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("Cup of Solid Gold")
The Qing Empire in 1890.
|Languages||Mandarin, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, Turki (Modern Uighur), numerous regional languages and varieties of Chinese|
|Religion||Heaven worship, Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion, others|
|-||1908–1912||Empress Dowager Longyu|
|Historical era||Imperial era|
|-||Collapse of the Ming||25 April 1644|
|-||Battle of Shanhai Pass||27 May 1644|
|-||Sino-Japanese War||1 Aug 1894–17 Apr 1895|
|-||Wuchang Uprising||10 October 1911|
|-||Xinhai Revolution||12 February 1912|
|-||1760 est.||13,150,000 km² (5,077,243 sq mi)|
|-||1790 est. (incl. vassals)||14,700,000 km² (5,675,702 sq mi)|
|Today part of|| Bhutan|
("Cup of Solid Gold")
The Qing Empire in 1890.
|Languages||Mandarin, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, Turki (Modern Uighur), numerous regional languages and varieties of Chinese|
|Religion||Heaven worship, Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion, others|
|-||1908–1912||Empress Dowager Longyu|
|Historical era||Imperial era|
|-||Collapse of the Ming||25 April 1644|
|-||Battle of Shanhai Pass||27 May 1644|
|-||Sino-Japanese War||1 Aug 1894–17 Apr 1895|
|-||Wuchang Uprising||10 October 1911|
|-||Xinhai Revolution||12 February 1912|
|-||1760 est.||13,150,000 km² (5,077,243 sq mi)|
|-||1790 est. (incl. vassals)||14,700,000 km² (5,675,702 sq mi)|
|Today part of|| Bhutan|
|Empire of the Great Qing|
|History of China|
|Xia Dynasty c. 2100–c. 1600 BCE|
|Shang Dynasty c. 1600–c. 1046 BCE|
|Zhou Dynasty c. 1045–256 BCE|
|Spring and Autumn|
|Qin Dynasty 221–206 BCE|
|Han Dynasty 206 BCE – 220 CE|
|Three Kingdoms 220–280|
|Wei, Shu and Wu|
|Jin Dynasty 265–420|
|Western Jin||16 Kingdoms|
|Southern and Northern Dynasties|
|Sui Dynasty 581–618|
|Tang Dynasty 618–907|
|(Second Zhou 690–705)|
|5 Dynasties and|
|Northern Song||W. Xia|
|Yuan Dynasty 1271–1368|
|Ming Dynasty 1368–1644|
|Qing Dynasty 1644–1911|
|Republic of China 1912–1949|
China on Taiwan
The Qing Dynasty (Chinese: 清朝; pinyin: Qīng Cháo; Wade–Giles: Ch'ing1 Ch'ao2; IPA: [tɕʰíŋ tʂʰɑ̌ʊ̯]), also Empire of the Great Qing, Great Qing or Manchu Dynasty, was the last imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The Qing multi-cultural empire lasted almost three centuries and formed the territorial base for the modern Chinese nation.
The dynasty was founded by the Jurchen Aisin Gioro clan in Northeastern China, historically known as Manchuria. In the late sixteenth century, Nurhachi, originally a Ming vassal, began organizing Jurchen clans into "Banners," military-social units and forming a Manchu people. By 1636, his son Hong Taiji began driving Ming forces out of southern Manchuria and declared a new dynasty, the Qing. In 1644, peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng conquered the Ming capital Beijing. Rather than serve them, Ming general Wu Sangui made an alliance with the Manchus and opened the Shanhai Pass to the Banner Armies led by Prince Dorgon, who defeated the rebels and seized Beijing. The conquest of China proper was not completed until 1683 under the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722). The Ten Great Campaigns of the Qianlong emperor from the 1750s to the 1790s extended Qing control into Central Asia. While the early rulers maintained Manchu culture, they governed using Confucian styles and institutions of bureaucratic government. They retained the imperial examinations to recruit Han Chinese to work in parallel with Manchus. They also adopted the ideals of the tributary system in international relations.
The reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735–1796) saw the apogee and initial decline of prosperity and imperial control. Population rose to some 400 million, but taxes and government revenues were fixed at a low rate, virtually guaranteeing eventual fiscal crisis. Corruption set in, rebels tested government legitimacy, and ruling elites did not change their mindsets in the face of changes in the world system. Following the Opium War, European powers imposed "unequal treaties," free trade, extraterritoriality and treaty ports under foreign control. The Taiping Rebellion (1849–1860) and Muslim uprisings in Central Asia led to the deaths of some 20 million people. In spite of these disasters, in the Tongzhi Restoration of the 1860s, Han Chinese elites rallied to the defense of the Confucian order and the Qing rulers. The initial gains in the Self-Strengthening Movement were destroyed in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1895, in which the Qing lost its influence over Korea and the possession of Taiwan. New Armies were organized, but the ambitious Hundred Days Reform of 1898 was turned back by the Empress Dowager Cixi, a ruthless but capable leader. When, in response to the violently anti-foreign Yihetuan ("Boxers"), foreign powers invaded China, the Empress Dowager declared war on them, leading to disastrous defeat.
The government then initiated unprecedented fiscal and administrative reforms, including elections, a new legal code, and abolition of the examination system. Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionaries competed with reformers such as Liang Qichao and monarchists such as Kang Youwei to transform the Qing empire into a modern nation. After the death of the Empress Dowager and the Emperor in 1908, the hardline Manchu court alienated reformers and local elites alike. Local uprisings starting on October 11, 1911 led to the 1911 Revolution. The last emperor abdicated on February 12, 1912.
Both in honor of the earlier Jurchen Jin dynasty in the 12–13th century and his Aisin Gioro clan (Aisin being the Manchu for the Chinese 金 (jīn, "gold")) Nurhachi originally named his state the Great Jin (lit "Gold") dynasty, afterwards called the Later Jin Dynasty by historians. His son Hong Taiji renamed the dynasty Great Qing (lit. "Clarity") in 1636. There are numerous competing explanations on the meaning of "Qing," but none has been entirely accepted. The name Qing may have been selected in reaction to the name of the Ming Dynasty (明), which consists of the characters for "sun" (日) and "moon" (月), both associated with the fire element. The character Qing (清) is composed of "water" (氵) and "azure" (青), both associated with the water element. This association would justify the Qing conquest as defeat of fire by water. The water imagery of the new name may also have had Buddhist overtones of perspicacity and enlightenment and connections with the Bodhisattva Manjusri.
The Manchu name daicing, which sounds like a phonetic rendering of "Da Qing" or "Dai Ching", may in fact have been derived from a Mongolian word that means "warrior". Daicing gurun may therefore have meant "warrior state", a pun that was only intelligible to Manchu and Mongol people. In the later part of the dynasty, however, even the Manchus themselves had forgotten this possible meaning.
The state was known internationally as China or the Chinese Empire. In the Chinese-language versions of its treaties and its maps of the world, the Qing government used "Qing" and "China" (simplified Chinese: 中国; traditional Chinese: 中國; pinyin: Zhōngguó) interchangeably. Less commonly, it was also known in the romanization of the time as the Ta Tsing Empire from the Chinese for "Empire of the Great Qing" (大清帝国, Dà Qīng Dìguó).
The Qing Dynasty was founded not by Han Chinese, who form the majority of the Chinese population, but by a semi-sedentary people known as the Jurchen, a Tungusic people who lived around the region now comprising the Chinese provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang. What was to become the Manchu state was founded by Nurhachi, the chieftain of a minor Jurchen tribe – the Aisin Gioro – in Jianzhou in the early 17th century. Originally a vassal of the Ming emperors, Nurhachi embarked on an inter-tribal feud in 1582 that escalated into a campaign to unify the nearby tribes. By 1616, he had sufficiently consolidated Jianzhou so as to be able to proclaim himself Khan of the Great Jin in reference to the previous Jurchen dynasty.
Two years later, Nurhachi announced the "Seven Grievances" and openly renounced the sovereignty of Ming overlordship in order to complete the unification of those Jurchen tribes still allied with the Ming emperor. After a series of successful battles, he relocated his capital from Hetu Ala to successively bigger captured Ming cities in Liaodong Province: first Liaoyang in 1621, then Shenyang (Mukden) in 1625.
Relocating his court from Jianzhou to Liaodong provided Nurhachi access to more resources; it also brought him in close contact with the Mongol domains on the plains of Mongolia. Although by this time the once-united Mongol nation had long since fragmented into individual and hostile tribes, these tribes still presented a serious security threat to the Ming borders. Nurhachi's policy towards the Mongols was to seek their friendship and cooperation against the Ming, securing his western border from a powerful potential enemy.
Furthermore, the Mongols proved a useful ally in the war, lending the Jurchens their expertise as cavalry archers. To cement this new alliance, Nurhachi initiated a policy of inter-marriages between the Jurchen and Mongol nobilities, while those who resisted were met with military action. This is a typical example of Nurhachi's initiatives that eventually became official Qing government policy. During most of the Qing Dynasty time, the Mongols gave military assistance to the Manchus.
Some of Nurhachi's other important contributions include ordering the creation of a written Manchu script based on the Mongolian so as to avoid the earlier Jurchen script which had been derived from Khitan and Chinese and the creation of the civil and military administrative system which eventually evolved into the Eight Banners, the defining element of Manchu identity and the foundation for transforming the loosely knitted Jurchen tribes into a nation.
Nurhachi's unbroken series of military successes came to an end in January 1626 when he was defeated by Yuan Chonghuan while laying siege to Ningyuan. He died a few months later and was succeeded by his eighth son, Hong Taiji, who emerged after a short political struggle amongst other potential contenders as the new Khan.
Although Hong Taiji was an experienced leader and the commander of two Banners at the time of his succession, his reign did not start well on the military front. The Jurchens suffered yet another defeat in 1627 at the hands of Yuan Chonghuan. As before, this defeat was, in part, due to Ming's newly acquired Portuguese cannons.
To redress the technological and numerical disparity, Hong Taiji in 1634 created his own artillery corps, the ujen chooha, Chinese: 重軍 from among his existing Han troops who cast their own cannons in the European design with the help of captured Chinese metallurgists. In 1635, the Manchus' Mongol allies were fully incorporated into a separate Banner hierarchy under direct Manchu command. Hong Taiji then proceeded in 1636 to invade Korea again.
This was followed by the creation of the first two Han Banners in 1637 (increasing to eight in 1642). Together these military reforms enabled Hong Taiji to resoundingly defeat Ming forces in a series of battles from 1640 to 1642 for the territories of Songshan and Jinzhou. This final victory resulted in the surrender of many of the Ming Dynasty's most battle-hardened troops, the death of Yuan Chonghuan at the hands of the Chongzhen Emperor (who thought Yuan had betrayed him), and the complete and permanent withdrawal of the remaining Ming forces north of the Great Wall.
Meanwhile, Hong Taiji set up a rudimentary bureaucratic system based on the Ming model. He established six boards or executive level ministries in 1631 to oversee finance, personnel, rites, military, punishments, and public works. However, these administrative organs had very little role initially, and it was not until the eve of completing the conquest some ten years later that they filled out their government roles.
Hong Taiji's bureaucracy was staffed with many Han Chinese, including many newly surrendered Ming officials. The Manchus' continued dominance was ensured by an ethnic quota for top bureaucratic appointments. Hong Taiji's reign also saw a fundamental change of policy towards his Han Chinese subjects. Whereas under Nurhachi all captured Han Chinese were seen as potential fifth columnists for the Ming and treated as chattel – including those who eventually held important government posts – Hong Taiji instead incorporated them into the Jurchen "nation" as full (if not first-class) citizens, obligated to provide military service. By 1648, less than one-sixth of the bannermen were of Manchu ancestry.
This change of policy not only increased Hong Taiji's manpower and reduced his military dependence on banners not under his personal control, it also greatly encouraged other Han Chinese subjects of the Ming Dynasty to surrender and accept Jurchen rule when they were defeated militarily. Through these and other measures Hong Taiji was able to centralize power unto the office of the Khan, which in the long run prevented the Jurchen federation from fragmenting after his death.
One of the defining events of Hong Taiji's reign was the official adoption of the name "Manchu" for the united Jurchen people in November, 1635. The next year, when he is said to be presented with the imperial seal of the Yuan Dynasty after the defeat of the last Khagan of the Mongols, Hong Taiji renamed his state from "Great Jin" to "Great Qing" and elevated his position from Khan to Emperor, suggesting imperial ambitions beyond unifying the Manchu territories.
Hong Taiji died suddenly in September 1643 without a designated heir. As the Jurchens had traditionally "elected" their leader through a council of nobles, the Qing state did not have in place a clear succession system until the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. The leading contenders for power at this time were Hong Taiji's oldest son Hooge and Hong Taiji' half brother Dorgon. A compromise candidate in the person of Hong Taiji's five-year-old son, Fulin, was installed as the Shunzhi Emperor, with Dorgon as regent and de facto leader of the Manchu nation.
Ming Dynasty government officials fought against each other, against fiscal collapse, and against a series of peasant rebellions. They were unable to capitalise on the Manchu succession dispute and installation of a minor as emperor. In April 1644, the capital at Beijing was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, a former minor Ming official, who established a short-lived Shun Dynasty. The last Ming ruler, the Chongzhen Emperor, committed suicide when the city fell, marking the official end of the dynasty.
Li Zicheng then led a coalition of rebel forces numbering 200,000[a] to confront Wu Sangui, the general commanding the Ming garrison at Shanhai Pass. Shanhai Pass is a pivotal pass of the Great Wall, located fifty miles northeast of Beijing, and for years its defenses were what kept the Manchus from directly raiding the Ming capital. Wu Sangui, caught between a rebel army twice his size and a foreign enemy he had fought for years, decided to cast his lot with the Manchus with whom he was familiar. Wu Sangui may have been influenced by the rebels' mistreatment of his family and other wealthy and cultured officials; it was said that Li also took Wu's concubine Chen Yuanyuan for himself. Wu and Dorgon's armies joined in the name of avenging the death of the Chongzhen Emperor. Together, the two former enemies met and defeated Li Zicheng's rebel forces in battle on May 27, 1644.
Wu's armies and the Manchus captured Beijing on June 6. The Shunzhi Emperor was installed as the "Son of Heaven" on October 30. The Manchus who had positioned themselves as political heir to the Ming emperor by defeating the rebel Li Zicheng, completed the symbolic act of transition by holding a formal funeral for the Chongzhen Emperor. However the process of conquering the rest of China took another seventeen years of battling Ming loyalists, pretenders and rebels. The last Ming pretender, Prince Gui, sought refuge with the King of Burma, but was turned over to a Qing expeditionary army commanded by Wu Sangui, who had him brought back to Yunnan province and executed in early 1662.
The first seven years of the Shunzhi Emperor's reign were dominated by the regent prince Dorgon. Because of his own political insecurity, Dorgon followed Hong Taiji's example by ruling in the name of the emperor at the expense of rival Manchu princes, many of whom he demoted or imprisoned under one pretext or another. Although the period of his regency was relatively short, Dorgon cast a long shadow over the Qing Dynasty.
First, the Manchus had entered "China proper" because Dorgon responded decisively to Wu Sangui's appeal. Then, after capturing Beijing, instead of sacking the city as the rebels had done, Dorgon insisted, over the protests of other Manchu princes, on making it the dynastic capital and reappointing most Ming officials. Choosing Beijing as the capital was not a straightforward decision, since no major Chinese dynasty had directly taken over its immediate predecessor's capital. Keeping the Ming capital and bureaucracy intact helped quickly stabilize the regime and sped up the conquest of the rest of the country. However, not all of Dorgon's policies were equally popular nor easily implemented.
Dorgon's controversial July 1645 edict (the "haircutting order") forced adult Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue, on pain of death. The popular description of the order was: "To keep the hair, you lose the head; To keep your head, you cut the hair." To the Manchus, this policy was a test of loyalty and an aid in distinguishing friend from foe. For the Han Chinese, however, it was a humiliating reminder of Qing authority that challenged traditional Confucian values. The Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing) held that "a person's body and hair, being gifts from one's parents, are not to be damaged." Under the Ming Dynasty, adult men did not cut their hair but instead wore it in the form of a top-knot. The order triggered strong resistance to Qing rule in Jiangnan and massive killing of ethnic Han Chinese. Li Chengdong, a Han Chinese general who had served the Ming Dynasty but surrendered to the Qing, ordered troops to carry out three separate massacres in the city of Jiading within a month, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. At the end of the third massacre, there was hardly any living person left in this city.
On December 31, 1650, Dorgon suddenly died during a hunting expedition, marking the official start of the Shunzhi Emperor's personal rule. Because the emperor was only 12 years old at that time, most decisions were made on his behalf by his mother, the Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, who turned out to be a skilled political operator.
Although Dorgon's support had been essential to Shunzhi's ascent, Dorgon had through the years centralised so much power in his hands as to become a direct threat to the throne. So much so that upon his death he was extraordinarily bestowed the posthumous title of Emperor Yi (Chinese: 義皇帝), the only instance in Qing history in which a Manchu "prince of the blood" (Chinese: 親王) was so honored. Two months into Shunzhi's personal rule, Dorgon was not only stripped of his titles, but his corpse was disinterred and mutilated.[b] to atone for multiple "crimes", one of which was persecuting to death Shunzhi’s agnate eldest brother, Hooge. More importantly, Dorgon's symbolic fall from grace also signalled a political purge of his family and associates at court, thus reverting power back to the person of the emperor. After a promising start, Shunzhi's reign was cut short by his early death in 1661 at the age of twenty-four from smallpox. He was succeeded by his third son Xuanye, who reigned as the Kangxi Emperor.
The sixty-one year reign of the Kangxi Emperor was the longest of any Chinese emperor. Kangxi's reign is also celebrated as the beginning of an era known as "High Qing", during which the dynasty reached the zenith of its social, economic and military power. Kangxi's long reign started when he was eight years old upon the untimely demise of his father. To prevent a repeat of Dorgon's dictatorial monopolizing of power during the regency, the Shunzhi Emperor, on his deathbed, hastily appointed four senior cabinet ministers to govern on behalf of his young son. The four ministers — Sonin, Ebilun, Suksaha, and Oboi — were chosen for their long service, but also to counteract each other's influences. Most important, the four were not closely related to the imperial family and laid no claim to the throne. However as time passed, through chance and machination, Oboi, the most junior of the four, achieved such political dominance as to be a potential threat. Even though Oboi's loyalty was never an issue, his personal arrogance and political conservatism led him into an escalating conflict with the young emperor. In 1669 Kangxi, through trickery, disarmed and imprisoned Oboi — a significant victory for a fifteen-year-old emperor over a wily politician and experienced commander.
The early Manchu rulers also established two foundations of legitimacy which help to explain the stability of their dynasty. The first was the bureaucratic institutions and the neo-Confucian culture which they adopted from earlier dynasties. Manchu rulers and Han Chinese scholar-official elites gradually came to terms with each other. The examination system offered a path for ethnic Han to become officials. Imperial patronage of Kangxi dictionary demonstrated respect for Confucian learning, while the Sacred Edict of 1670 effectively extolled Confucian family values. The second major source of stability was the Central Asian aspect of their Manchu identity which allowed them to appeal to Mongol, Tibetan, Uighur constituents. The Qing rulers were simultaneously emperors of the Han Chinese, Manchu khans, and Buddhist sage rulers, patrons of Tibetan Buddhism, for the newly conquered areas of Central Asia. The Kangxi Emperor also welcomed to his court Jesuit missionaries, who had first come to China under the Ming. Missionaries including Tomás Pereira, Martino Martini, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, Ferdinand Verbiest and Antoine Thomas held significant positions as military weapons experts, mathematicians, cartographers, astronomers and advisers to the emperor. The relationship of trust was lost in the later Rites controversy. however.
Yet controlling the "Mandate of Heaven" was a daunting task. The vastness of China's territory meant that there were only enough banner troops to garrison key cities forming the backbone of a defence network that relied heavily on surrendered Ming soldiers. In addition, three surrendered Ming generals were singled out for their contributions to the establishment of the Qing dynasty, ennobled as feudal princes (藩王), and given governorships over vast territories in Southern China. The chief of these was Wu Sangui, who was given the provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, while generals Shang Kexi and Geng Jingzhong were given Guangdong and Fujian provinces respectively.
As the years went by, the three feudal lords and their extensive territories became increasingly autonomous. Finally, in 1673, Shang Kexi petitioned Kangxi for permission to retire to his hometown in Liaodong province and nominated his son as his successor. The young emperor granted his retirement, but denied the heredity of his fief. In reaction, the two other generals decided to petition for their own retirements to test Kangxi's resolve, thinking that he would not risk offending them. The move backfired as the young emperor called their bluff by accepting their requests and ordering that all three fiefdoms to be reverted to the crown.
Faced with the stripping of their powers, Wu Sangui, later joined by Geng Zhongming and by Shang Kexi's son Shang Zhixin, felt they had no choice but to revolt. The ensuing Revolt of the Three Feudatories lasted for eight years. Wu attempted, ultimately in vain, to fire the embers of south China Ming loyalty by restoring Ming customs, ordering that the resented queues be cut, and declaring himself emperor of a new dynasty. At the peak of the rebels' fortunes, they extended their control as far north as the Yangtze River, nearly establishing a divided China. Wu then hesitated to go further north, not being able to coordinate strategy with his allies, and Kangxi was able to unify his forces for a counterattack led by a new generation of Manchu generals. By 1681, the Qing government had established control over a ravaged southern China which took several decades to recover.
To extend and consolidate the dynasty's control in Central Asia, the Kangxi Emperor personally led a series of military campaigns against the Dzungars in Outer Mongolia. The Kangxi Emperor was able to successfully expel Galdan's invading forces from these regions, which were then incorporated into the empire. Galdan was eventually killed in the First Oirat-Manchu War. In 1683, Qing forces took Taiwan from Zheng Keshuang, grandson of Koxinga, who had conquered Taiwan from the Dutch colonists as a base against the Qing. Winning Taiwan freed Kangxi's forces for series of battles over Albazin, the far eastern outpost of Russian Empire. The 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk was China's first formal treaty with a European power and kept the border peaceful for the better part of two centuries. After Galdan's death, his followers, as adherents to Tibetan Buddhism, attempted to control the choice of the next Dalai Lama. Kangxi dispatched two armies to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and installed a Dalai Lama sympathetic to the Qing.
By the end of the 17th century, China was at its greatest height of confidence and political control since the Ming Dynasty.
The reigns of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735) and his son, the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796), marked the height of the Qing Dynasty's power. During this period, the Qing Empire ruled over 13 million square kilometres of territory.
After the Kangxi Emperor's death in the winter of 1722, his fourth son, Prince Yong (雍親王), became the Yongzheng Emperor. In the later years of Kangxi's reign, Yongzheng and his brothers had fought, and there were rumours that he had usurped the throne, a charge for which there is little evidence. In fact, his father had trusted him with delicate political issues and discussed state policy with him. When Yongzheng came to power at the age of 45, he felt a sense of urgency about the problems which had accumulated in his father's later years and did not need instruction in how to exercise power. In the words of one recent historian, was "severe, suspicious, and jealous, but extremely capable and resourceful," and in the words of another, turned out to be an "early modern state-maker of the first order."
He moved rapidly. First, he promoted Confucian orthodoxy and reversed what he saw as his father's laxness by cracking down on unorthodox sects and by decapitating an anti-Manchu writer his father had pardoned. In 1723 he outlawed Christianity and expelled Christian missionaries, though some were allowed to remain in the capital. Next, he moved to control the government. He expanded his father's system of Palace Memorials which brought frank and detailed reports on local conditions directly to the throne without being intercepted by the bureaucracy, and created a small Grand Council of personal advisors which eventually grew into the emperor's de facto cabinet for the rest of the dynasty. He shrewdly filled key positions with Manchu and Han Chinese officials who depended on his patronage. When he began to realize that the financial crisis was even greater than he had thought, Yongzheng rejected his father's lenient approach to local landowning elites and mounted a campaign to enforce collection of the land tax. The increased revenues were to be used for "money to nourish honesty" among local officials and for local irrigation, schools, roads, and charity. Although these reforms were effective in the north, in the south and lower Yangzi valley, where Kangxi had wooed the elites, there were long established networks of officials and landowners. Yongzheng dispatched experienced Manchu commissioners to penetrate the thickets of falsified land registers and coded account books, but they were met with tricks, passivity, and even violence. The fiscal crisis persisted.
Yongzheng also inherited diplomatic and strategic problems. A team made up entirely of Manchus drew up the Treaty of Kyakhta (1727) to solidify the diplomatic understanding with Russia. In exchange for territory and trading rights, the Qing would have a free hand dealing with the situation in Mongolia. Yongzheng then turned to that situation, where the Zunghars threatened to re-emerge, and to the southwest, where local Miao chieftans resisted Qing expansion. These campaigns drained the treasury but established the emperor's control of the military and military finance.
The Yongzheng Emperor died in 1735. His 24-year-old son, Prince Bao (寶親王), then became the Qianlong Emperor. Qianlong personally led military campaigns near Xinjiang and Mongolia, putting down revolts and uprisings in Sichuan and parts of southern China while expanding control over Tibet.
Qianlong's reign saw the launch of several ambitious cultural projects, including the compilation of the Siku Quanshu, or Complete Repository of the Four Branches of Literature. With a total of over 3,400 books, 79,000 chapters, and 36,304 volumes, the Siku Quanshu is the largest collection of books in Chinese history. Nevertheless, Qianlong had used Literary Inquisition to silence opposition. The accusation of individuals began with the emperor's own interpretation of the true meaning of the corresponding words. If the emperor decided these were derogatory or cynical towards the dynasty, persecution would begin. Literary inquisition began with isolated cases at the time of Shunzhi and Kangxi, but had become a pattern under Qianlong's rule, during which there were 53 cases of literary persecution.
Beneath outward prosperity and imperial confidence, the later years of Qianlong's reign saw rampant corruption and neglect. Heshen, the emperor's handsome young favorite, took advantage of the emperor's indulgence to become one of the most corrupt officials in the history of the dynasty. Qianlong's son, the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796–1820), eventually forced Heshen to commit suicide.
In 1796 open rebellion by the White Lotus Society against the Qing government broke out. The White Lotus Rebellion continued for eight years, until 1804, and marked a turning point in the history of the Qing Dynasty.
At the start of the dynasty, the Chinese empire continued to be the hegemonic power in East Asia. Although there was no formal ministry of foreign relations, the Lifan Yuan was responsible for relations with the Mongol and Tibetans in Central Asia, while the tributary system, a loose set of institutions and customs taken over from the Ming, in theory governed relations with East and Southeast Asian countries. The Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) stabilized relations with Czarist Russia.
However, the 18th century saw the European empires gradually expand across the world, as European states developed economies built on maritime trade. The dynasty was confronted with newly developing concepts of the international system and state to state relations. European trading posts expanded into territorial control in nearby India and on the islands that are now Indonesia. The Qing response, successful for a time, was in 1756 to establish the Canton System, which restricted maritime trade to that city and gave monopoly trading rights to private Chinese merchants. The British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company had long before been granted similar monopoly rights by their governments.
In 1793, the British East India Company, with the support of the British government, sent a delegation to China under Lord George Macartney in order to open Free trade and put relations on a basis of equality. The imperial court viewed trade as unimportant while the British saw maritime trade as the key to their economy.
The Qianlong Emperor told Macartney that China had no use for European manufactured products. Nonetheless, demand in Europe for Chinese goods such as silk, tea, and ceramics could only be met if European companies funneled their limited supplies of silver into China. By the late 1830s, the governments of Great Britain and France were deeply concerned about their stockpiles of precious metals and sought alternate trading schemes with China — the foremost of which was meeting the growing Chinese demand for opium. When the Qing regime tried to ban the opium trade in 1838, Great Britain declared war on China in the following year.
The First Opium War revealed the outdated state of the Chinese military. The Qing navy, composed entirely of wooden sailing junks, was severely outclassed by the modern tactics and firepower of the British Royal Navy. British soldiers, using advanced muskets and artillery, easily outmaneuvered and outgunned Qing forces in ground battles. The Qing surrender in 1842 marked a decisive, humiliating blow to China. The Treaty of Nanjing, the first of the "unequal treaties," demanded war reparations, forced China to open up the five ports of Canton, Amoy, Fuchow, Ningpo and Shanghai to western trade and missionaries, and to cede Hong Kong Island to Great Britain. It revealed many inadequacies in the Qing government and provoked widespread rebellions against the already hugely unpopular regime.
The Taiping Rebellion in the mid-19th century was the first major instance of anti-Manchu sentiment threatening the stability of the dynasty. Hong Xiuquan, a failed civil service candidate, led the Taiping Rebellion, amid widespread social unrest and worsening famine. In 1851 Hong Xiuquan and others launched an uprising in Guizhou province, established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom with Hong himself as king, claiming he often had visions of God and that he was the brother of Jesus Christ. Slavery, concubinage, arranged marriage, opium smoking, footbinding, judicial torture, and the worship of idols were all banned. However, success and subsequent authority and power led to internal feuds, defections and corruption. In addition, British and French troops, equipped with modern weapons, had come to the assistance of the Qing imperial army. It was not until 1864 that Qing armies under Zeng Guofan succeeded in crushing the revolt. The rebellion not only posed the most serious threat towards Qing rulers; it was also "bloodiest civil war of all time." Between 20 and 30 million people died during its fourteen-year course from 1850 to 1864. After the outbreak of this rebellion, there were also revolts by the Muslims and Miao people of China against the Qing Dynasty, most notably in the Dungan revolt (1862–1877) in the northwest and the Panthay Rebellion (1856–1873) in Yunnan.
The Western powers, largely unsatisfied with the Treaty of Nanjing, gave grudging support to the Qing government during the Taiping and Nien Rebellions. China's income fell sharply during the wars as vast areas of farmland were destroyed, millions of lives lost, and countless armies raised and equipped to fight the rebels. In 1854, Great Britain tried to re-negotiate the Treaty of Nanjing, inserting clauses allowing British commercial access to Chinese rivers and the creation of a permanent British embassy at Beijing.
In 1856, Qing authorities, in searching for a pirate, boarded a ship, the Arrow, which the British claimed had been flying the British flag, an incident which led to the Second Opium War. In 1858, facing no other options, the Xianfeng Emperor, agreed to the Treaty of Tientsin, which contained clauses deeply insulting to the Chinese, such as a demand that all official Chinese documents be written in English and a proviso granting British warships unlimited access to all navigable Chinese rivers.
Ratification of the treaty the following year led to resumption of hostilities and in 1860, with Anglo-French forces marching on Beijing, the emperor and his court fled the capital for the imperial hunting lodge at Rehe. Once in Beijing, the Anglo-French forces looted the Old Summer Palace, and in an act of revenge for the arrest of several Englishmen, burnt it to the ground. Prince Gong, a younger half-brother of the emperor, who had been left as his brother's proxy in the capital, was forced to sign the Convention of Beijing. Meanwhile, the humiliated emperor died the following year at Rehe.
Yet the dynasty rallied. Chinese generals and officials such as Zuo Zongtang had led the suppression of rebellions and stood behind the Manchus. When the Tongzhi Emperor came to the throne at the age of five in 1861, these officials rallied around him in what was called the Tongzhi Restoration. Their aim was to adopt western military technology in order to preserve Confucian values. Zeng Guofan, in alliance with Prince Gong, sponsored the rise of younger officials such as Li Hongzhang who put the dynasty back on its feet financially and instituted the Self-Strengthening Movement. The reformers then proceeded with institutional reforms, including the formation of modernized armies, such as the Beiyang Army, as well as a navy.
Starting in the 1840s, France increasingly seized control of Indochina, despite Chinese claims. By 1883 France was in full control of Indochina, and had reached the Chinese border. In 1884, the Sino-French War over Tonkin, once a Qing tributary state, broke out, ending with French victory over China and Chinese recognition of all the French claims.
In 1884, the Gapsin Coup, led by pro-Japanese Koreans, occurred in Seoul. The incident led to tensions between China and Japan over the peninsula, after China went in to suppress the uprising. In an effort to alleviate the tensions, Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi and Li Hongzhang signed the Convention of Tientsin, in which both China and Japan agreed to simultaneously withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula.
1894 saw the outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War over the Korean Peninsula. In 1895, the humiliated Qing were forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki, in which China had to recognize Korean independence and had to cede Taiwan and the Pescadores to Japan. The terms would have been harsher, but while attending negotiations, a Japanese man tried to assassinate Li Hongzhang, which led to an international outcry and the shamed Japanese revised the terms. The terms had also included the cession of Liaodong Peninsula to Japan, but Russia, with its own designs on the territory, along with Germany and France, in what was known as the Triple Intervention, successfully put pressure on the Japanese to abandon the peninsula.
On November 1, 1897, two German Roman Catholic missionaries were murdered in the southern part of Shandong Province. In response, Germany used the murders as a pretext for a naval occupation of Jiaozhou Bay. The occupation prompted a "scramble for concessions" in 1898, which included the German lease of Jiazhou Bay, the Russian acquisition of Liaodong, and the British lease of the New Territories of Hong Kong.
The Empress Dowager Cixi (Wade-Giles: Tz'u-Hsi), concubine to the Xianfeng Emperor (r. 1850–1861) came to power in 1861 after her five year-old son, the Tongzhi Emperor ascended the throne, and a coup that had been staged that ousted several regents for the boy emperor. Between 1861 and 1873, she and the Empress Dowager Ci'an, who had been Xianfeng's empress, served as regents for Tongzhi, "ruling from behind the curtain."[c] Cixi, however, proved to be the more assertive of the two women. Following the emperor's death in 1875, Cixi's nephew, the Guangxu Emperor took the throne, and another regency began. In the spring of 1881, Ci'an suddenly died, aged only forty-three, leaving Cixi as sole regent.
From 1889, when Guangxu began to rule in his own right, to 1898, the Empress Dowager lived in semi-retirement, spending the majority of the year at the Summer Palace. In the wake of China's defeat by Japan and the German occupation of Jiazhou Bay, Emperor Guangxu initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, in which new laws were put in place and some old rules were abolished. Newer, more progressive-minded thinkers like Kang Youwei were trusted and recognized conservative-minded people like Li Hongzhang were removed from high positions. The empress dowager then returned to the imperial court to call off the emperor's reform, and at the same time put him under house arrest. She centralised her own power base.
In the 1890s, the Boxers United in Righteousness emerged as a violent anti-foreign force in North China. In 1900 local groups of Boxers, in the "Boxer Rebellion," murdered large numbers of Chinese Christians and then converged on Beijing to besiege the Foreign Legation Quarter. The Eight-Nation Alliance then entered China without diplomatic notice or permission. Cixi declared war on all eight nations, only to lose control of Beijing after a short but hard fought campaign. She fled to Xi'an. The victorious alliance listed scores of demands on the Qing government, including compensation for their expenses in invading China and execution of complicit officials. Li Hongzhang was sent to negotiate and the alliance backed down from several of the demands.
By the early 20th century, mass civil disorder had begun and continuously grown. To overcome such problems, Empress Dowager Cixi issued an imperial edict in 1901 calling for reform proposals from the governors-general and governors and initiated the era of the dynasty's "New Policy", also known as the "Late Qing Reform". The edict paved the way for the most far-reaching reforms in terms of their social consequences, including the creation of a national education system and the abolition of the imperial examinations in 1905.
The Guangxu Emperor died on November 14, 1908, and on November 15, 1908, Cixi also passed away. Rumors held that she or Yuan Shikai ordered trusted eunuchs to poison the Guangxu Emperor, and an autopsy conducted nearly a century later confirmed lethal levels of arsenic in his corpse. Puyi, the oldest son of Zaifeng, Prince Chun, and nephew to the childless Guangxu emperor, was appointed successor at the age of two, leaving Zaifeng with the regency. This was followed by the dismissal of General Yuan Shikai from his former positions of power. In April 1911 Zaifeng created a cabinet, in which there were two vice-premiers. Nevertheless, this cabinet was also known by contemporaries as "The Royal Cabinet" because among the thirteen cabinet members, five were members of the imperial family or Aisin Gioro relatives. This brought a wide range of negative opinions from senior officials like Zhang Zhidong.
The Wuchang Uprising succeeded on October 10, 1911, which led to the creation of the new central government, the Republic of China, in Nanjing with Sun Yat-sen as its provisional head. Many provinces began "separating" from Qing control. Seeing a desperate situation unfold, the Qing government brought Yuan Shikai back to military power, taking control of his Beiyang Army to crush the revolution in Wuhan. After taking the position of Prime Minister and creating his own cabinet, Yuan Shikai went as far as to ask for the removal of Zaifeng from the regency. This removal later proceeded with directions from Empress Dowager Longyu.
With Zaifeng gone, Yuan Shikai and his Beiyang commanders effectively dominated Qing politics. He reasoned that going to war would be unreasonable and costly, especially when noting that the Qing government had a goal for constitutional monarchy. Similarly, Sun Yat-sen's government wanted a republican constitutional reform, both aiming for the benefit of China's economy and populace. With permission from Empress Dowager Longyu, Yuan Shikai began negotiating with Sun Yat-sen, who decided that his goal had been achieved in forming a republic, and that therefore he could allow Yuan to step into the position of President of the Republic of China.
On 12 February 1912, after rounds of negotiations, Longyu issued an imperial edict bringing about the abdication of the child emperor Puyi. This brought an end to over 2,000 years of imperial China and began an extended period of instability of warlord factionalism. The unorganized political and economic systems combined with a widespread criticism of Chinese culture led to questioning and doubt about the future. In the 1930s, the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria and founded Manchukuo in 1934, with Puyi, as the nominal regent and emperor. After the invasion by the Soviet Union, Manchukuo collapsed in 1945.
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The early emperors of the Qing Dynasty adopted the bureaucratic structures and institutions from the preceding Ming Dynasty but split rule between Han Chinese and Manchus, with some positions also given to Mongols. Like previous dynasties, the Qing recruited officials via the imperial examination system, until the system was abolished in 1905. The Qing divided the positions into civil and military positions, each having nine grades or ranks, each subdivided into a and b categories. Civil appointments ranged from attendant to the emperor or a Grand Secretary in the Forbidden City (highest) to being a prefectural tax collector, deputy jail warden, deputy police commissioner or tax examiner. Military appointments ranged from being a field marshal or chamberlain of the imperial bodyguard to a third class sergeant, corporal or a first or second class private.
The formal structure of the Qing government centered on the Emperor as the absolute ruler, who presided over six Boards (Ministries[d]), each headed by two presidents[e] and assisted by four vice presidents.[f] In contrast to the Ming system, however, Qing ethnic policy dictated that appointments were split between Manchu noblemen and Han officials who had passed the highest levels of the state examinations. The Grand Secretariat,[g] which had been an important policy-making body under the Ming Dynasty, lost its importance during the Qing Dynasty and evolved into an imperial chancery. The institutions which had been inherited from the Ming Dynasty formed the core of the Qing "outer court," which handled routine matters and was located in the southern part of the Forbidden City.
In order not to let the routine administration take over the running of the empire, the Qing emperors made sure that all important matters were decided in the "Inner Court," which was dominated by the imperial family and Manchu nobility and which was located in the northern part of the Forbidden City. The core institution of the inner court was the Grand Council.[h] It emerged in the 1720s under the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor as a body charged with handling Qing military campaigns against the Mongols, but it soon took over other military and administrative duties and served to centralize authority under the crown. The Grand Councillors[i] served as a sort of privy council to the emperor.
The Six Ministries and their respective areas of responsibilities were as follows:
From the early Qing Dynasty, the central government was characterized by a system of dual appointments by which each position in the central government had a Manchu and a Han Chinese assigned to it. The Han Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule. The distinction between Han Chinese and Manchus extended to their court costumes. During the Qianlong Emperor's reign, for example, members of his family were distinguished by garments with a small circular emblem on the back, whereas Han officials wore clothing with a square emblem.
In addition to the six boards, there was a Lifan Yuan unique to the Qing government. This institution was established to supervise the administration of Tibet and the Mongol lands. As the empire expanded, it took over administrative responsibility of all minority ethnic groups living in and around the empire, including early contacts with Russia — then seen as a tribute nation. The office had the status of a full ministry and was headed by officials of equal rank. However, appointees were at first restricted only to candidates of Manchu and Mongol ethnicity, until later open to Han Chinese as well.
Even though the Board of Rites and Lifan Yuan performed some duties of a foreign office, they fell short of developing into a professional foreign service. It was not until 1861 — a year after losing the Second Opium War to the Anglo-French coalition — that the Qing government bowed to foreign pressure and created a proper foreign affairs office known as the Zongli Yamen. The office was originally intended to be temporary and was staffed by officials seconded from the Grand Council. However, as dealings with foreigners became increasingly complicated and frequent, the office grew in size and importance, aided by revenue from customs duties which came under its direct jurisdiction.
There was also another government institution called Imperial Household Department which was unique to the Qing Dynasty. It was established before the fall of the Ming Dynasty, but it became mature only after 1661, following the death of the Shunzhi Emperor and the accession of his son, the Kangxi Emperor. The department's primary purpose was to manage the internal affairs of the imperial family and the activities of the inner palace (in which tasks it largely replaced eunuchs), but it also played an important role in Qing relations with Tibet and Mongolia, engaged in trading activities (jade, ginseng, salt, furs, etc.), managed textile factories in the Jiangnan region, and even published books. The department was manned by booi,[p] or "bondservants," from the Upper Three Banners. By the 19th century, it managed the activities of at least 56 subagencies.
Qing China reached its largest extent during the 18th century, when it ruled China proper (eighteen provinces) as well as the areas of present day Manchuria (Northeast China), Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet, at approximately 13 million km2 in size. There were originally 18 provinces, all of which in China proper, but later this number was increased to 22, with Manchuria and Xinjiang being divided or turned into provinces. Taiwan, originally part of Fujian province, became a province of its own in the 19th century, but was ceded to the Empire of Japan following the First Sino-Japanese War by the end of the century. In addition, many surrounding countries, such as Korea (Joseon Dynasty), Vietnam and Nepal, were tributary states of China during much of this period. The Katoor Dynasty of Afghanistan also paid tribute to the Qing Dynasty of China until the mid-19th century. During the Qing Dynasty the Chinese claimed suzerainty over the Taghdumbash Pamir in the south west of Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County but permitted the Mir of Hunza to administer the region in return for a tribute. Until 1937 the inhabitants paid tribute to the Mir of Hunza, who exercised control over the pastures. Khanate of Kokand were forced to submit as protectorate and pay tribute to the Qing dynasty in China between 1774 and 1798.
The Qing organization of provinces was based on the fifteen administrative units set up by the Ming Dynasty, later made into eighteen provinces by splitting for example, Huguang into Hubei and Hunan provinces. The provincial bureaucracy continued the Yuan and Ming practice of three parallel lines, civil, military, and censorate, or surveillance. Each province was administered by a governor (巡撫, xunfu) and a provincial military commander (提督, tidu). Below the province were prefectures (府, fu) operating under a prefect (知府, zhīfǔ), followed by subprefectures under a subprefect. The lowest unit was the county, overseen by a magistrate. The eighteen provinces are also known as "China proper". The position of viceroy or governor-general (總督, zongdu) was the highest rank in the provincial administration. There were eight regional viceroys in China proper, each usually took charge of two or three provinces. The Viceroy of Zhili, who was responsible for the area surrounding the capital Beijing, is usually considered as the most honorable and powerful viceroy among the eight.
By the mid-18th century, the Qing had successfully put outer regions such as Inner and Outer Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang under its control. Imperial commissioners and garrisons were sent to Mongolia and Tibet to oversee their affairs. These territories were also under supervision of a central government institution called Lifan Yuan. Qinghai was also put under direct control of the Qing court. Xinjiang, also known as Chinese Turkestan, was subdivided into the regions north and south of the Tian Shan mountains, also known today as Dzungaria and Tarim Basin respectively, but the post of Ili General was established in 1762 to exercise unified military and administrative jurisdiction over both regions. Likewise, Manchuria was also governed by military generals until its division into provinces, though some areas of Xinjiang and Manchuria were lost to the Russian Empire in the mid-19th century. Manchuria was originally separated from China proper by the Inner Willow Palisade, a ditch and embankment planted with willows intended to restrict the movement of the Han Chinese into Manchuria, as the area was off-limits to the Han Chinese until the Qing government started colonizing the area with them later on in the dynasty's rule, especially since the 1860s.
With respect to these outer regions, the Qing maintained imperial control, with the emperor acting as Mongol khan, patron of Tibetan Buddhism and protector of Muslims. However, Qing policy changed with the establishment of Xinjiang province in 1884. During The Great Game era, taking advantage of the Dungan revolt in northwest China, Yaqub Beg invaded Xinjiang from Central Asia with support from the Russian Empire, and made himself the ruler of the kingdom of Kashgaria. The Qing court sent forces to defeat Yaqub Beg and Xinjiang was reconquered, and then the political system of China proper was formally applied onto Xinjiang. The Kumul Khanate, which was incorporated into the Qing empire as a vassal after helping Qing defeat the Zunghars in 1757, maintained its status after Xinjiang turned into a province through the end of the dynasty in the Xinhai Revolution up until 1930. In early 20th century, Great Britain sent an expedition force to Tibet and forced Tibetans to sign a treaty. The Qing court responded by asserting Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, resulting in the 1906 Anglo-Chinese Convention signed between Britain and China. The British agreed not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet, while China engaged not to permit any other foreign state to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet. Furthermore, similar to Xinjiang which was converted into a province earlier, the Qing government also turned Manchuria into three provinces in the early 20th century, officially known as the "Three Northeast Provinces", and established the post of Viceroy of Three Northeast Provinces to oversee these provinces, making the total number of regional viceroys to nine.
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The development of the Qing military system can be divided into two broad periods separated by the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864). The early Qing military was rooted in the Eight Banners first developed by Nurhachi as a way to organize Jurchen society beyond petty clan affiliations. There were eight banners in all, differentiated by colours. The banners in their order of precedence were as follows: yellow, bordered yellow (i.e. yellow banner with red border), white, red, bordered white, bordered red, blue, and bordered blue. The yellow, bordered yellow, and white banners were collectively known as the "Upper Three Banners" (Chinese: 上三旗; pinyin: shàng sān qí) and were under the direct command of the emperor. Only Manchus belonging to the Upper Three Banners, and selected Han Chinese who had passed the highest level of martial exams were qualified to serve as the emperor's personal bodyguards. The remaining Banners were known as the "Lower Five Banners" (Chinese: 下五旗; pinyin: xià wǔ qí) and were commanded by hereditary Manchu princes descended from Nurhachi's immediate family, known informally as the "Iron Cap Princes." Together they formed the ruling council of the Manchu nation as well as high command of the army.
As Qing power expanded north of the Great Wall in the last years of the Ming Dynasty, the Banner system was expanded by Nurhachi's son and successor Hong Taiji to include mirrored Mongol and Han Banners. After capturing Beijing in 1644 and as the Manchu rapidly gained control of large tracts of former Ming territory, the relatively small Banner armies were further augmented by the Green Standard Army, which eventually outnumbered Banner troops three to one. The Green Standard Army so-named after the colour of their battle standards was made up of those Ming troops who had surrendered to the Qing. They maintained their Ming era organization and were led by a mix of Banner and Green Standard officers. The Banners and Green Standard troops were standing armies, paid for by the central government. In addition, regional governors from provincial down to village level maintained their own irregular local militias for police duties and disaster relief. These militias were usually granted small annual stipends from regional coffers for part-time service obligations. They received very limited military drills if at all and were not considered combat troops.
Banner Armies were broadly divided along ethnic lines, namely Manchu and Mongol. Although it must be pointed out that the ethnic composition of Manchu Banners was far from homogeneous as they included non-Manchu bondservants registered under the household of their Manchu masters. As the war with Ming Dynasty progressed and the Han Chinese population under Manchu rule increased, Hong Taiji created a separate branch of Han Banners to draw on this new source of manpower. However these Han bannermen were never regarded by the government as equal to the other two branches due to their relatively late addition to the Manchu cause as well as their Han Chinese ancestry. The nature of their service—mainly as infantry, artillery and sappers, was also alien to the Manchu nomadic traditions of fighting as cavalry. Furthermore, after the conquest the military roles played by Han bannermen were quickly subsumed by the Green Standard Army. The Han Banners ceased to exist altogether after the Yongzheng Emperor's banner registration reforms aimed at cutting down imperial expenditures.
The socio-military origins of the Banner system meant that population within each branch and their sub-divisions were hereditary and rigid. Only under special circumstances sanctioned by imperial edict were social movements between banners permitted. In contrast, the Green Standard Army was originally intended to be a professional force.
After defeating the remnants of the Ming forces, the Manchu Banner Army of approximately 200,000 strong at the time was evenly divided; half was designated the Forbidden Eight Banner Army (Chinese: 禁旅八旗; pinyin: jìnlǚ bāqí) and was stationed in Beijing. It served both as the capital's garrison and the Qing government's main strike force. The remainder of the Banner troops was distributed to guard key cities in China. These were known as the Territorial Eight Banner Army (simplified Chinese: 驻防八旗; traditional Chinese: 駐防八旗; pinyin: zhùfáng bāqí). The Manchu court, keenly aware its own minority status, reinforced a strict policy of racial segregation between the Manchus and Mongols from Han Chinese for fear of being sinicized by the latter. This policy applied directly to the Banner garrisons, most of which occupied a separate walled zone within the cities they were stationed in. In cities where there were limitation of space such as in Qingzhou, a new fortified town would be purposely erected to house the Banner garrison and their families. Beijing being the imperial seat, the regent Dorgon had the entire Chinese population forcibly relocated to the southern suburbs which became known as the "Outer Citadel" (Chinese: 外城; pinyin: wàichéng). The northern walled city called "Inner Citadel" (Chinese: 內城; pinyin: nèichéng) was portioned out to the remaining Manchu Eight Banners, each responsible for guarding a section of the Inner Citadel surrounding the Forbidden City palace complex.[q]
The policy of posting Banner troops as territorial garrison was not to protect but to inspire awe in the subjugated populace at the expense of their expertise as cavalry. As a result, after a century of peace and lack of field training the Manchu Banner troops had deteriorated greatly in their combat worthiness. Secondly, before the conquest, the Manchu banner was a "citizen" army, and its members were Manchu farmers and herders obligated to provide military service to the state at times of war. The Qing government's decision to turn the banner troops into a professional force whose every welfare and need was met by state coffers brought wealth, and with it corruption, to the rank and file of the Manchu Banners and hastened its decline as a fighting force. This was mirrored by a similar decline in the Green Standard Army. During peace time, soldiering became merely a source of supplementary income. Soldiers and commanders alike neglected training in pursuit of their own economic gains. Corruption was rampant as regional unit commanders submitted pay and supply requisitions based on exaggerated head counts to the quartermaster department and pocketed the difference. When the Taiping Rebellion broke out in 1850s, the Qing court found out belatedly that the Banner and Green Standards troops could neither put down internal rebellions nor keep foreign invaders at bay.
Early during the Taiping Rebellion, Qing forces suffered a series of disastrous defeats culminating in the loss of the regional capital city of Nanjing in 1853. The rebels massacred the entire Manchu garrison and their families in the city and made it their capital. Shortly thereafter, a Taiping expeditionary force penetrated as far north as the suburbs of Tianjin in what was considered the imperial heartlands. In desperation the Qing court ordered a Chinese mandarin, Zeng Guofan, to organize regional (simplified Chinese: 团勇; traditional Chinese: 團勇; pinyin: tuányǒng) and village (simplified Chinese: 乡勇; traditional Chinese: 鄉勇; pinyin: xiāngyǒng) militias into a standing army called tuanlian to contain the rebellion. Zeng Guofan's strategy was to rely on local gentries to raise a new type of military organization from those provinces that the Taiping rebels directly threatened. This new force became known as the Xiang Army, named after the Hunan region where it was raised. The Xiang Army was a hybrid of local militia and a standing army. It was given professional training, but was paid for out of regional coffers and funds its commanders — mostly members of the Chinese gentry — could muster. The Xiang Army and its successor, the Huai Army, created by Zeng Guofan's colleague and student Li Hongzhang, were collectively called the "Yong Ying" (Brave Camp).
Before forming and commanding the Xiang Army, Zeng Guofan had no military experience. Being a classically educated Mandarin, his blueprint for the Xiang Army was taken from a historical source — the Ming general Qi Jiguang, who, because of the weakness of regular Ming troops, had decided to form his own "private" army to repel raiding Japanese pirates in the mid-16th century. Qi Jiguang's doctrine was based on Neo-Confucian ideas of binding troops' loyalty to their immediate superiors and also to the regions in which they were raised. This initially gave the troops an excellent esprit de corps. Qi Jiguang's army was an ad hoc solution to the specific problem of combating pirates, as was Zeng Guofan's original intention for the Xiang Army, which was raise to eradicate the Taiping rebels. However, circumstances led to the Yongying system becoming a permanent institution within the Qing military, which in the long run created problems of its own for the beleaguered central government.
First, the Yongying system signaled the end of Manchu dominance in Qing military establishment. Although the Banners and Green Standard armies lingered on as parasites depleting resources, henceforth the Yongying corps became the Qing government's de facto first-line troops. Secondly the Yongying corps were financed through provincial coffers and were led by regional commanders. This devolution of power weakened the central government's grip on the whole country, a weakness further aggravated by foreign powers vying to carve up autonomous colonial territories in different parts of the Qing Empire in the later half of the 19th century. Despite these serious negative effects, the measure was deemed necessary as tax revenue from provinces occupied and threatened by rebels had ceased to reach the cash-strapped central government. Finally, the nature of Yongying command structure fostered nepotism and cronyism amongst its commanders, whom, as they ascended the bureaucratic ranks laid the seeds to Qing's eventual demise and the outbreak of regional warlordism in China during the first half of the 20th century.
By the late 19th century, China was fast descending into a semi-colonial state. Even the most conservative elements within the Qing court could no longer ignore China's military weakness in contrast to the foreign "barbarians" literally beating down its gates. In 1860, during the Second Opium War, the capital Beijing was captured and the Summer Palace sacked by a relatively small Anglo-French coalition force numbering 25,000. Although the Chinese invented gunpowder, and firearms had been in continual use in Chinese warfare since as far back as the Song Dynasty, the advent of modern weaponry resulting from the European Industrial Revolution had rendered China's traditionally trained and equipped army and navy obsolete. The government attempts to modernize during the Self-Strengthening Movement were, in the view of most historians with hindsight, piecemeal and yielded few lasting results. The various reasons for the apparent failure of late-Qing modernization attempts that have been advanced including the lack of funds, lack of political will, and unwillingness to depart from tradition. These reasons remain disputed.
Losing the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 was a watershed for the Qing government. Japan, a country long regarded by the Chinese as little more than an upstart nation of pirates, had convincingly beaten its larger neighbour and in the process annihilated the Qing government's pride and joy — its modernized Beiyang Fleet, then deemed to be the strongest naval force in Asia. In doing so, Japan became the first Asian country to join the previously exclusively western ranks of colonial powers. The defeat was a rude awakening to the Qing court especially when set in the context that it occurred a mere three decades after the Meiji Restoration set a feudal Japan on course to emulate the Western nations in their economic and technological achievements. Finally, in December 1894, the Qing government took concrete steps to reform military institutions and to re-train selected units in westernized drills, tactics and weaponry. These units were collectively called the New Army. The most successful of these was the Beiyang Army under the overall supervision and control of a former Huai Army commander, General Yuan Shikai, who used his position to eventually become President of the Republic of China and finally emperor of China.
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The most significant fact of early and mid-Qing social history was population growth. The population doubled during the 18th century. People in this period were also remarkably on the move. There is evidence suggesting that the empire's rapidly expanding population was geographically mobile on a scale, which, in term of its volume and its protracted and routinized nature, was unprecedented in Chinese history. Indeed, the Qing government did far more to encourage mobility than to discourage it. Migration took several different forms, though might be divided in two varieties: permanent migration for resettlement, and relocation conceived by the party (in theory at least) as a temporary sojourn. Parties to the latter would include the empire's increasingly large and mobile manual workforce, as well as its densely overlapping internal diaspora of local-origin-based merchant groups. It would also included the patterned movement of Qing subjects overseas, largely to Southeastern Asia, in search of trade and other economic opportunities.
According to statute, Qing society was divided into relatively closed estates, of which in most general terms there were five. Apart from the estates of the officials, the comparatively minuscule aristocracy, and the degree-holding literati, there also existed a major division among ordinary Chinese between commoners and people with inferior status. They were divided into two categories: one of them, the good "commoner" people, the other "mean" people. The majority of the population belonged to the first category and were described as liangmin, a legal term meaning good people, as opposed to jianmin meaning the mean (or ignoble) people. Qing law explicitly stated that the traditional four occupational groups of scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants were "good", or having a status of commoners. On the other hand, slaves or bondservants, entertainers (including prostitutes and actors), and those low-level employees of government officials were the "mean people". Mean people were considered legally inferior to commoners and suffered unequal treatments, forbidden to take the imperial examination.
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By the end of the 17th century, the Chinese economy had recovered from the devastation caused by the wars in which the Ming Dynasty were overthrown, and the resulting breakdown of order. In the following century, markets continued to expand as in the late Ming period, but with more trade between regions, a greater dependence on overseas markets and a greatly increased population. After the re-opening of the southeast coast, which had been closed in the late 17th century, foreign trade was quickly re-established, and was expanding at 4% per annum throughout the latter part of the 18th century. China continued to export tea, silk and manufactures, creating a large, favorable trade balance with the West. The resulting inflow of silver expanded the money supply, facilitating the growth of competitive and stable markets.
The government broadened land ownership by returning land that had been sold to large landowners in the late Ming period by families unable to pay the land tax. To give people more incentives to participate in the market, they reduced the tax burden in comparison with the late Ming, and replaced the corvée system with a head tax used to hire laborers. The administration of the Grand Canal was made more efficient, and transport opened to private merchants. A system of monitoring grain prices eliminated severe shortages, and enabled the price of rice to rise slowly and smoothly through the 18th century. Wary of the power of wealthy merchants, Qing rulers limited their trading licenses and usually refused them permission to open new mines, except in poor areas. These restrictions on domestic resource exploration, as well as on foreign trade, are held by some scholars as a cause of the Great Divergence, by which the Western world overtook China economically.
By the end of the 18th century the population had risen to 300 million from approximately 150 million during the late Ming Dynasty. The dramatic rise in population was due to several reasons, including the long period of peace and stability in the 18th century and the import of new crops China received from the Americas, including peanuts, sweet potatoes and maize. New species of rice from Southeast Asia led to a huge increase in production. Merchant guilds proliferated in all of the growing Chinese cities and often acquired great social and even political influence. Rich merchants with official connections built up huge fortunes and patronized literature, theater and the arts. Textile and handicraft production boomed.
Under the Qing, traditional forms of art flourished and innovations were made at many levels and in many types. High levels of literacy, a successful publishing industry, prosperous cities, and the Confucian emphasis on cultivation all fed a lively and creative set of cultural fields.
The Manchu emperors were generally adept at poetry and often skilled in painting, and offered their patronage to Confucian culture. The Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors, for instance, embraced Chinese traditions both to control them and to proclaim their own legitimacy. The Kangxi Emperor sponsored the Peiwen Yunfu, a rhyme dictionary published in 1711, and the Kangxi Dictionary published in 1716, which remains to this day an authoritative reference. The Qianlong Emperor sponsored the largest collection of writings in Chinese history, the Siku Quanshu, completed in 1782. Court painters made new versions of the Song Dynasty masterpiece, Zhang Zeduan's Along the River During the Qingming Festival whose depiction of a prosperous and happy realm demonstrated the beneficence of the emperor. The emperors undertook tours of the south and commissioned monumental scrolls to depict the grandeur of the occasion. Imperial patronage also encouraged the industrial production of ceramics and Chinese export porcelain.
Yet the most impressive aesthetic works were done among the scholars and urban elite. Calligraphy and painting remained a central interest to both court painters and scholar-gentry who considered the Four Arts part of their cultural identity and social standing. The painting of the early years of the dynasty included such painters as the orthodox Four Wangs and the individualists Bada Shanren (1626–1705) and Shitao (1641–1707). The nineteenth century saw such innovations as the Shanghai school and the Lingnan School which used the technical skills of tradition to set the stage for modern painting.
Literature grew to new heights in the Qing period. Poetry continued as a mark of the cultivated gentleman, but women wrote in larger and larger numbers and poets came from all walks of life. Pu Songling brought the short story form to a new level in his Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, published in the mid-18th century, and Shen Fu demonstrated the charm of the informal memoir in Six Chapters of a Floating Life, written in the early 19th century but published only in 1877. The art of the novel reached a pinnacle in Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber, but its combination of social commentary and psychological insight were echoed in highly skilled novels such as Wu Jingzi's The Scholars (1750) and Li Ruzhen's Flowers in the Mirror (1827).
In drama, Kong Shangren's Kunqu opera The Peach Blossom Fan, completed in 1699, portrayed the tragic downfall of the Ming dynasty in romantic terms. The most prestigious form became the so-called Peking opera, though local and folk opera were also widely popular.
Cuisine aroused a cultural pride in the accumulated richness of a long and varied past. The gentleman gourmet, such as Yuan Mei, applied aesthetic standards to the art of cooking, eating, and appreciation of tea at a time when New World crops and products entered everyday life. The Manchu Han Imperial Feast originated at the court. Although this banquet was probably never common, it reflected an appreciation by Han Chinese for Manchu culinary customs.
By the end of the nineteenth century, all elements of national artistic and cultural life had recognized and begun to come to terms with world culture as found in the West and Japan. Whether to stay within old forms or welcome Western models was now a conscious choice rather than an unchallenged acceptance of tradition. Classically trained Confucian scholars such as Liang Qichao and Wang Guowei broke ground later cultivated in the New Culture Movement.
|Dynasties in Chinese history|
Republic of China