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The Qing Dynasty (Manchu: daicing gurun; Chinese: 清朝 1636-1911; Wade-Giles: Ch'ing Dynasty), also called the Manchu Dynasty, was the ruling dynasty of China, officially the Empire of the Great Qing (大淸帝國), between 1644 and 1911. It followed the Ming Dynasty and preceded the Republic of China. The Qing Dynasty was founded by the Aisin-Gioro (in Chinese: Aixinjueluo, 愛新覺羅 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2) family of the Manchus.

Table of contents
1 Overview of Manchu rule
2 Society
3 Politics
4 Military
5 Rulers of Qing Dynasty
6 Related Articles

Overview of Manchu rule

Although the Manchus were not Han Chinese and were strongly resisted, especially in the south, they had assimilated a great deal of Chinese culture before conquering China Proper. Realizing that to dominate the empire they would have to do things the Chinese way, the Manchus retained many institutions of Ming and earlier Chinese derivation. They continued the Confucian court practices and temple rituals, over which the emperors had traditionally presided.

The Manchus continued the Confucian civil service system. Although Chinese were barred from the highest offices, Chinese officials predominated over Manchu officeholders outside the capital, except in military positions. The Neo-Confucian philosophy, emphasizing the obedience of subject to ruler, was enforced as the state creed. The Manchu emperors also supported Chinese literary and historical projects of enormous scope; the survival of much of China's ancient literature is attributed to these projects.

Ever suspicious of Han Chinese, the Qing rulers put into effect measures aimed at preventing the absorption of the Manchus into the dominant Han Chinese population. Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland, and Manchus were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage between the two groups was forbidden. In many government positions a system of dual appointments was used--the Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule.

The Qing regime was determined to protect itself not only from internal rebellion but also from foreign invasion. After China Proper had been subdued, the Manchus conquered Outer Mongolia in the late 17th century. In the 18th century they gained control of Central Asia as far as the Pamir Mountains and established a protectorate over the area the Chinese call Xizang but commonly known in the West as Tibet. The Qing thus became the first dynasty to eliminate successfully all danger to China Proper from across its land borders. Under Manchu rule the empire grew to include a larger area than before or since; Taiwan, the last outpost of anti-Manchu resistance, was also incorporated into China for the first time. In addition, Qing emperors received tribute from the various border states.

Rise of the Qing

In the early 1600s Aixinjueluo Nurgachi formed the nomadic Manchu State known as Manchuo (满洲). He united four of the Manchu Flagged Factions that and later collected power of all eight of the flagged factions. In the later periods of his reign, he moved the capital to Shenyang (Mukden in Manchu).

When Lingdan Khan, the last grand-Khan of the Mongols, died on his way to Tibet in 1634, his son Ejei surrendered to the Manchu and gave the great seal of the Yuan Emperor to Hong Taiji. As a result, Hong Taiji established the new dynasty of Qing as the successor of the Yuan Dynasty in 1636.

After years of civil unrest, the Ming capital Beijing was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by one Li Zhicheng (李自成). The Ming Dynasty officially came to an end when the last Ming Emperor committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree on the hill overlooking the Forbidden City. After taking Beijing in April 1644, Li Zhicheng led an army of 60,000 strong to confront Wu Sangui (吴三桂), the general commanding Ming's 100,000 strong garrison stationed at Shanhaiguan (山海关). Shanhaiguan is the pivotal northeastern pass of the Great Wall of China located fify miles northeast of Beijing and for years its defenses were what kept the Manchus at bay and out of China. Wu caught between two enemies decided to cast his lots with the Manchus and made an alliance with Dorgon, regent to the then six-year old Shunzhi, son of Hong Taiji who had passed away the year before.

Together the two armies met Li Zhicheng's rebel forces in battle on May 27, 1644. Even though the rebel forces were routed, Wu's army was so weakened by the day's fighting that he had no choice but to join the Manchus forces as they captured Beijing on June 6 and began their conquest of the whole of China. The process took another seventeen years of battling Ming loyalists, pretenders and rebels. The last Ming pretender Prince Gui sort refuge in Burma but was turned over to a Qing expeditionary force headed by Wu Sangui who had him brought back to Yunnan province and executed in early 1662.

Revolt of the Three Feudatories

The Manchus found controlling their newly won empire 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 Qing imperial cause, ennobled as feudal princes (藩王), and given governorships over vast territories in Southern China. The chief of whom was Wu Sangui who was given the provinces Yunnan, and Guizhou. While generals Shang Kexi (尚可喜) and Di Zhongming (耿仲明) were given Guangdong and Fujian provinces respectively.

As the years went by, these Princes and their territories became increasingly autonomous from the central government. Finally in 1673 Shang Kexi petitioned emperor Kangxi stating his desire to retire to his home town in Liaodong (辽东) province and nominated his son in place for succession. The young Kangxi emperor granted his retirement but denied the hereditary of his fief. In reaction, the two other generals decided to petition for their own retirements to test Kangxi's resolve thinking that he wouldn't risk offending them. The move backfried as the young emperor called their bluff by accepting their requests and ordered all three feudatories to be revert back to the crown.

Faced with the stripping of their powers, Wu sangui felt he had no choice but to revolt. He was later joined by Di Zhongming and Shang Kexi's son Shang Zhixin (尚之信). The ensuing rebellion lasted for eight years. At the peak of the rebels' fortunes, they managed to extend their territories to as far north as the river Changjiang (长江). But ultimately, the Qing government was able to put down the rebellion and exert control over all of southern China.

Power Consolidation by Kangxi

Kangxi (r. 1662 - 1722) personally led China to a series of military campaigned against Tibet, the Zunghars, and later Russia. By the end of the 17th Century China was at its highest point of power since the early Yuan Dynasty.

Taiwan, a colony of the Dutch at the time was also taken by Qing forces in the early 1780s.

Kangxi had also handled many Jesuit Missionaries that have come to China in hope for mass conversion. Although that attempt had failed Kangxi still peacefully kept the missionaries in Beijing.

Civil Order and the recognization by the people of the Qing was the biggest agenda on Kangxi's mind.

Yongzheng & Qianlong

Yongzheng (r. 1723 - 1735) and his son Qianlong (r. 1735 - 1796) and their reigns were at the height of Qing power.

After Kangxi's death in the winter of 1722, his fourth son, Yinzhen (later to be known as Emperor Yongzheng) succeeded. Yongzheng remained a controversial character because of rumours about him usurping the throne. Nonetheless Yongzheng was a very hardworking ruler. His first big step towards a stronger regime came when he brought the State Examination System back to its original standards. He was also very hard on corrupt officials, of which many where executed or jailed duing his reign.

Yongzheng died in 1735, shortly after he ordered his third son, Hongshi, to commit suicide. This was followed by the succession of Qianlong as emperor.

The 19th century

One common view of the 19th century was that it was an era in which Qing control weakened, and prosperity diminished. China suffered massive social strife, economic stagnation, explosive population growth, and Western penetration and influence. Britain's desire to continue its illegal opium trade with China collided with imperial edicts prohibiting the addictive drug, and the First Opium War erupted in 1840. China lost the war; subsequently, Britain and other Western powers, including the United States, forcibly occupied "concessions" and gained special commercial privileges. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanjing. In addition, the Taiping rebellion and Nian rebellions, along with a Russian-supported Muslim independence movement in Xinjiang, drained Chinese resources and almost toppled the dynasty. .

The First Opium War and colonialism

Roughly between the Congress of Vienna and the Franco-Prussian War, Britain reaped the benefits of being the world's sole modern, industrial nation. Following the defeat of Napoleon, Britain was the 'workshop of the world', meaning that its finished goods were no longer produced so efficiently and cheaply that they could often undersell comparable, locally manufactured goods in almost any other market. If political conditions in a particular overseas markets were stable enough, Britain could its economy through free trade alone without having to resort to formal rule or mercantilism. Britain was even supplying half the needs in manufactured goods of such nations as Germany, France, Belgium, and the United States. As these other newly industrial powers, the United States, and Japan after the Meiji Restoration began industrializing at a rapid rate, however, Britain's comparative advantage in trade of any finished good began diminishing.

Sovereign areas already hospitable to informal empire largely avoided formal rule during the shift to New Imperialism. China, for instance, was not a backward country unable to secure the prerequisite stability and security for western-style commerce, but a highly advanced empire unwilling to admit western (often drug-pushing) commerce, which may explain the West's contentment with informal 'Spheres of Influences'. China, unlike tropical Africa, was a securable market without formal control. Following the First Opium War, British commerce, and later capital invested by other newly industrializing powers, was securable with a smaller degree of formal control than in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Pacific. But in many respects, China was a colony and a large-scale receptacle of Western capital investments. Western powers did intervene military there to quell domestic chaos, such as the horrific Taiping Rebellion and the anti-imperialist Boxer Rebellion. For example, General Gordon, later the imperialist 'martyr' in the Sudan, is often accredited as having saved the Manchu dynasty from the Taiping insurrection.

The fall of the Manchus

By the 1860s, the Qing dynasty had put down the rebellions with the help of militia organized by the Chinese gentry. The Qing dynasty then proceeded to deal with problem of modernization, which it attempted with the Self-Strengthening Movement. Several modernized armies were formed including the much renowned "Beiyang" militia; however the fleets of "Beiyang" were annihilated in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), which produced calls for greater and more extensive reform. After the start of the 20th century, the Qing Dynasty was in a dilemma. It could proceed with reform and thereby alienate the conservative gentry or it could stall reform and thereby alienate the revolutionaries. The Qing Dynasty tried to follow a middle path, but proceeded to alienate everyone.

In the late 19th Century another leader emerged in the Qing to finally bring the dynasty to an end. Empress Dowager Cixi, who was the mother of child emperor Tongzhi, successfully controlled the Qing government and was the de facto leader of China for close to 40 years.

10 years into the reign of Guangxu, western pressure was so big on China that she forcefully gave up all sorts of power. Guangxu had attempted reform but the ideals were stifled by Cixi and Guangxu was jailed in his own palace. Cixi, on the other hand, only concentrated on her own power and good being. At the occasion of her 50th Birthday she spend over 30 million taels of silver for the decorations & events, an unthinkable amount even by today's terms.

Mass civil disorder had also begun and continuously grown. Factions such as Taiping began campaigns to bring down the corrupt Qing government. Although such revolutions were unsuccessful at first, they led to mass violence and pressure that was dismatling the central regime to a point where, finally and unexpectedly by most, in 1911, Sun Yat-sen and his alliance successfully brought down the powerless Qing Regime.


Manchu males had the custom of braiding hair into pigtail. During Qing Dynasty, the Manchus enforced this custom onto the Han population. Any male who was seen without pigtail outdoor was to be beheaded.


The most important administrative body of the Qing dynasty was the Grand Council which was a body composed of the emperor and high officials.

The Qing dynasty 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.

With respect to Mongolia, Tibet and Eastern Turkestan, the Qing Dynasty maintained a loose system of control, with the Qing emperor acting as Mongol Khan, patron of Tibetan Buddhism and supporter of Muslims and keeping a loose system of control.

How this system is best described remains a strong point of controversy because of its current political implications. Supporters of Chinese nationalism argue that Qing rule over these areas is best described as an extremely high degree of autonomy within a single nation-state, while supporters of Tibetan independence argue that the Qing dynasty was a personal union between many nation-states.

However, Qing policy changed with the establishment of Xinjiang province in 1884 marked the turning point of the Qing Dynasty. In response to British and Russian military action in Xinjiang and Tibet, the Qing sent New Army units which performed remarkably well against British units.

The abdication of the Manchu Emperor, who had integrated the Empire, inevitably led to the controversy about the status of the Qing outer territories. It was and remains the position of Mongol and Tibetan nationalists, that because they owed allegiance to the Qing monarch in a personal capacity, that with the abdication of the Qing, they owed no allegiance to the Chinese state. This position was rejected by the new Republic of China and subsequent People's Republic of China which have claimed that these areas remained integral parts of China. The Western powers accepted the latter theory, largely in order to prevent a scramble for China.

Notable Figures


The development of Qing's military system can be divided into two broad periods separated by the Taiping rebellion (1850 - 64). The early Qing imperial military system was a continuation of the Manchu bannermen system developed by Nurhachi and refined by Hong Taiji. These were supplemented by the Green Standard Army (lüyingbing|绿营兵) which outnumbered the banner troops three to one. The Green Standard Army was made up of ethnic Han Chinese troops who had surrendered to the Manchus during their conquest of China, and led by a mixture of Banner and Green Standard officers. Both the banner troops and Green Standard were standing armies, paid for by central government. In addition, regional governments from provincial down to village level maintained their own irregular local militias for police duties and disaster relieve. These militias were usually granted a small annual stipend for part time service obligations. They received very limited military drill and were not considered combat troops.

The Banner troops consisted of separate branches divided along ethnic lines, namely Manchurian and Mongolian. There was also a third branch of Chinese Bannermen consisted of those who had joined the Manchus before their conquest of China. However the Chinese bannermen were not regarded as equal to the other two branches due to their late addition to the Manchu cause, and their ethnic Han Chinese backgrounds. After the conquest the roles of the Chinese Banner troops were quickly subsumed by the Green Standard Armies. The socio-military nature of the Banner system dictated that population within each branch and their sub-division into eight banners were hereditary and rigid, and only under special circumstances were social movements between banners permitted. The Green Standard Army was originally intended to be a professional volunteer force, but during the protracted period of peace in China during the 18th to mid 19th century, recruits from established farming communities dwindled. Not least hindered by Neo-Confucianism's negative view on military carreers. In order to maintain its strength, the Green Standard Army began to internalize, and gradually became hereditary.

After the conquest, the approximately 200,000 strong Manchu Banner Army was evenly divided, half was designated the Forbidden Eight Banner Army (Jinlübaqi|禁旅八旗)and stationed in Beijing. They served both as the capital's garrison and the Qing government's main strike force. The rest of the Banner troops were distributed to guard key cities in China. These were known as Territorial Eight Banner Army (zhufanbaqi|驻防八旗). The Manchu rulers were aware of their minority status, and reinforced a strict policy of racially segregating Manchus and Mongols from Han Chinese for fear of their being assimilated by Han culture. This policy applies directly to the Banner garrisons most of which occupied a separate walled zone within the cities they were stationed in. In cases where there were limitation of space such as in Qingzhou (青州), a new fortified town was purposely erected to house the Banner garrison. Beijing being the imperial seat was made a special case. Dorgon ordered the entire Chinese population forcibly relocated to the southern suburbs. The walled city was then portioned out to the eight Banners, each responsibled for guarding a section of the city that surrounded the Forbidden City palace (紫禁城).

Due to their nomadic tradition, the Manchu and Mongolian Banner troops specialized in calvary operations, while the Chinese Banner troops and Green standards filled the roles of infantry, musketeers, artillery, and sappers. The policy of using Banner troops as territorial garrison was not just to protect but more importantly to inspire awe in the Chinese populous at the expense of the Banner troop's expetise as calvary. As a result, after a century of peace the Territorial Banner troops had deteriorated greatly in their combat worthiness. This is mirrored by a similar if slower decline in the Green Stadard Army. As time passes, soldiering became merely a form of supplementary income. Soldiers and commanders alike neglected training in pursuit of their own economic activities during the long period of peace in China in the 18th century. When the Taiping Rebellion broke out in 1850s the Qing Court found out belately that both the Banner and Green Standard troops could no longer be counted on to put down rebellions let alone kept foreign 'barbarians' at bay.

The Qing military forces suffered a series of disasters at the hands of the Taiping rebels cumulating in the lost of Jinling (金陵) - present day Nanjing (南京) which resulted in the massacre of the entire Manchu population there. Shortly there after rebel expeditionary forces penetrated as far north as the suburbs of Tianjin (天津). In desperation the Qing court ordered a Chinese scholar Zhen Goufan (曾國藩)to reorganize the regional and village militias (Tuanyong|团勇,Xianyong|乡勇) for defence against the Taiping rebels. The force Zhen created was known as Xian Army (Xianjün|湘军), after the region it was raised. Xian Army was a hybrid between regional militia and standing army. It was better trained and led than local militias, but was paid for in most parts by regional coffers and funds its commanders could muster. Xian Army and the Huai Army (淮军) that came after it collectively called Yongying (勇营) was built on the neo-confucian idea of troops being loyal to their immediate superiors and the area which they were raised. This gave them, at least in the short term a high level of esprit de corp. However in the long run it encouraged cronyism amongst the commanders and laid the seeds to Qing dynasty's eventual downfall, and to warlordism in its wake.

By late 1800s, China descended into a semi colonial state, even the most conservative elements in the Qing court could no longer ignore China's military weakness in contrast to the "babarians" literally beating on its gates. The new western weaponry such as repeating rifles and steam driven dreadnoghts battleships have rendered China's traditionally equipped armies useless. Attempts were made to reform military institutions and to train certain units in westernized drills, tactics and weaponry. These units were collectively called the New Model Army (Xingshilujün|新式陆军). The most successful being the "North Sea" Army (Beiyangjün|北洋军) under the overall supervision and control of the Chinese general, future Republic president and abortive emperor, Yuan Shikai (袁世凯).

Rulers of Qing Dynasty

Temple Names ( Miao Hao 廟號 miao4 hao4) Posthumous Names ( Shi Hao 諡號 ) Born Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號) and their according range of years Convention
All first names in bold.
Convention: use "Qing" + era names except the first two emperors. For example, Kangxi Emperor (Kangxi Di)|康熙帝 kang1 xi1 di4..
Tai Zu|太祖 tai4 zu3 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Nu-er-ha-chi|愛新覺羅努爾哈赤 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 nu3 er3 ha1 chi4 1616-1626 Tianming (天命 tian1 ming4) or Abkai fulingga 1616-1626
Ai-xin-jue-luo Nurgachi (Nu-er-ha-chi)
Tai Zong (太宗 tai4 zong1) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Huang-tai-ji|愛新覺羅皇太極 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 huang2 tai4 ji2 1627-1643 Tiancong (天聰 tian1 cong1) or Abkai sure 1627-1636
   Chongde (崇德 chong2 de2) or Wesihun erdemungge 1636-1643
Ai-xin-jue-luo Abahai, honorific title: Huang-tai-ji
Shi Zu|世祖 shi4 zu3 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Fu-lin|愛新覺羅福臨 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 fu2 lin2 1644-1661 Shunzhi (順治 shun4 zhi4) or Ijishūn dasan 1644-1661
Shunzhi Emperor of China
Sheng Zu|聖祖 sheng4 zu3 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Xuan-ye|愛新覺羅玄燁 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 xuan2 ye4 1662-1722 Kangxi (康熙 kang1 xi1) or Elhe taifin 1662-1722
Kangxi Emperor of China
Shi Zong|世宗 shi4 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Yin-zhen|愛新覺羅胤禛 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 yin4 zhen1 1723-1735 Yongzheng (雍正 yong1 zheng4) or Hūwaliyasun tob 1723-1735
Yongzheng Emperor of China
Gao Zong|高宗 gao1 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Hong-li|愛新覺羅弘曆 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 hong2 li4 1735-1795 Qianlong (乾隆 qian2 long2) or Abkai wehiyehe 1736-1795
Qianlong Emperor of China
Ren Zong|仁宗 ren2 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Yong-yan|愛新覺羅顒琰 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 yong2 yan3 1796-1820 Jiaqing (嘉慶 jia1 qing4) or Saicungga fengšen 1796-1820
Jiaqing Emperor of China
Xuan Zong|宣宗 xuan1 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Min-ning|愛新覺羅旻寧 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 min2 ning2 1821-1850 Daoguang (道光 dao4 guang1) or Doro eldengge 1821-1850
Daoguang Emperor of China
Wen Zong|文宗 wen2 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Yi-zhu|愛新覺羅奕詝 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 yi4 zhu3 1851-1861 Xianfeng (咸豐 xian2 feng1) or Gubci elgiyengge 1851-1861
Xianfeng Emperor of China
Mu Zong|穆宗 mu4 zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Zai-chun|愛新覺羅載淳 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 zai4 chun2 1862-1874 Tongzhi (同治 tong2 zhi4) or Yooningga dasan 1862-1874
Tongzhi Emperor of China
De Zong|德宗 de zong1 Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Ai-xin-jue-luo Zai-tian|愛新覺羅載湉 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 zai4 tian2 1875-1908 Guangxu (光緒 guang1 xu4) or Badarangga doro 1875-1908
Guangxu Emperor of China
Convention: for this sovereign only use Xuantong Emperor (宣統帝 xuan1 tong3 di4) or born name.
Did not exist Mo Di|末帝 mo4 di4 Ai-xin-jue-luo Pu-yi|Ai-xin-jue-luo Pu-yi 愛新覺羅溥儀 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 pu3 yi2 1908-1911 Xuantong (宣統 xuan1 tong3) or Gehungge yoso 1909-1911
Xuantong Emperor of China

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