North of Beijing started in 1569 AD and although an important and ground-breaking peace treaty was signed with the tribes of the North in 1571 AD - allowing trade, the construction went on regardless lasting in all for three years.
Altogether 1007 lookout towers were set up between Shanhai Guan and Changping (now Outer Suburb and District of Beijing) and the defense on the north border was greatly strengthened leaving much to survive until today. Facing Huangya Pass as a site with a great disadvantage to any attacking army and a considerable fortress, no enemy ever attempted an attack on this section of the Great Wall of China.
At the same time as strenghtening the Empire and its borders, the Emperor, heeding advice from his Ministers Gao Gong and Zhang Jucheng, made moves to negotiate a peace with the ever restless Tümet Mongolian (Also: Tümen) Tribes strewn along and across the northern border regions. In order to achieve this, a final peace with the Tümet Mongolian Tribes headed by Altan Khan (Mongolian: Алтан хан - Life: 1507 AD - 1582 AD ), the Chinese made an unusual concession, agreeing to open their otherwise closed borders to various forms of trade. A final agreement was reached in the year 1570 AD. The most important of the new measures were the opening of horse markets at various places along the heavily defended border protected by the Ming Dynasty Great Wall of China. One such horse market is the famous fortress near Yulin.
Link: Satellite Image with Schematic of the Location and path of the Great Wall of China during the Ming Dynasty. Passes on the Great Wall included.
During the Reign of Ming Emperor Xiaozong (Reign 1488 - 1505 AD) the Great Wall of China in the section between present day Anbian Town of Shanxi Province to cut across north Shaanxi Province and Yulin Garrison Town to the east bank of the Yellow River (Huang He) in Wulin County of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was ordered rebuilt. Now, heavily fortified behind their costly wall, the Ming decided to play for time, granting a longstanding wish of the nomadic tribes to trade horses at various border towns and crossing points. The new policy was a great success in all aspects. That is, with economic interdependency, border raids decreased and tensions with the nomadic tribes dropped gradually allowing for peace and growing prosperity among both the nomadic peoples and the many downtrodden border dwellers. Ironically, both sides were perfect trading partners, one side supplying in the others needs. The nomads had all kinds of needs out on the open plains and Chinese traded silk, tea, slat and many other goods. In return, the nomads supplied the Chinese with fast and powerful horses, which could then be used in the defense of the borders against
enemies such as the nomadic Mongolian Tribes. Other much wanted goods were rare gem stones found in western Mongolia and exotic animal furs.
The decision to open the borders to limited trade would prove to be the start of a new era. Although border wars would continue regardless, Chinese influence was expanded beyond the borders and, with growing trade, eventually the Horse Market at the Yulin Fortress would see the rise of the now famous Zhenbeitai Tower, the largest tower platform found along the Great Wall of China. The Zhenbeitai Tower was built some 50 years later in 1607 AD, and is clearly designed to impress and dominate the wild barbaric nomads and stood overlooking the horse market.
While diplomacy worked across the once hazardous borders, the court in Beijing kept its caution and General Qi Jiguang, at the time famous and known for his strictness and self-discipline, was tasked with the further strengthening of the Great Wall of China along the Ordos desert.
Death & Succession : The Muzong Emperor became seriously ill in March of 1572 AD. Apparently realizing that he would not live very much longer, the Emperor summoned his advisers at court, Ministers Gao Gong, Zhang Juzheng and Goa Yi, in order to ask their support for the successful crowning of the Crown Prince. Not long after this meeting the Emperor died and the succession was set in motion.
Although starting off with due diligence and making a (temporary) breakthrough in relations with the longstanding enemies and neighbors along the length of the Great Wall of China, altogether the LongQing Reign of the Ming Dynasty was unsuccessful. Internally the State further destabilized as the Emperor slowly fell to the allures of his concubines and the intrigues and plotting of court Eunuchs. The Muzong Emperor especially is known for his extravagance and large flock of following Ladies attending. While the Emperor became similarly distracted by pleasures as his father, the State Finances -already stretched by war and the need for rebuilding the Great Wall of China around Beijing - ran amok, corruption, plunder and overspending by the Emperor himself leading to a new financial crisis which threatened the security of the border defenses. As a result of the dire situation within the nation peasant uprisings became increasingly frequent around the Empire.