To many, this is a dynasty largely ignored. There are dynasties which are even more ignored (Song Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, and Sui Dynasty ). But those are for another time. The Ming Dynasty came before the Qing, which is a fact. But is it truly weaker than them, or had a poorer form of governance?
No. The Ming Dynasty was still a relatively open dynasty. And contrary to what others thought they did have gunpowder and used it to their advantage. They had traded with the Portuguese, Spanish and there was a record about them with the English.
And the Ming Dynasty was famous for one thing in particular, if you observed their rulers.
They were famous for their eccentric Emperors who weren’t mad (like the Vasas) but just really odd.
The founding emperor had been a monk at some point in his life. There was a cricket-obsessed Emperor; a food connoisseur for an Emperor. An Emperor who was also illiterate and a carpenter. An Emperor who didn’t do his job for 30 years. An Emperor who didn’t do his job for 20 years and was obsessed with making pills using virgin’s blood for him to ingest. Which ended up causing the first ever handmaid’s revolt that almost killed him. Because he thought that a good diet to ensure great menstrual blood was to feed the girls only mulberry leaves and lake water.
An Emperor whose love of his life was a woman old enough to be his mother–nineteen years older to be precise. The one and only Emperor in the whole of Chinese History with one wife. And a guy who managed to be Emperor twice.
Yeah, they were colorful as people. Also, I didn’t cover all of them. It just happened that most of them were pretty unique. If anyone was to look at them, they would realize just how unsuitable they were as rulers. But this dynasty with these type of rulers wounded up ruling for 276 years.
And how did they manage that? Solid governance that didn’t really need the Emperor to do everything themselves. A fun fact is that this is the dynasty which got rid of the title of Chancellor as the founding Emperor thought that it was just too much.
Hence, what made it possible for them to still be a successful Empire?
They had a council called the neige, which consisted of men to help them govern. Like the Privy Council back in the days of Tudor England where Henry VIII managed to get his edicts passed provided the Privy Council agrees. Here, the council simply does most of the work leaving plenty of idle time to the Emperor. And turning these Emperors into even more of a figurehead than any other dynasty has done. Thus, why they could be pursuing ridiculous hobbies and not be called terrible.
The Ming Dynasty isn’t a really dark time. Other than consorts of the Emperor where it was known they followed the Emperor in death. The tradition was overturned in during the Middle Ming.
Overall, the Ming Dynasty was an interesting time. Where China was still looked to as an equal and traded on equal terms. And one more thing the Ming was famous for, they never needed to pay tribute to anyone. Han Dynasty sent women to the Xiongnu, Tang Dynasty did the same when it came to the Turks and the other ethnic groups. Song dynasty paid a ton of money each year to the Jurchen.