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HIST241: Pre-Modern Northeast Asia

Unit 9: The Last Dynasty: Qing China   The Qing Dynasty was founded when the Manchu—a Tungusic people from what is now northeast China—overthrew the Ming dynasty in 1644.  The Qing incorporated many elements of the former Ming state but also attempted institute a system of more direct rule through local officials.  The Qing retained the civil service examination system and preserved the role of the scholar-gentry.  Nevertheless, despite the Qing’s efforts to continue many Ming traditions and customs, tensions between the Manchu rulers and the native Han Chinese continued to exist.  As the ruling minority, the Qing exercised their control over the Chinese majority by imposing a Queue Order—shaving the head except for a single long braid—and through literary censorship.  The punishment for defying the Qing government—through literature or by growing one’s hair—was usually death.  But by the eighteenth century, Qing control was showing signs of weakness.  The examination system was plagued by corruption, with many wealthy families buying political posts or inheriting them.  Money for internal improvements and other projects often ended up in the pockets of local bureaucrats.  And several floods and famines only added to the political unrest and social strife that was brewing in the Qing state.  Then, in 1796, the White Lotus Rebellion broke out between impoverished and overtaxed settlers and Manchu rulers.  Although the Manchu eventually quelled the rebellion in 1804, the conflict killed 16 million people and shattered the image of an invincible Qing state.

In this unit, you will study how the Qing attempted to exert control over the native Han Chinese population.  However, you will also examine how tensions between the native Chinese and the Manchu rulers began to surface in the late eighteenth century.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit should take you 4.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 9.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 9.4: 1.5 hours

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
- Explain the relationship between the Manchus and Hans set amidst the political and cultural backdrop the Qing Dynasty. - Analyze and contextualize contemporary texts of the period and their use of Confucian values, especially pertaining to gender roles. - Explain how the intricate and complex bureaucracy, including the Imperial examination system, of the Qing Dynasty led to widespread corruption and a weakened central authority.

  • Reading: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 10: Late Imperial China” Link: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 10: Late Imperial China” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link entitled “Founding of the Qing Dynasty” on the left-hand side of the screen and read the section in order to explore the rise of the Qing Dynasty and the role of Manchus in its new order.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for subunits 9.1.1-9.1.2 and 9.2 through 9.4.  Some of the hyperlinks in the text are broken, but most links provide images and additional resources for exploring.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.

    Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

9.1 Another “Foreign” Dynasty   9.1.1 Manchu Invasion   Click on the link on the left-hand side of the page entitled, “The Ming Dynasty,” and read the last three paragraphs to understand the origin of the Manchu people and their rise to dynastic power in China.

9.1.2 Founding of the Qing and Continuities and Differences from the Ming   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 9.1.  Focus specifically on the first four paragraphs under “Founding of the Qing.”

9.2 The Manchu State   - Reading: Columbia University and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Recording the Grandeur of the Qing: Maxwell K. Hearn and Madeleine Zelin’s “The Grandeur of the Qing State” and “The Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors” Link: Columbia University and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Recording the Grandeur of the Qing: Maxwell K. Hearn and Madeleine Zelin’s “The Grandeur of the Qing State” (HTML) and “The Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read these webpages in their entirety to gain an understanding of the emperors and the bureaucracy/meritocracy of the Qing Dynasty.  This reading will look at the Mandate of Heaven (as envisioned during this period), the complex examination system, population pressures, the tax policy, and governmental communication system.  As you read, think about the following questions: Why was the examination system so fundamentally important to the Qing government?  What kinds of social implications did the system have?  What is the relationship between the local and the state in terms of government?  These readings also cover Subunits 9.4.2 and 9.4.3.  These readings and questions should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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9.3 Economy and Society   - Reading: Columbia University and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Recording the Grandeur of the Qing: Madeleine Zelin’s “The Grandeur of the Qing Economy” Link: Columbia University and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Recording the Grandeur of the Qing: Madeleine Zelin’s “The Grandeur of the Qing Economy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire page to explore the complex economy of the Qing Dynasty.  Also, click on the embedded hyperlink to “The Ming Voyages” to read more associated content.  Through a complex market structure, long-distance trade, metallic currency, a hierarchy of merchants, tax revenues, and agricultural production, the Qing built a powerful and extensive economy.  Think about the ways in which the state controlled local merchants and how the Grand Canal facilitated the movement of goods within the dynasty’s borders.  This main reading and “The Ming Voyages” reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: K'ang Hsi’ The Sacred Edicts (1670) Link: K'ang Hsi’ The Sacred Edicts (1670) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read these edicts as issued by the 16-year old Qing emperor K’ang Hsi to gain an understanding of the deep influence of Confucian values in the social order of Qing China.  Think about the following questions as you read this excerpt.  What do these ideas say about the values of Chinese society at the time?  Who is the audience that the edicts are addressed to?  Does it mean that everyone followed these edicts?  Who benefits most from following these instructions?  This reading and these questions should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
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9.4 Weaknesses of the Qing Dynasty   9.4.1 A Corrupt Examination System   - Reading: Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Professor Alan Baumler’s “Wu Ching-tzu/Wu JingziRulin Waishi (The Scholars)” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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9.4.2 Hereditary or Purchased Positions   Note: This topic is covered by the reading (“The Grandeur of the Qing State”) assigned below subunit 9.2, specifically the sub-section “3. Examination System for Entry to Government Service.”

9.4.3 Decline of Revenue and Spending   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 9.2.

9.4.4 Floods and Famine   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators’ “Qing China's Internal Crisis: Land Shortage, Famine, Rural Poverty” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators’ “Qing China's Internal Crisis: Land Shortage, Famine, Rural Poverty” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire webpage in order to explore the famines, floods, and internal crises that gripped the rising population of Qing China.  Pay close attention to the woodblock prints and primary source excerpts to gain an understanding of the plight of the poor who suffered from environmental and economic disasters during Qing rule. This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.