Chu Yüan-Chang

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Chu Yüan-Chang


(reign title, Hung-wu). Born 1328 in Anhwei Province; died 1398 in Nanking. Chinese emperor from 1368; founder of the Ming Dynasty.

Chu Yüan-chang was the son of a landless tenant farmer. As a boy he became a Buddhist monk. In 1352 he joined the insurgent detachment of the wealthy townsman Kuo Tsu-hsing, who had raised a rebellion in Central China against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. In 1355, Chu Yüan-chang became the main leader of a patriotic uprising in that region (seeRED TURBANS REBELLION OF 1351–68). He united most of Central, East, and South China under his authority by annexing territories under the control of other rebel leaders, and in January 1368, Chu Yüan-chang proclaimed himself emperor. In the same year his forces took control of Tatu (Peking), which was the capital of the Yuan Empire, and overthrew the Mongol dynasty.

During the reign of Chu Yuan-chang, a number of measures were adopted in order to restore the economy of the country, especially agriculture, and to correct the widespread abuses of the civil service apparatus. Massive repression was directed against all who expressed dissatisfaction with the new dynasty.


Borovkova, L. A. Vosstanie “Krasnykh voisk” v Kitae. Moscow, 1971.
Svistunova, N. P. Agrarnaia politika Minskogo pravitel’stva vo vtoroi polovine XTV v. Moscow, 1966.


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Farmer examines the various factors in the process by which the Chu Yuan-chang came to "label" certain things orthodox and others heterodox, from among the welter of ideas, beliefs, and practices that accompanied him to the throne.
Born in Kiangsu (Jiangsu) into a successful merchant family engaged in the salt trade; with his brothers, led a rebellion against the tottering Mongol Yuan dynasty, and raised a large peasant army (1353); failed to take Yang-chou (1354), but captured Soochow and Hang-chow (Hangzhou) (1356) and established the Kingdom of Wu on the lower Yangtze, governing some ten million people from Soochow; the growing power of the nearby Ming rebels under Chu Yuan-chang forced him to submit nominally to the Mongols (1357), but he maintained his independence; formally rebelled by capturing Anfeng, and launched an attack on Chu (1363); when Chu counterattacked, Chang's forces were routed, and he fled to Nanking (Nanjing), where he committed suicide (1367).