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Dynasty of China that ruled from 1368 to 1644. The first Ming emperor, Chu Yuanchang (ruled 1368—98), a former Buddhist monk, joined a rebellion in progress, gained control of it, overthrew the Mongol Yuan dynasty, and unified all of China proper. The Ming was generally a period of stability and prosperity. There were notable achievements in literature, philosophy, and the arts. Incompetent emperors, oppressive taxation, and factionalism in government in the later years of the dynasty incited revolts among peasants in the border regions and prepared the way for the Manchu conquest of China. (from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001-05 Columbia University Press)

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