Note: Qing conquest of South Ming territories // Shitao-autoportrait // Shitao-autoportrait
Conquest of Beijing and the north (1644)
In their later years, the Ming faced a number of famines and floods as well as economic chaos, and rebellions. Li Zicheng rebelled in the 1630s in Shaanxi in the north, while a mutiny led by Zhang Xianzhong broke out in Sichuan in the 1640s. Many people were killed in this self-proclaimed emperor's reign of terror.
Just as Dorgon and his advisors were pondering how to attack the Ming, the peasant rebellions ravaging northern China were approaching dangerously close to the Ming capital Beijing. In February 1644, rebel leader Li Zicheng had founded the Shun dynasty in Xi'an and proclaimed himself king. In March his armies had captured the important city of Taiyuan in Shanxi. Seeing the progress of the rebels, on 5 April the Ming Chongzhen Emperor requested the urgent help of any military commandant in the Empire. But it was too late: on 24 April Li Zicheng breached the walls of Beijing, and the Emperor hanged himself the next day on a hill behind the Forbidden City. He was the last Ming emperor to reign in Beijing.
Soon after the emperor had called for help, powerful Ming general Wu Sangui had left his stronghold of Ningyuan north of the Great Wall and started marching toward the capital. On 26 April, his armies had moved through the fortifications of the Shanhai Pass (the eastern end of the Great Wall) and were marching toward Beijing when he heard that the city had fallen, whereupon he returned to the Shanhai Pass. Li Zicheng sent two armies to attack the Pass but Wu's battle-hardened troops defeated them easily on 5 May and 10 May. Then on 18 May, Li Zicheng personally led 60,000 of his troops out of Beijing to attack Wu. At the same time, Wu Sangui wrote to Dorgon to request the Qing's help in ousting the bandits and restoring the Ming dynasty.
Meanwhile, Wu Sangui's departure from the stronghold of Ningyuan had left all the territory outside the Great Wall under Qing control. Two of Dorgon's most prominent Chinese advisors, Hong Chengchou and Fan Wencheng (范文程), urged the Manchu prince to seize the opportunity of the fall of Beijing to present themselves as avengers of the fallen Ming and to claim the Mandate of Heaven for the Qing. Therefore, when Dorgon received Wu's letter, he was already about to lead an expedition to attack northern China and had no intention to restore the Ming. When Dorgon asked Wu to work for the Qing instead, Wu had little choice but to accept.
After Wu formally surrendered to the Qing in the morning of 27 May, his elite troops charged the rebel army repeatedly, but were unable to break the enemy lines. Dorgon waited until both sides were weakened before ordering his cavalry to gallop around Wu's right wing to charge Li's left flank. Li Zicheng's troops were quickly routed and fled back toward Beijing. After their defeat at the Battle of Shanhai Pass, the Shun troops looted Beijing for several days until Li Zicheng left the capital on 4 June with all the wealth he could carry, one day after he had defiantly proclaimed himself Emperor of the Great Shun.
Under the reign of Dorgon, whom historians have variously called "the mastermind of the Qing conquest" and "the principal architect of the great Manchu enterprise", the Qing subdued the capital area, received the capitulation of Shandong local elites and officials, and conquered Shanxi and Shaanxi. They then turned their eyes to the rich commercial and agricultural region of Jiangnan south of the lower Yangtze River. They also wiped out the last remnants of rival regimes established by Li Zicheng (killed in 1645) and Zhang Xianzhong (Chengdu taken in early 1647). Finally, they managed to kill claimants to the throne of the Southern Ming in Nanjing (1645) and Fuzhou (1646) and chased Zhu Youlang, the last Southern Ming emperor, out of Guangzhou (1647) and into the far southwestern reaches of China
Building a new order
|Qing conquest of the Ming|
|1616 AD||Nurhaci declares a new dynasty, the Amaga Aisin Gurun (Later Jin).|
|1618||Nurhaci cites a list of Seven Grievances as casus belli against the Ming and attacks the walled city of Fushun.|
|1619||Nurhaci defeats a combined force of Ming, Yehe, and Joseon troops near Sarhu. Fushun and Kaiyuan are captured.|
|1621||Nurhaci captures Liaoyang, Shenyang, and the fortress of Jinzhou. Nurhaci establishes his new capital at Liaoyang.|
|1625||Nurhaci moves his capital to Shenyang which he renames Simiyan Hoton.|
|1626||Nurhaci launches a campaign to drive Ming forces from the fortress of Ningyuan. However the attack fails and Nurhaci receives fatal wounds, dying later that year. Hong Taiji succeeds him. Yuan Chonghuan's troops reoccupy Jinzhou.|
|1627||Hong Taiji's brother Amin invades the kingdom of Joseon with an army of 30,000. Joseon pays tribute to the Later Jin and the Jurchen army retreats after looting Pyongyang.|
|1629||Hong Taiji launches a raid against Ming, bypassing Ninyuan and instead taking a route through Mongolia to loot the Beijing region. Large numbers of people and cattle are taken back to Liaoyang. Yuan Chonghuan is executed in Beijing for treason.|
|1631||Hong Taiji captures Dalinghe.|
|1634||Hong Taiji attacks Datong and Daizhou.|
|1635||Hong Taiji changes the name of his people, the Jurchen, to Manchu.|
|1636||Hong Taiji proclaims the Qing dynasty and launches a raid on the Ming reaching as far as Ji'nanfu, plundering sixty cities. Simiya Hoton is given a new name, Mukden, meaning "to rise." The Qing army also invades Joseon, severing their relationship with Ming.|
|1641||Songshan is taken by the Qing.|
|1642||Jinzhou is taken by the Qing. Eight Han banners are added to the existing Manchu and Mongol banners.|
|1643||Hong Taiji dies and is succeeded by his son, Fulin, later known as the Shunzhi Emperor. The campaign against Ming continues unabated under the regents Dorgon and Jirgalang.|
|1644||Warlord Li Zicheng occupies Beijing and the Chongzhen Emperor commits suicide. The Ming garrison at Shanhaiguan joins Dorgon's forces to suppress Li's army and occupies Beijing in June. Dorgon relocates the Qing capital to Beijing.|
|1645||Li Zicheng disappears after suffering several defeats.|
Han Chinese Generals who defected to the Manchu were often given women from the Imperial Aisin Gioro family in marriage. Manchu Aisin Gioro princesses were also married to Han Chinese official's sons. The Manchu leader Nurhaci married one of his granddaughters to the Ming General Li Yongfang 李永芳 after he surrendered Fushun in Liaoning to the Manchu in 1618. Nurhaci's son Abatai's daughter was married to Li Yongfang. The offspring of Li received the "Third Class Baron" (三等子爵; sān děng zǐjué) title. Li Yongfang was the great great great grandfather of Li Shiyao 李侍堯. The 4th daughter of Kangxi (和硕悫靖公主) was wedded to the son (孫承恩) of the Han Chinese Sun Sike (Sun Ssu-k'o) 孫思克. Other Aisin Gioro women married the sons of the Han Chinese Generals Sun Sike (Sun Ssu-k'o) 孫思克, Geng Jimao (Keng Chi-mao), Shang Kexi (Shang K'o-hsi), and Wu Sangui (Wu San-kuei). Meanwhile the ordinary soldiers who defected were often given non-royal Manchu women as wives, and a mass marriage of Han Chinese officers and officials to Manchu women numbering 1,000 couples was arranged by Prince Yoto 岳托 (Prince Keqin) and Hongtaiji in 1632 to promote harmony between the two ethnic groups.
This policy, which began before the invasion of 1644, was continued after it. A 1648 decree from Shunzhi allowed Han Chinese civilian men to marry Manchu women from the Banners with the permission of the Board of Revenue if they were registered daughters of officials or commoners or the permission of their banner company captain if they were unregistered commoners, it was only later in the dynasty that these policies allowing intermarriage were done away with. The decree was formulated by Dorgon. In the beginning of the Qing dynasty the Qing government supported Han Chinese defectors weddings to Manchu girls. Han Chinese Bannermen wedded Manchus and there was no law against this.
The "Dolo efu" 和碩額駙 rank was given to husbands of Qing princesses. Geng Zhongming, a Han bannerman, was awarded the title of Prince Jingnan, and his son Geng Jingmao managed to have both his sons Geng Jingzhong and Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 become court attendants under the Shunzhi Emperor and married Aisin Gioro women, with Prince Abatai's granddaughter marrying Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 and Haoge's (a son of Hong Taiji) daughter marrying Geng Jingzhong. A daughter 和硕柔嘉公主 of the Manchu Aisin Gioro Prince Yolo 岳樂 (Prince An) was wedded to Geng Juzhong 耿聚忠 who was another son of Geng Jingmao. Aisin Gioro women were offered to Mongols who defected to the Manchus. The Manchu Prince Regent Dorgon gave a Manchu woman as a wife to the Han Chinese official Feng Quan,> who had defected from the Ming to the Qing. Feng Quan willingly adopted the Manchu queue hairstyle before it was enforced on the Han population and Feng learned the Manchu language.
Building a mixed military with Han defectors
Manchus were living in cities with walls surrounded by villages and adopting Chinese-style agriculture well before the Qing conquest of the Ming, and there was an established tradition of Han Chinese-Manchu mixing before 1644. The Han Chinese soldiers on the Liaodong frontier often mixed with non-Han tribesmen and were largely acculturated to their ways. The Jurchen Manchus accepted and assimilated Han Chinese soldiers who went over to them, and Han Chinese soldiers from Liaodong often adopted and used Manchu names. Indeed Nurhaci's secretary Dahai may have been one such individual.
There were too few ethnic Manchus to conquer China, but they absorbed defeated Mongols, and, more importantly, added Han Chinese to the Eight Banners. The Manchus had to create an entire "Jiu Han jun" (Old Han Army) due to the very large number of Han Chinese soldiers absorbed into the Eight Banners by both capture and defection. The Qing showed that the Manchus valued military skills in propaganda targeted towards the Ming military to get them to defect to the Qing, since the Ming civilian political system discriminated against the military. From 1618-1631 Manchus received Han Chinese defectors and their descendants became Han Bannermen and those killed in battle were commemorated as martyrs in biographies.
Hong Taiji recognized that Ming Han Chinese defectors were needed in order to assist in the conquest of the Ming, explaining to other Manchus why he needed to treat the Ming defector General Hong Chengchou leniently. Hong Taiji understood that the Ming would not be easily defeated unless Han Chinese troops wielding musket and cannon were used alongside the Banners. Indeed, among the Banners, gunpowder weapons like muskets and artillery were specifically used by the Chinese Banners. The Manchus established an artillery corps made out of Han Chinese soldiers in 1641. The use of artillery by Han Bannermen may have led to them being known as "heavy" soldiers (ujen cooha). The "red coat cannon" were part of the Han army (Liaodong Han Chinese) serving the Qing.
Ming officers who defected to the Qing were allowed to retain their previous military rank. The Qing received the defection of Shen Zhixiang in 1638. Among the other Han officers who defected to the Qing were Ma Guangyuan, Wu Rujie, Zu Dashou, Quan Jie, Geng Zhongming, Zu Zehong, Zu Zepu, Zu Zerun, Deng Changchun, Wang Shixian, Hong Chengchou, Shang Kexi, Liu Wuyuan, Zu Kefa, Zhang Cunren, Meng Qiaofang, Kong Youde, Sun Dingliao. Aristocratic and military ranks, silver, horses and official positions were given to Han Chinese defectors like Zhang Cunren, Sun Dingliao, Liu Wu, Liu Liangchen, Zu Zehong, Zu Zepu, Zu Kufa and Zu Zerun. Han Chinese defectors managed and organized a massive amount of the military strategy after 1631.
So many Han defected to the Qing and swelled up the ranks of the Eight Banners that ethnic Manchus became a minority within the Banners, making up only 16% in 1648, with Han Bannermen dominating at 75% and Mongol Bannermen making up the rest. It was this multi-ethnic force in which Manchus were only a minority, which conquered China for the Qing. In 1644, China was invaded by an army that had only a fraction of Manchus, the invading army was multi-ethnic, with Han Banners, Mongols Banners, and Manchu Banners, the political barrier was between the commoners made out of Han Chinese (non bannermen) and the "conquest elite", made out of Han Chinese bannermen, nobles, and Mongols and Manchu, it was not ethnicity which was the factor. The Ming's takeover by the Qing was done by the multi-ethnic Han Banners, Mongol Banners, and Manchu Banners which made up the Qing military. Han Chinese Nikan bannermen used banners of black color and Nurhaci was guarded by Han Nikan soldiers. Other banners became a minority compared to the Han Chinese Nikan Black Banner detachments during Nurhaci's reign.