The Ming Dynasty

The Ming Dynasty was founded by Zhu Yuanzhang, a formerBuddist monk who became leader of a band of peasant rebels.Suffering greatly under Mongol rule, Zhu eventually came toreconquer most of China and claim himself the HongwuEmperor. Once again, Chinas gorvernance was restored to thegreat population.Under the Hongwu emperor, there was a revival of theexamination system ensure that Chinese schoarship was of thehighest caliber, and that merit played role in advancement.Members of the scholar-gentry were again appointed to thehighest posts in the Imperial government.

Throughout the Ming dynasty, arts and literatureflourished. There was a great revival of traditional HanChinese culture. At this point the Chinese were so proud ofMing culture that there waas a general sense of nationalism wasso profound that, by the early 1430s, it was a factor causingthe cessation of the famous Zhenghe seaborne expeditions, an effort to explore several other partsof the known world.The Ming dynasty was the last native imperial dynasty inChinese history. Sandwiched between two foriegn dynasties, theMing stand one last attempt to hold Chinese government innative hands.

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Humiliated and oppressed by the foriegn rule of theMongols, the Ming dynasty rises up out of a peasant rebellion topreside over the greatist economic and social revolution inChina before the modern period. The Ming are also the first todeal with Europeans arriving in ever increasing numbers; as apre-modern period, many of the issues and contentions of themodern period will have their precursors in the Ming dynasty.The story of the Ming dynasty, according to Chinesehistorians, begins in 1351 in the province of Huang-ling-kangShantung. A group of laborers digging along the Huang-ho Riveruncover a statue with only one eye and an inscription: Do notdespise this one-eyed statue: it will be the herald of rebellion allthroughout the empire.

Soon, news of this discovery spreadsall throughout China. On top of other portents, such as floodsand landslides, the discovery of the statue annouces oneoverwhelming idea: the Mandate of Heaven, the tien ming, had been withdrawn from theMonglol dynasty. Emperors of the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644)Dynastic TitleTitle of ReignYears of ReignTai-tsuHung-wu1368-1398Hui-tiChien-wen1399-1402Cheng-tsuYung-lo1403-1424Jen-tsungHung-hsi1425Hsuan-tsungHsuan-te1426-1435Ying-tsungCheng-tung1436-1449Tai-tsungChing-tai1450-1456Ying-tsungTien-shun1457-1464Hsien-tsungCheng-hua1465-1487Hsiao-tsungHung-chih1488-1505Wu-tsungCheng-te1506-1521Shih-tsungChia-ching1522-1566Mu-tsungLung-ching1567-1572Shen-tsungWan-li1573-1620Kuang-tsungTai-chang1620Hsi-tsungTien-chi1621-1627Szu-tsungChung-chen1628-1644