China Dynasties Guide

A brief history of the Dynasties of China
All lands under the watch of Heaven

1644 - 1911: Qing Dynasty

Image above - Stem Cup
Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911)


Founded by the Manchu clan in the current Manchuria, the Qing Dynasty (Ch'ing) began his reign in China when the military forces of the Manchus conquered the capital of the Ming, Beijing in 1644, until the Xinhai Revolution (1911) and the abdication of his last Emperor (1912).

It was the last dynasty of China, with the emperor Shunzhi (third of the Qing Dynasty) first Qing rule in China (1644-1661). The Qing Dynasty reached a remarkable territorial expansion, with significant results even in art and literature.

Qing Dynasty 1644-1911
Qing Dynasty 1644-1911

The last decades of the nineteenth century were plagued by military defeats with Europe and Japan, by internal conflict and severe economic crises.

The Manchu rulers instituted the custom of the "tail" and the shaving of the hair on the forehead, to symbolize loyalty to the dynasty. The emperor Kangxi, who inherits the throne at the age of eight years in 1661, reigned for 60 years, becoming one of the most remarkable Qing emperors, ushering a golden age of the dynasty. Famous was his military prowess and his love for literature, philosophy, and science, and his interest in Western culture.

The craft production of porcelain reached the peak of its development during the Qing Dynasty, with more than 100,000 craftsmen in the industry. The porcelains of this period include the "blue and white", the wucai, the "blue sky", the susancai, the "famille rose" etc ... In this period, the Chinese porcelain was a source of great pride among the people.

In the 19th century, the Qing Dynasty began to close its markets with Europe, or to limit the export of silk, tea and opium, creating economic hardship for crafts and agriculture. With a struggling economy, the dynasty continued to weaken, and the revolts of the population were expressions of discontent against the dynasty (1850-1864: Taiping Rebellion). In addition, the Qing were defeated during the Opium Wars against Britain (1839-1842) and France and Great-Britain (1858-1860), and the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).

Even the "Boxer Rebellion" of 1899-1901 was an anti-dynastic movement against the Europeans and converts to Christianity.

Eventually, in 1911, Sun Yat-sen led the Wuchang Uprising (Xinhai Revolution) that overthrew the Qing Dynasty, ending thousands of years of dynastic imperial rule.