Long Live the Emperor!

Long Live the Emperor! Uses of the Ming Founder across Six Centuries of East Asian History, Sarah Schneewind, Ming Studies Research Series, Center for Early Modern History, University of Minnesota, 2008.

EmperorZhu Yuanzhang expelled the Mongols and after generations of foreign rule again unified China under the Han. His paranoia and bloody purges were also legendary.  This book seeks to make sense of the Ming founder and deploy his memory for a wide range of uses.

Geiss Foundation support of this publication, the second of two from Ming Studies, tried to construct a better understanding of Zhu Yuanzhang, also the topic of the 2006 conference at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, “Ming Taizu and His Times”, and publications of subsequent proceedings.

The founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was one of the most colorful rulers in China’s long imperial history. His rise from poverty, participation in a millenarian movement, expulsion of the Mongols, unification of the empire, three decades of tumultuous rule, paranoia, and bloody purges are all the stuff of legend. Ever since his death in 1398 popular stories and more formal accounts from across East Asia have sought to make sense of the Ming founder and deploy his memory for a wide range of uses.

The essays in Long Live the Emperor! examine how his stormy career has been interpreted in politics and the arts, both inside and outside of China, and in our own time. Sarah Schneewind conceived the idea of surveying the historiographical heritage of the Ming founder and brought together a constellation of specialists, each with a different story to tell.