Beijing's beginnings were that of a trading town for the tribes in Shandong
and central China as well as the Koreans and Mongols. It grew until it
became the capital of the Yan Kingdom during the Warring States Period and
eventually became known as Yanjing during the Liao Dynasty. In 1215 AD,
Yanjing (Beijing) was destroyed by Genghis Khan with fire and it emerged from
the destruction in 1272 as Dadu, which means Great Capital. Dadu, also
known as Khanbalik, was the capital for Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson.
There was temporary peace from about 1280 - 1300, during which many
foreigners traveled along the Silk Road, but in 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang (Chu Yuan-chang)
changed the relatively peaceful era. He was responsible for a revolt
that allowed him to overtake Beijing and thus the began of the Ming Dynasty.
One of the the things he did was change the city's name to Beiping, which
means Northern Peace, and changed the capital to Nanjing in the South.
Thirty years later around 1398-1400, after Zhu's death, his second son, Yong
Le took over the throne and moved the capital back to Beijing (changing the
name back from Beiping), which means "northern capital."
Beijing developed and flourished during this time, building many of the famous
palaces and temples that are still present today. Tiantan and the
Forbidden city are two examples of buildings constructed during Yong's reign.