Qing dynasty

The Qing dynasty (English: /ˈɪŋ/ CHING), officially the Great Qing,[lower-alpha 5][lower-alpha 6] was a Manchu-led imperial dynasty of China (1636–1912) and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history.[lower-alpha 7] It emerged from the Later Jin dynasty founded by the Jianzhou Jurchens, a Tungusic-speaking ethnic group who unified other Jurchen tribes to form a new "Manchu" ethnic identity. The dynasty was officially proclaimed in 1636 in Manchuria (modern-day Northeast China and Outer Manchuria). It seized control of Beijing in 1644, then later expanded its rule over the whole of China proper and Taiwan, and finally expanded into Inner Asia. The dynasty lasted until 1912 when it was overthrown in the Xinhai Revolution. In orthodox Chinese historiography, the Qing dynasty was preceded by the Ming dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The multiethnic Qing dynasty lasted for almost three centuries and assembled the territorial base for modern China. It was the largest imperial dynasty in the history of China and in 1790 the fourth-largest empire in world history in terms of territorial size. With 419,264,000 citizens in 1907, it was the most populous country in the world at the time.

Great Qing
大清 (Chinese)
Flag of Qing dynasty or Manchu dynasty
Gǒng Jīn'ōu
"Cup of Solid Gold"
The Qing dynasty at its greatest extent in 1760 superimposed on a modern world map. Territory under its control shown in dark green; territory claimed but not under its control shown in light green.
The Qing dynasty at its greatest extent in 1760 superimposed on a modern world map. Territory under its control shown in dark green; territory claimed but not under its control shown in light green.
CapitalMukden (Shenyang)
(1636–1644)[lower-alpha 3]
Peking (Beijing)
(1644–1912)[lower-alpha 4]
Largest cityPeking (Beijing)
Official languagesManchu,[1] Mandarin Chinese[2]
Ethnic groups
Han, Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and others
State religion:
Majority: Chinese
folk religion
, Chinese
, and Taoism
Minority: Tibetan
, Heaven
, Islam,
and others
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
 1636–1643 (founder)
Chongde Emperor
 1643–1661 (first in Beijing)
Shunzhi Emperor
 1908–1912 (last)
Xuantong Emperor
Dorgon, Prince Rui
Zaifeng, Prince Chun
Prime Minister 
Yikuang, Prince Qing
Yuan Shikai
LegislatureDeliberative Council
None (rule by decree)
Advisory Council
Historical eraLate modern
12 February 1912
1700[4]8,800,000 km2 (3,400,000 sq mi)
1790[4]14,700,000 km2 (5,700,000 sq mi)
1860[4]13,400,000 km2 (5,200,000 sq mi)
CurrencyCash (wén)
Tael (liǎng)
Paper money
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Later Jīn
Shun dynasty
Southern Ming
Dzungar Khanate
Kingdom of Tungning
Republic of China
Zheltuga Republic
Republic of Formosa
Bogd Khanate
Uryankhay Republic
Qing dynasty
Chinese name
Dynastic name
Mongolian name
Mongolian CyrillicДайчин Улс
Mongolian scriptᠳᠠᠢᠢᠴᠢᠩ
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡩᠠᡳ᠌ᠴᡳᠩ
AbkaiDaiqing gurun
MöllendorffDaicing gurun

In the late sixteenth century, Nurhaci, leader of the House of Aisin-Gioro, began organizing "Banners", which were military-social units that included Manchu, Han, and Mongol elements. Nurhaci united clans to create a Manchu ethnic identity and officially founded the Later Jin dynasty in 1616. His son Hong Taiji renamed the dynasty "Great Qing" and elevated the realm to an empire in 1636. As Ming control disintegrated, peasant rebels conquered Beijing in 1644, but the Ming general Wu Sangui opened the Shanhai Pass to the armies of the regent Prince Dorgon, who defeated the rebels, seized the capital, and took over the government. Resistance from Ming loyalists in the south and the Revolt of the Three Feudatories delayed the complete conquest until 1683. The Kangxi Emperor (1661–1722) consolidated control, maintained the Manchu identity, patronized Tibetan Buddhism, and relished the role of a Confucian ruler. Han officials worked under or in parallel with Manchu officials. The dynasty also adapted the ideals of the tributary system in asserting superiority over peripheral countries such as Korea and Vietnam, while extending control over Tibet, Mongolia, and Xinjiang.

The height of Qing glory and power was reached in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735–1796). He led Ten Great Campaigns that extended Qing control into Inner Asia and personally supervised Confucian cultural projects. After his death, the dynasty faced changes in the world system, foreign intrusion, internal revolts, population growth, economic disruption, official corruption, and the reluctance of Confucian elites to change their mindsets. With peace and prosperity, the population rose to some 400 million, but taxes and government revenues were fixed at a low rate, soon leading to fiscal crisis. Following China's defeat in the Opium Wars, Western colonial powers forced the Qing government to sign "unequal treaties", granting them trading privileges, extraterritoriality and treaty ports under their control. The Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864) and the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) in Central Asia led to the deaths of over 20 million people, from famine, disease, and war. The Tongzhi Restoration in the 1860s brought vigorous reforms and the introduction of foreign military technology in the Self-Strengthening Movement. Defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895 led to loss of suzerainty over Korea and cession of Taiwan to Japan. The ambitious Hundred Days' Reform of 1898 proposed fundamental change, but the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), who had been the dominant voice in the national government for more than three decades, turned it back in a coup.

In 1900 anti-foreign "Boxers" killed many Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries; in retaliation, the foreign powers invaded China and imposed a punitive Boxer Indemnity. In response, the government initiated unprecedented fiscal and administrative reforms, including elections, a new legal code, and the abolition of the examination system. Sun Yat-sen and revolutionaries debated reform officials and constitutional monarchists such as Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao over how to transform the Manchu-ruled empire into a modern Han nation. After the deaths of the Guangxu Emperor and Cixi in 1908, Manchu conservatives at court blocked reforms and alienated reformers and local elites alike. The Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911 led to the Xinhai Revolution. The abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last emperor, on 12 February 1912, brought the dynasty to an end. In 1917, it was briefly restored in an episode known as the Manchu Restoration, but this was neither recognized by the Beiyang government of the Republic of China nor the international community.

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