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Ming Dynasty

With a total of 16 emperors, the Ming Dynasty lasted 276 years, from 1368 to 1644.

Zhu Yuanzhang, Ming Emperor Taizu, carried out a comprehensive reform of previous political, military and other systems. Zhu grasped the political, military and judicial powers that pushed the feudal centralization to a high level, which was carried on by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In the early Ming, the nation's economy soon recovered and progressed to its highest level. Zhu's achievements made him one of the most outstanding statesmen in Chinese history, along with Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty and Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.

Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
The golden age of the Ming Dynasty thrived under Emperor Chengzu's reign, known as the Yongle period (circa 1402). During this period, foreign relations were further strengthened via Zheng He's voyage to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. The Ming regime also strengthened its relations with ethnic minority groups, promoting the economic and cultural exchanges among different nationalities. Its jurisdiction extended to the inside and outside of the Hinggan Mountains, Tianshan Mountains and Tibet.

When Emperor Yingzong ascended to the throne in 1436, the Ming Dynasty began its decline, mainly due to the monopoly of eunuchs. Corruptive officials levied heavy taxes on peasants, triggering countless uprisings. At the same time, the Ming Dynasty faced the danger of attacks from external forces. During the reign of Emperor Jiajing (circa 1521), Zhang Juzheng was appointed to carry out a comprehensive reform in politics, the economy and military. For some time, things had changed for the better but, before long, a eunuch named Wei Zhongxian seized and abused his power, which accelerated the Ming's decline. At the same time, the Nzhen of the northeast became powerful and finally overthrew the Ming Dynasty during a storm of peasant uprisings. Emperor Chongzhen hanged himself at the foot of the Coal Hill behind the imperial palace.