The Ming dynasty is usually divided into three and sometime four period of times in most scholars and history books, the reason for this division is not quite known.
The Ming Dynasty was the empire that succeeded the Yuan Empire in 1368. It was founded by Zhu Yuanzhang, who reigned as Emperor Hongwu. Although it was an autocratic empire, the Ming Dynasty was one of the most stable among the Chinese dynasties.
Early Ming Dynasty
The Early Ming Dynasty started in 1368 under Emperor Hongwu and his son, Emperor Yongle. This period was a time of cultural restoration and expansion.
An indigenous Chinese ruling house was reestablished during this time, leading to court-dictated styles in the arts. The Ming court hired painters and ordered them to use didactic and realistic representation.
Large scale landscapes and figurative narratives were specifically favored images that glorified the new dynasty. These symbols conveyed the empire’s majesty, benevolence, and virtue.
Middle Ming Dynasty
The Middle Ming dynasty began in 1424 when Emperor Hongxi succeeded his father, Emperor Yongle. Under his rule and a century after his reign, the Ming Empire enjoyed prosperity, stability, and tranquility. However, the administration was eventually led by weak emperors dominated by corrupt eunuchs, causing the Ming Dynasty to suffer.
The serious disruption of peace occurred in 1449 when a military campaign against the Oirats began. During this time, the empire was under the rule of Emperor Zhengtong and was dominated by the eunuch Wang Zhen.
Late Ming Dynasty
By the Late Ming period, Ming’s political presence significantly declined. The empire faced fiscal problems, eventually leading to its fall. The less-esteemed rulers like emperors Zhengde and Jiajing reigned during this period.
A lot of military campaigns in this period resulted in draining the empire’s funds. Along with that, the agricultural disaster and the Little Ice Age led to famine. Starving soldiers were forced to leave their posts and form gangs that ravaged the countrysides.
Rebellions became common as the Ming Dynasty continued to fall. Eventually, the Qing Dynasty was established later after the last Ming emperor took his life.