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Qing Dynasty

Qing Dynasty

The Qing dynasty was the last imperial dynasty of China and lasted from 1644 CE until 1912. The period of Qing rule saw the expansion of China along with many developments in government and culture, followed by a long period of decline and collapse.

Qing Dynasty Definition

The Qing Dynasty was the last Chinese dynasty, with its members leading China from 1644 to 1912.

dynasty

a dynasty is a series of rulers; many of which inherited their power from a family member

Qing Dynasty Time Period

The Qing Dynasty controlled China from 1644-1912 CE.

Qing Dynasty History

In 1644, the Chinese capital of Beijing was captured by rebel leader Li Zicheng and the Manchus took control of the government. During their takeover, they kept many officials of the previous Ming dynasty in government positions to legitimize the transition of power. With their successful appropriation, the Qing dynasty was established.

From 1644 until 1683, the Qing moved their armies across China to conquer the remaining strongholds loyal to the Ming. In addition to the Ming territories that had been subdued, the Qing rulers also had to fight against rebellious warlords who rose in protest, feeling they enjoyed fewer rights than they had during Ming rule.

Qing Dynasty Qing China map empire StudySmarterFig. 1: Map of Qing China at its extent in 1765.

Qing Dynasty Religion

Qing China was built upon a Confucian religious system that emphasized the importance of the family and the role of male leadership in family and civic life.

Before the adoption of state Confucianism, the Manchus of the Qing dynasty had also practiced a religious culture of making ritualistic animal sacrifices to the heavens and recognized a pantheon of deities and plant and animal spirits.

After its adoption, Confucian religion was a core part of Qing culture. This revival of Confucianism was significant for the Qing. Confucianism was a large part of the earlier Han dynasty, while what we now call "Neo-Confucianism" became part of the Song dynasty.

As part of the Confucian revival under the Qing, emperors had to sacrifice at sacred alters. Confucianism impacted the government, as the civil service exam tested applicants' knowledge of Confucian values. Confucian teachings impacted education and the roles of various members of family units.

Buddhism and Daoism were also recognized but did not have the same cultural impact as Confucianism.

The Ten Great Campaigns

  • In the mid-18th century, the Qing military engaged in a series of campaigns and conquests, some expansionists and others focused on suppressing rebellions and further consolidating the Qing power.

The first campaign suppressed an uprising of the Dzungar people of Xinjiang, which secured China’s northern and western borders and secured their influence in the region against neighboring groups such as the Mongols.

The Qing also campaigned in Jinchuan against the Gyalrong Tibetans, fighting a series of costly wars of attrition to take control of the region.

Did you know? The Gyalrong enjoyed very defensible terrain and fortifications, which made it difficult for the Qing to defeat them.

During the late 1760s, the Qing launched a series of campaigns into Burma, resulting in disastrously high casualties for the Qing armies. The failure of those campaigns effectively ensured that the Chinese would not expand to include Burma and Southeast Asia.

The Qing maintained control over the island of Taiwan against anti-Qing rebels there, campaigned against the Nepalese in Tibet, and interfered in the succession of Vietnam’s throne in the 1780s. The Ten Great Campaigns resulted in an expanding China that established borders similar to what they would look like in the modern China of the 21st century.

Did you know? Qianlong’s reign ended in 1796 when the Qing dynasty was at the height of its power. Qing China possessed a large empire, an economy, and around a third of the world’s global population.

Qing Dynasty Qing soldier StudySmarterFig. 2: Painting of a Qing Solider.

Qing Dynasty Achievements

During the Qing period, the population of China grew, and many developments were made in arts and culture, with new styles of painting and calligraphy becoming popular.

  • In 1716, during the reign of the Kangxi emperor, the Kangxi dictionary was first published.
  • The Qing created the Siku Quanshu, the most extensive collection of books and annotated works in Chinese history.

The population growth of Qing China, along with increased trade with the rest of the world and the development of cities, resulted in a thriving market economy that dwarfed that of other world powers and empires.

However, the Qing was slow to industrialize the country following the developments of the industrial revolution. Though Chinese scholars contributed to math and science, Qing China failed to develop itself into an industrialized state.

Decline of the Qing Dynasty

Several conflicts weakened the Qing dynasty, leading to its decline. Some of these are summarized below.

Conflict/CauseEffect
Opium Wars1939-18421856-1860
  • The Qing banned the sale of opium, resulting in two conflicts between Qing China and the British Empire.
  • British merchants sought to sell Opium to Chinese markets.
  • The Europeans' well-organized and technologically advanced militaries in both wars defeated the Qing armies.
Taiping Rebellion (Taiping Civil War)1850-1864
  • European influence grew throughout the 19th century, resulting in the spread of Christianity.
  • The spread of Christianity led to a civil war.
  • One of the largest wars in human history,
  • The Qing succeeded in crushing the rebellion, but its losses weakened its power.
  • The Wing central government lost power, while the provinces gained it.
Western Rebellions 1862-1877
  • A series of revolutions by mainly Muslim minorities in western China.
  • The Western Rebellions started with a series of massacres that resulted in the deaths of millions.
  • These conflicts and uprisings in the western provinces did not directly seek to overthrow Qing rule in China.
  • The constant fighting and enormous death toll served further to destabilize Qing China.
First Sino-Japanese War of 1895
  • Qing China and the Japanese empire fought to control the Korean peninsula.
  • The Japanese defeated the Chinese both on land and at sea.
  • The war proved the failure of China to industrialize and modernize its military to contend with foreign powers.
  • The Japanese gained control of the Korean peninsula.
  • The island of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula was ceded to Japan in the peace deal.
Boxer Rebellion(Yihetuan Movement)1899-1901
  • A devastating flood and drought along the Yellow River resulted in economic problems, which the Boxers blamed on the Europeans and Christians.
  • The conflict became violent, primarily targeting Chinese Christians.
  • The Boxers marched on Beijing in 1900. They called for support and strengthening of the Qing government and the expulsion of foreigners.
  • The Eight-Nation Alliance was formed in response.
  • A multinational army invaded China. Empress Dowager Cixi declared support for the Boxers and decreed war against the foreign power.
  • Reinforcements from the Eight Nations succeeded in capturing Tianjin and Beijing.
  • Foreign troops occupied Beijing to prevent future uprisings.

Qing Dynasty Beijing Castle siege Boxer Rebellion StudySmarterFig. 3: Siege of Pekin Castle, Beijing, during the Boxer Rebellion.

Revolution and the End of the Qing Dynasty

The aftermath of the various conflicts of the 19th century left the Qing government in a severely weakened state. To restore their legitimacy, the Qing worked to pass various reforms in the early 20th century. However, divisive politics meant that conservatives in the government opposed reform outright, whereas their opposition felt that the reforms were too little and too slow in coming. Various parties in China began to plot an overthrow of the Qing government.

In October of 1911, an armed revolt from part of the Chinese Army called the Wuchang Uprising began, which sparked similar revolts across China. In what came to be referred to as the Xinhai Revolution, the Qing were removed from power and established a new government.

Did you know? A National Assembly was formed after the Qing were removed from power. China declared the establishment of the Republic of China with revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen as its first President in January 1912.

Though the revolution resulted in continued civil wars and the rise of regional warlords, the abdication of the last Qing emperor, Puyi, was completed in February 1912. While some in China favored imperial restoration in the following decades, they never had any real success. Puyi was briefly restored to the throne for twelve days at the beginning of July 1917 with aid from the warlord Zhang Xun. Still, the considerable opposition ensured that the move would not be legitimate.

In the 1930s and during World War II, Puyi served as the chief executive of Manchukuo in Manchuria - a puppet state of the Japanese Empire - where he aspired to reconquer China with Japanese support and restore the Qing Dynasty. With a lack of Japanese military progress in China, combined with the shift in support of Japanese militarists toward Wang Jinwei - a defector of the nationalist party of the Republic of China - Puyi’s aspirations were never realized. He was captured by soldiers of the Soviet Union in 1945 and held in Siberia until the end of the Chinese Civil War, after which he was returned to China, where he lived until he died in 1967.

Qing Dynasty Puyi StudySmarterFig. 4: Photo of Puyi

Qing Dynasty - Key takeaways

    • The Qing dynasty was established in 1644 following the Manchu capture of Beijing and the end of the defeat of the previous Ming dynasty.

    • Qing China engaged in a large number of wars and military actions to consolidate its power and expand the borders of China.

    • The population and economy of China flourished during the height of Qing power in the late 18th century. There were also major developments in art, mathematics, language, and literature.

    • A series of conflicts weakened the Qing government. It was eventually overthrown.

Frequently Asked Questions about Qing Dynasty

The Qing dynasty was the last imperial dynasty of China.

The Qing dynasty ruled China from 1644 CE until 1912.

The Ten Great Campaigns to expand and control territory in China, the Opium Wars, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Xinhai Revolution.

A long period of decline saw over a century of growing foreign influence, internal conflicts and revolts, and major defeats in wars against foreign powers. By the early twentieth century the Qing government held little power in China and was poised to be overthrown.

After the initial conquest of Beijing and central-eastern China from the previous Ming dynasty, the Qing expanded China's borders to the west and south, reaching borders similar to those of modern 21st century China.

Final Qing Dynasty Quiz

Question

True or False:  Qing China was the first Chinese dynasty.

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Answer

False.

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Question

When was the Qing dynasty gain control of China?

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Answer

1644

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Question

When was the Qing removed from power?

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Answer

1912.

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Question

Which of the following statements are true of the start of the Qing dynasty? 

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Answer

In 1644, the Chinese capital of Beijing was captured by rebel leader Li Zicheng. 

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Question

True or false:  From 1644 until 1683, the Qing led armies across China to conquer groups that were still loyal t o the Ming. This helped them gain power. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

The ___ ___ ___ were a series of campaigns and conquests focused on consolidating Qing power. 

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Answer

Ten Great Campaigns 

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Question

Which of the following statements are true of the Ten Great Campaigns? 

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Answer

The first campaign suppressed an uprising of the Dzungar people of Xinjiang. 

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Question

True or false: During the Qing period, the population of China grew, and many developments were made in arts and culture, with new styles of painting and calligraphy becoming popular. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

True or false: A number of conflicts weakened the Qing dynasty, leading to its decline.  

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Answer

True.

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Question

Which of the following statements shows the causes of the end of the Qing Dynasty? 

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Answer

Various parties in China began to plot an overthrow of the Song government.

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