The Ming dynasty had ruled the entire country for 276 years. Talking about the historical significance, it can be said that no truly outstanding events or creations can be referred to the time of the Ming dynasty. On the other hand, this dynasty was the head of the country in the difficult unstable times, when both internal and external issues led to the termination of the Ming autocratic dominance. The researchers still cannot say what exact reason caused the most damage and collapse of the Ming dynasty as the country faced serious difficulties with its citizens and the neighboring states. Therefore, to determine the reasons for the Ming dynasty collapse and to analyze the inside and outside factors of failing to remain the ruling dynasty in China, this issue should be considered more closely.
The Ming dynasty took a highly important place in the history of China. During their ruling regime, the common people, especially the ones who had ambitions and did not want to be led by the people who cared only for their own wellbeing, faced nothing but the violence. In general, one of the most significant mistakes of the Ming dynasty was picking violent killing as the only way to solve problems with the rebels and people having their own point of view. However, more peaceful ways of gaining peace did not show a long-term positive effect either. Obviously, the bigger the country is, the bigger amount of dissatisfied citizens can be found. Since, historically, China had occupied the big territory, it was natural that mutineers appeared in the different parts of the country. Moreover, the fact that large-scale rebellions occasionally took place also had a negative impact on the policy success. Typically, after the successful crushing of rebellions by the Ming army, mutineers either terminated their activity for a long period or tried to avoid being noticed until they restore strength in all aspects.
Because of these calm periods in one area, the officials and the army did not monitor it as closely and regularly as the other parts of the country, and its borders required as much protection and financial support as possible. The population growth, starvation, and the willing to avoid paying taxes had also resulted in upheavals in Zhenjiang and Fujian, Hubei and Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Jiangxi (Dardess, 2012, p. 115). In attempts to gain the new quality of life in the new lands and to establish a separate area that would not be under control of the Ming dynasty, people gathered in the large gangs and performed illegal activity such as robbing convoys, marauding, etc. These actions were noticed by the officials and could not be left without dramatic response such as killing the leaders.
Changes in the Ming dynasty policy regarding rebellions can also be observed. In the first half of ruling, the policy was more loyal to people who tried to oppose the officials. For example, the leaders were always sentenced to death, but their followers did not face such a punishment. In the second half of the Ming dynasty ruling, the policy became more strict and severe. According to Tong, 630 instances of violence took place in the era of the Ming dynasty, the majority of which occurred in the second half of the period (Dardess, 2012, p. 118). This vividly points on the negative attitude of rural people towards the capital and the officials.
Every leader must possess a certain combination of qualities to make his or her ruling long-termed and successful. One of such leaders was the Grand Coordinator Wang Yangming, the most gifted official leader during the Ming dynasty time, who realized that violence leads to further violence and successfully dealt with the rebellions in a more peaceful way by turning mutinies to his side by negotiations in the vast majority of cases (Dardess, 2012, p. 120). Unfortunately, the Ming dynasty did not have a sufficient number of equally talented representatives who would be able to make the situation more peaceful. Paid bribes and robberies in the Forbidden City also had an impact on the Ming dynasty collapse as the ruling system can be destroyed on the higher levels by the people who are close to the rulers of the country and who affect their reputation.
In general, different factors could characterize the domestic problems and foreign relations. The first factor was the enormous taxes people had to pay. Constant expenses on the army had led to the fiscal crisis in Beijing, which, in its turn, had led to the higher taxes for the citizens (Dardess, 2012, p. 124). In the end, people all over the country got in the condition of physical and moral exhaustion without seeing the bright future despite all the efforts. The second factor was the weather conditions and disasters that brought people to the desperate position where they not only had no money to pay taxes but also nearly had no opportunity to feed themselves and their families. The third factor was the growing number and the quality of rebellions. In terms of the inner rebellions and disorders, the final stroke to the Ming dynasty era was performed by the leader Zhang Xianzhong, who managed to gather the army in the hundreds of thousands warriors that succeeded in the battle campaign against the Ming army (Dardess, 2012, pp. 129-130), and by Li Zicheng who laid siege to Beijing and led the last Ming Emperor to committing suicide.
In fact, there is an opinion that the Ming dynasty collapse happened because of its final emperor Chongzhen, who showed mediocre skills in ruling the country, letting his incompetent ministers make vital decisions (Brook, 2010, p. 241). At one point, this statement can be considered as fair because, in the majority of cases, the inability to make proper decisions in time may bring the big-scale negative consequences. However, the Ming dynasty falling from its position was determined by several factors that had started taking place in China long before the year 1644.
Together with the internal problems, the Ming dynasty faced constant attacks from their neighbors such as the Jurchens, who constantly tried to cross the northern border of China. However, the decision to invite the Portuguese gunners and to allow them to bring cannons in action against the Jurchens helped the representatives of the Ming dynasty to make their defense campaign more successful (Brook, 2010, pp. 246-247). In addition, the natural disasters and the climate changes have resulted in even more severe famine in the northern part of the country, and in the spreading of smallpox, which had a positive effect on the invaders by changing their minds towards the attempts to avoid contamination from the sick Chinese people. The same situation could be observed in the northwest of China regarding the Mongols (Brook, 2010, pp. 250-251). Manchus managed to invade the capital and the country only after the last Ming dynasty official emperor was dead, which also shows that during the Ming era the borders of the country were successfully protected from the invaders. Therefore, the foreign relations of the Ming family in the military aspect were rather successful because the borders of the country were properly protected by the army forces until 1644. On the other hand, external economic relations were not so bright because of the famine and diseases in the country that were followed by inability to produce goods for selling or exchanging.
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Taking into account all mentioned above, it can be stated that the Ming dynasty collapse was caused by the unique combination of different negative factors such as natural disasters (floods, earthquakes), outside invasions, inner rebellions, and inability to provide a proper financial basis for solving these issues. The Ming dynasty would have faced its end in any case as every ruling family in the world history had faced three stages of existence, namely foundation, continuation, and termination. Since the leaders of the dynasty had to rule a big territory with the unique combination of landscapes that made it difficult to achieve, they failed to make all common citizens equally satisfied with their living conditions that resulted in the growing numbers of rebellions and weakening of the financial strength.
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