Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:11 PM
In the Ming-shi (Official History of the Ming) by Zhang Tingyu, written in the 18th century under the Manchus, Zhang writes, "Of the Ming reigns, the only good monarchs were Hong-wu, Yongle, Xuande and then the revival under Cheng-hua and Hongzhi"
Basically, the strong adminstration under Hongzhi (1466-88 A.D.) could not be maintained under the Jiaqing (1522-66), Longqing, nor Wan-li period. There were many problems that arose:
1) the growth of the Imperial Family (the princes) towards about 80,000 men under Wanli was a drain on the imperial budget as close members fo the Imperial Clan received a stipend from the state.
2) the Imperial Clan and the Imperial Family necessitated a growth in eunuchs. They numbered in the tens of thousands by the Wanli reign. Maybe 100,000 in capital and outside. Each of course received a salary.
3) the civil bureaucracy grew to 20,000 men under Wanli, a real problem of organization and coordination without a prime minister.
4) Wanli refused to attend to the morning audience with the grand secretaries and thus caused a deadlock in the machinery of government. The carpenter Emperor to follow was not much better.
5) Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasion of Choson was very costly for the Ming.
6) The Post system was incredibly in need of reform and yet, there was no revenue to maintain it. Thus, a key aspect of security was compromised.
7) The tax system was out of date in many areas and perhaps abusive in other areas. Li Zicheng used this to his advantage.
Overall, many think that the tax system was to blame for the downfall of the Ming.