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Qing Dynasty - The Last Dynasty in China

9 Quick Facts about Qing Dynasty

1. The Qing Dynasty is the last dynasty in Chinese history.

2. The Qing Dynasty was established in 1636 and ruled the whole China from 1644 to 1912.

3. The Qing capital was Beijing and the Forbidden City served as the imperial palace for Qing emperors.

4. The Qing Dynasty is preceded by the Ming Dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China.

5. The early years of Qing Dynasty was powerful and influential, but the late years of Qing Dynasty experienced a series of troubles at home and pressure from abroad.

6. The Qing Dynasty’s fall has finally put China in the right side of the history.

7. The Qing Dynasty lasted for 268 years, making it the fifth longest dynasty in Chinese history.

8. The Qing Dynasty was the second minority group that ever ruled the unified China.

9. The Qing Dynasty has settled the territory of modern China until today.

Brief Introduction of Qing Dynasty

Qing Dynasty (1636 - 1912), the last feudal dynasty in Chinese history, has 12 emperors and the imperial name is Aisin Gioro. The regime existed for 296 years counting from the establishment of “Latter Jin” by Nurhachi, 276 years counting from the establishment of Qing Dynasty by Hong Taiji, and 268 years counting from the date when Manchu army past the Shanhai Pass and rooted in Beijing.

In 1616, Nurhachi, a Jurchen chieftain, set up a new regime called Latter Jin in Jianzhou (current Liaoning province). Twenty years later, Hong Taiji, the son of Nurhachi, changed the state name to Qing. In 1644, the peasant revolt led by Li Zicheng broke into Beijing, the capital of Ming Dynasty, forcing the last emperor of Ming to commit suicide. The same year, the Ming general Wu Sangui surrendered to Qing army and let them pass the last defense Shanhai Pass and break into Ming capital Beijing. By 1659, Manchu army defeated small remaining regimes within China and expanded the territory to current Xinjiang and Taiwan. During the reign of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, the Qing Dynasty reached a zenith and the traditional society of China made unprecedented achievements. The population exploded, territory expanded, commerce thrived, handicraft industries prospered, and the foreign missionaries were tolerated.

Unfortunately, the subsequent emperors were incapable of continue the prosperous development. The increased population pressure, concentration of land ownership, severe floods and famine, and the trade pressure from western powers, the incompetence of bureaucratic officials and corruptions made the social contradictions more inconsolable. Uprisings broke out everywhere, two of the largest of the Taiping (1850 - 1864) and Nian (1853 - 1868) rebellions. Meanwhile, the industrialization and colonization had enriched a lot of western countries. To open the trade gate of Qing Dynasty, a series of war were launched against the already precarious Qing Dynasty, all resulting in Qing Dynasty ceding territory and paying heavy indemnities. To maintain their ruling, the Qing rulers did take some reform measure to save the country, which proved to be too late and useless. Finally, the revolution led by Sun Yat-sen broke out in 1911 and the Qing Empire was overthrown. The 2000-year-old Chinese feudal monarchy came to an end.

Qing Emperors in Order


Reign Title (name)

Reign Years


Big Events


Emperor Taizu Nurhachi


Fuling Mausoleum in Shenyang

Nurhachi (1559-1626), the founder of the Latter Jin regime, ascended the throne of Khan in 1616 and held the position for 11 years. During his ruling, Nurhachi complied with the historical trend and unified other Jurchen tribes, accelerating the formation of the Manchu community, strengthening the economical and cultural communication among ethnic groups, and promoting the economical development of eastern and southern Liaoning.


Emperor Taizong

(Hong Taiji)


Zhaoling Mausoleum in Shenyang

Hong Taiji (1592-1643), the eighth son of Nurhachi, inherited the throne of Khan in 1626. A decade later, he ascended the throne to be emperor in Shenyang and changed the state name to Great Qing. During his reign, Hong Taiji prioritized the economical development and strengthened the military forces and launched a series of attack to Ming dynasty. His efforts laid foundation for the establishment of the Qing Dynasty and the unification of China.


Emperor Shunzhi (Fulin)


Xiaoling Mausoleum of Eastern Tombs of Qing Dynasty in Zunhua, Hebei

Fulin (1638-1661), the ninth son of Hong Taiji, was the first emperor after Qing army entering the Shanhai Pass. He ascended the throne at 6, and his uncle Dorgon acted as a regent to help him until he was 14. In his early reign, the ethnic contradictions between Manchu and Han people and the class contradictions were extremely fierce. By the end of his ruling, the Qing army had defeated all the revolting powers and completed the national unification.


Emperor Kangxi (Xuanye)


Jingling Mausoleum of Eastern Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Xuanye (1654-1722), the third son of the Emperor Shunzhi, is the second emperor after the Qing army entering the Shanhai pass. He suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, retrieved Taiwan, expelled  the tsarist Russia power, and put down the turmoil in Mongolia and Tibet, strengthening the stability and unification of the multi-ethnic country. In terms of economy and culture, Emperor Kangxi set a relatively open society and created the last prosperous period of the Chinese feudal society - The Reign of Kangxi and Qianlong.


Emperor Yongzheng (Yinzhen)


Tailing Mausoleum of Western Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Yinzhen (1678-1735), the fourth son of Emperor Kangxi, is the third emperor after Qing forces entering the Shanhai pass. During his 13 years of ruling, Emperor Yongzheng oppressed anyone who impeded the imperial power, effectively improved the administrations, increased the revenue of the national treasury, and laid a solid foundation for the prosperity of the Qianlong's reign.


Emperor Qianlong (Hongli)


Yuling Mausoleum of Eastern Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Hongli (1711-1799) is the fourth son of Emperor Yongzheng. It was him who pushed the prosperous age of Kangxi's reign to the top, and it was also him who brought the flourished Qing Dynasty into trough with his own hands, which made Emperor Qianlong one of the most important emperors influenced the historical process of China after the 18th century.


Emperor Jiaqing (Yongyan)


Changling Mausoleum of Western Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Yongyan (1760-1820) is the fifteenth son of Emperor Qianlong. He ascended the throne at 27 and ruled for 25 years. Once he personal ruled, Emperor Jiaqing immediately exterminated the extremely corruptible He Shen and took a lot of measures to maintain the prosperous times of Kangxi and Qianlong. However, the contradictions at home, aggression from abroad, the ever-growing corruption and the lack of new mechanism made it hard to escape the declining fate.


Emperor Daoguang



Muling Mausoleum of Western Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Minning (1782-1850), the second son of the Emperor Jiaqing, ascended the throne at 29 and ruled for 30 years. He strongly advocated frugality, reformed the salt department, partially allowed private mining, and rectified the government administration. However, the prevailing corruption made his reform hard to take effect. Meanwhile, the opium brought in by foreigners began to prevail and poison people's mind. Emperor Daoguang initially resisted, but his ignorance of the current situation and the incompetence of ministers made him changed his strategy constantly. Rather banning the opium smoking, the emperor persecuted the main force that in charge of smoking banning, causing Qing army unable to resist the aggression from the foreign powers.


Emperor Xianfeng (Yizhu)


Qingling Mausoleum Eastern Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Yizhu (1831-1861) is the fourth son of the Emperor Daoguang. He ascended the throne at 20 and ruled for 11 years. It was during his reign that China had undergone some of the darkest historical times. No less than a year after Emperor Xianfeng's enthronement, the Taiping Rebellion broke out, along with which were all kinds of peasant uprisings, big or small. Only three years later, the capital Beijing was under great threat in spite of the multiple times of suppression. With rebellion powers growing stronger on one side, the Anglo-French joint army launched attack against Qing court, and quickly seized Beijing and Tianjin, forcing the emperor to abandon his capital and fled to Summer Resort in Chengde. Yixin was ordered to negotiate with the invaders. The result is the Anglo-French aggressors savaged many imperial palaces, among which the Old Summer Palace suffered the most. The Qing court was coerced to accept many unequal treaties. Even if the Emperor Xianfeng had the ambition to save the country, he wouldn't have the power.


Emperor Tongzhi (Zaichun)


Huiling Mausoleum Eastern Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Zaichun (1856-1874) is the eldest son f Emperor Xianfeng. Ascending the throne at 5, Emperor Tongzhi acted as the puppet for his mother Queen Cixi all his life. During his reign, relying on Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, Zuo Zongtang and other high-ranking minsters, the Qing government suppressed the Taiping Rebellion and pacified the Muslim Turmoils in Shaanxi and Gansu areas. Meanwhile, to strengthen ruling, the ruling class launched a series of Westernization Movement, in hope of learning from western world and rejuvenate China, which created a relatively stable political period.


Emperor Guangxu (Zaitian)


Chong Mausoleum of Western Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Zaitian (1871-1908) ascended the throne at 4. Empress Dowager Cixi still reigned on behalf of him behind the screen. When Emperor Guangxu finally ruled personally, the Sino-Japanese war broke out. He strongly advocated that Qing army should fight back, and continue to reform. However, his ideas were strongly resisted by the Dowager Cixi and her followers. When the Constitutional Reform Reform and Modernization failed, the Dowager Cixi confined the emperor Guangxu until he died.


Emperor Xuantong (Puyi)


Hualong Imperial Cemetery nearby the Western Tombs of Qing Dynasty

Puyi (1906-1967) is the last emperor of Qing Dynasty and also the second last emperor in Chinese history. He ascended the throne at 2 and held the position for 3 years. In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution broke out, forcing him to abdicate the throne and the Qing Dynasty finally ended. But he still lived in the Forbidden City. On Nov.5 1924, the warlord Feng Yuxiang broke into the palace and expelled Puyi out. After the September 18 Incident in 1931, Puyi was controlled by the Japanese and became the puppet emperor of Manchuria under the state name of Kangde (1934-1945). With the Japanese army surrendering in the Second World War, Puxi was captured by the Soviet Union and transferred to the hands of Communist Party of China. Later, he became a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and lived like a normal person.

For More Chinese History

1. Timeline of Chinese Dynasties

2. Early Dynasties of China - Xia Shang and Zhou Dynasties

3. Ming Dynasty History