1587, a Year of No Significance

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1587, a Year of No Significance
Ray Huang - 1587, a Year of No Significance The Ming Dynasty in Decline.jpeg
AuthorRay Huang
CountryUnited States
PublisherYale University Press
Publication date
Media typePrint

1587, a Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline (Chinese: 萬曆十五年; pinyin: Wanli Shiwunian) is Chinese historian Ray Huang's most famous work. First published by Yale University Press in 1981,[1] it examines how a number of seemingly insignificant events[which?] in 1587 might have caused the downfall of the Ming dynasty.

The Chinese title, meaning "the fifteenth year of the Wanli era", is how the year 1587 was expressed in the Chinese calendar: the era name of the reigning Chinese emperor at the time, followed by which year of his reign it was.

Major figures discussed in the book besides the emperor are Grand Secretaries Zhang Juzheng and Shen Shixing, official Hai Rui, general Qi Jiguang and philosopher Li Zhi.

Although Huang had completed the manuscript by 1976, no publisher would accept it at first, as it was not serious enough for an academic work, but was too serious for popular non-fiction.[2]

The work has been translated into a number of different languages: Chinese, Japanese, German and French.


1587 was adapted into a play by Zuni Icosahedron director Mathias Woo, which premièred in Hong Kong in 1999. The second production was in 2006, after Woo and Towards the Republic screenwriter Zhang Jianwei (張建偉) re-wrote the script by adding a considerable amount of Kun opera and other elements.[3] There was a third run in 2008.


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