Qing conquest of the Ming

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The Qing conquest of the Ming, also known as the Ming–Qing transition and as the Manchu conquest of China, was a period of conflict between the Qing dynasty, established by Manchu clan Aisin Gioro in Manchuria (contemporary Northeastern China), and the Ming dynasty of China in the south (various other regional or temporary powers were also associated with events, such as the short-lived Shun dynasty). Leading up to the Qing conquest, in 1618, Aisin Gioro leader Nurhaci commissioned a document entitled the Seven Grievances, which enumerated grievances against the Ming and began to rebel against their domination. Many of the grievances dealt with conflicts against Yehe, which was a major Manchu clan, and Ming favoritism of Yehe. Nurhaci's demand that the Ming pay tribute to him to redress the seven grievances was effectively a declaration of war, as the Ming were not willing to pay money to a former tributary. Shortly afterwards, Nurhaci began to rebel against the Ming in Liaoning in southern Manchuria.

At the same time, the Ming dynasty was fighting for its survival against fiscal turmoil and peasant rebellions. On April 24, 1644, Beijing fell to a rebel army led by Li Zicheng, a former minor Ming official who became the leader of the peasant revolt, who then proclaimed the Shun dynasty. The last Ming emperor, the Chongzhen Emperor, hanged himself from a tree in the imperial garden outside the Forbidden City. When Li Zicheng moved against him, the Ming general Wu Sangui shifted his alliance to the Manchus. Li Zicheng was defeated at the Battle of Shanhai Pass by the joint forces of Wu Sangui and Manchu prince Dorgon. On June 6, the Manchus and Wu entered the capital and proclaimed the young Shunzhi Emperor as Emperor of China.

The conquest was far from complete however, and it required almost forty more years before all of a China was securely united under Qing rule. The Kangxi Emperor ascended the throne in 1661, and in 1662 his regents launched the Great Clearance to defeat the resistance of Ming loyalists in South China. He then fought off several rebellions, such as the Revolt of the Three Feudatories led by Wu Sangui in southern China, starting in 1673, and then countered by launching a series of campaigns that expanded his empire. In 1662, Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) drove out the Dutch colonists and founded the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan, a Ming loyalist state with a goal of reconquering China. However, Tungning was defeated in 1683 at the Battle of Penghu by Han admiral Shi Lang, a former admiral under Koxinga.

The fall of the Ming dynasty was largely caused by a combination of factors. Kenneth Swope argues that one key factor was deteriorating relations between Ming Royalty and the Ming Empire's military leadership.[1] Other factors include repeated military expeditions to the North, inflationary pressures caused by spending too much from the imperial treasury, natural disasters and epidemics of disease. Contributing further to the chaos was a peasant rebellion in Beijing in 1644 and a series of weak emperors. Ming power would hold out in what is now southern China for years, though eventually would be overtaken by the Manchus.[2]

Jurchen expansion

The Manchus are sometimes misdescribed as a nomadic people,[3] when in fact they were not nomads,[4][5] but a sedentary agricultural people who lived in fixed villages, farmed crops, practiced hunting and mounted archery. Their main military formation was infantry wielding bows and arrows, swords, and pikes while cavalry was kept in the rear.[6]

The Jianzhou Jurchen chief, Nurhaci, is retrospectively identified as the founder of the Qing dynasty. In 1616 he declared himself Khan. His unifying efforts gave the Jurchen the strength to assert themselves backed by an army consisting of majority Han defectors as well as Ming produced firearms. In 1618 he proclaimed Seven Grievances against the Ming and the Ming General Li Yongfang surrendered the city of Fushun in what is now Liaoning province in China's northeast, after Nurhaci gave him an Aisin Gioro princess in marriage and a noble title.[7] The Princess was one of Nurhaci's granddaughters. In a series of successful military campaigns in Liaodong and Liaoxi (east and west of the Liao River), the Jurchens seized a number of Ming cities including Shenyang, which they made into the capital of their newly founded "Later Jin" dynasty, named after a Jurchen polity that had ruled over north China several centuries earlier.

Under the inspirational leader Yuan Chonghuan, the Ming used western artillery to defeat the Jin forces at the Battle of Ningyuan in 1626. Nurhaci was injured and died soon afterwards, but the Ming failed to seize the chance to counter-attack.[8] The Jurchens' nemesis Yuan Chonghuan was soon purged in a political struggle, while under the leadership of the new khan Hong Taiji the Jurchens kept seizing Ming cities, defeated Joseon (Korea), a crucial vassal of the Ming, in 1627 and 1636, and raided deep into China in 1642 and 1643.

The Chahar Mongols were fought against by Dorgon in 1628 and 1635.[9][relevant? ]

After the Second Manchu invasion of Korea, Joseon Korea was forced to give several of their royal princesses as concubines to the Qing Manchu regent Prince Dorgon.[10][11][12][13][14][15] In 1650 Dorgon married the Korean Princess I-shun (義/願).[16] The Princess' name in Korean was Uisun and she was Prince Yi Kaeyoon's (Kumrimgoon) daughter.[17] Dorgon married two Korean princesses at Lianshan.[18] During the second invasion, many Korean women were kidnapped and raped at the hand of the Qing forces, and as a result were unwelcomed by their families even if they were released by the Qing after being ransomed.[19][relevant? ]

Conquest of Beijing and the north (1644)

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In their later years, the Ming faced a number of famines and floods as well as economic chaos, and rebellions. Li Zicheng rebelled in the 1630s in Shaanxi in the north, while a mutiny led by Zhang Xianzhong broke out in Sichuan in the 1640s. Many people were killed in this self-proclaimed emperor's reign of terror.

Just as Dorgon and his advisors were pondering how to attack the Ming, the peasant rebellions ravaging northern China were approaching dangerously close to the Ming capital Beijing. In February 1644, rebel leader Li Zicheng had founded the Shun dynasty in Xi'an and proclaimed himself king. In March his armies had captured the important city of Taiyuan in Shanxi. Seeing the progress of the rebels, on 5 April the Ming Chongzhen Emperor requested the urgent help of any military commandant in the Empire.[20] But it was too late: on 24 April Li Zicheng breached the walls of Beijing, and the Emperor hanged himself the next day on a hill behind the Forbidden City.[21] He was the last Ming emperor to reign in Beijing.

Soon after the emperor had called for help, powerful Ming general Wu Sangui had left his stronghold of Ningyuan north of the Great Wall and started marching toward the capital. On 26 April, his armies had moved through the fortifications of the Shanhai Pass (the eastern end of the Great Wall) and were marching toward Beijing when he heard that the city had fallen,[22] whereupon he returned to the Shanhai Pass. Li Zicheng sent two armies to attack the Pass but Wu's battle-hardened troops defeated them easily on 5 May and 10 May.[23] Then on 18 May, Li Zicheng personally led 60,000 of his troops out of Beijing to attack Wu.[23] At the same time, Wu Sangui wrote to Dorgon to request the Qing's help in ousting the bandits and restoring the Ming dynasty.

Battle of Ningyuan, where Nurhaci was injured in defeat.

Meanwhile, Wu Sangui's departure from the stronghold of Ningyuan had left all the territory outside the Great Wall under Qing control.[24] Two of Dorgon's most prominent Chinese advisors, Hong Chengchou[25] and Fan Wencheng (范文程), urged the Manchu prince to seize the opportunity of the fall of Beijing to present themselves as avengers of the fallen Ming and to claim the Mandate of Heaven for the Qing.[24][26] Therefore, when Dorgon received Wu's letter, he was already about to lead an expedition to attack northern China and had no intention to restore the Ming. When Dorgon asked Wu to work for the Qing instead, Wu had little choice but to accept.[27]

After Wu formally surrendered to the Qing in the morning of 27 May, his elite troops charged the rebel army repeatedly, but were unable to break the enemy lines.[28] Dorgon waited until both sides were weakened before ordering his cavalry to gallop around Wu's right wing to charge Li's left flank.[29] Li Zicheng's troops were quickly routed and fled back toward Beijing.[30] After their defeat at the Battle of Shanhai Pass, the Shun troops looted Beijing for several days until Li Zicheng left the capital on 4 June with all the wealth he could carry, one day after he had defiantly proclaimed himself Emperor of the Great Shun.[31][32]

Under the reign of Dorgon, whom historians have variously called "the mastermind of the Qing conquest"[33] and "the principal architect of the great Manchu enterprise",[34] the Qing subdued the capital area, received the capitulation of Shandong local elites and officials, and conquered Shanxi and Shaanxi. They then turned their eyes to the rich commercial and agricultural region of Jiangnan south of the lower Yangtze River. They also wiped out the last remnants of rival regimes established by Li Zicheng (killed in 1645) and Zhang Xianzhong (Chengdu taken in early 1647). Finally, they managed to kill claimants to the throne of the Southern Ming in Nanjing (1645) and Fuzhou (1646) and chased Zhu Youlang, the last Southern Ming emperor, out of Guangzhou (1647) and into the far southwestern reaches of China

Building a new order

Qing timeline
Qing conquest of the Ming
1616 AD Nurhaci declares a new dynasty, the Amaga Aisin Gurun (Later Jin).
1618 Nurhaci cites a list of Seven Grievances as casus belli against the Ming and attacks the walled city of Fushun.
1619 Nurhaci defeats a combined force of Ming, Yehe, and Joseon troops near Sarhu. Fushun and Kaiyuan are captured.
1621 Nurhaci captures Liaoyang, Shenyang, and the fortress of Jinzhou. Nurhaci establishes his new capital at Liaoyang.
1625 Nurhaci moves his capital to Shenyang which he renames Simiyan Hoton.
1626 Nurhaci launches a campaign to drive Ming forces from the fortress of Ningyuan. However the attack fails and Nurhaci receives fatal wounds, dying later that year. Hong Taiji succeeds him. Yuan Chonghuan's troops reoccupy Jinzhou.
1627 Hong Taiji's brother Amin invades the kingdom of Joseon with an army of 30,000. Joseon pays tribute to the Later Jin and the Jurchen army retreats after looting Pyongyang.
1629 Hong Taiji launches a raid against Ming, bypassing Ninyuan and instead taking a route through Mongolia to loot the Beijing region. Large numbers of people and cattle are taken back to Liaoyang. Yuan Chonghuan is executed in Beijing for treason.
1631 Hong Taiji captures Dalinghe.
1634 Hong Taiji attacks Datong and Daizhou.
1635 Hong Taiji changes the name of his people, the Jurchen, to Manchu.
1636 Hong Taiji proclaims the Qing dynasty and launches a raid on the Ming reaching as far as Ji'nanfu, plundering sixty cities. Simiya Hoton is given a new name, Mukden, meaning "to rise." The Qing army also invades Joseon, severing their relationship with Ming.
1641 Songshan is taken by the Qing.
1642 Jinzhou is taken by the Qing. Eight Han banners are added to the existing Manchu and Mongol banners.
1643 Hong Taiji dies and is succeeded by his son, Fulin, later known as the Shunzhi Emperor. The campaign against Ming continues unabated under the regents Dorgon and Jirgalang.
1644 Warlord Li Zicheng occupies Beijing and the Chongzhen Emperor commits suicide. The Ming garrison at Shanhaiguan joins Dorgon's forces to suppress Li's army and occupies Beijing in June. Dorgon relocates the Qing capital to Beijing.
1645 Li Zicheng disappears after suffering several defeats.

Han-Manchu marriages

Han Chinese Generals who defected to the Manchu were often given women from the Imperial Aisin Gioro family in marriage. Manchu Aisin Gioro princesses were also married to Han Chinese official's sons.[35] The Manchu leader Nurhaci married one of his granddaughters to the Ming General Li Yongfang 李永芳 after he surrendered Fushun in Liaoning to the Manchu in 1618. Nurhaci's son Abatai's daughter was married to Li Yongfang.[36][37][38][39] The offspring of Li received the "Third Class Baron" (三等子爵; sān děng zǐjué) title.[40] Li Yongfang was the great great great grandfather of Li Shiyao 李侍堯.[41][42] The 4th daughter of Kangxi (和硕悫靖公主) was wedded to the son (孫承恩) of the Han Chinese Sun Sike (Sun Ssu-k'o) 孫思克.[43] Other Aisin Gioro women married the sons of the Han Chinese Generals Sun Sike (Sun Ssu-k'o) 孫思克, Geng Jimao (Keng Chi-mao), Shang Kexi (Shang K'o-hsi), and Wu Sangui (Wu San-kuei).[44] Meanwhile the ordinary soldiers who defected were often given non-royal Manchu women as wives, and a mass marriage of Han Chinese officers and officials to Manchu women numbering 1,000 couples was arranged by Prince Yoto 岳托 (Prince Keqin) and Hongtaiji in 1632 to promote harmony between the two ethnic groups.[45][7]

This policy, which began before the invasion of 1644, was continued after it. A 1648 decree from Shunzhi allowed Han Chinese civilian men to marry Manchu women from the Banners with the permission of the Board of Revenue if they were registered daughters of officials or commoners or the permission of their banner company captain if they were unregistered commoners, it was only later in the dynasty that these policies allowing intermarriage were done away with.[46][47] The decree was formulated by Dorgon.[48] In the beginning of the Qing dynasty the Qing government supported Han Chinese defectors weddings to Manchu girls.[49][50] Han Chinese Bannermen wedded Manchus and there was no law against this.[51]

The "Dolo efu" 和碩額駙 rank was given to husbands of Qing princesses. Geng Zhongming, a Han bannerman, was awarded the title of Prince Jingnan, and his son Geng Jingmao managed to have both his sons Geng Jingzhong and Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 become court attendants under the Shunzhi Emperor and married Aisin Gioro women, with Prince Abatai's granddaughter marrying Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 and Haoge's (a son of Hong Taiji) daughter marrying Geng Jingzhong.[52] A daughter 和硕柔嘉公主 of the Manchu Aisin Gioro Prince Yolo 岳樂 (Prince An) was wedded to Geng Juzhong 耿聚忠 who was another son of Geng Jingmao.[53] Aisin Gioro women were offered to Mongols who defected to the Manchus.[54] The Manchu Prince Regent Dorgon gave a Manchu woman as a wife to the Han Chinese official Feng Quan,[55]> who had defected from the Ming to the Qing. Feng Quan willingly adopted the Manchu queue hairstyle before it was enforced on the Han population and Feng learned the Manchu language.[56]

Building a mixed military with Han defectors

Manchus were living in cities with walls surrounded by villages and adopting Chinese-style agriculture well before the Qing conquest of the Ming,[57] and there was an established tradition of Han Chinese-Manchu mixing before 1644. The Han Chinese soldiers on the Liaodong frontier often mixed with non-Han tribesmen and were largely acculturated to their ways.[58] The Jurchen Manchus accepted and assimilated Han Chinese soldiers who went over to them,[59] and Han Chinese soldiers from Liaodong often adopted and used Manchu names. Indeed Nurhaci's secretary Dahai may have been one such individual.[60]

There were too few ethnic Manchus to conquer China, but they absorbed defeated Mongols, and, more importantly, added Han Chinese to the Eight Banners.[61] The Manchus had to create an entire "Jiu Han jun" (Old Han Army) due to the very large number of Han Chinese soldiers absorbed into the Eight Banners by both capture and defection. The Qing showed that the Manchus valued military skills in propaganda targeted towards the Ming military to get them to defect to the Qing, since the Ming civilian political system discriminated against the military.[62] From 1618-1631 Manchus received Han Chinese defectors and their descendants became Han Bannermen and those killed in battle were commemorated as martyrs in biographies.[63]

Hong Taiji recognized that Ming Han Chinese defectors were needed in order to assist in the conquest of the Ming, explaining to other Manchus why he needed to treat the Ming defector General Hong Chengchou leniently.[64] Hong Taiji understood that the Ming would not be easily defeated unless Han Chinese troops wielding musket and cannon were used alongside the Banners.[65] Indeed, among the Banners, gunpowder weapons like muskets and artillery were specifically used by the Chinese Banners.[66] The Manchus established an artillery corps made out of Han Chinese soldiers in 1641.[67] The use of artillery by Han Bannermen may have led to them being known as "heavy" soldiers (ujen cooha).[68] The "red coat cannon" were part of the Han army (Liaodong Han Chinese) serving the Qing.[69]

Ming officers who defected to the Qing were allowed to retain their previous military rank.[70] The Qing received the defection of Shen Zhixiang in 1638.[71] Among the other Han officers who defected to the Qing were Ma Guangyuan, Wu Rujie, Zu Dashou, Quan Jie, Geng Zhongming, Zu Zehong, Zu Zepu, Zu Zerun, Deng Changchun, Wang Shixian, Hong Chengchou, Shang Kexi, Liu Wuyuan, Zu Kefa, Zhang Cunren, Meng Qiaofang, Kong Youde, Sun Dingliao.[72] Aristocratic and military ranks, silver, horses and official positions were given to Han Chinese defectors like Zhang Cunren, Sun Dingliao, Liu Wu, Liu Liangchen, Zu Zehong, Zu Zepu, Zu Kufa and Zu Zerun. Han Chinese defectors managed and organized a massive amount of the military strategy after 1631.[73]

So many Han defected to the Qing and swelled up the ranks of the Eight Banners that ethnic Manchus became a minority within the Banners, making up only 16% in 1648, with Han Bannermen dominating at 75% and Mongol Bannermen making up the rest.[74][75][76] It was this multi-ethnic force in which Manchus were only a minority, which conquered China for the Qing.[77] In 1644, China was invaded by an army that had only a fraction of Manchus, the invading army was multi-ethnic, with Han Banners, Mongols Banners, and Manchu Banners, the political barrier was between the commoners made out of Han Chinese (non bannermen) and the "conquest elite", made out of Han Chinese bannermen, nobles, and Mongols and Manchu, it was not ethnicity which was the factor.[78] The Ming's takeover by the Qing was done by the multi-ethnic Han Banners, Mongol Banners, and Manchu Banners which made up the Qing military.[79] Han Chinese Nikan bannermen used banners of black color and Nurhaci was guarded by Han Nikan soldiers.[80] Other banners became a minority compared to the Han Chinese Nikan Black Banner detachments during Nurhaci's reign.[81]

The mixed army deployed for invasion

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The conquest of the Empire, after the Manchus had securely seated themselves in Peking, had to be undertaken largely with Chinese troops, simply " stiffened " a little with a Manchu regiment here and there.

— E.H. Parker, The Financial Capacity of China; Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society[82]

When Dorgon ordered Han civilians to vacate Beijing's inner city and move to the outskirts, he resettled the inner city with the Bannermen, including Han Chinese bannermen. Later, some exceptions were made, allowing Han civilians who held government or commercial jobs to also reside in the inner city.[48] The civilian government was flooded by Han Chinese Bannermen.[83] The Six Boards President and other major positions were filled with Han Bannermen chosen by the Qing.[84]

It was Han Chinese Bannermen who were responsible for the successful Qing conquest of China. They made up the majority of governors in the early Qing and were the ones who governed and administered China after the conquest, stabilizing Qing rule.[85] Han Bannermen dominated governor-general posts in the time of the Shunzhi and Kangxi Emperors, as well as governor post, largely excluding ordinary Han civilians.[86] Three Liaodong Han Bannermen officers who played a major role in the conquest of southern China from the Ming were Shang Kexi, Geng Zhongming, and Kong Youde and they governed southern China autonomously as viceroys for the Qing after their conquests.[87]

A full face black-and-white portrait of a sitting man with a gaunt face, wearing a robe covered with intricate cloud and dragon patterns.
A portrait of Hong Chengchou (1593–1665), a former Ming official who advised Dorgon to take advantage of the violent death of the Ming Chongzhen Emperor to present the Qing as the avengers of the Ming and to conquer all of China instead of raiding for loot and slaves.[88]

The Qing relied on the Green Standard soldiers, made out of defected Han Chinese Ming military forces who joined the Qing, in order to help rule northern China.[89] It was Green Standard Han Chinese troops who actively military governed China locally while Han Chinese Bannermen, Mongol Bannermen, and Manchu Bannermen who were only brought into emergency situations where there was sustained military resistance.[90][91]

It was Qing army composed mostly of Han Chinese Bannermen which attacked Koxinga's Ming loyalists in Nanjing.[92] The Manchus sent Han Bannermen to fight against Koxinga's Ming loyalists in Fujian.[93] The Qing carried out a massive depopulation policy and clearances, forcing people to evacuated the coast in order to deprive Koxinga's Ming loyalists of resources, this has led to a myth that it was because Manchus were "afraid of water". In fact, in Fujian, it was Han Bannermen who were the ones carrying out the fighting and killing for the Qing and this disproves the entirely irrelevant claim that alleged fear of the water on part of the Manchus had to do with the coastal evacuation and seaban.[94] Even though a poem refers to the soldiers carrying out massacres in Fujian as "barbarian", both Han Green Standard Army and Han Bannermen were involved in the fighting for the Qing side and carried out the worst slaughter.[95] 400,000 Green Standard Army soldiers were used against the Three Feudatories besides 200,000 Bannermen.[96]

The Qing forces were crushed by Wu from 1673-1674.[97] The Qing had the support of the majority of Han Chinese soldiers and Han elite against the Three Feudatories, since they refused to join Wu Sangui in the revolt, while the Eight Banners and Manchu officers fared poorly against Wu Sangui, so the Qing responded with using a massive army of more than 900,000 Han Chinese (non-Banner) instead of the Eight Banners, to fight and crush the Three Feudatories.[98] Wu Sangui's forces were crushed by the Green Standard Army, made out of defected Ming soldiers.[99] In the Three Feudatories rebellion, Han bannermen who stayed on the Qing side and died in battle were categorized as martyrs [100]

Wu Sangui was a general of the Ming dynasty, who later defected to the Qing dynasty. However, his hopes to restore the former were dashed after he rebelled against the Kangxi Emperor.


When the Qing imposed the Queue Order in China, many Han defectors were appointed in the massacre of dissidents. Li Chengdong, a former Ming general who had defected to the Qing faction[101], oversaw three massacres in Jiading that occurred within the same month; together which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and left cities depopulated.[102]

The city of Jiangyin, which had held out against about 10,000 Qing troops before the city wall was breached on October 9th, 1645, observed a tremendous decline in population followed by the mass killing of 74,000 to 100,000 residents. Troops under the command of Liu Liangzuo (劉良佐) were ordered to "fill the city with corpses before you sheathe your swords."[103] Although Manchu Bannermen were often related to the Jiangyin Massacre which targeted the Ming loyalists, a majority of whom who had participated in Jiangyin Massacre were Han Bannermen.[104]

In Fuzhou, although former-Ming subjects were initially compensated with silver for complying to the Queue Order, general Hong Chengchou had enforced the policy thoroughly on the residents of Jiangnan by 1645.[105][106] The Han banner was repeatedly assigned to enforce the Queue Order, often resulting in massacres such as the Yangzhou Massacre,[107] during which local residents were seen harassed by troops.[108]

In Guangzhou, massacres of Ming loyalists and civilians in 1650 were carried out by Qing forces under the command of Shang Kexi and Geng Jimao.[109][110]

Chinese military science and military texts

On the orders of Nurhaci[60] in 1629,[111][112] a number of Chinese works considered to be of critical importance were translated into Manchu by Dahai.[113] The first works translated were all Chinese military texts dedicated to the arts of war due to the Manchu interests in the topic.[114] They were the Liu-t'ao 六韜, Su-shu 素書, and San-lueh 三略 followed by the military text Wu-tzu and Sun-Tzu's work The Art of War. The Art of War was translated into Manchu as ᠴᠣᠣᡥᠠᡳ
Wylie: Tchauhai paita be gisurengge,[115][116] Möllendorff: Coohai baita de gisurengge, Discourse on the art of War.[117] Another later Manchu translation was made by Aisin Gioro Qiying.[118]

Other texts translated into Manchu by Dahai included the Ming penal code.[119] The Manchus placed great significance on Chinese texts relating to military affairs and governance, and further Chinese texts of history, law and military theory were translated into Manchu during the rule of Hong Taiji in Mukden.[120] A Manchu translation was made of the military themed Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.[121][122][123] As well as the translations by Dahai, other Chinese literature, military theory and legal texts were translated into Manchu by Erdeni.[124]

Major Campaigns

Consolidation in the north and Sichuan (1644-1647)

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Soon after entering Beijing in June 1644, Dorgon despatched Wu Sangui and his troops to pursue Li Zicheng, the rebel leader who had driven the last Ming emperor to suicide, but had been defeated by the Qing in late May at the Battle of Shanhai Pass.[125] Wu managed to engage Li's rearguard many times, but Li still managed to cross the Gu Pass (故關) into Shanxi, and Wu returned to Beijing.[126] Li Zicheng reestablished his power base in Xi'an (Shaanxi province), where he had declared the foundation of his Shun dynasty back in February 1644.[127] In October of that year Dorgon sent several armies to root out Li Zicheng from his Shaanxi stronghold,[128] after repressing revolts against Qing rule in Hebei and Shandong in the Summer and Fall of 1644. Qing armies led by Ajige, Dodo, and Shi Tingzhu (石廷柱) won consecutive engagements against Shun forces in Shanxi and Shaanxi, forcing Li Zicheng to leave his Xi'an headquarters in February 1645.[129] Li retreated through several provinces until he was killed in September 1645, either by his own hand or by a peasant group that had organized for self-defense in this time of rampant banditry.[130]

In early 1646 Dorgon sent two expeditions to Sichuan to try to destroy Zhang Xianzhong's regime: the first expedition did not reach Sichuan because it was caught up against remnants;[clarification needed] the second one, under the direction of Hooge (the son of Hong Taiji who had lost the succession struggle of 1643) reached Sichuan in October 1646.[131] Hearing that a Qing army led by a major general was approaching, Zhang Xianzhong fled toward Shaanxi, splitting his troops into four divisions that were ordered to act independently if something were to happen to him.[131] Before leaving, he ordered a massacre of the population of his capital Chengdu.[131] Zhang Xianzhong was killed in a battle against Qing forces near Xichong in central Sichuan on 1 February 1647.[132] Hooge then easily took Chengdu, but found it in a state of desolation he had not expected. Unable to find food in the countryside, his soldiers looted the area, killing resisters, and even resorted to cannibalism as food shortages grew acute.[133]

The northwest (1644-1650)

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Li Zicheng and Tibetans were fought against by the Monguors, who supported the Ming, and when the Qing fought against Li's forces after 1644 they joined the Qing side.[134]

Late in 1646, forces assembled by a Muslim leader known in Chinese sources as Milayin (米喇印) revolted against Qing rule in Ganzhou (Gansu). He was soon joined by another Muslim named Ding Guodong (丁國棟).[135] Proclaiming that they wanted to restore the fallen Ming, they occupied a number of towns in Gansu, including the provincial capital Lanzhou.[135] These rebels' willingness to collaborate with non-Muslim Chinese suggests that they were not only driven by religion, and were not aiming to create an Islamic state.[135] To pacify the rebels, the Qing government quickly despatched Meng Qiaofang (孟喬芳), governor of Shaanxi, a former Ming official who had surrendered to the Qing in 1631.[136] Both Milayin and Ding Guodong were captured and killed in 1648,[136] and by 1650 the Muslim rebels had been crushed in campaigns that inflicted heavy casualties.[137] The Muslim Ming loyalists were supported by the Muslim Chagatid Kumul Khanate and the Turfan Khanate and after their defeat, Kumul submitted to the Qing. Another Muslim rebel, Ma Shouying, was allied to Li Zicheng and the Shun dynasty.

Jiangnan (1645)

Portrait of Shi Kefa, who refused to surrender to the Qing in the defense of Yangzhou.

A few weeks after the Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide in Beijing in April 1644, some descendants of the Ming imperial house started arriving in Nanjing, which had been the auxiliary capital of the Ming dynasty.[20] Agreeing that the Ming needed an imperial figure to rally support in the south, the Nanjing Minister of War Shi Kefa and the Fengyang Governor-general Ma Shiying (馬士英) agreed to form a loyalist Ming government around the Prince of Fu, Zhu Yousong, a first cousin of the Chongzhen Emperor who had been next in line for succession after the dead emperor's sons, whose fates were still unknown.[138] The Prince was crowned as emperor on 19 June 1644 under the protection of Ma Shiying and his large war fleet.[139][140] He would reign under the era name "Hongguang" (弘光). The Hongguang regime was ridden with factional bickering that facilitated the Qing conquest of Jiangnan, which was launched from Xi'an in April 1645.[lower-alpha 1] Greatly aided by the surrender of Southern Ming commanders Li Chengdong (李成東) and Liu Liangzuo (劉良佐), the Qing army took the key city of Xuzhou north of the Huai River in early May 1645, leaving Shi Kefa in Yangzhou as the main defender of the Southern Ming's northern frontiers.[143]

A black-and-white photograph from three-quarter back view of a man wearing a round cap and a long braided queue that reaches to the back of his right knee. His left foot is posed on the first step of a four-step wooden staircase. Bending forward to touch a cylindrical container from which smoke is rising, he is resting his left elbow on his folded left knee.
A man in San Francisco's Chinatown around 1900. The Chinese habit of wearing a queue came from Dorgon's July 1645 edict ordering all men to shave their forehead and tie their hair into a queue like the Manchus.

Several contingents of Qing forces converged on Yangzhou on 13 May 1645.[142] The majority of the Qing army which marched on the city were Ming defectors and they far outnumbered the Manchus and Bannermen.[144] Shi Kefa's small force refused to surrender, but could not resist Dodo's artillery: on 20 May Qing cannon wielded by the Han Bannermen (Ujen Coohai) breached the city wall and Dodo ordered the "brutal slaughter"[145] of Yangzhou's entire population[145] to terrorize other Jiangnan cities into surrendering to the Qing.[142] On 1 June Qing armies crossed the Yangzi River and easily took the garrison city of Zhenjiang, which protected access to Nanjing.[146] The Qing arrived at the gates of Nanjing a week later, but the Hongguang Emperor had already fled.[146] The city surrendered without a fight on 16 June after its last defenders had made Dodo promise he would not hurt the population.[147] Within less than a month, the Qing had captured the fleeing Ming emperor (he died in Beijing the following year) and seized Jiangnan's main cities, including Suzhou and Hangzhou;[147] by then the frontier between the Qing and the Southern Ming had been pushed south to the Qiantang River.[148]

On 21 July 1645, after the Jiangnan region had been superficially pacified, Dorgon issued "the most untimely promulgation of his career":[149] he ordered all Chinese men to shave their forehead and to braid the rest of their hair into a queue just like the Manchus.[150][151] The punishment for non-compliance was death.[152] This policy of symbolic submission to the new dynasty helped the Manchus in telling friend from foe. [lower-alpha 2] For Han officials and literati, however, the new hairstyle was "a humiliating act of degradation" (because it breached a common Confucian directive to preserve one's body intact), whereas for common folk cutting their hair "was tantamount to the loss of their manhood."[lower-alpha 3] Because it united Chinese of all social backgrounds into resistance against Qing rule, the hair-cutting command "broke the momentum of the Qing conquest."[154][155][lower-alpha 4] The defiant population of Jiading and Songjiang was massacred by former Ming general Li Chengdong (李成東), respectively on August 24 and September 22.[157] Jiangyin also held out against about 10,000 Qing troops for 83 days. When the city wall was finally breached on 9 October 1645, the Qing army led by Ming defector Liu Liangzuo (劉良佐), who had been ordered to "fill the city with corpses before you sheathe your swords," massacred the entire population, killing between 74,000 and 100,000 people.[158] Hundreds of thousands of people were killed before all of China was brought into compliance.

The Southern Ming (1646-1650)

File:Qing conquest of South Ming territories.svg

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Photograph of the body of a black muzzle-loading cannon propped by two braces rest on a rectangular gray stand with two embedded little round lamps.
A cannon cast in 1650 by the Southern Ming. (From the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence.)

Meanwhile, the Southern Ming had not been eliminated. When Hangzhou fell to the Qing on 6 July 1645,[147] the Prince of Tang Zhu Yujian, a ninth-generation descendant of Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang, managed to escape by land to the southeastern province of Fujian.[159] Crowned as the Longwu Emperor in the coastal city of Fuzhou on 18 August, he depended on the protection of talented seafarer Zheng Zhilong (also known as "Nicholas Iquan").[160] The childless emperor adopted Zheng's eldest son and granted him the imperial surname.[161] "Koxinga," as this son is known to Westerners, is a distortion of the title "Lord of the Imperial Surname" (Guoxingye 國姓爺).[161] In the mean time another Ming claimant, the Prince of Lu Zhu Yihai, had named himself regent in Zhejiang, but the two loyalist regimes failed to cooperate, making their chances of success even lower than they already were.[162]

Black-and-white print of a man with small eyes and a thin mustache wearing a robe, a fur hat, and a necklace made with round beads, sitting cross-legged on a three-level platform covered with a rug. Behind him and much smaller are eight men (four on each side) sitting in the same position wearing robes and round caps, as well as four standing men with similar garb (on the left).
Portrait of Shang Kexi by Johan Nieuhof (1655). Shang recaptured Guangzhou from Ming loyalist forces in 1650 and organized a massacre of the city's population. He was one of the Three Feudatories who rebelled against the Qing in 1673.

In February 1646, Qing armies seized land west of the Qiantang River from the Lu regime and defeated a ragtag force representing the Longwu Emperor in northeastern Jiangxi.[163] In May, they besieged Ganzhou, the last Ming bastion in Jiangxi.[164] In July, a new Southern Campaign led by Prince Bolo sent Prince Lu's Zhejiang regime into disarray and proceeded to attack the Longwu regime in Fujian.[165] On the pretext of relieving the siege of Ganzhou, the Longwu court left their Fujian base in late September 1646, but the Qing army caught up with them.[166] Longwu and his empress were summarily executed in Tingzhou (western Fujian) on 6 October.[167] After the fall of Fuzhou on 17 October, Zheng Zhilong surrendered to the Qing and his son Koxinga fled to the island of Taiwan with his fleet.[167]

The Longwu Emperor's younger brother Zhu Yuyue, who had fled Fuzhou by sea, soon founded another Ming regime in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, taking the reign title Shaowu (紹武) on 11 December 1646.[168] Short of official costumes, the court had to purchase robes from local theater troops.[168] On 24 December, Prince of Gui Zhu Youlang established the Yongli (永曆) regime in the same vicinity.[168] The two Ming regimes fought each other until 20 January 1647, when a small Qing force led by former Southern Ming commander Li Chengdong (李成東) captured Guangzhou, killing the Shaowu Emperor and sending the Yongli Emperor fleeing to Nanning in Guangxi.[169] In May 1648, however, Li Chengdong mutinied against the Qing, and the concurrent rebellion of another former Ming general in Jiangxi helped the Yongli regime to retake most of southern China.[170] This resurgence of loyalist hopes was short-lived. New Qing armies managed to reconquer the central provinces of Huguang (present-day Hubei and Hunan), Jiangxi, and Guangdong in 1649 and 1650.[171] The Yongli Emperor fled to Nanning and from there to Guizhou.[171] Finally on 24 November 1650, Qing forces led by Shang Kexi captured Guangzhou and massacred the city's population, killing as many as 70,000 people.[172]

Ongoing campaigns against the Southern Ming (1652-1661)

A map of southern China showing provincial boundaries in black, with a blue line running between several cities marked with a red dot.
The flight of the Yongli Emperor––the last sovereign of the Southern Ming dynasty––from 1647 to 1661. The provincial and national boundaries are those of the People's Republic of China.

Though the Qing under Dorgon's leadership had successfully pushed the Southern Ming deep into southern China, Ming loyalism was not dead yet. In early August 1652, Li Dingguo, who had served as general in Sichuan under bandit king Zhang Xianzhong (d. 1647) and was now protecting the Yongli Emperor of the Southern Ming, retook Guilin (Guangxi province) from the Qing.[173] Within a month, most of the commanders who had been supporting the Qing in Guangxi reverted to the Ming side.[174] Despite occasionally successful military campaigns in Huguang and Guangdong in the next two years, Li failed to retake important cities.[173] In 1653, the Qing court put Hong Chengchou in charge of retaking the southwest.[175] Headquartered in Changsha (in what is now Hunan province), he patiently built up his forces; only in late 1658 did well-fed and well-supplied Qing troops mount a multipronged campaign to take Guizhou and Yunnan.[175] In late January 1659, a Qing army led by Manchu prince Doni took the capital of Yunnan, sending the Yongli Emperor fleeing into nearby Burma, which was then ruled by King Pindale Min of the Toungoo dynasty.[175] The last sovereign of the Southern Ming stayed there until 1662, when he was captured and executed by Wu Sangui, whose surrender to the Manchus in April 1644 had allowed Dorgon to start the Qing conquest of China.[176]

Zheng Chenggong ("Koxinga"), who had been adopted by the Longwu Emperor in 1646 and ennobled by Yongli in 1655, also continued to defend the cause of the Southern Ming.[177] In 1659, just as Shunzhi was preparing to hold a special examination to celebrate the glories of his reign and the success of the southwestern campaigns, Zheng sailed up the Yangtze River with a well-armed fleet, took several cities from Qing hands, and went so far as to threaten Nanjing.[178] When the emperor heard of this sudden attack he is said to have slashed his throne with a sword in anger.[178] But the siege of Nanjing was relieved and Zheng Chenggong repelled, forcing Zheng to take refuge in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian.[179] Pressured by Qing fleets, Zheng fled to Taiwan in April 1661 and defeated the Dutch in the Siege of Fort Zeelandia, expelling them from Taiwan and setting up the Kingdom of Tungning.[180] Zheng died in 1662. His descendants resisted Qing rule until 1683, when his grandson Zheng Keshuang surrendered Taiwan to the Kangxi Emperor after the Battle of Penghu.[181] The Ming dynasty Princes who accompanied Koxinga to Taiwan were the Prince of Ningjing Zhu Shugui and Prince Zhu Hónghuán w:zh:朱弘桓, son of Zhu Yihai.

The Three Feudatories (1674-1681)

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In 1673, Wu Sangui, Shang Kexi, and Geng Jimao, the "Three Feudatories", rebelled against the Kangxi Emperor. They dominated southern China, and Wu declared the "Zhou dynasty". However, their disunity destroyed them. Shang Zhixin and Geng surrendered in 1681 after a massive Qing counteroffensive, in which the Han Green Standard Army played the major role with the Bannermen taking a backseat.

Taiwan (1683)

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Several Ming dynasty Princes accompanied Koxinga to Taiwan including Prince Zhu Shugui of Ningjing and Prince Zhu Honghuan (w:zh:朱弘桓), the son of Zhu Yihai. The Kangxi Emperor, the one who had crushed the Three Feudatories' revolt, began his own campaigns to expand his empire. In 1683 he dispatched Shi Lang with a fleet of 300 ships to take the Ming loyalist Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan in 1683 from the wealthy Zheng family.

Having lost the Battle of Penghu, Koxinga's grandson Zheng Keshuang surrendered and was rewarded by the Kangxi Emperor with the title "Duke of Haicheng" (海澄公). He and his soldiers were inducted into the Eight Banners. His rattan shield troops (藤牌营, tengpaiying) served against Russian Cossacks at Albazin.

The Qing sent most of the 17 Ming princes still living on Taiwan back to mainland China where they spent the rest of their lives.[182] The Prince of Ningjing and his five concubines committed suicide rather than submit to capture. Their palace was used as Shi Lang's headquarters in 1683 but he memorialized the emperor to convert it into a Mazu temple as a propaganda measure in quieting remaining resistance on Taiwan. The emperor approved its dedication as the Grand Matsu Temple the next year and, honoring the goddess Mazu for her supposed assistance during the Qing invasion, promoted her to "Empress of Heaven" (Tianhou) from her previous status as a heavenly consort (tianfei).[183][184]

Literature and thought

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Shitao (1642–1707), who was related to the Ming imperial family, was one of many artists and writers who refused to give their allegiance to the Qing. Art historian Craig Clunas suggests that Shitao used a poem inscribed on this "Self-Portrait Supervising the Planting of Pines" (1674) to allude to the restoration of the Ming dynasty.[185]

The defeat of the Ming dynasty posed practical and moral problems, especially for literati and officials. Confucian teachings emphasized loyalty (忠 zhōng), but were good Confucians to be loyal to the fallen Ming or to the new power, the Qing? Some, like the painter Bada Shanren, a descendent of the Ming ruling family, became recluses. Others, like Kong Shangren, who claimed to be a descendent of Confucius, supported the new regime. Kong wrote a poignant drama, The Peach Blossom Fan, which explored the moral decay of the Ming in order to explain its fall. Poets whose lives bridged the transition between Ming poetry and Qing poetry are attracting modern academic interest.[lower-alpha 5] Some of the most important first generation of Qing thinkers were Ming loyalists, at least in their hearts, including Gu Yanwu, Huang Zongxi, and Fang Yizhi. Partly in reaction and to protest the laxity and excess of the late Ming, they turned to evidential learning, which emphasized careful textual study and critical thinking.[186] Another important group in this transitional period were the "Three Masters of Jiangdong" – Gong Dingzi, Wu Weiye, and Qian Qianyi – who among other things contributed to a revival in the ci form of poetry.[187]

The emperors, in order to legitimize their rule, encouraged Qing officials and literary figures to organize and appropriate the legacy of Chinese literature, producing anthologies and critical works. They also patronized the development of Manchu literature and the translation of Chinese classics into Manchu. Yet the phrase "defeat the Qing and restore the Ming" remained a byword for many.


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Dulimbai Gurun is the Manchu name for China (中國, Zhongguo; "Middle Kingdom").[188][189][190] After conquering the Ming, the Qing identified their state as "China" (Zhongguo), and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet and other areas) as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas, proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", using "China" to refer to the Qing in official documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the "Chinese language" (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese, Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term "Chinese people" (中國人 Zhongguo ren ; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han, Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing.[191]

In the early Qing, many Han Chinese were enslaved by the Manchurian rulers, some of them later found themselves in positions of power and influence in Manchu administration and even had their own slaves.[192]

The Qing dynasty in 1820.

When the Qing defeated Dzungar Mongols in 1759, they proclaimed that the Oirats territorial lands were absorbed into "China" (Dulimbai Gurun) realm in a Manchu language memorial.[193][194][195] They expounded the ideology that they were bringing together the "outer" non-Han Chinese like the Khalkha Mongols, Inner Mongols, Oirats (including Tibetans, who were then under the rule of Oirat Khanates) together with the "inner" Han Chinese, into "one family" united under the Qing state. To show that the diverse subjects of the Qing were all part of one family, the Qing used the phrase "Zhongwai yijia" (中外一家, "central areas and outer areas as one realm") or "neiwei yijia" (內外一家, "interior and exterior of great-walls as one family"), to convey this idea of "unification" of the different peoples.[196] A Manchu language version of a treaty with the Russian Empire concerning criminal jurisdiction over bandits called Qing subjects "people of the Central Kingdom (Dulimbai Gurun)".[197][198][199][200] In the Manchu official Tulisen's Manchu language account of his meeting with the Torghut leader Ayuka Khan, it was mentioned that while the Torghuts were unlike the Russians, the "people of the Central Kingdom" (dulimba-i gurun 中國, Zhongguo) were like the Torghuts, and the "people of the Central Kingdom" referred to the Manchus.[201]

The initial conquest of China by the Manchus was one of the most devastating wars in Chinese history. Examples of the devastation include the Yangzhou massacre; in which some 800,000 people, including women and children, were massacred.[202] Whole provinces, such as Sichuan and Jiangnan, were thoroughly devastated and depopulated by the Manchu conquest, which killed an estimated 25 million people. Some scholars estimate that the Chinese economy did not the regain the level reached in the late Ming until 1750, a century after the foundation of the Qing dynasty.[203] According to economic historian Robert Allen, family income in the Yangtze delta, China's richest province, was actually below Ming levels in 1820 (but equal to that of contemporary Britain).[204]

See also


  1. Dorgon's brother Dodo, who led the Qing army, received "the imperial command to conduct a southern expedition" (nan zheng 南征) on 1 April of that year.[141] He set out from Xi'an on that very day.[142] For examples of the factional struggles that weakened the Hongguang court, see Wakeman 1985, pp. 523–43
  2. "From the Manchus' perspective, the command to cut one's hair or lose one's head not only brought rulers and subjects together into a single physical resemblance; it also provided them with a perfect loyalty test."[150]
  3. In the Classic of Filial Piety, Confucius is cited to say that "a person's body and hair, being gifts from one's parents, are not to be damaged: this is the beginning of filial piety" (身體髮膚,受之父母,不敢毀傷,孝之始也). Prior to the Qing dynasty, adult Han Chinese men customarily did not cut their hair, but instead wore it in the form of a top-knot.[153]
  4. "The hair-cutting order, more than any other act, engendered the Kiangnan [Jiangnan] resistance of 1645. The rulers' effort to make Manchus and Han one unified 'body' initially had the effect of unifying upper- and lower-class natives in central and south China against the interlopers."[156]
  5. For example, see Fong 2001, Chang 2001, Yu 2002, and Zhang 2002, passim.



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