Lhasa riot of 1750

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Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. The Lhasa riot of 1750 (Chinese: 珠爾默特那木札勒之亂) took place in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and lasted several days during the period of Qing rule of Tibet. The uprising began on November 11, 1750 after the expected new regent of Tibet, Gyurme Namgyal was assassinated by two Manchu ambans.

During the uprising against Chinese authority both ambans were murdered by the mob, and 51 Qing soldiers and 77 Chinese citizens were killed. A year later the leader of the rebellion, Lobsang Trashi, and fourteen other rebels where executed.

Origins of the riot

Pholhanas, the regent of Tibet, died in February 1747, during his time in office the country had enjoyed a relatively tranquil period, still he had had discords with the Dalai Lama and news of them had reached Beijing after 1745. The ambans had mediated some of this conflicts, but the relations between them remained tense. In 1746 the Dalai Lama secretly sent a mission to Beijing to complain to the Emperor about Pholhanas treatment to him.[1]

After Pholhanas death he was succeeded by his second son, Gyurme Namgyal, as regent. The new regent also maintained bad relations with the Dalai Lama, he even rejected the Dalai Lama's offer to sing sutras in the funerary ceremony in honor of his father.[1] Fucine mediated and the prince later agreed to the Dalai Lama's offer.[1] Relations with the Qing also soured, because the Manchus suspected that the Tibetan prince was working to isolate the Dalai Lama from his followers while also preparing to military prevent a Qing intervention. Gyurme Namgyal even killed his brother, Gyumey Tseten, who was more pro-Qing.[1]

The Manchus believed that the prince had sent an envoy to the Dzungars, who rivaled the Qing control of Tibet.

Assassination of Gyurme Namgyal

The ambans Fucine and Labdon decided to act before the prince had a chance to rebel, the emperor's withdrawal of the garrison of Lhasa had deprived them of a physical means with which enforce their authority so they decided on a bold plan.[2] In November 11 of 1750 the prince was back in Lhasa, and the ambans summoned him to a conference in their office, the house that had been the residence of Lha-bzang Khan the last Khoshut King of Tibet, to assassinate him.

When Gyurme Namgyal was killed, Lobsang Trashi, a chamberlain, was in a small separate room but heard what happened. After killing the regent, all the guards searched the place for the members of Gyurme Namgyal's entourage, but Lobsang Trashi managed to escape by jumping through a window.[3]

Immediately after the murder, the ambans sent a messenger to Minister Gashi Pandita, asking him to take over as head of the Tibetan government. The minister looked bewildered but asked first the Dalai Lama for advice. While the Tibetan government deliberated the streets of Lhasa broke into a storm of riots.

The uprising

Immediately after his escape from the residence of the ambans, Lobsang Trashi spread the news about the murder of the regent. In a short time, a crowd of over a thousand armed men of the city, gathered very excited outside the residence of the ambans. Gashi Pandita had no opportunity to intervene, because they were no regular Tibetan troops in Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama sent some of his secretaries at the crowd to urge them to calm themselves and avoid taking violent actions. The main official of the Gelug order, Reting Rinpoche Ngawang Chokden, personally tried in vain to hold back the crowd.

The crowd besieged and burned the residence of the ambans. Fucine, injured with multiple stab wounds, committed suicide. Labdon died while fighting with the rebels. The 49 Qing soldiers and two officers who defended the residence, were also killed. Next the crowd targeted the treasury of the Qing army where they captured 85,000 taels.

After that, the anger of the crowd was directed against the Chinese citizens living in Lhasa, and 77 of them lost their life to the angry mob. The remaining Chinese, approximately 200, fled to safety in the Potala Palace, where they were offered refuge and assistance.

End of the rebellion

The riot ended as suddenly as it broke out. The rebels found no support from the Tibetan nobility and members of the government. Both groups were opposed to the policies of Gyurme Namgyal, and believed that challenging the Manchu superpower could only end in a military catastrophe.

The Dalai Lama, who headed the Gelug order had continued to deal with the many Tibetan monasteries of his order in eastern Tibet and Mongolia. His concern was in first place for its religious institutions, and the powerful Manchu Emperors were patrons of Tibetan Buddhism.

Two days after the death of Gyurme Namgyal and ambans, on November 13, the Dalai Lama appointed his minister Gashi Pandita as provisional regent. He was asked the government to lead the entry of final orders of the emperor. At the same time he issued a proclamation in which he forbade all Tibetans Trashi Lobsang and his supporters to support.

Lobsang Trashi fled with his followers Lhasa in order to get hold of the money Dzjoengarije to settle. On November 21, 1750, Gashi Pandita did the Dalai Lama Lobsang Trashi and that fourteen of his followers were taken down. Likewise, much of the looted money secured. On November 22, the situation had become so quiet that the Chinese refugees in their homes could return to Lhasa.

Qianlong's Expedition to Lhasa

At the beginning of 1750, provincial officials in Sichuan had been in on alert and were considering a preemptive invasion before the prince made his move.

The news of the murder of the ambans outraged the Qing Qianlong Emperor, and he decided to take swift military action. The initial orders to the commandants in Shanxi and Sichuan was to lead a column of 8,000 men and 5,000 men respectively,[1] but after the Emperor got news from the Dalai Lama that the rebellion was quelled he reduced the expeditionary force to 800 soldiers under General Cereng.[4]

The Qing general, zh (Ban Di), entered the city on January 18, 1751,[4] as the first representative of the Emperor to arrive to Lhasa after the riot and he came with a personal escort from Kokonor, where he previously was the Imperial representative. Upon entering, he immediately demanded the surrender of the insurgents. Ban Di was greeted by Pandita and handed over the prisoners involved in the riot. After a brief interrogation through torture he sentenced Lobsang Trashi to be executed. The Dalai Lama request for a lenient sentence was in vain.

Luciano Petech described the end of the insurgents as follows:

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"On January 23, 1751 Lhasa was similar to 1728, again witnessed another horrible example of Chinese justice. Lobsang Trashi and six other leaders of the rebellion were by executed by cutting them into pieces. Other people were beheaded or strangled. The heads of the executed were punctured and bars the public display. The other leaders were exiled and their property taken away. "

— Luciano Petech (1972) China and Tibet in the Early XVIIIth Century, pg. 225

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Yingcong 2009, p. 130
  2. Petech 1972, p. 216
  3. Petech 1972, p. 217
  4. 4.0 4.1 Yingcong 2009, p. 131


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