Ming Dynasty's Demise Term Paper

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Ming Dynasty's Demise

The many and varied factors that led to the fall of the Chinese Ming Dynasty are very pertinent from an historical and cultural perspective, and those issues will be presented and reviewed in this paper.

INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW: What were the conditions and dynamics that led the Ming Dynasty to a fall from grace and power? In his book, the Glory and Fall of the Ming Dynasty, author Albert Chan writes that "...the very fact that it lasted for nearly three centuries" indicates that the Ming Dynasty certainly had its strong points. Years of association with scholars and a "sound knowledge of history" helped the Hung-wu emperor avoid the mistakes that previous emperors had made. Indeed, Chan insists that it is historically fair to describe the Hung-wu emperor as a "...ruler of genius" (p. 376). It was the Hung-wu emperor who realized that an "...overpowerful military class" - giving too much power to the generals - might mean soldiers would obey their commanders and not the government. He also realized that family could encroach on his authority, and he tried to keep a handle on all aspects of governing. But he was only

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But it was unfortunate, Chan continues, that the efforts of emperors notwithstanding, the rich farmers kept pushing the poor farmers off the land, and those poor farmers in time formed part of the rebel forces (p. 384). Land taxes escalated too, putting more pressure on peasants to meet their obligations. And from the Wan-li emperor until the end of the dynasty, emperors, "not satisfied with their ordinary income, went out of their way to make extraordinary profits at the expense of the people," Chan explains (p. 384). By late in the 16th Century, the wars with Japan, with the tribes of Po-chou in Szechuan, and with the Manchus, required "Two hundred thousand soldiers" and the cost to the Ming government was "several million silver taels."

Term Paper on Ming Dynasty's Demise the Many and Varied Assignment

These huge sums of money to fight wars came more and more taxes, from the pockets of the people who were slowly losing faith in their government. While these tensions were rising, the standard of ethical conduct in the highest places of government "fell very low" (p. 385). The last ruler prior to the fall of the dynasty - and witness to the final collapse - Ni Yuan-lu (who ruled from 1593 to 1644) declared that the last thirty years of the dynasty went through three stages. First the emperor "shut himself up in his palace, and left his ministers to their cat and dog fight" (p. 385). The second phase was when the eunuchs got the "upper hand" and basically took over complete control of the government. And finally, the emperor had all the power concentrated in his hands. and, Chan continues, during the final phase the good "suffered" and the "wicked" had the leverage to coax all they needed for their greedy power bases out of the emperor.

After the Manchu invasion and the guerilla wars waged by rebels (many of the rebels were ordinary peasants who had been pushed off their land by the noble class, and/or had been taxed to such an extent that they could no longer survive on the land), the Ming dynasty was ready to topple.

PEASANT REBELLIONS: Author James Bunyan Parsons writes that the initial peasant uprisings began in the Northern Shensi region in the 1620s. This was an area where the economy was weak and "misrule" was the order of the day for many years. Political instability and "...unpaid...mutinous soldiers, troop rosters padded with fake names, undermanned garrisons, financial deficits and food shortages" (p. 4) led to the atmosphere or rebellion against the ruling powers in Peking. Add to those elements a severe drought in 1628, and a resulting famine, along with such horrors as "wives sold by husbands; abandoned children; people forced to eat grass, bark, and earth..." And mass burials of famine victims (p. 5). Parsons adds that there were instances of cannibalism. These events - along with the heavy taxation that had demoralized peasants and soldiers - were the ingredients that went into the peasant rebellions.

Editors Jonathan D. Spence and John E. Wills, Jr. (From Ming to Ch'ing: Conquest, Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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