The Ming period is the only segment of later imperial history during which all of China proper was ruled by a native, or Han dynasty. The success of the Chinese in regaining control over their own government is an important event in history, and the Ming dynasty thus has been regarded, both in Ming times and even more so in this century, as an era of Chinese resurgence. The volume provides the largest and most detailed account of the Ming period in any language. Summarizing all modern research in Chinese, Japanese, and Western languages, the authors have gone far beyond a summary of the state of the field, but have incorporated original research on subjects that have never before been described in detail. Volume 7 will be followed by a topical volume of Ming history (Volume 8) that will offer detailed studies of institutional changes, international relations, social and economic history, and the history of ideas and of religion.