The Ming Empire

Article

July 5, 2022

Ming Empire (Chinese: characters traditional 明國, simplified 明国, pinyin Míng Guó, Czech transcription Ming Kuo), full name Empire Great Ming (Chinese: characters simplified 大明国, traditional 大明國, pinyin Dà Míng Guó, Czech transcription Ta Ming Kuo; also anachronistic Chinese: characters simplified 大明帝国, traditional 大明帝國, pinyin Dà Míng Dìguó, Czech transliteration Ta Ming Tikuo) was a Chinese state named after the ruling Ming dynasty (Chinese: characters 明朝, pinyin Míng Cháo, Czech transliteration Ming Chao) . The empire was founded in 1368 by the expulsion of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. It is considered "one of the greatest periods of orderly government and social stability in human history," when Chinese civilization was at a high level and beginning to create capitalism. The Ming were the last Chinese national (ie Han) dynasty, ruling China for three centuries. They were followed by the Manchu Qing Dynasty. In 1644, the Ming capital Beijing, along with all of northern China, fell into the hands of the Manchus, but the southern part of the country remained under Chinese (Han) control for another 17 years (until 1661). These late Ming regimes of southern China are referred to as the Southern Ming. The founder of the Ming state and dynasty, Emperor Chung-wu (reigned 1368–1398), attempted to build a society of self-sufficient agricultural communities in a stable system of relationships that would keep commercial life and trade in the cities to a minimum. The private sector of landed estates had shrunk to one-third of all cultivated land with protracted wars, while state ownership of land grew. Thus, a state rationing system was created, although not formally announced. A strictly centralized state administration tried to manage all areas of life. Rebuilding China on an agricultural base and improving communications with a military courier network had an unintended consequence - the emergence of markets along the restored roads and the penetration of urban trends into the countryside. The so-called gentry, a class of educated landowners occupying official positions, were influenced by the new, consumer-oriented culture. Merchant families began to penetrate among the educated officials, who adopted the customs typical of the gentry. In parallel, there were changes in social and political philosophy, administrative institutions, and also in art and literature. The Ming Empire had a large navy and a standing army, the total number of which varied between one and four million soldiers. Admiral Cheng Che's voyages surpassed all previous expeditions and reached East Africa. The government undertook massive construction works including the restoration of the Grand Canal, the Great Wall of China and the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing in the first quarter of the 15th century. The population of Ming China grew from an initial more than 60 million to a peak of 160–200 million in the early 17th century. However, in the last decades of the dynasty's rule, the population decreased significantly due to epidemics, famines and wars. In the 16th century, the economy of Ming China was stimulated by trade with the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. China engaged in the global exchange of goods, plants, animals and food (called the Columbian Exchange) in its role as the center of the world economy. The export of goods to Europe and Japan brought China a considerable amount of silver, which replaced copper and paper money in the role of general currency. In the last decades of the Ming reign, the flow of silver into China decreased significantly, and agricultural production also declined due to the onset of the Little Ice Age, natural disasters, and epidemics. At the same time, from the second half of the 16th century, the state apparatus showed signs of decay, and by the beginning of the 17th century, it was completely permeated with corruption. The emperors had little interest in politics, and supreme power was in the hands of their numerous entourage