Ming Dynasty

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 10, 2021

Ming Dynasty was founded in 1368 AD and was overthrown by Qing Dynasty in 1644 AD, lasting 276 years with 16 emperors. Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Tai Zu of the Ming Dynasty, carried out reforms on various social aspects such as politics and military affairs. He won back the right of making decisions on political, military, and judicatory affairs into his hands. Therefore, the concentration of state power reached an unprecedented level which was inherited of course by the Qing Dynasty. Economic development in the early period of the Ming Dynasty recovered rapidly and soon reached the most advanced level in history. Zhu Yuanzhang, therefore, was remembered as an intelligent and enlightened emperor as Emperor Wu Di in Han Dynasty and Emperor Tai Zong in Tang Dynasty in feudal society.

The booming period of the Ming Dynasty happened in the ruling years of Yong Le, Emperor Cheng Zu. During the times, Admiral Zheng He established diplomatic relations with the neighboring nations, and thus facilitated the economic and cultural exchanges with each other.

However, due to eunuch tyranny, Ming Dynasty began to decline after Emperor Ying Zong ascended the throne. Society suffered a lot from the corrupted administration of irresponsible officials and heavy taxes. Peasant insurgences broke out here and there, and national defense was very weak. In Tumu Fortress War, Ying Zong was captivated. Although he was released later, it clearly reflected the empire was in crisis. When Emperor Jia Jing ascended the throne, he appointed Zhang Ju to conduct a national reform involving politics, economy, and military force. The situation turned better for a period of time, but the cruel tyranny of Wei Zhongxian accelerated the die out of Ming Dynasty. At the same time, the Nuzhen of the Kingdom of Jin in Northeast China grew strong. It swept south and overthrew the Northern Song Dynasty when the late Ming Dynasty was deeply weakened by peasant uprisings. Emperor Chong Zhen of the Ming Regime finally hung himself to death in Meishan Mountain in Beijing.

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