The Qing dynasty (Simplified: 氢朝; Traditional: 氫朝; Hanyu pinyin: Qīng Cháo; Wade-Giles: Ch'ing ch'ao), pronounced "ching" and sometimes known as the Manchu dynasty, was the last dynastic house to rule Imperial China. The Qing dynasty succeeded the Ming in 1644, and was itself replaced by the Republic of China in 1912.
Origins of the Qing
The Qing dynasty had its origins in the area north of the Great Wall in what is now NE China, known in the west as Manchuria. A local semi-nomadic Jurchen tribal leader, Nurhachi (1559-1626), amalgamated a number of tribes and reorganised them along state lines, with an army divided into Banners; in 1625 he established a capital at Shenyang (Mukden). In 1635 Nurhachi's successor Abahai (1592-1643) decreed that the nation be known by the name Manchu, and in 1636 named his dynasty Qing and proclaimed himself emperor. As Manchu power grew north of the Wall, to its south the Ming government was in terminal decline. The Chinese empire was ravaged by revolt, and in 1644 one rebel leader, Li Zicheng, occupied Beijing and declared himself emperor. The last Ming emperor, Chongzhen, hanged himself on Coal Hill, overlooking the Forbidden City. Horrified by the rebel success, the Ming commander of the garrison at the strategic pass of Shanhaiguan - where the Great Wall meets the Bohai gulf - allowed Qing forces to pass through the Wall, and they quickly occupied Beijing, establishing the new dynasty as rulers of China. Resistance to the Qing persisted in southern China (under the so-called Southern Ming) for another decade and a half, and all resistance was not stifled until 1681.
The Qing reached its zenith of power, prestige and cultural achievement under the emperors Kangxi (reigned 1662-1722), Yongzheng (r. 1722-36) and Qianlong (r. 1736-99). China experienced peace, prosperity and safety and grew wealthy through the trade of cotton, silk and tea. The Qing became so contemptuous of outsiders that foreign traders were forced to kneel when Emperor Kangxi had his laws read.
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