The Taiping Rebellion

Great Essays
Revolution has been central to the creation of the modern world. For China, the twentieth century was a turbulent time of constant warfare and momentous political and social changes. There are two notable twentieth-century events that are widely considered to be the Chinese “Revolution” in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and history textbooks. The first one is the 1911 Revolution, also known as the “Xinhai Revolution,” which brought about the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, the end to over 2,000 years of imperial rule in China, and the establishment of the Republic of China. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Revolution marked the victory of the Communists after the long civil war against the Nationalist forces and established the People’s Republic …show more content…
The most widespread and devastating of all was the Taiping Rebellion (1851-64). Though traditionally called a rebellion, this large-scale political and religious revolt claimed as many as 50 million lives and thus can be considered the bloodiest civil war in world history. China during this period was faced with severe economic dislocation, a weakened imperial army from the second Opium War (1956-60), and corruption of local officials. The rebellion was initiated in the Guangdong province in southern China and led by a Chinese Christian cult under the leadership of Hong Xiuquan, a Hakka Chinese who became a Christian convert. Hong believed that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and that he had a holy mission to destroy the demon Manchus. While Hong’s religious followers formed the core, hundreds of thousands of poor peasants and other outcasts, who had their own grievances and miseries and saw nothing to lose by joining the revolt, followed Hong and his army. They captured the city of Nanjing, massacred its entire Manchu population, and established the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. Furthermore, the Taiping ideologies of egalitarianism, communalism, and strict bans on idolatrous activities posed new challenges to the Chinese imperial court. R. Keith Schoppa asserts, “The Taiping Revolution was a potent threat to the traditional Confucian system,” because God in a Christian Heaven replaced the impersonal force of Heaven that controlled the forces of nature and endowed the emperor with his mandate to rule (Schoppa, 75). The idea that all humans in a “universal siblinghood” share earth and its resources contradicted the elite domination in Confucian social hierarchy. But it is arguable that behind all of the Christian

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