In 1368, soon after declaring the new Hongwu era of the Ming dynasty, the rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang sent an army to Khanbaliq and conquered it. Since the Yuan continued to occupy Shangdu and Mongolia, however, a new town was established to supply the military garrisons in the area. This was called Beiping and under the Hongwu Emperor's feudal policies it was given to Zhu Di, one of his sons, who was created "Prince of Yan".
One of the corner towers of the Forbidden City.
The early death of Zhu Yuanzhang's heir led to a succession struggle on his death, one that ended with the victory of Zhu Di and the declaration of the new Yongle era. Since his harsh treatment of the Ming capital Yingtian (Nanjing) alienated many there, he established his fief as a new co-capital. The city of Beiping became Shuntian – now Beijing in 1403. The construction of the new imperial residence, the Forbidden City, took from 1406 to 1420; this period was also responsible for several other of the modern city's major attractions, such as the Temple of Heaven and Tian'anmen (although the square facing it was not cleared until 1651). On 28 October 1420, Beijing is officially designated the capital of the Ming Dynasty on the same year that the Forbidden City is completed. Beijing became the empire's primary capital (Jingshi) and Yingtian – or called Nanjing – became the co-capital. (A 1425 order by Zhu Di's son, the Hongxi Emperor, to return the capital to Nanjing was never carried out: he died, probably of a heart attack, the next month. He was buried, like almost every Ming emperor to follow him, in an elaborate necropolis to Beijing's north.)
By the 15th century, Beijing had essentially taken its current shape. The Ming city wall continued to serve until modern times, when it was pulled down and the 2nd Ring Road was built in its place. It is generally believed that Beijing was the largest city in the world for most of the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The first known church was constructed by Catholics in 1652 at the former site of Matteo Ricci's chapel; the modern Nantang Cathedral was later built upon the same site.
The capture of Beijing by Li Zicheng's peasant army in 1644 ended the dynasty, but he and his Shun court abandoned the city without a fight when the Manchu army of Prince Dorgon arrived 40 days later.
Dorgon established the Qing Dynasty as a direct successor of the Ming (delegitimizing Li Zicheng and his followers) and Beijing became China's sole capital. The Qing emperors made some modifications to the Imperial residence but, in large part, the Ming buildings and the general layout remained unchanged. Facilities for Manchu worship were introduced, but the Qing also continued the traditional state rituals. Signage was bilingual or Chinese. This early Qing Beijing later formed the setting for the Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
Chongwenmen, a gate to the inner walled city, c. 1906
During the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces captured the city, looting and burning the Old Summer Palace in 1860. Under the Convention of Peking ending that war, Western powers for the first time secured the right to establish permanent diplomatic presences within the city. In 1900, the attempt by the "Boxers" to eradicate this presence, as well as Chinese Christian converts, led to Beijing's reoccupation by foreign powers. During the fighting, several important structures were destroyed, including the Hanlin Academy and the (new) Summer Palace.
Uploaded: Jan 3, 2016