Great Qing

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Great Qing

大清
1636–1936
Flag of Great Qing
Flag
Location of Great Qing
CapitalMukden
(1636-1644)

Beiging
(1644-1930)

Sian
(1930-1936)
Largest cityBeiging
Official languagesManchu
Standard Chinese
Common languagesMandarin dialects
Cantonese
Hakka
Hokkien
Mongolian
Turkic
Others
DemonymChinese
GovernmentMonarchy
Establishment1636
History 
• Established
1636
• Disestablished
1936
CurrencyMace (cin, 錢)
Today part ofChina
Serindia
Poeja
Corea
Tibet
Mongolia
Russia

The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (大清, da ćing, /ta.t͡ɕʰiŋ/), was an imperial dynasty of China that lasted from 1636 to 1936. The Manchu Aisin khanate invaded the Ming dynasty, eventually bringing all of China under their control by the 18th century. The country was partitioned in the Canton War, only maintaining control of the northern plains. Thus, the dynasty is often split into two periods: the Western period before 1850, and the Eastern period after. In 1936, the Qing were invaded and annexed by the modern Chinese Republic from the south, dismantling the empire.

Etymology

The country was named da ćing 大清 upon its founding, with ćing literally meaning 'pure'. It is often rendered as Qing in English and numerous other European languages, mirroring the empire's preferred romanization since the late 19th century. In modern Standard Chinese romanization, the official name of the country is spelled Da Ćing.

Establishment: 1636—1675

The Ming dynasty 大明 began disintegrating in the early 17th century, losing their sway over their northern territories. The Manchu Aisin khanate 金, a Ming vassal, located in modern northwest Corea, entered into armed conflict with China in 1618, declaring the Qing dynasty 大清 in 1636 and seizing Beiging in April 1644, starting a forty-year period of conquest. During the brief reign of founder Taići and that of his son Sunzi, the Qing created a new nobility, military, and state apparatus while suppressing Ming loyalism and re-establishing relations with surrounding nations.

Kanggwo's reign: 1675—1698

Ascending to the throne at the age of 18, the Kanggwo Emperor's tumultuous reign was defined by the First Lingnam Rebellion.

Pax Manchujica: 1698—1788

Pax Manchujica (康光盛世, kanggwang sengsi, 'Golden Age of Kangsi and Gwangzi') refers to the ninety years between 1698 and 1788, consisting of the reigns of the Kangsi, Dawtong, and Gwangzi emperors. It is considered the pinnacle of the Qing dynasty. China experienced population growth, agricultural reform, improvement of literacy rates, social reform, and commercial expansion. It is also referred to as the Ćing Giawhwa 清教化, often translated as the 'Qing Awakening'.

Chinese Rites crisis

Several Catholic orders had been operating within China since the early seventeenth century. The Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, were the first to arrive and dominated Catholic missionary work in the country for decades. In 1633, the Iberian Dominican and Franciscan orders arrived, starting a long political witch-hunt against the Jesuits.

In 1645, a Papal institution named the Congregation of Propaganda Fide was founded in Rome, aiming to centralize Catholic missions worldwide under its authority. Empowered by this, the Dominicans issued a complaint to the Pope regarding the Jesuits' refusal to adopt a Tridentine mould of uniform law, liturgy and discipline. In 1656, the Holy Office upheld the appeal of Jesuit procurator Martino Martini and defended their approach. A counter-appeal was put forth by the Dominicans once again, only to be struck down by Rome in 1668, upholding the principle that Chinese affairs should be decided in China rather than in Europe.

In 1671, the Jesuit mission in Beiging were gifted a precious tablet by the Sunzi Emperor reading Ging Tian Kin Min 敬天勤民 ('revere Heaven and serve thy People'). Numerous versions of these tablets began appearing in Catholic churches across the capital. The Dominicans were quick to accuse the Jesuits of facilitating idol worship with the presence of these tablets, eventually leading to their removal in several churches. However, these tablets and the phrase Ging Tian Kin Min would remain popular in the Chinese Christian community for centuries to come.

Toward the end of the 17th century, the Chinese Jesuits had to increasingly defend their beliefs against the increasingly prevalent ideas of Augustinian pessimism and Jansenism. The Society of Jesus generally held the conception that the Chinese were monists and preached that they were monotheists in ancient times. Some figures, like Martino Martini, went as far as claiming that the Chinese were descendants of Noah, and their civilization's brilliance could be attributed to the Ark.

A period of crisis began after the death of the Sunzi Emperor in 1675. The Kanggwo Emperor, still young, had his court dominated by various hostile political factions and his administration plagued by the First Lingnam Rebellion. As a result of this, Catholicism was heavily suppressed across the empire and all Catholic missionaries were expelled to Manchuria and Corea the following year. In 1681, the Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans held the Mukden Conference in order to address recent developments. As a consequence of the Conference, many advocated for the voices of Chinese Christians themselves to be heard in the Rites matter. Blasius Liu, a Catholic originally from Shandong, became the most prolific Chinese Christian at the Conference. The missionaries also realized the success of colonial Formosa's proselytization of Reformed Protestantism in eastern Asia after coming into contact with numerous Dutch missionaries and a few Corean Christians. This provoked a panic among the orders, particularly the Jesuits, who began sending material to Rome annually, urging for Catholic unity.

In 1694, the Kanggwo Emperor issued a decree tolerating Christianity according to "the regulations of Matteo Ricci and George Candidius", indicating a strict acceptance of only Jesuit Catholicism and Reformed Protestantism. The French missionary Charles Maigrot, Vicar Apostolic of Hokkien, was expelled from Hokkien province the following year for insulting remarks towards the decree and embarrassing behavior in front of the Emperor. In Rome, he propagated a hostile anti-Jesuit view which led to him being alienated by the Papal court.

Soon after, the Holy Office in Rome became aware of the rapid growth of Protestantism in Tauland and their alliance with the Qing. In order to compete with Calvinist missionaries, the Papacy hired numerous Dutch linguists to translate Chinese books sent by the Jesuits into Latin in order to achieve a better understanding of the Rites controversy. By the start of the 18th century, the pro-Chinese Jesuit faction in Rome was growing at an exponential rate compared to previous decades.

In 1702, the Pope sent a Papal legation to establish relations with the Kangsi Emperor led by the non-partisan Rinaldo Fieschi. Fieschi compiled the Acta Pekinensia, detailing the 'Eight Permissions', a summary of compromises regarding rites to be adopted by all Catholic missions in China. The German Johann Kilian Stumpf, also viewed as a non-partisan actor, was instrumental in influencing Fieschi's decision. Stumpf would later become the head of the Society of Jesus in the country, with his colleague and friend Claudio Filippo Grimaldi becoming the head of Western astronomy at the Imperial Astronomical Bureau in the capital. François Noël, a Flemish missionary, also became greatly influential in the literary realm by composing poems and translating traditional Chinese literature into Latin and Dutch.

In 1712, a second Papal Legate proclaimed an edict approving the Eight Permissions. The following year, the Pope issued the decree Universalis Ecclesiae, codifying the Permissions and concluding the Chinese rites crisis in Rome. However, in Asia, anti-Jesuit sentiment and political tensions between orders would continue across China and in the Philippines, Tauland, and Thaitania.

Gai Wan era: 1788—1830

Often considered a period of stagnation, the era of the Gaiging and Wanle emperors saw the Qing state struggle to sustain a burgeoning population, command a growing commercial economy, remedy class inequality, or to integrate frontier regions.

Antebellum: 1830—1850

Taking place during the Zawlong Emperor's reign, the Antebellum period was marked by political and socioeconomic chaos in China preceding the Canton War. Literary and popular cingi 淸議 ('criticism of the political climate') prevailed.

List of monarchs

Name Reign Lifespan Notes
Taići 太極 1636 1643 28 November 1592 – 21 September 1643
Sunzi 順治 1643 1675 15 March 1638 – 3 August 1675
Kanggwo 康國 1675 1698 17 November 1657 – 10 January 1698
Kangsi 康熙 1698 1729 4 May 1654 – 11 July 1729
Dawtong 道同 1729 1734 29 January 1700 – 16 March 1767
Gwangzi 光智 1734 1788 1 October 1702 – 27 November 1788
Gaiging 改警 1788 1817 18 June 1757 – 3 February 1817
Wanle 萬樂 1817 1830 16 October 1788 – 22 April 1830
Zawlong 造隆 1830 1858 6 September 1799 – 14 December 1870
Tiansun 天順 1858 1863 14 July 1798 – 6 March 1863
Gianzeng 建禎 1863 1902 20 May 1840 – 30 April 1902
Cengćang 成昌 1902 1936 19 December 1891 – 9 June 1956

See also