Qing Dynasty

The Qing Dynasty, also called the Manchu Dynasty, was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 before being overthrown by the Republic of China.

In the early 1600s, the Manchu people of northern China united against the Ming Dynasty. The Manchus crossed the Great Wall and invaded China. They soon took control of the Chinese capital city, Beijing, and declared the beginning of the Qing dynasty.

The first Qing Emperor was a five-year-old boy who became the Shunzhi Emperor. The Manchus continued to expand and conquer more of China. In 1683, under the Kangxi Emperor, the Qing Empire included all of China. At first, the Manchu maintained order through harsh discipline. Later they restored much of the Ming government including the civil service exams, but only Manchu people could hold high offices. For around 150 years, China experienced growth and peace.

China remained somewhat isolated from the outside world. They traded some items such as tea and silver but had little else to do with foreign countries. Foreign ambassadors were not allowed to approach the Chinese capital. To keep out European influence, Christianity was outlawed in the 1800s.

The Qing required that all men shave the front of the head and tie the rest of the hair into a long ponytail.

The three main philosophies followed by the Chinese were Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The Qing leaders were generally strong followers of Buddhism. Art flourished, including painting, sculpture, poetry, opera, and porcelain. The Manchu people were considered at the top of the social class. The majority of the people, the Han Chinese, were generally discriminated against. For example, Han Chinese and Manchu were not allowed to marry. This discrimination eventually led to the downfall of the Qing.

In the 1800s, the British began selling opium in China. Many Chinese people became addicted and the government soon outlawed opium. The British, however, continued to smuggle in opium. When the Chinese government boarded British ships and dumped their opium into the ocean, a war broke out. The British ships defeated the Chinese in both the First and Second Opium Wars. The British gained control of Hong Kong, Christianity was legalized, and all of China was opened to British merchants.

In the early 1900s, the Qing Dynasty began to crumble. Multiple natural disasters, internal rebellions, and war with Japan all led to famine and a failing economy. Finally, in 1911, revolutionaries overthrew the Qing government and the Republic of China took over.

The Manchu Dynasty was briefly restored in 1917.

Source: Qing Dynasty
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