After the fall of the Ming, another power came into Chinese history. This was the second foreign dynasty to rule over China. Made by the Manchu, the Qing dynasty emerged into history as a formidable ruler.
The Qing began its rule in 1644. It fell in 1911, which marked the end of the Imperial times. No matter, the age of this magnificent dynasty made a defining mark in the China... one, which is far too colorful to be forgotten.
The earlier times of the Qing dynasty was a golden age for the Chinese Empire. It is a moment of prosperity and peace. The first emperors made great impact with the land and the people, even though they were foreigners. For 133 years, China became a wellspring of insurmountable glory and greatness.
Ming form of government was adapted by the Manchu in this era. However, there are various innovations, which worked towards the preservation of their power. The most visible policy, which displayed such attributes, was the dual posting of governance.
All positions within the Chinese governance were handled by two people. One of them would be Manchurian and the other would be Chinese. However, the foreign ruler was the more powerful force. The latter played very minimal role, if not that of a puppet.
Military forces were also kept in the same hierarchy. However, they were not able to do without the Chinese troops either. Despite the natives' lack of combatant training, they had a great and unique way of keeping the Mongols at bay. This proved as a very crucial tool in sparing the foreign dynasty from the clutches of another invader.
Nonetheless, the Chinese's lack of combatant skills compared to the Manchu limited their duties. Revolts never came to succeed due to the great fighting techniques of the Manchu. Chinese soldiers were mainly used as border guardians of the empire.
The success of the Qing may be attributed to their seclusion from the Chinese. They made sure that their cultural and social heritages were always preserved. No intermarriages were allowed between the two races, in order to preserve identity. Both races were not allowed to speak or write in the language of the other
Even the language of Qing was dual. The language of the foreigners were practiced by the rulers but never taught to the Chinese. This kept them in constant delusion, which prohibited them from rebelling. All government documents were also kept from the Chinese to intensify their ignorance.
Just like the Ming, the Qing favored isolationist policies. This allowed agriculture to prosper intensely as the trading receded severely. However, trade reopened in the latter years of the dynasty, due to opium.
One of the social reforms employed by the Manchu was the dress code. Men were forced to have their heads shaved and wear queues. The women on the other hand were forbidden to bind their feet. However, the latter order was lifted due to negative reactions of the Chinese.
The times of this dynasty was marked by various advancements in diverse fields. From Science, philosophy and craftsmanship… no aspect of life seemed to be going down. This prosperity helped the foreign rulers in appeasing the otherwise revolutionary Chinese.
Writing came into bloom during these moments. Even if they were based on Ming traditions, the Qing nonetheless made literature flourish. Despite the lack of innovation in poetry, the emperors made sure that the encyclopedic works were multiplied.
Porcelain moved even further in terms of color and style. This time, shades other than white and blue were used. Shades of green began to arise during these times. Afterwards, porcelain of yellow, black, dark blue and brilliant red came into the picture.
The discovery of so many colors then led to the boom of another form of art. Paintings became very important during these times. Unlike the simpler concepts of Chinese drawings, the Qing's exemplified European influences. The details fascinated the imperial house and lots of paintings were commissioned. Science was also another influence, which came from the West.
This innovation marked many more Western influences. Christianity began to enter China through sailors. However, this was banned when sailors of Christian claims looted the Chinese coasts. Another reason was a papal dispute, which was contrary to the Manchu policy.
With the west out of the picture, China began to expand under the Manchu. Emperor Quanglong's reign widened the borders to full extent during his time. New territories were conquered and allegiance was sworn to the Manchu. His reign was celebrated through prosperity and peace.
However, uprisings slowly came into the government. Internal struggles and the rise of vigilant groups conducted popular uprisings. Secret societies such as those of the White Lotus and Heaven's Law were successfully foiled. However, this took toll on the people for impoverishment became a result of political turmoil.
Due to this poverty, China had to open its doors once more to trade. The British were the first to take advantage due to their interest in silk and tea. In exchange, they traded opium. This proved to be more of a burden than a blessing.
The Chinese and Manchu quickly became addicted to the smoking of the plant. Money was lost paying for the opium. Lands, which were once filled with agricultural and edible products, were replaced with opium. The addicted empire then suffered more famine and shortage.
When the trading was banned, the Brits reacted violently. They engaged in a battle with the Qing dynasty which led to the latter's loss of Hong Kong. It also paved way for further benefits for the British, which almost made the once powerful Qing dynasty a neo colony.
Due to the poverty, rebellions once more raged. This weakened China more and more. One of the most destructive ones to the government was that in Tai Ping. Mohameddan uprisings were no help either. The threat to the empire was topped off by the Japanese westernization, which had a goal of conquering China as well.
As these events occurred, the Manchu emperors became younger and younger. This resulted to similar governance issues, which led to the fall of the Ming before. During the reign of young emperors, the empresses emerged as power icons. The most famous of all was Tzu Hsi.
However, her ignorance further deprived China. She refused ideas of modernization and education. Such actions on her part proved quite detrimental to the whole empire. However, the empress is not the type who listens.
She executed people who questioned her and instilled much fear. She gained too much power and even ordered the execution of the former emperor. However, she too died the very next day. In the nick of time, she appointed a two year old emperor as a new emperor.
The two year old and last emperor's reign lasted from 1909 to 1911 A.D. The revolutionaries then succeeded and closed the chapters of the dynasty in Chinese history forever. It is then that the Republic of China arose, paving way to more years of colorful struggles and successes.