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The Prelude of the Qing Dynasty's Collapse - A Historical Intro of The Warlords

Posted by AndyLee Monday March 23 2009 at 8:57PM
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The background of The Warlords is based on the chaotic late Qing Dynasty. During this darkest of periods of Chinese history, natural disasters, economic collapse, and the Taiping Rebellion constantly hit the foundation of the ruling Qing Dynasty. The whole country was plunged into chaos and famine. The civil war which has been labeled as one of the bloodiest wars in human history, lasted 20 years and caused an estimated 20 to 30 million deaths as a direct result of the conflict, was the one of the bloodiest wars in the human history.

The Qing Dynasty

The Qing Dynasty also known as the Manchu Dynasty, followed the Ming Dynasty in Chinese history, and was the last ruling dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912. The Dynasty was founded not by the Han who form the majority of the Chinese population, but by the minority Manchu. The dynasty was founded by the Manchu clan Aisin Gioro in what is now present day northeast China (Manchuria). Beginning in 1644 it expanded into China proper and its surrounding territories, establishing the new Empire of the Great Qing.

The Qianlong Emperor in Ceremonial Armour on Horseback, 1739 or 1758, by Giuseppe Castiglione

During the mid-nineteenth century, China's problems were compounded by natural calamities of unprecedented proportions, including droughts, famines, and floods. The Government neglect of public works was in part responsible for this and other disasters, and the Qing administration did little to relieve the widespread misery caused by the economic tensions, numerous humiliating military defeats at Western hands, as well as anti-Manchu sentiments all combined to produce widespread unrest, especially in the south. Southern China had been the last area to yield to the Qing conquerors and the first to be exposed to Western influence. It provided a likely setting for the largest uprising in modern Chinese history--the Taiping Rebellion.

Hong Xiuquan - "The Younger Brother of Jesus Christ"

The Taiping Rebellion was a large-scale revolt conducted from 1850 to 1864 by an army led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan. He established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, namely Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace with capital Nanjing and gained control of significant parts of southern China, at its height ruling over about 30 million people.

Hong Xiuquan was the son of a poor farmer near Canton. He was a promising young student, but repeatedly failed the civil service examination in Canton. After one such failure, he overheard a Christian missionary speaking and brought home several Christian treatises. The next year he again failed the exam and, according to some historians, had a nervous breakdown. Whatever happened, Hung had several visions in which an old man told him that people had stopped worshipping him and were worshipping demons; in another, the man appointed him as a slayer of demons. Hung believed that the man in the visions was God the Father and that a younger, middle aged man that visited him in visions was Jesus Christ, his Elder Brother. He himself was the Younger Brother and had been sent by God to earth in order to eradicate demons and demon worship.

The delirium of Hong Xiuquan

Hung, however, did nothing with these visions until seven years later when he began to study with Issachar J. Roberts, a Southern Baptist minister who taught him everything he would know about Christianity. With the Christianity of Roberts, Hung, some relatives, and some followers formed a new religious sect, the God Worshippers that dedicated itself to the destruction of idols in the region around Canton.

Hong Xiuquan and followers destroying the evil Kan yang idol

The sect's power grew in the late 1840s, initially in response to its struggle to suppress groups of bandits and pirates, but persecution by Qing authorities spurred the movement into a guerrilla rebellion and then into civil war.

The revolt began in Guangxi Province. After a previous small-scale battle resulting in the rebels' victory in late December 1850, in early January 1851, a ten thousand-strong rebel army organized by Feng Yunshan and Wei Changhui routed Imperial troops stationed at the town of Jintian. Heavenly Kingdom forces successfully drove back the Imperial reprisal, and on January 11, 1851, Hong Xiuquan formally declared the Jintian Uprising on his birthday (lunar calendar). Subsequently, in August 1851, Hong declared the establishment of the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace with himself as absolute ruler.

Taipings battling the Qing at Jintian after announcing the Tai Ping Tian Guo

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