China from Ming to Qing 1640–1760

The final two Chinese dynasties were the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1911). Particularly during the Ming period, the arts thrived, including literature, which enjoyed a period of great development in scope and sophistication. In part, literary variety increased because two languages were available to writers: classical, literary Chinese and vernacular Chinese. Often, literature of the period features a reworking of older tales, such as the famous historical romance, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The arrival of Manchu (non-Chinese) armies from the north ended the Ming Dynasty, however. As is depicted in this map, the Manchu territory steadily grew as Manchu control spread south into China (and eventually Korea). The Manchurian Qing Dynasty was perceived to be an invading power. It was not as open to literature and worked actively to censor writing at the time.