China’s modern geographical boundaries resemble the geographical boundaries during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The Qing dynasty was formed after the military conquest of the chinese empire by the Manchu. The Manchu started by conquering lands outside the Chinese empire. They finally captured the political capital of China, Beijing, in 1644. The capture of Beijing by the Manchurian people signified the beginning of the Qing dynasty (Cummins 298).
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The military captured Beijing at the time of uprising by peasants. Li Zicheng lewas at the head of this uprising which led to the fall of Beijing. The Qing army convinced Wu Sangui, general of the Zicheng’s army, to rebel against the Zicheng’s leadership.
Sangui facilitated Beijing’s capture by the Qing army. However, even after Beijing’s capture, several parts of the empire had strong opposition to the Manchus. The south of China was the most resistant to new rulers. Peace came to the empire in 1683, during the reign of Kangxi (Cummins 298).
China’s new rulers established a Manchu banner system in northern China. This led to the creation of administrative colonies that had several military colonies. Each colony supplied a certain number of soldiers to the government when the need arose. During the early periods of the dynasty, there were only eight banners. Members of the banners were only Manchus (Hansen, Curtis and Curtis 571). However, the dynasty incorporated other ethnic groups later. The banners helped in military control of the empire.
The Manchu strengthened the centralized system of government. In addition, they helped in solving various social issues. During the early periods of the dynasty, there were several lawsuits. The rulers discouraged litigation as they thought it was a sign of social disharmony (Ng 58).
In addition, the rulers of the Qing dynasty introduced several laws. Some of the laws were good, whereas others were contentious. One of the contentious laws was the law requiring men to shave their heads according to the Manchurian culture. Refusal to shave the hair in the prescribed manner was punishable by death. During the eighteenth century, the Qing’s dynasty culture and science have greatly prosperited.
After ousting rulers of the Ming dynasty, the Manchus presented themselves as guardians of Chen-Zhu Neo-Confucianism, which was the main ideology of the Ming dynasty. This helped them gain the support of the literati. The literati were very influential. Therefore, it was vital for the Manchu to gain their support.
One of the major ideologies of this form of Neo-Confucianism was the chastity of women. Therefore, the Manchus ensured that the society upheld this virtue (Ng 59). Most women who were victims of rape committed suicide. This was the only way in which they could clear their name and that of their family. The society expected women to maintain their chastity even after death of their husbands.
In addition, Neo-Confucian moralists opposed the marriage of widowed women. The society considered remarrying of women to be shameful. The state honored widowed women who lived according to the expectations of the society. This forced widowed women to live in self-denial. Many women could not pay this price. Therefore, suicides of widowed women were common (Ng 60).
In the beginning of the twentieth century, mass civil disorder in the Qing dynasty increased. This forced the rulers of the dynasty to introduce social reforms. However, the reforms did not reduce the unrest. In 1911, Sun Yatsen was the head of an anti-Qing rebellion that led to the collapse of the dynasty (Li xviii). The Qing dynasty governed China for more than 200 years.
Cummins, Joseph. The war chronicles: From chariots to flintlocks. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds, 2008. Print.
Hansen, Valerie, Curtis, Kenneth and Curtis, Kenneth R. Voyages in world history, Volume 2. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Li, Xiaobing. Civil liberties in China. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print.
Ng, Vivien W. “Ideology and sexuality: Rape laws in Qing China.” The Journal of Asian Studies, 46.1(1987): 57-70. Print.