The Last Dynasty

The Qing Dynasty

Qing bank note

Bank note of Qing Dynasty

the qing dynasty (1644 -1911) was the last imperial dynasty of China.   

Although the rulers were Manchu rather than Han Chinese, a few of the qing emperors were of exceptional leadership, including Kang Xi, Yong Zheng and Qian Long.  

They are central figures of some highly successful TV serials and books widely viewed or read by the Chinese community.

Your Chinese friends and associates are likely to talk about them. They may also talk about some eminent merchant of this period, such as Hu Xueyan.

The Early Years

In 1644, Li Zicheng, the leader of peasant's uprising, ended the Ming Dynasty's rule. The Qing army of the Manchu minority seduced a general named Wu Sangui to rebel against Li Zicheng. With Wu's help, the Qing army successfully entered Beijing and declared the establishment of the qing empire.

The new Qing government introduced a series of policies to revive the economy and improve social harmony. Administration wise, they continued the imperial system and strengthen the central control.

The Golden Age

By the middle of the 18th century, the empire became so powerful that it was described as 'the golden age of three emperors', spanning the reign of Emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong.

The most notable literary endeavor in this period was the production of The Imperial Collection of Four (Sikuquanshu). It is the largest collection of books in Chinese history and probably the most ambitious editorial enterprise in the world history.

Opium War

The Decline

The golden age did not last. Corruptions and social discord and unrest surfaced, resulting in the decline of the qing dynasty.

In addition to turmoils at home, the government also had to face the aggressions of the foreign invaders from the West. The infamous Opium War broke out during this period.

During the First Opium War (1839-1842), the British forcibly opened China to foreign trade.  In 1842, China was forced to give Hong Kong away to Britain.  In 1856, the second opium war broke out, and China was forced to grant more privileges to the British and other Western powers.

Finally, the Revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yat-sen overthrew the qing empire, bringing the 2,000 years of the Chinese imperial system to an end.

Read more about the Chinese culture.

Read more about the Chinese history: The Republic of China.

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