Decline of the MingDuring the mid- and late Ming Dynasty, bureaucrats, aristocrats, royal kinsmen and other wealthy people plundered and annexed the land of the peasantry on a massive scale. The number of landless peasants soared, their burdens made heavier by the excessive taxes levied by the government. Most of the Ming emperors of this period were incompetent and dissolute, and all power at court was in the hands of eunuchs and despotic ministers. Zhang Juzheng, a capable politician, introduced a number of political and economic reforms that proved to be successful during the early years of the Wanli reign, but the success was short-lived. The reforms were annulled after his death. Meanwhile, the Nuzhen tribe in the northeast built up its strength and established the Later Jin regime, which became a serious threat to the Ming court. Natural calamities also occurred frequently during the last years of the Ming, further aggravating the lot of the common people. Finally, in 1627, Wang Er, a peasant in Shaanxi Province, launched a large-scale peasant uprising and, in 1644, a peasant army led by Li Zicheng occupied Beijing and overthrew the Ming Dynasty.
Above courtesy of China-window.com.