Qing Dynasty

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Qianlong , the longest ruling emperor of the Qing Dynasty (painting by Giuseppe Castiglione , 1736)

The Qing Dynasty ( Manchurian ᡩᠠᡳᠴᡳᠩ
Daicing gurun ; Chinese 清朝, Pinyin Qīngcháo , W.-G. Ch'ing Ch'ao ) or Manchu Dynasty was founded in 1616 by the Manchu under Nurhaci and ruled the Empire of China from 1644 . It replaced the Ming Dynasty and ended after the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 with the proclamation of the Republic of China on January 1, 1912.

The Qing dynasty was the second dynasty after the Mongolian Yuan dynasty to rule over all of China and was not founded by the Han Chinese . It was based on the rise of the Jurchen people , who ruled northern China as the Jin Dynasty (1125-1234) and the Later Jin Dynasty (1616-1636) . In 1635 the Jurchen tribes, united by Nurhaci, changed their name to Manchu . From 1636 the dynasty was called Qing itself.

During the Qing Dynasty, China achieved the greatest territorial expansion in its history . In addition, the population grew sharply from an estimated 56 million in 1644 to about 400 million in 1911. With an estimated 381 million inhabitants in 1820, about 36 percent of the total world population of that time (1.04 billion) lived within its limits and that Land generated around 33 percent of global economic output - roughly the same as all of Europe.

The Qing Empire until the Opium War


Nurhaci at the siege of Ningyuan in 1626

Under Nurhaci (1559–1626) and his eighth son Huang Taiji (sometimes also: Abahai, 1592–1643), the Jurchen gained a great deal of power. Their military power was initially based on the Manchurian-influenced Eight Banners , later supplemented by the Green Standard army, which consisted more of Han Chinese . The first imperial palace was in Shenyang , where Nurhaci's tomb is also located.

During the war against Ligdan Khan between 1632 and 1635, which ended with the handover of the imperial seal to Huang Taiji , the Chahar Mongols joined the Jurchen. In 1641 the Manchu made a major incursion into Ming Dynasty China, conquering 88 cities, taking over six more, and advancing to the Liaodong Peninsula . In 1644 the Ming dynasty fell through internal uprisings, the Manchu regent Dorgon (1612-1650) and the former Ming general Wu Sangui then expelled the rebel leader Li Zicheng from Beijing and pursued him to Hunan, where he died in October 1645 . Beijing became the new capital of the young Qing dynasty after it was conquered by Dorgon.


Prince Regent Dorgon

The government of the Qing emperor Shunzhi (1643–1661, ninth son of Huang Taiji ) was led by the two prince regents Dorgon and Dsirgalang. As early as 1645 they changed Chinese clothing ( Hanfu ) and hairstyle and forced the Manchurian braid on the Han Chinese under threat of death . Otherwise (as in the Yuan period ) marriages between Han Chinese and Manchu were banned. The capital Beijing was divided into two parts, one for Manchu in the north and one for the Chinese in the south. Manchuria was closed to Han Chinese.

The anger of the Han population against the foreign rule of the Manchu and especially against the "braid compulsion" erupted in several uprisings. The crackdown ended in massacres, for example in Jiading and Jiangyin with five-digit victims (1645).

However, the prohibition of mixed marriage was disregarded in particular by the Manchu elite. Even the Qing emperors accepted Han Chinese women as imperial concubines, and Emperor Kangxi already had one for his mother. The division of Beijing into two parts was also extremely permeable, since the inner (i.e. northern) city was strictly speaking reserved for the eight banners . Most of the banner people were Han Chinese and not Manchu. Around 1700 more than 70% Han Chinese lived in the northern city of Beijing, and the Manchus formed a clear minority, as far as one can still speak of real Manchus due to the marriage of the Han Chinese.

With the death of Dorgon , a conservative Manchu, in 1650, Chinese writers and officials gained greater influence over the young emperor Shunzhi . This was expressed in the fact that the alliance relations with the Mongolian princes (especially the Chalcha ) were reinterpreted in tribute relations at court . The entire palace servants were again provided by the Chinese and Chinese made the official language of the court, with the Manchurian language increasingly being supplanted. Over time, Emperor Shunzhi became more and more concerned with religious ideas, entered a Buddhist monastery and died of smallpox at the age of 23 .

Kangxi and Yongzheng era

Emperor Kangxi
Emperor Yongzheng

He was followed by his third son Kangxi (1661-1722), one of the most famous rulers of China. He reorganized the empire with the disempowerment of the three feudal princes 1674–1681, ended the resistance ( Koxinga 1624–1662) on the coast and in Taiwan (with which Taiwan was incorporated into China for the first time ) by 1683 , fought to protect the Chalcha Mongols 1690– 1696, and then again 1715–1724 against the Oirats , whereby after the death of King Lhabzang in 1720 he also set up the protectorate over Tibet .

Emperor Kangxi took lessons from the Jesuits not only in warfare, but also in astronomy, mathematics and anatomy. He was considered a scholar. Shortly after his death, the European missionaries were expelled to Macau because they were considered members of forbidden political secret societies, and Christianity was banned.

In contrast, the old Chinese examination system for state officials was resumed as early as 1646 , thus tying the old leadership of the Ming period to itself. After the pacification of the south, costly inspection trips were made to the cities on the Yangtze , the center of the Chinese intelligentsia (1684–1765). The Manchu were merely enlightened despots , but the antagonism between them and the Chinese diminished and did not flare up again until the end of the 19th century.

Until 1685, the Manchu (preferably in the north) confiscated land, where they made prisoners of war and dispossessed peasants work like slaves. Kangxi began to understand the need for change, which then came about radically. The Qing Dynasty then had the mildest agricultural taxation in all of Chinese history (1711). In view of the advanced farming techniques and new crops (American potatoes, peanuts, corn, fruit and vegetables), the Chinese farmer was certainly in no way inferior to its European counterpart in terms of prosperity.

The techniques of the pre-industrial era (i.e., before Watt's steam engine ) were fully exhausted in the Qing period. Food production, textile industry, tea harvesting, porcelain production, paper and sugar production all reached records.

It is estimated that Europeans spent half of 400 million US dollars in silver from the American colonies (1571–1821) on buying Chinese and other East Asian goods, primarily luxury items such as china, silk and tea. This problem led to the First Opium War , because the Chinese insisted on silver payment on the part of the state . Chinese culture radiated into Europe in a playful form in the 18th century ( chinoiserie ) .

Another problem was the desire to establish a moral order in which Manchu rule would not be called into question. To this end, Confucianism was promoted in an unprecedented way. Around 1730 this also affected the examination system for civil servants , each candidate had to justify the Manchu rule in detail. Perishable novels were indexed in 1687, and from 1774–1789, for the purpose of censorship and extermination, a systematic search was made for writings that criticized barbarians even in the slightest.

Emperor Kangxi became known not only as a scholar, but also as a patron of the arts and sciences. He had magnificent residences built in Peking and Jehol and extensive scientific works worked out (including a giant encyclopedia , dictionary ). His son and successor Yongzheng (1723-1735) and also Qianlong (reign 1735-1796, † 1799) followed suit. Both were scholars and promoters of literature, Qianlong bequeathed 30,000 poems.

Qianlong era

Emperor Qianlong

In Qianlong's time, Qing China experienced an external display of power. The country of the Djungars in the Ili region and the Djungary was occupied from 1754-1759, the Tarim Basin with Kashgar , Chotan and Jarkend in 1760. In 1790/1791 a Chinese garrison was moved to Tibet (to Lhasa ), which has been dependent since 1720/1751 existed until 1912. All in all, border lines were drawn in the Qing period that China still refers to today (for example in the " border incident " on the Ussuri with the Soviet Union in 1968/1969).

As a reaction to the aggressive action of the European trading companies , the Qing dynasty began to regulate overseas trade for Europeans even more strictly from 1757 , until 1843 only the port in Guangzhou (Canton) was allowed for sea trade between China and Europe.

Economically and militarily, the increasing European superiority from 1800 onwards was not recognized ( Macartney Mission 1793). The Europeans insisted on the sinocentric world order , which knew no freedom of trade and classified states according to how close they were to Chinese culture. Formally, all Chinese vassals were there.

The inner peace and the good economic situation led to an unprecedented population growth. Between 1740 and 1850 the population increased from 143 million to 430 million people and soon overwhelmed the administration. In various areas of the vast empire there was tension with the conquered peoples who were culturally oppressed towards the end of the Qianlong era. A single campaign against the Tibetans in Sichuan from 1771 to 1776, for example, cost 70 million Silberliang . The situation in these areas encouraged highway robbery and corruption.

A banner general named Heshen (1750–1799) influenced Emperor Qianlong, spun a network of corruption and massacred peasants who rose against his demands for money around 1795 under the sect named White Lotus . The corruption and the fight against the peasant and minority uprisings increased the deficit of the state finances, so that one even had to save on the farm and stop hunting. The officials entrusted with the dike and river regulation diverted funds for their own use, so that under Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) there were seven floods.

Opium Wars and Taiping Rising

Emperor Daoguang
Directly controlled areas of the Qing Empire at the time of its greatest expansion in 1820. The Chinese core provinces (the " real China ") are colored darker.
Territorial losses of the Qing Empire until the end of the monarchy in 1911

The uprisings among the peasants did not end throughout the first half of the 19th century, and the minorities also rose incessantly. In the years 1826–1838, the smuggling of opium rose suddenly, and opium consumption continued to spread in this time of crisis despite the state ban. This also had a serious impact on public morale (lower civil servants) and the economy. The opium trade created a foreign trade deficit , causing the silver to flow out of China again. The government could not prevent this as it lost the Opium Wars against the Europeans.

There was a contradiction between the sinocentric world order mentioned above and the formal equality of all sovereign states represented by the Europeans and their free trade (in the course of the industrial revolution) . The contrast led to the First Opium War , which ended with the Treaty of Nanking , the first of the so-called Unequal Treaties .

The crisis of the empire erupted in the Taiping uprising (1851–1864, see there), which shook Chinese society to its foundations. In 1855 the Yellow River also changed its course, a catastrophe that had last occurred in 1324. While steamships dominated the picture in Europe around 1850 , the railroad expanded at the same time, steel production increased, cotton production became mechanized and thus became cheaper, China had to struggle with internal difficulties that hindered any progress, such as the Taiping uprising or the Nian rebellion. Uprising . Many Chinese left their country and were sold as coolies .

As a result, European influence continued to grow during the Second Opium War, and especially after the Treaty of Tianjin . China lost customs control, and foreign companies took over profitable businesses, like trade in 1862. After 1858/1860 every European state tried to obtain the same concessions and rights as its rival, even little Belgium. The result was incessant demonstrations of force, even small business porters could come in gunboats (1870) and force the opening of contract ports by force.

Nevertheless, efforts were made to modernize China, even if the progress made by the Europeans established their semi-colonial rule over China. The first Chinese steamship was completed in 1868, a steamship company was founded in 1872 and students were sent to Europe. The first railway followed in 1879, the first telegraph line in 1881 , the first railway company in 1887, the first railway line in 1893, and so on. All in all, an industry was built up that was not equal to that in Japan ( Meiji period ) until 1894. Foreigners had to be entrusted with technical matters.

However, due to the external and internal pressure, one was only forced to take care of the bare essentials. For example, 40 million liang bonds had to be taken out from foreign banks; but they were only sufficient for the immediate needs of the government. Because of the devastation, price hikes, famines and floods that followed the Taiping Uprising , the government had neither strong central power nor regular sources of income.

The end of the dynasty

Dowager Empress Cixi

Since 1900 the Qing dynasty lay in ruins, the laboriously built navy was destroyed by the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894/95, whereby Formosa , the nominal sovereignty over Korea and other areas was lost after the peace treaty of Shimonoseki . China was divided into spheres of influence, the Europeans and Japanese now maintained war fleets and troops there (the German Empire also occupied the Kiautschou Bay in 1897, which it received as a lease from 1898 through coercive measures).

The imperial family was influenced by the Dowager Empress Cixi († 1908), who ruled from 1861 for most of the time for her underage son Emperor Tongzhi and later for her nephew Guangxu . According to Western opinion at the time, it resisted reforms if they could endanger their power (see also: Hundred-Day Reform of Emperor Guangxu) and unofficially supported the Boxer Rebellion (January 11, 1900).

In 1911, in the course of the Xinhai Revolution, the last emperor Puyi was overthrown by Yuan Shikai and Sun Yat-sen . He proclaimed the Republic of China on January 1, 1912. Yuan Shikai proclaimed himself emperor in 1915, but was forced to resign in 1916. General Zhang Xun formally restored Puyi's rule for only two weeks in 1917, before he finally abdicated and had to leave the Forbidden City in 1924 .

Contemporary caricature (1898) depicting the rivalry of the great powers in China: from left to right Great Britain ( Victoria ), German Empire ( Wilhelm II ), Russia ( Nicholas II ), France ( Marianne ), Japan

See also


  • Jacques Gernet : The Chinese World. The history of China from the beginning to the present day. Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-458-05503-7 .
  • Haijian Mao: The Qing Empire and the Opium War: The Collapse of the Heavenly Dynasty. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018, ISBN 978-1-108-45541-1 .
  • Frederick W. Mote: Imperial China. 900-1800. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA et al. 1999, ISBN 0-674-44515-5 .
  • William T. Rowe: China's Last Empire. The Great Qing. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA et al. 2012, ISBN 978-0-674-03612-3 .
  • Jonathan D. Spence : China's Path to Modernity. Hanser, Munich et al. 1995, ISBN 3-446-16284-4 .

Web links

Commons : Qing Dynasty  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Kent Deng: China's Population Expansion and Its Causes during the Qing Period, 1644-1911 . In: The London School of Economics and Political Science (Ed.): Economic History Working Papers . tape 219 , May 2015 (English, pdf ).
  2. ^ Angus Maddison: The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective . ISBN 978-92-64-18608-8 , Appendix B Growth of World Population, GDP and GDP Per Capita before 1820, p. 229–265 (for the population: tables B8 and B10, for GDP: table B-18).