The Downfall of the Last Han Chinese Empire

In 1616, Nurhaci (努尔哈赤), the chief of the Jurchen (女真) which was a nomadic ethnic group in the Northeast Asia, suddenly rebelled against the Ming (明) Empire which was the last dynasty of the Han Chinese people (the main people of China) and built the Kin (金) Nation which was called Later Kin (後金). the Jurchen ethnic group once destroyed the Northern Song Dynasty which was a prosperous dynasty of the Han People, and brought large disasters to the people of the Southern Song Dynasty. In the Ming Dynasty, Jurchen tribes were subdued by the powerful empire. But in the later period of the Ming Empire, this empire was rotten. Sincere people were excluded and persecuted. On the northeast border, Li Chengliang (李成梁), a general with many military exploits, actually often raided Jurchen tribes and killed innocent people for claiming credit. These actions stirred up the indignation of the Jurchen People. Nurhaci, the careerist which was nurtured by Li Chengliang and got lots of benefits from the Ming Empire, took advantage of the hearts of the Jurchen People and started to expand his force. Nurhaci destroyed the Yehe (叶赫) tribe, a Jurchen tribe which was loyal to the Ming Empire. Arrogant Li Chengliang actually became an onlooker. When Nurhaci eliminated all oppositions of Jurchen tribes, he began to rebel. The misfortune of the Han people has come.

In the battle of Sarhu (萨尔浒), the Ming’s armies were defeated utterly. Since then, Jurchen invaded the territory of the Ming Empire. In 1626, Nurhaci attacked Ningyuan (宁远). This city was defended with the leading of Yuan Chonghuan (袁崇焕) who was an excellent general. Nurhaci was seriously wounded by the artillery fire of the Ming’s army and died. Ming Xi-Zong (明熹宗), the emperor of the Ming Empire, was delirious with joy, and said, “Ten years’ slump, but blunted their dash in one day!”

But Hongtaiji (皇太极), the son of Nurhaci, didn’t abandon his father’s ambition, and continued to invade the Ming Empire. In 1635, he renamed his ethnic group “Manchu”. In 1636, he renamed his country “Qing” and called himself “emperor”.

In order to resist the invasion of Manchu, the Ming’s ministers had many advices. Xu Guangqi (徐光启), a great scientist, tried to form an army with advanced Western weapons. And some ministers advised to form an advanced navy to attack the nest of Manchu. But in that time, there were peasant uprisings in many areas of the empire. The rotten country didn’t have enough money to realize the ideals of wise ministers. And the armies of Ming must fight on two front lines. Yuan Chonghuan, the excellent general, was killed wrongly by suspicious Chongzhen (崇祯)-Emperor because of the crafty plot of Hongtaiji.

In 1644, the insurgents led by Li Zicheng (李自成) seized Beijing, and Chongzhen-Emperor killed himself. The administrative system of the whole country became paralyzed. Wu Sangui (吴三桂), who was leading his troops to guard the Shanhai Pass (山海关), surrendered himself to Manchu and became the guide of Qing’s troops. Li Zicheng’s army was defeated, and the whole north fell into Manchu’s hands.

In the critical time of our Central Nation, peasants and government united as one. There were innumerable heroes, heroines and touching stories. In Yangzhou (扬州) which was a prosperous city of the south, Shi Kefa (史可法) refused to surrender. He led people to resist resolutely. When Manchu captured this large city, the truculent invaders annihilated the whole city and massacred more than eight hundred thousand Han people in ten days. This tragic history was called “Ten Days of Yangzhou” (扬州十日). In Jiading (嘉定) which was also an advanced city of the south, people rose against the aggressors three times and several hundred thousand people were massacred by Manchu. This tragic history was called “Three Times’ Massacres in Jiading” (嘉定三屠). There were more massacres in more places of the south. With lots of massacres, Manchu controlled the south.

In order to enslave Han people, the Manchu’s Qing Empire forbade the Han people to keep traditional clothing and hairstyle of the Han people. And Manchu forced the people of Han to wear Manchu clothing such as mandarin jacket (马褂) and cheongsam (旗袍), and keep Manchu hairstyle which forward half head was shaven and the behind hairs were braided in a long plait. These policies were opposed acutely by the Han people. But the Qing Empire squashed the resistance of the Han people by massacres. Since then, Chinese lost own national clothing and hairstyle, and Chinese proprieties were distorted to menial things by the Manchu’s Qing Empire. In order to wear away the resistance of intellectuals, Manchu rulers caused them to do collections and textual researches of large number of books. These poor men spent their whole lives in old paper piles but thought their talents were made good use. Manchu rulers distorted the meanings of ancient Chinese books. And they burned many Chinese books which showed the national spirit of the Han people. Nowadays many people think Qing’s rulers loved Han’s culture and kept ancient Chinese books, but in fact, they destroyed Han’s culture and distorted Chinese books and proprieties, and they destroyed the soul of Chinese people.

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