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The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive
rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behavio ...
or
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
that was waged in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
between the
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
and the
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
,
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
-led
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, later shortened to Heavenly Kingdom or Heavenly Dynasty, was an List of historical unrecognized states and dependencies, unrecognized oppositional state in China and Christianity, Christian-Shenism, Shenic Theocracy, ...
. It lasted from 1850 to 1864, although following the fall of Nanjing the last rebel army was not wiped out until 1871. After fighting the bloodiest civil war in world history, with 20 to 30 million dead, the established Qing government won decisively, although at a great price to its fiscal and political structure. The uprising was commanded by
Hong Xiuquan Hong Xiuquan (1 January 1814 – 1 June 1864), born Hong Huoxiu and with the courtesy name Renkun, was a Hakka people, Hakka Chinese revolutionary who was the leader of the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. He established the Taip ...

Hong Xiuquan
, an ethnic
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
(a Han subgroup) and the self-proclaimed brother of
Jesus Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...

Jesus Christ
. Its goals were religious, nationalist, and political in nature; Hong sought the conversion of the Han people to the Taiping's syncretic version of Christianity, to overthrow the
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
-led
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, and a state transformation. Rather than supplanting the ruling class, the Taipings sought to upend the moral and social order of China. The Taipings established the Heavenly Kingdom as an oppositional state based in Tianjing (now
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
) and gained control of a significant part of southern China, eventually expanding to command a population base of nearly 30 million people. For more than a decade, Taiping armies occupied and fought across much of the mid and lower
Yangtze The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
valley, ultimately devolving into total civil war. It was the largest war in China since the Manchu conquest of China in 1644, involving every province of China proper except
Gansu Gansu (, ; alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnatio ...

Gansu
. It ranks as
one of the bloodiest wars
one of the bloodiest wars
in human history, the bloodiest civil war, and the largest conflict of the 19th century. In terms of deaths, the civil war is comparable to
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
. 30 million people fled the conquered regions to foreign settlements or other parts of China. The war featured extreme brutality on both sides. Taiping soldiers carried out widespread massacres of
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
, the ethnic minority of the ruling Imperial
House of Aisin-Gioro The House of Aisin-Gioro was a Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia ...
, whom they believed to be demons. Meanwhile, the Qing government also engaged in massacres, most notably against the civilian population of the Taiping capital, Nanjing. Weakened severely by an attempted coup (the Tianjing incident) and the failure of the siege of Beijing, the Taipings were defeated by decentralized, irregular armies such as the
Xiang Army 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing dynasty, Qi ...
commanded by
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
. Having already moved down the Yangtze River and recaptured the important city of
Anqing Anqing (, also Nganking, formerly Hwaining, now the name of Huaining County) is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Anhui province of China, province, People's Republic of China. Its population was 5,311,579 at the 2010 census, with 780,51 ...

Anqing
, Zeng's Xiang Army besieged Nanjing during May, 1862. Two years later, on June 1, 1864, Hong Xiuquan died and Nanjing fell during the Third Battle of Nanjing, barely a month later. The 14 year civil war greatly weakened the Qing dynasty, which would collapse less than 50 years afterwards. It exacerbated
sectarian Sectarianism is a political or cultural conflict between two groups often related to the form of government they live under. Prejudice Prejudice can be an affect (psychology), affective feeling towards a person based on their perceived grou ...
tension and accelerated the rise of regionalism, foreshadowing the
Warlord Era The Warlord Era was a period in the history of the Republic of China The history of the Republic of China begins after the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dy ...
that would come after another Hakka,
Sun Yat-Sen Sun Yat-sen (; born Sun Deming; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition . was a Chinese statesman A statesman or stateswoman ...

Sun Yat-Sen
, overthrew the Qing in the 1911
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria ...
.


Names

The terms which writers use for the conflict and its participants often represent their different opinions. During the 19th century, the Qing did not describe the conflict as either a civil war or a movement because doing so would have lent credibility to the Taiping. Instead, they referred to the tumultuous civil war as a period of chaos (), rebellion () or military ascendancy (). They often referred to it as the Hong-Yang Rebellion (), referring to the two most prominent leaders. It was also dismissively referred to as the Red Sheep Rebellion () because "Hong-Yang" sounds like "Red Sheep" in Chinese. In modern China, the war is often referred to as the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement, due to the fact that the Taiping espoused a doctrine which was both nationalist and communist, and the Taiping represented a popular ideology which was based on either Han nationalism or protocommunist values. The scholar
Jian Youwen Jian Youwen (1896 – 1978 , sometimes transliterated Jen Yu-wen or Kan Yau-man in older documents) was a Chinese historian, public official, and sometime Methodist pastor, known in particular for his writings on the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. ...

Jian Youwen
is among those who refer to the rebellion as the "Taiping Revolutionary Movement" on the grounds that it worked towards a complete change in the political and social system, rather than working towards the replacement of one dynasty with another. Many Western historians refer to the conflict in general as the "Taiping Rebellion". Recently, however, scholars such as Tobie Meyer-Fong and Stephen Platt have argued that the term "Taiping Rebellion" is biased because it insinuates that the Qing government was a legitimate government which was fighting against the illegitimate Taiping rebels. Instead, they argue that the conflict should be called a "civil war". Other historians such as
Jürgen Osterhammel Jürgen Osterhammel (born 1952 in Wipperfürth, North Rhine-Westphalia) is a German historian specialized in world history. Academia Osterhammel started his academic career as a research fee student at the London School of Economics in 1976/77 an ...
term the conflict "Taiping Revolution" because of the rebels' radical transformational objectives and the
social revolution Social revolutions are sudden changes in the Social structure, structure and nature of society. These revolutions are usually recognized as having transformed society, economy, culture, philosophy, and technology along with but more than just t ...

social revolution
that they initiated. Little is known about how the Taiping referred to the war, but the Taiping often referred to the Qing in general and the Manchus in particular as some variant of demons or monsters (), representing Hong's proclamation that they were fighting a holy war to rid the world of demons and establish paradise on earth. The Qing referred to the Taiping as Yue Bandits ( or ) in official sources, a reference to their origins in the southeastern province of Guangdong. More colloquially, the Chinese called the Taiping some variant of Long-Hairs (), because they did not shave their foreheads and braid their hair into a
queue__NOTOC__ Queue () may refer to: * Queue area, or queue, a line or area where people wait for goods or services Arts, entertainment, and media *''ACM Queue'', a computer magazine * The Queue (publishing company), an American publishing company * ...
as Qing subjects were obligated to do, allowing their hair to grow long. In the 19th century, Western observers, depending on their ideology, referred to the Taiping as the "revolutionaries", "insurgents" or "rebels". In English, the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace has often been shortened to simply the Taipings, from the word "Peace" in the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace, but it was never a term that either the Taipings or their enemies used to refer to them.


History


Origins

During the 19th century, the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
experienced a series of
famines A famine is a widespread scarcity of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual con ...
, natural disasters, economic problems and defeats at the hands of foreign powers; these events have come to be collectively known as China's "
century of humiliation A century is a period of 100 year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the seaso ...
". Farmers were heavily overtaxed, rents rose dramatically, and peasants started to desert their lands in droves. The
Qing military The Qing dynasty (1636–1912) was established by conquest and maintained by armed force. The founding emperors personally organized and led the armies, and the continued cultural and political legitimacy of the dynasty depended on the ability to de ...
had recently suffered a disastrous defeat in the
First Opium War The First Opium War (), also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between Britain and the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties ...
, while the Chinese economy was severely impacted by a trade imbalance caused by the large-scale and illicit importation of
opium Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: ''Lachryma papaveris'') is dried latex Latex is a stable dispersion (emulsion An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally Miscibility, immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) o ...

opium
.
Banditry 250px, Carmine Crocco's lieutenant Agostino Sacchitiello and members of his band from Bisaccia, Campania photographed in 1862 Banditry is a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving the threat or use of violence. A person w ...
became more common, and numerous secret societies and self-defense units formed, all of which led to an increase in small-scale warfare. Meanwhile, the
population of China The demographics of China demonstrate a large population with a relatively small youth component, partially a result of China's one-child policy. China's population reached 1 billion in 1982. As of November 2019, China's population stood at 1.3 ...
had increased rapidly, nearly doubling between 1766 and 1833, while the amount of cultivated land was stable. The government, commanded by ethnic
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
, had become increasingly corrupt. It was weak in the southern regions where local clans dominated. Anti-Manchu sentiments were strongest in southern China among the
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
community, a Han Chinese subgroup. Meanwhile, Christian missionaries were active. In 1837
Hong Xiuquan Hong Xiuquan (1 January 1814 – 1 June 1864), born Hong Huoxiu and with the courtesy name Renkun, was a Hakka people, Hakka Chinese revolutionary who was the leader of the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. He established the Taip ...

Hong Xiuquan
, a Hakka from a poor village in
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
, once again failed the
imperial examination The Chinese imperial examinations, or ''keju'' (lit. "subject recommendation"), was a civil service examination system in History of China#Imperial era, Imperial China for selecting candidates for the state Civil service#China, bureaucracy. T ...
, frustrating his ambition to become a
scholar-official The scholar-officials, also known as literati, scholar-gentlemen or scholar-bureaucrats (), were government officials and prestigious scholars in Chinese society, forming a distinct social class. Scholar-officials were politicians and governmen ...
in the civil service. He returned home, fell sick and was bedridden for several days, during which he experienced mystical visions. In 1843, after carefully reading a pamphlet which he had received from a Protestant Christian missionary several years earlier, Hong declared that he now understood that his vision meant that he was the younger brother of
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
and that he had been sent to rid China of the "devils", including the corrupt Qing government and Confucian teachings. In 1847 Hong went to Guangzhou, where he studied the Bible with
Issachar Jacox RobertsIssachar Jacox Roberts (Chinese: 罗孝全 ''Luó Xiàoquán'') (1802–1871) was a Southern Baptist missionary in Qing China notable for being in a direct contact with Hong Xiuquan and for denying him Christian baptism Baptism (from the ...
, an American
Baptist Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism, Protestant Christianity distinguished by baptizing professing Christianity, Christian believers only (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and doing so by complete Immersion baptism, ...
missionary. Roberts refused to baptize him and later stated that Hong's followers were "bent on making their burlesque religious pretensions serve their political purpose". Soon after Hong began preaching across Guangxi in 1844, his follower
Feng Yunshan Feng Yunshan (; 1815 – June 10, 1852) was the South King of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, later shortened to Heavenly Kingdom or Heavenly Dynasty, was an List of historical unrecognized states and dependencies, ...
founded the
God Worshipping Society The God Worshipping Society () was a religious movement founded and led by Hong Xiuquan which drew on his own unique interpretation of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on t ...
, a movement which followed Hong's fusion of Christianity,
Daoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
,
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
and indigenous
millenarian Millenarianism (also millenarism), from Latin ''mīllēnārius'' "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; howeve ...
ism, which Hong presented as a restoration of the ancient Chinese faith in
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may in ...

Shangdi
. The Taiping faith, says one historian, "developed into a dynamic new Chinese religion ... Taiping Christianity". The movement at first grew by suppressing groups of bandits and pirates in southern China in the late 1840s, then suppression by Qing authorities led it to evolve into
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...
and subsequently a widespread
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
. Eventually, two other God Worshippers claimed to possess the ability to speak as members of the "Celestial Family",
the Father Father is the male parent of a child. Father may also refer to: Name * Daniel Fathers (born 1966), a British actor * Father Yod (1922–1975), an American owner of one of the country's first health food restaurants Cinema * Father (1966 film), ' ...

the Father
in the case of
Yang Xiuqing Yang Xiuqing () (died September 2/3, 1856), was an organizer and commander-in-chief of the Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, uprisin ...
and Jesus Christ in the case of
Xiao Chaogui Xiao Chaogui (; 1820 – 1852) was an important leader during the early years of the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing dynasty of China. He was a sworn brother to Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the Taipings, and claimed to serve as a mouthpiece for J ...
.


Early years

The Taiping Rebellion began in the southern province of Guangxi when local officials launched a campaign of religious persecution against the God Worshipping Society. In early January 1851, following a small-scale battle in late December 1850, a 10,000-strong rebel army organized by
Feng Yunshan Feng Yunshan (; 1815 – June 10, 1852) was the South King of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, later shortened to Heavenly Kingdom or Heavenly Dynasty, was an List of historical unrecognized states and dependencies, ...
and Wei Changhui routed Qing forces stationed in Jintian (present-day
Guiping Guiping () is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a Administrative divisions of China#County level ...
, Guangxi). Taiping forces successfully repulsed an attempted imperial reprisal by the
Green Standard Army The Green Standard Army (; Manchu: ''niowanggiyan turun i kūwaran'') was the name of a category of military units under the control of Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China ...

Green Standard Army
against the Jintian uprising. On January 11, 1851, Hong declared himself the
Heavenly King Heavenly King or Tian Wang () is a Chinese language, Chinese title for various religious deities and divine leaders throughout history, as well as an alternate form of the term ''Son of Heaven'', referring to the Emperor of China, emperor. The Chi ...
of the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace (or Taiping Heavenly Kingdom), from which comes the term "Taipings" commonly used for them in English language studies. The Taipings began marching north in September 1851 to escape Qing forces closing in on them. The Taiping army pressed north into Hunan following the
Xiang River The Xiang River is the chief river of the Lake Dongting drainage system of the middle Yangtze The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest , the in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises ...
, besieging Changsha, occupying Yuezhou, and then capturing Wuchang in December 1852 after reaching the Yangtze River. At this point the Taiping leadership decided to move east along the Yangtze River.
Anqing Anqing (, also Nganking, formerly Hwaining, now the name of Huaining County) is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Anhui province of China, province, People's Republic of China. Its population was 5,311,579 at the 2010 census, with 780,51 ...

Anqing
was captured in February 1852. Taiping leaders may have reached out to
Triad A triad, meaning a "group of 3, three". Triad or triade may refer to: Associations * Triad (organized crime), Chinese organized-crime societies * Lexington Triad, a group of three fraternities founded at colleges in Lexington, Virginia * Miam ...
organizations, which had many cells in South China and among government troops. Taiping titles echoed Triad usage, whether consciously or not, which made it more attractive for Triads to join the movement. In 1852, Qing government troops captured Hong Daquan, a rebel who had assumed the title ''Tian De Wang'' (King of Heavenly Virtue). Hong Daquan's confession claimed that Hong Xiuquan had made him co-sovereign of the Heavenly Kingdom and given him that title, but was more likely an echo of an earlier but unconnected
White Lotus Rebellion The White Lotus Rebellion (, 1794–1804) was a rebellion initiated by followers of the White Lotus movement during the Qing dynasty of China. Motivated by Millenarianism, millenarian Buddhists who promised the immediate return of the Buddha, it e ...
. However, the capture of Nanjing in that year led to a deterioration of relations between the Taiping rebels and the triads.


Middle years

On March 19, 1853, the Taipings captured the city of
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
and Hong declared it the Heavenly Capital of his kingdom. Since the Taipings considered the
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
to be demons, they first killed all the Manchu men, then forced the Manchu women outside the city and burned them to death. Shortly thereafter, the Taiping launched concurrent Northern and
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
expeditions, in an effort to relieve pressure on Nanjing and achieve significant territorial gains.Maochun Yu, "The Taiping Rebellion: A Military Assessment of Revolution and Counterrevolution", printed in ''A Military History of China'' 138 (David A. Graff & Robin Higham eds., 2002) The former expedition was a complete failure but the latter achieved limited success. In 1853 Hong Xiuquan withdrew from active control of policies and administration to rule exclusively by written proclamations. He lived in luxury and had many women in his inner chamber, and often issued religious strictures. He clashed with Yang Xiuqing, who challenged his often impractical policies, and became suspicious of Yang's ambitions, his extensive network of spies and his claims of authority when "speaking as God". This tension culminated in the 1856 Tianjing Incident, wherein Yang and his followers were slaughtered by Wei Changhui, Qin Rigang, and their troops on Hong Xiuquan's orders. Shi Dakai's objection to the bloodshed led to his family and retinue being killed by Wei and Qin with Wei ultimately planning to imprison Hong. Wei's plans were ultimately thwarted and he and Qin were executed by Hong. Shi Dakai was given control of five Taiping armies, which were consolidated into one. But fearing for his life, he departed from Tianjing and headed west towards Sichuan. With Hong withdrawn from view and Yang out of the picture, the remaining Taiping leaders tried to widen their popular support and forge alliances with European powers, but failed on both counts. The Europeans decided to stay officially neutral, though European military advisors served with the Qing army. Inside China, the rebellion faced resistance from the traditionalist rural classes because of hostility to Chinese customs and Confucian values. The landowning upper class, unsettled by the Taiping ideology and the policy of strict separation of the sexes, even for married couples, sided with government forces. In
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
, a local irregular army called the
Xiang Army 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing dynasty, Qi ...
or Hunan Army, under the personal leadership of
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
, became the main armed force fighting for the Qing against the Taiping. Zeng's Xiang Army proved effective in gradually turning back the Taiping advance in the western theater of the war and ultimately retaking much of Hubei and Jiangxi provinces. In December 1856 Qing forces retook
Wuchang Wuchang forms part of the urban core of and is one of 13 urban districts A district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational e ...
for the final time. The
Xiang Army 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing dynasty, Qi ...
captured
Jiujiang Jiujiang (), formerly transliterated Kiukiang or Kew Keang, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi m ...

Jiujiang
in May 1858 and then the rest of
Jiangxi province Jiangxi (; ; alternately romanized as Kiangsi or Chianghsi, Gan Chinese Gan, Gann or Kan is a group of Sinitic languages spoken first language, natively by many people in the Jiangxi province of China, as well as significant populations i ...
by September. In 1859
Hong Rengan Hong Rengan (; 18 February 1822 – 23 November 1864) was an important leader of the Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, uprising, or in ...
, Hong Xiuquan's cousin, joined the Taiping forces in Nanjing and was given considerable power by Hong. Hong Rengan developed an ambitious plan to expand the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom's boundaries. In May 1860 the Taiping defeated the imperial forces that had been besieging Nanjing since 1853, eliminating them from the region and opening the way for a successful invasion of southern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, the wealthiest region of the Qing Empire. The Taiping rebels were successful in taking
Hangzhou Hangzhou (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ...

Hangzhou
on March 19, 1860,
Changzhou Changzhou ( Changzhounese: ''Zaon Tsei'', ) is a prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city or prefectural city is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China China (), off ...

Changzhou
on May 26, and
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
on June 2 to the east. While Taiping forces were preoccupied in Jiangsu, Zeng's forces moved down the Yangtze River.


Fall of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

An attempt to take Shanghai in August 1860 was repulsed by an army of
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
troops supported by European officers under the command of
Frederick Townsend Ward Frederick Townsend Ward (; November 29, 1831September 22, 1862) was an American sailor and known for his military service in during the . Early life and education Ward was born in on November 29, 1831. Ward was rebellious in his youth, so hi ...
assisted by local strategic support of the French diplomat Albert-Édouard Levieux de Caligny. This army would become known as the "
Ever Victorious Army The Ever Victorious Army () was the name given to a small imperial army that fought rebels in late-19th-century China. It was directed and trained by Europeans. The Ever Victorious Army fought for the Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, offici ...
", a seasoned and well trained Qing military force commanded by
Charles George Gordon Major-general (United Kingdom), Major-General Charles George Gordon Companion of the Order of the Bath, CB (28 January 1833 – 26 January 1885), also known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha, and Gordon of Khartoum, was a British Army officer and ...
, and would be instrumental in the defeat of the Taiping rebels. In 1861, around the time of the death of the
Xianfeng Emperor The Xianfeng Emperor (17 July 1831 – 22 August 1861), or by temple name Temple names are posthumous titles accorded to monarchs of the Sinosphere The East Asian cultural sphere, Chinese cultural sphere or Sinosphere (also Sinic/Si ...
and ascension of the Tongzhi Emperor, Zeng Guofan's Xiang Army captured Anqing with help from a naval blockade imposed by the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
on the city. Near the end of 1861 the Taipings launched a final Eastern Expedition.
Ningbo Ningbo (; , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; f ...
was easily captured on December 9, and
Hangzhou Hangzhou (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ...

Hangzhou
was besieged and finally captured on December 31, 1861. Taiping troops surrounded Shanghai in January 1862, but were unable to capture it. The Ever-Victorious Army repulsed another attack on Shanghai in 1862 and helped to defend other treaty ports such as
Ningbo Ningbo (; , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; f ...
, reclaimed on May 10. They also aided imperial troops in reconquering Taiping strongholds along the Yangtze River. In 1863, Shi Dakai surrendered to the Qing near the
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
capital
Chengdu Chengdu (, ; simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representa ...

Chengdu
and was executed by slow-slicing. Some of his followers escaped or were released and continued the fight against the Qing. Qing forces were reorganised under the command of
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
,
Zuo Zongtang Zuo Zongtang, Marquis Kejing (also romanised as Tso Tsung-t'ang; ; 10 November 1812 – 5 September 1885), sometimes referred to as General Tso, was a Chinese statesman and military leader of the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, off ...

Zuo Zongtang
and
Li Hongzhang Li Hongzhang, Marquess Suyi ( zh, t=李鴻章; also Li Hung-chang; 15 February 1823 – 7 November 1901) was a Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), w ...

Li Hongzhang
, and the Qing reconquest began in earnest. Zeng Guofan began in Hunan by recruiting a peasant army, later known as the
Xiang Army 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing dynasty, Qi ...
, based on the teachings of the 16th century general
Qi Jiguang Qi Jiguang (, November 12, 1528 – January 17, 1588), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, ...

Qi Jiguang
. By early 1864, Qing control in most areas had been reestablished. In May 1862, the Xiang Army began directly besieging Nanjing and managed to hold firm despite numerous attempts by the numerically superior Taiping Army to dislodge them. Hong Xiuquan declared that God would defend Nanjing, but in June 1864, with Qing forces approaching, he died of
food poisoning Foodborne illness (also foodborne disease and colloquially referred to as food poisoning) is any illness A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organizatio ...
as a consequence of eating wild vegetables when the city ran low on food supplies. He was sick for 20 days before succumbing and a few days after his death, Qing forces . His body was buried in the former Ming Imperial Palace, and was later exhumed on orders of Zeng Guofan to verify his death, and then cremated. Hong's ashes were later blasted out of a cannon in order to ensure that his remains have no resting place as eternal punishment for the uprising. Four months before the fall of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Hong Xiuquan abdicated in favor of his eldest son,
Hong Tianguifu Hong Tianguifu (23 November 1849 – 18 November 1864) was the second and last king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the t ...
, who was 15 years old. The younger Hong was inexperienced and powerless, so the kingdom was quickly destroyed when Nanjing fell in July 1864 to the imperial armies after protracted street-by-street fighting. Tianguifu and few others escaped but were soon caught and executed. Most of the Taiping princes were executed. A small remainder of loyal Taiping forces had continued to fight in northern Zhejiang, rallying around Tianguifu, but after Tianguifu's capture on October 25, 1864, Taiping resistance was gradually pushed into the highlands of Jiangxi, Zhejiang,
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
and finally
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
, where one of the last Taiping loyalists, Wang Haiyang, was defeated on January 29, 1866.


Aftermath

Although the fall of Nanjing in 1864 marked the destruction of the Taiping regime, the fight was not yet over. There were still several hundred thousand Taiping troops continuing the fight, with more than a quarter-million fighting in the border regions of
Jiangxi Jiangxi (; ; alternately romanized as Kiangsi or Chianghsi, Gan Chinese Gan, Gann or Kan is a group of Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibe ...

Jiangxi
and
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
alone. It was not until August 1871 that the last Taiping army led by Shi Dakai's commander, Li Fuzhong (), was completely wiped out by government forces in the border region of
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
,
Guizhou Guizhou (; alternately Kweichow) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Guizhou
and
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
. Taiping wars also spilled over into
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
with devastating effects. In 1860, Wu Lingyun (), an ethnic Zhuang Taiping leader, proclaimed himself King of Dingling () in the Sino-Vietnamese border regions. Dingling was destroyed during a Qing campaign in 1868; his son Wu Yazhong, also called Wu Kun (), fled to Vietnam but was killed in 1869 in
Bắc Ninh Bắc Ninh () is a city in the northern part of Vietnam and is the capital of Bắc Ninh Province. The city is the cultural, administrative and commercial center of the province. The city area is 82.60 square km, with a population of 501,199 in Nov ...
by a Qing-Vietnamese coalition. Wu Kun's troops broke up and became marauding armies such as the Yellow Flag Army led by Huang Chongying () and the
Black Flag Army The Black Flag Army (; ) was a splinter remnant of a bandit group recruited largely from soldiers of ethnic Zhuang background, who crossed the border in 1865 from Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), offic ...
(; ) led by
Liu Yongfu Liu Yongfu () (1837–1917) was a Chinese warlord A warlord is a strong leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state because of their ability to mobilize loyal armed for ...

Liu Yongfu
. The latter would become a prominent warlord in Upper
Tonkin Tonkin, also spelled ''Tongkin'', ''Tonquin'' or ''Tongking'', is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a ...

Tonkin
and would later help the
Nguyễn dynasty Nguyễn is the most common Vietnamese surname / family name. Outside of Vietnam, the surname is commonly rendered without diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term gl ...
to engage against the French during the
Sino-French War The Sino-French War (, french: Guerre franco-chinoise, vi, Chiến tranh Pháp-Thanh), also known as the Tonkin War and Tonquin War, was a limited conflict fought from August 1884 to April 1885. There was no declaration of war A declaration ...
in the 1880s. He later became the second and last leader of the short-lived
Republic of Formosa The Republic of Formosa was a short-lived republic that existed on the island of Taiwan in 1895 between the formal cession of Taiwan by the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Im ...
(5 June–21 October 1895). Other "Flag Gangs" armed with the latest weapons, disintegrated into bandit groups that plundered remnants of the
Lan Xang existed as a unified kingdom from 1353 to 1707. For three and a half centuries, Lan Xang was one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The meaning of the kingdom's name alludes to the power of the kingship and formidable war machine of the ea ...
kingdom, and were then engaged in combat against the incompetent forces of King
Rama V Chulalongkorn ( th, จุฬาลงกรณ์, 20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910) was the fifth monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or ...

Rama V
(r. 1868–1910) until 1890, when the last of the groups eventually disbanded. Their victims did not know where the bandits had come from and, when they plundered Buddhist temples, they were mistaken for
Chinese Muslims Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syll ...
from Yunnan called ''Hui'' in Mandarin and ''Haw'' in the
Lao language Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian (, 'Lao' or , 'Lao language'), is a Kra–Dai languages, Kra–Dai language of the Lao people. It is spoken in Laos, where it is the official language for around 7 million people, as well as in northeas ...

Lao language
( th, ฮ่อ,) which resulted in the protracted series of conflicts being misnamed the
Haw wars The Haw Wars ( th, สงครามปราบฮ่อ) were fought against Chinese quasi-military forces invading parts of Tonkin Tonkin, also spelled ''Tongkin'', ''Tonquin'' or ''Tongking'', is an exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inne ...
.


Death toll

With no reliable census at the time, estimates of the death toll of the Taiping Rebellion are necessarily based on projections. The most widely cited sources estimate the total number of deaths during the almost 14 years of the rebellion to be approximately 20–30 million civilians and soldiers; a recent Chinese study estimates up to 70 million deaths."Taiping Rebellion"
'' Britannica Concise''
Most of the deaths were attributed to plague and
famine A famine is a widespread scarcity of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual con ...

famine
. Some analysts have claimed the death toll may have reached 100 million.


Concurrent rebellions

The
Nian Rebellion The Nian Rebellion () was an armed uprising that took place in northern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...

Nian Rebellion
(1853–1868), and several Chinese Muslim rebellions in the southwest (
Panthay Rebellion The Panthay rebellion (1856–1873), known to Chinese as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion (Tu Wen-hsiu Rebellion), was a rebellion of the Muslim Hui people The Hui people ( zh, c=, p=Huízú, w=Hui2-tsu2, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin ...
, 1855–1873) and the northwest ( Dungan revolt, 1862–1877) continued to pose considerable problems for the Qing dynasty. Occasionally the Nian rebels would collaborate with Taiping forces, for instance during the
Northern Expedition The Northern Expedition was a military campaign launched by the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Kuomintang (KMT), also known as the "Chinese Nationalist Party", against the Beiyang government and other regional warlords in 1926. The p ...
. As the Taiping rebellion lost ground, particularly after the fall of Nanjing in 1864, former Taiping soldiers and commanders like
Lai Wenguang Lai Wenguang (賴文光, 1827–1868), born in Meixian District, Mei County (now Meixian District), Guangdong, and later worked in Guangxi, was an eminent military leader of the Taiping Rebellion and Nian Rebellion, and known during his military t ...
were incorporated into Nian ranks. After the failure of the
Red Turban Rebellion (1854–1856) The Red Turban Rebellion of 1854–1856 was a rebellion by members of the Tiandihui The Tiandihui, the Heaven and Earth Society, also called Hongmen (the Vast Family), is a Chinese fraternal organization A meeting of Freemasons i ...
to capture
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
, their soldiers retreated north into Jiangxi and combined forces with Shi Dakai. After the defeat of the Li Yonghe and Lan Chaoding rebellion in Sichuan, remnants combined with Taiping forces in Shaanxi. Remnant forces of the
Small Swords Society Small Swords Society or Small Knife Society was a political and military organisation active in Shanghai, China, and neighbouring areas amid the Taiping Rebellion, between about 1840 and 1855. Members of the society, rebelling against the Qing dyn ...
uprising in Shanghai regrouped with the Taiping army.
Du Wenxiu Du Wenxiu (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s=本经, ...
, who led the
Panthay Rebellion The Panthay rebellion (1856–1873), known to Chinese as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion (Tu Wen-hsiu Rebellion), was a rebellion of the Muslim Hui people The Hui people ( zh, c=, p=Huízú, w=Hui2-tsu2, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin ...
in
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
, was in contact with the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. He was not aiming his rebellion at Han Chinese, but was anti-Qing and wanted to destroy the Qing government. Du's forces led multiple non-Muslim forces, including Han Chinese, Li, Bai, and
Hani Hani may refer to: People * Hani (name) * Hani (producer), a record producer and remixer from New York City * Hani (singer), a South Korean singer and member of EXID * Hani people, an ethnic group of China and Vietnam Places * Hani, an island in I ...
peoples. They were assisted by non-Muslim
Shan Shan may refer to: People *Shan (surname), or 单 in Chinese, a Chinese surname *Shan, a variant of the Welsh given name usually spelled Siân *Occasionally used as a short form of Shannen/Shannon (given name), Shannon Ethnic groups *Shan people ...
and Kakhyen and other hill tribes in the revolt. The other Muslim rebellion, the Dungan revolt, was the reverse: it was not aimed at overthrowing the Qing dynasty since its leader
Ma Hualong Ma Hualong () (died March 2, 1871), was the fifth leader (, ''jiaozhu'') of the Jahriyya, a Sufi order (''menhuan'') in northwestern China.Dillon (1999), pp. 124-126 From the beginning of the anti-Qing Dynasty, Qing Muslim Rebellion in 1862, an ...
accepted an imperial title. Rather, it erupted due to intersectional fighting between Muslim factions and Han Chinese. Various groups fought each other during the Dungan revolt without any coherent goal. p. 98 According to modern researchers, the Dungan rebellion began in 1862 not as a planned uprising but as a coalescence of many local brawls and riots triggered by trivial causes, among these were false rumours that the Hui Muslims were aiding the Taiping rebels. However, the Hui Ma Xiaoshi claimed that the Shaanxi Muslim rebellion was connected to the Taiping.
Jonathan Spence Jonathan Dermot Spence (11 August 1936 – 25 December 2021) was an English-born American historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the con ...
says that a key reason for the Taiping's defeat was its overall inability to coordinate with other rebellions.


Taiping Heavenly Kingdom's policies

The rebels announced social reforms, including strict separation of the sexes, abolition of
foot binding Foot binding, or footbinding, was the Chinese custom of breaking and tightly binding the feet of young girls in order to change their shape and size. Feet altered by footbinding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were know ...
, land socialisation, and "suppression" of private trade; they also outlawed the importation of opium into all Taiping territories. In regards to religion, the Kingdom established as official religion Hong's Shenism, which held that Hong Xiuquan was the younger brother of Jesus and second son of the
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...

Emperor
. Hong saw Confucianism was a shadow of its noble origin, being now a tool of the Qing to tyrannize
Han people The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
(he saw in his dreams Confucius being punished by Shangdi because that), libraries of the Confucian monasteries were (almost completely in the case of the
Yangtze Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis generally comprising the Wu Chinese-speaking areas of Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of th ...
area), and the temples were often defaced or turn into temples of his new religion or hospitals and libraries. Traditionalist works like those of Confucius were burned and their sellers executed. The Taiping were especially opposed to
idolatry Idolatry is the worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a god. An act of worship may be performed i ...
, destroying idols wherever found with great prejudice. Though the destruction of idols was initially welcomed by foreign missionaries, missionaries eventually came to fear the zealotry of the Taiping that they had a hand in creating. Separation of the sexes was strictly enforced in the first few years, although it tapered off in later years. Part of the extremeness came from a mistranslation of the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. " ...

Ten Commandments
, which led to the seventh commandment also forbidding "licentiousness" as well as adultery. It was so severe that parents and children of the opposite sex could not interact, and even married couples were discouraged from having sex.


Military


Taiping forces

The Taiping army was the rebellion's key strength. It was marked by a high level of discipline and fanaticism. They typically wore a uniform of red jackets with blue trousers, and grew their hair long so in China they were nicknamed "long hair". In the beginning of the rebellion, the large numbers of women serving in the Taiping army also distinguished it from other 19th-century armies. However, after 1853 there ceased being many women in the Taiping army.
Hong Xuanjiao Hong Xuanjiao (, circa 1830 - fl. 1856), was a Chinese female general and rebel leader during the Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion Rebellion, upr ...
, Su Sanniang and Qiu Ersao are examples of women who became leaders of the Taiping army's female soldiers. Combat was always bloody and extremely brutal, with little artillery but huge forces equipped with small arms. Both armies would attempt to push each other off of the battlefield, and though casualties were high, few battles were decisively won. The Taiping army's main strategy of conquest was to take major cities, consolidate their hold on the cities, then march out into the surrounding countryside to recruit local farmers and battle government forces. Estimates of the overall size of the Taiping army are around 2,000,000 soldiers. The army's organization was allegedly inspired by that of the Qin dynasty. Each army corps consisted of roughly 13,000 men. These corps were placed into armies of varying sizes. In addition to the main Taiping forces organised along the above lines, there were also thousands of pro-Taiping groups fielding their own forces of irregulars. The rebels were relatively well-equipped with modern weapons. They were not supported by foreign governments, but they bought modern munitions - including firearms, artillery, and ammunition - from foreign suppliers; the rebels were buying weapons by 1853. Munitions - partially sourced from Western manufacturers and military stores - were smuggled into China, mainly by English and Americans. An April 1862 shipment from an American dealer "well known for their dealings with rebels" included 2,783 (percussion cap) muskets, 66 carbines, 4 rifles, and 895 field artillery guns; the dealer carried passports signed by the Loyal King. The rebels also manufactured weapons, and imported manufacturing equipment. In the summer of 1862, a Western observer noted that rebel factories in Nanjing were producing superior guns - including heavy cannon - than the Qing. The rebels augmented their modern arsenal with captured equipment. Just before his execution, Taiping Loyal King
Li Xiucheng Li Xiucheng (; 1823 – August 7, 1864) was a military rebel commander opposing the Qing dynasty during the Taiping Rebellion The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion ...
advised the Qing to buy, and to learn how to replicate, the best foreign cannon and gun carriages to prepare for war with foreign powers. As early as 1853, foreigners from various countries joined the rebels in combat and administrative roles, and were in a position to observe the Taiping in battle. The rebels were courageous under fire, erected defensive works quickly, and used mobile pontoon bridges. One tactic was to ring a Qing emplacement in fire and kill the fleeing Qing troops as they emerged individually. There was also a small Taiping Navy, composed of captured boats, that operated along the Yangtze and its tributaries. Among the Navy's commanders was the Hang King Tang Zhengcai.


Ethnic structure of the Taiping army

Ethnically, the Taiping army was at the outset formed largely from these groups: the
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
, a
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
subgroup; the
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...
, local residents of
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
province; and the
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
(a non-Han ethnic group). It is no coincidence that Hong Xiuquan and the other Taiping royals were Hakka. As a Han subgroup, the Hakka were frequently marginalised economically and politically, having migrated to the regions which their descendants presently inhabit only after other Han groups were already established there. For example, when the Hakka settled in Guangdong and parts of
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
, speakers of
Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that the ...
(
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...

Cantonese
) were already the dominant regional Han group there and they had been so for some time, just as speakers of various dialects of Min are locally dominant in
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
province. The Hakka settled throughout southern China and beyond, but as latecomers they generally had to establish their communities on rugged, less fertile land scattered on the fringes of the local majority group's settlements. As their name ("guest households") suggests, the Hakka were generally treated as migrant newcomers, and often subjected to hostility and derision from the local majority Han populations. Consequently, the Hakka, to a greater extent than other Han Chinese, have been historically associated with popular unrest and rebellion. The other significant ethnic group in the Taiping army was the
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
, an indigenous people of Tai origin and China's largest non-Han ethnic minority group. Over the centuries, Zhuang communities had been adopting Han Chinese culture. This was possible because Han culture in the region accommodates a great deal of linguistic diversity, so the Zhuang could be absorbed as if the
Zhuang language 220px, Books of Zhuang language The Zhuang languages (; autonym Autonym may refer to: * Autonym, the name used by a person to refer to themselves or their language; see Exonym and endonym * Autonym (botany), an automatically created infrageneri ...
were just another Han Chinese dialect (which it is not). Because Zhuang communities were integrating with the Han at different rates, a certain amount of friction between the Han and the Zhuang was inevitable, with Zhuang unrest leading to armed uprisings on occasion.


Social structure of the Taiping Army

Socially and economically, the Taiping rebels came almost exclusively from the lowest classes. Many of the southern Taiping troops were former miners, especially those coming from the Zhuang. Very few Taiping rebels, even in the leadership caste, came from the imperial bureaucracy. Almost none were landlords and in occupied territories landlords were often executed.


Qing forces

Opposing the rebellion was an imperial army with over a million regulars and unknown thousands of regional
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
s and foreign mercenaries operating in support. Among the imperial forces was the elite
Ever Victorious Army The Ever Victorious Army () was the name given to a small imperial army that fought rebels in late-19th-century China. It was directed and trained by Europeans. The Ever Victorious Army fought for the Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, offici ...
, consisting of Chinese soldiers led by a Western officer corps (see
Frederick Townsend Ward Frederick Townsend Ward (; November 29, 1831September 22, 1862) was an American sailor and known for his military service in during the . Early life and education Ward was born in on November 29, 1831. Ward was rebellious in his youth, so hi ...
and Charles Gordon) and supplied by European arms companies like Willoughbe & Ponsonby. A particularly famous imperial force was
Zeng Guofan Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong (; 26 November 1811 – 12 March 1872), birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This p ...

Zeng Guofan
's
Xiang Army 150px, Zeng Guofan, the leader of the Xiang Army The Xiang Army or Hunan Army () was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called ''tuanlian'' to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing dynasty, Qi ...
.
Zuo Zongtang Zuo Zongtang, Marquis Kejing (also romanised as Tso Tsung-t'ang; ; 10 November 1812 – 5 September 1885), sometimes referred to as General Tso, was a Chinese statesman and military leader of the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, off ...

Zuo Zongtang
from
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
province was another important Qing general who contributed in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion. Where the armies under the control of dynasty itself were unable to defeat the Taiping, these gentry-led
Yong Ying Yong Ying (, literally "brave camps") were a type of regional army that emerged in the 19th century in the Qing dynasty army, which fought in most of China's wars after the Opium War and numerous rebellions exposed the ineffectiveness of the Manchu ...
armies were able to succeed. Although keeping accurate records was something imperial China traditionally did very well, the decentralized nature of the imperial war effort (relying on regional forces) and the fact that the war was a civil war and therefore very chaotic, meant that reliable figures are impossible to find. The destruction of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom also meant that the majority of any records it possessed were destroyed, the percentage of records said to have survived is around 10%. Over the course of the conflict, around 90% of recruits to the Taiping side would be killed or defect. The organisation of the Qing Imperial Army was thus: *
Eight Banners The Eight Banners (in Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and Chi ...
Army: 250,000 soldiers *
Green Standard Army The Green Standard Army (; Manchu: ''niowanggiyan turun i kūwaran'') was the name of a category of military units under the control of Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China ...

Green Standard Army
: ~610,000 soldiers * Xiang (Hunan) Army: 130,000 soldiers * Huai (Anhui) Army: 70,000 soldiers *
Chu Army The Chu Army () was a standing regional army organized by Zuo Zongtang Zuo Zongtang, Marquis Kejing (also romanised as Tso Tsung-t'ang; ; 10 November 1812 – 5 September 1885), sometimes referred to as General Tso, was a Chinese statesman a ...
: 40,000 soldiers *
Ever Victorious Army The Ever Victorious Army () was the name given to a small imperial army that fought rebels in late-19th-century China. It was directed and trained by Europeans. The Ever Victorious Army fought for the Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, offici ...
: 5,000 soldiers * Village Militias: unknown thousands


Total war

The Taiping Rebellion was a
total war Total war is war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspape ...
. Almost every citizen who had not fled the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was given military training and conscripted into the army to fight against Qing imperial forces. Under the Taiping household registration system, one adult male from each household was to be
conscripted Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to Ancient history, antiquity and it continues in some countries to ...
into the Army. During this conflict, both sides tried to deprive each other of the resources which they needed in order to continue the war and it became standard practice for each to destroy the opposing side's agricultural areas, butcher the populations of cities and generally exact a brutal price from the inhabitants of captured enemy lands in order to drastically weaken the opposition's war effort. This war was total in the sense that civilians on both sides participated in the war effort to a significant extent and the armies on both sides waged war against both the civilian population and military forces. Contemporary accounts describe the amount of desolation which befell rural areas as a result of the conflict. In every area which they captured, the Taiping immediately exterminated the entire Manchu population. In the province of
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
one Qing loyalist who observed the
genocidal massacreThe term ''genocidal massacre'' was introduced by Leo Kuper (1908–1994) in order to describe incidents which have a genocidal component but are committed on a smaller scale when they are compared to genocides such as the Rwandan genocide. Others s ...
s which the Taiping forces committed against the Manchus wrote that the "pitiful Manchus", the Manchu men, women and children were executed by the Taiping forces. The Taiping rebels were seen chanting while slaughtering the Manchus in Hefei. After capturing Nanjing, Taiping forces killed about 40,000 Manchu civilians. On 27 October 1853 they crossed the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
in T'sang-chou and murdered 10,000 Manchus. Since the rebellion began in
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
, Qing forces allowed no rebels speaking its dialect to surrender. Reportedly in the province of
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
, it is written that 1,000,000 were executed because after the collapse of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, the Qing dynasty launched waves of massacres against the Hakkas, that at their height killed up to 30,000 each day. These policies of mass murder of civilians occurred elsewhere in China, including
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
, and
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
. This resulted in a massive civilian flight and death toll with some 600 towns destroyed and other bloody policies resulting.


Legacy

Beyond the staggering amount of human and economic devastation which resulted from it, the Taiping Rebellion led to lasting changes within the late Qing dynasty. Power was, to a limited extent,
decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Concep ...

decentralized
, and ethnic
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
officials were more widely employed in high positions than they had previously been. The traditional Manchu banner forces upon which the Qing dynasty depended had failed. They were gradually replaced with the use of personally-organized armies. Those armies evolved into forces used by who dominated China after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Ultimately, the ideology of the Taiping insurgents (a mix of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
and radical theories of
social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spat ...
) influenced
Sun Yat-sen Sun Yat-sen (; born Sun Deming; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition . was a Chinese statesman A statesman or stateswoman ...

Sun Yat-sen
and other future revolutionaries, and some surviving Taiping veterans even joined the
Revive China Society The Hsing Chung Hui (Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Latin s ...
as well as the
Chinese Communist Party The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), officially the Communist Party of China (CPC), is the founding and One-party state, sole ruling party of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC). The CCP leads List of political parties in China, eight other ...
, which characterised the rebellion as a proto-communist uprising. Famine, disease and massacres, along with social disruption, led to a sharp decline in population, especially in the
Yangtze delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis generally comprising the Wu Chinese-speaking areas of Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of th ...
region. The result was a shortage in labor supply for the first time in centuries, and labor became relatively more valuable than land. The defeat of the Taiping was performed by the Xiang Army using scorched earth tactics, refusing to take prisoners; Anhui, Southern Jiangsu, Northern Zhejiang and Northern Jiangxi were severely depopulated and had to be repopulated with migrants from Henan. The landed gentry of the Lower Yangtze region were reduced in numbers and concentration of land ownership was reduced. The defeat of the Taiping Rebellion by military forces from Hunan Army led to the dramatic increase of Hunanese representation in the government, who played a role in reform efforts. By 1865, five of the eight viceroys were Hunanese. The Hunanese gentry, based on their experience with the Taiping, were more guarded against the influence of Westerners then other provinces. Merchants in
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is ...

Shanxi
and the Huizhou region of
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
became less prominent because the rebellion disrupted trade in much of the country. However, trade in coastal regions, especially in
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
(Canton) and
Ningbo Ningbo (; , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; f ...
was less affected by violence than trade in inland areas was. Streams of refugees who entered Shanghai contributed to the economic development of the city, which was previously less commercially relevant than other cities in the area were. Only a tenth of Taiping-published records survive to this day because they were mostly destroyed by the Qing in an attempt to rewrite the history of the conflict. 3 Historian
John King Fairbank John King Fairbank (May 24, 1907 – September 14, 1991), was an American historian of China and United States-China relations. He taught at Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research univer ...

John King Fairbank
compares the Taiping rebels with the communists under
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the Proclamation of the ...

Mao Zedong
who came to power a century later:


In popular culture

The Taiping Rebellion has been treated in
historical novels #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is common ...
. Robert Elegant's 1983 ''
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
'' depicts the time from the point of view of a Jewish family living in Shanghai. In ''
Flashman and the Dragon ''Flashman and the Dragon'' is a 1985 novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, docume ...
'', the fictional
Harry Paget Flashman Sir Harry Paget Flashman is a fictional character created by Thomas Hughes (1822–1896) in the semi-autobiographical ''Tom Brown's School Days'' (1857) and later developed by George MacDonald Fraser (1925–2008). Harry Flashman appears in a s ...
recounts his adventures during the
Second Opium War The Second Opium War (), also known as the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts ...
and the Taiping Rebellion. In
Lisa See Lisa See is an American writer and novelist. Her books include '' On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family'' (1995), a detailed account of See's family history, and the novels '' Flower Net'' (1997), '' The Interi ...
's novel '' Snow Flower and the Secret Fan'' the title character is married to a man who lives in Jintian and the characters get caught up in the action.
Amy Tan Amy Ruth Tan (born February 19, 1952) is an American author known for the novel '' The Joy Luck Club,'' which was adapted into a film of the same name in 1993 by director Wayne Wang. Tan has written several other novels, including '' The Kitch ...

Amy Tan
's '' The Hundred Secret Senses'' takes place in part during the time of the Taiping Rebellion. '' Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom'' by Katherine Paterson is a young adult novel set during the Taiping Rebellion. Li Bo's ''Tienkuo: The Heavenly Kingdom'' takes place within the Taiping capital at Nanjing The war has also been depicted in television shows and films. In 2000
CCTV Closed-circuit television (CCTV), also known as video surveillance, is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly tra ...
produced '' The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom'', a 46-episode series about the Taiping Rebellion. In 1988
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
's
TVB Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) is a television broadcasting company based in Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area an ...

TVB
produced ''
Twilight of a Nation ''Twilight of a Nation'' is a Hong Kong television series based on the events of the Taiping Rebellion and the rise and fall of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom during the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was t ...
'', a 45-episode drama about the Taiping Rebellion. ''
The Warlords ''The Warlords'' (), previously known as ''The Blood Brothers'', is a 2007 epic action war drama film directed by Peter Chan and starring Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Xu Jinglei. The film was released on 13 December 2007 simultaneo ...
'' is a 2007 historical film set in the 1860s showing Gen. Pang Qinyun, leader of the Shan Regiment, as responsible for the capture of Suzhou and Nanjing.


Relationship with the Western powers

The Taiping government maintained an ambivalent relationship with the
Western powers The Western world, also known as the West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east, and is the direction in whic ...
who were active in China during this period. Due to the religious aspects of the rebellion, the Taiping government perceived Westerners as "brothers and sisters from overseas". The Taiping government proved especially welcoming to Western
missionaries A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or provide services, such as education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), ...

missionaries
. In 1853, Hong Xiuquan invited American missionary
Issachar Jacox RobertsIssachar Jacox Roberts (Chinese: 罗孝全 ''Luó Xiàoquán'') (1802–1871) was a Southern Baptist missionary in Qing China notable for being in a direct contact with Hong Xiuquan and for denying him Christian baptism Baptism (from the ...
to come to Nanking to aid in the administration of his government. After Roberts arrived in Nanking in 1861 and met with Hong, he was commissioned by him as the director of foreign affairs. While some missionaries like Roberts were enthusiastic in the first few years about the Taiping rebellion, Western skepticism existed from the inception of the rebellion. According to historian Prescott Clarke, Westerners in China became separated into two different groups in regards to their views on the rebellion, with one side depicting the rebels as mere robbers whose intention was to gather wealth through revolting against the Qing, and the other side depicting the rebel army as religious fanatics provoked by skillful leaders to fight against the Qing to the death. The government officials of the Western powers were optimistic about the Taiping government's chance of victory in the early stages. According to historian Eugene P. Boardman, the Qing dynasty's enforcement of the treaty of 1842–1844 was frustrating the American and English officials, especially in terms of open trade. According to Boardman the Christian nature of the Taiping opened up the possibility for a more cooperative trade partnership. Many Western officials visited the capital of Taiping between 1863 and 1864, and American commissioner Robert Milligan McLane considered granting official recognition of the Taiping government. According to Clarke the Western missionaries changed their opinions upon further inspections of the rebellion. That change was captured in a letter from the American missionary Divie Bethune McCartee. Upon visiting Nanking, McCartee described the situation in the city as "Dreadful destruction of life." As for the actual practice of Christianity in the city, McCartee said "I saw no signs of anything resembling Christianity in or near Nanking". Similarly to McCartee, Hong's director of foreign affairs I. J. Roberts wrote, "His religious toleration, and multiplicity of chapels turns out to be a farce, of no avail in the spread of Christianity – worse than useless." After the conclusion of the
Second Opium War The Second Opium War (), also known as the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts ...
, Royal Navy officer Sir James Hope led a expedition to Nanking in February 1861. This expedition was the largest party of Westerners to visit Taiping territories, with the inclusion of many British military personnel, entrepreneurs, missionaries, other unofficial observers and two French representatives. Upon visiting the capital, some members of the expedition wrote that "devastation marked our journey" in reference to the conditions in Taiping territories."A Report by R. J. Forest"
''Western reports on the Taiping: A selection of documents''
Clarke, 1982.
Some reports suggested a great deal of indiscriminate slaughter of civilians conducted by the Taiping army in newly controlled areas. In late 1861, Hope made a brief visit to Nanking to come to an agreement with the Taiping rebels not to attack the city of Shanghai, a proposal which was refused by the Taiping government. According to Clarke, this refusal of cooperation and Taiping's occupation of Ningpo in December led to the limited intervention against the rebellion by the British and French in the following years.


See also

*
Boxer Rebellion The Boxer Rebellion, Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement, was an armed and violent , , and insurrection in China between 1899 and 1901, towards the end of the . It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (''Yìhéquán''), kno ...

Boxer Rebellion
*
Christianity in China Christianity in China has been present since at least the 7th century and has gained a significant amount of influence during the last 200 years. The Syro-Persian Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏen ...
*
List of revolutions and rebellions A ''list'' is any enumeration of a set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby ...
*
List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll This is a list of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll. "Anthropogenic" means caused by humans. The list covers the name of the event, location and the start and end of each event. Some events may belong in more than one category. In add ...
* Miao Rebellion (1854–1873) *
Nian Rebellion The Nian Rebellion () was an armed uprising that took place in northern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...

Nian Rebellion
* Punti-Hakka Clan Wars * Millennarianism in colonial societies


References


Sources


Modern monographs and surveys

* Emphasis on the military history. * Translated and condensed from the author's publications in Chinese; especially strong on the military campaigns, based on the author's wide travels in China in the 1920s and 1930s. * * A study of the victims, their experience of the war, and the
memorialization Memorialization generally refers to the process of preserving memories of people or events. It can be a form of address or petition A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitio ...
of the war. * * Detailed narrative analysis. * Focuses on the religious basis of the rebellion. * * * Standard textbook.


Scholarly articles

*


Primary sources

* . 3 vols. Volumes two and three select and translate basic documents.


Further reading


Modern monographs and surveys

* Caleb Carr, ''The Devil Soldier: The Story of Frederick Townsend Ward'' (1994) . * Carl J. Danko, ''Foreign Devils and God-Worshipers: Western Mercenaries and Cross-Cultural Realism During the Taiping Rebellion'' (Army Command And General Staff College, 2017
online
*
John King Fairbank John King Fairbank (May 24, 1907 – September 14, 1991), was an American historian of China and United States-China relations. He taught at Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research univer ...

John King Fairbank
, et al. ''East Asia: The modern transformation'' (1965) 2:155–178
online
* Jack Gray, ''Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to the 1980s'' (1990), * Immanuel C. Y. Hsu, ''The Rise of Modern China'' (1999), . Standard textbook
online
*
Philip A. Kuhn Philip A. Kuhn (September 9, 1933 – February 11, 2016) was an American historian of China and the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University Harvard University is a P ...
, ''Rebellion and Its Enemies in Late Imperial China; Militarization and Social Structure, 1796–1864'' (Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press, 1970). Influential analysis of the rise of rebellion and the organization of its suppression
online
* Philip A. Kuhn, "The Taiping Rebellion," in John K. Fairbank, ed., ''Cambridge History of China'' Vol Ten Pt One (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press, 1970): 264–317. * Rudolf G. Wagner. ''Reenacting the Heavenly Vision: The Role of Religion in the Taiping Rebellion.'' (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, China Research Monograph 25, 1982). . * Mary Clabaugh Wright. ''The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The T'ung-Chih Restoration, 1862–1874''. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957; rpr. 1974 . Account of the Han Chinese/ Manchu coalition which revived the dynasty and defeated the Taipings.


Scholarly articles

* * * * * *


Fiction

* * Hosea Ballou Morse, ''In the Days of the Taipings, Being the Recollections of Ting Kienchang, Otherwise Meisun, Sometime Scoutmaster and Captain in the Ever-Victorious Army and Interpreter-in-Chief to General Ward and General Gordon'' (Salem, MA: The Essex institute, 1927; Reprinted: San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1974). *
George MacDonald Fraser George MacDonald Fraser (2 April 1925 – 2 January 2008) was a British author and screenwriter. He is best known for a series of works that featured the character Flashman. Biography Fraser was born to Scottish parents in Carlisle Carl ...
. ''
Flashman and the Dragon ''Flashman and the Dragon'' is a 1985 novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, docume ...
''. New York: Knopf, 1986. . A volume in ''
The Flashman Papers ''The Flashman Papers'' is a series of novels and short stories written by George MacDonald Fraser, the first of which was published in 1969. The books centre on the exploits of the fictional protagonist Harry Flashman. He is a cowardly Britis ...
'' series.


Contemporaneous accounts

* * * Thomas Taylor Meadows, ''The Chinese and Their Rebellions, Viewed in Connection with Their National Philosophy, Ethics, Legislation, and Administration. To Which Is Added, an Essay on Civilization and Its Present State in the East and West''. (London: Smith, Elder; Bombay: Smith, Taylor, 1856)
American Libraries eBook text
* Brine, Lindesay, ''The Taeping rebellion in China'' (London: J. Murray, 1862) * Ven. Archdeacon Moule, ''Personal Recollections of the T'ai-p'ing Rebellion 1861–63'' (Shanghai: Printed at the "Celestial Empire" Office 1884).


External links


Taiping Rebellion Videos
– Chronological presentation of the Taiping Rebellion, with details and anecdotes.
Taiping Rebellion.com
– Narrative history, with many illustrations,

and a detaile


The Taiping Rebellion
– BBC discussion with Rana Mitter, University of Oxford; British Library; and Julia Lovell, University of London. {{Authority control 1850 in China 1851 in China 1852 in China 1853 in China 1854 in China 1855 in China 1856 in China 1857 in China 1858 in China 1859 in China 1860 in China 1861 in China 1862 in China 1863 in China 1864 in China 19th century in China 19th-century rebellions Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Peasant revolts Persecution of Buddhists Rebellions in the Qing dynasty Religion-based civil wars Wars involving France Wars involving the Qing dynasty Wars involving the United Kingdom Christianity in China Christianization Eight Banners