The transition from Ming to Qing or the Ming–Qing transition, also known as the Manchu conquest of China, was a decades-long period of conflict between the Qing dynasty, established by Manchu clan Aisin Gioro in contemporary Northeast China, the Ming dynasty, and various other rebel powers in China, such as the short-lived Shun dynasty led by Li Zicheng.

At the same time, the Ming dynasty was fighting for its survival against fiscal turmoil and peasant rebellions.

The conquest was far from complete, however, and it required almost 40 more years before all of China was securely united under Qing rule. During this period, a Han civilisation process by mixed marriages played a very important role.

Manchus were living in cities with walls surrounded by villages and adopting Chinese-style agriculture well before the Qing conquest of the Ming, and there was an established tradition of Han Chinese-Manchu mixing before 1644.

Han Chinese Generals who defected to the Manchu were often given women from the Imperial Aisin Gioro family in marriage. Manchu Aisin Gioro princesses were also married to Han Chinese official’s sons. The Manchu leader Nurhaci married one of his granddaughters to the Ming General Li Yongfang after he surrendered Fushun in Liaoning to the Manchu in 1618. Nurhaci’s son Abatai’s daughter was married to Li Yongfang. The offspring of Li received the “Third Class Baron” title. Li Yongfang was the great great great grandfather of Li Shiyao (李侍堯). The 4th daughter of Kangxi (和硕悫靖公主) was wedded to Sun Cheng’en (孫承恩), son of the Han Chinese Sun Sike (孫思克). Other Aisin Gioro women married the sons of the Han Chinese generals Geng Jimao, Shang Kexi, and Wu Sangui.

Meanwhile the ordinary soldiers who defected were often given non-royal Manchu women as wives, and a mass marriage of Han Chinese officers and officials to Manchu women numbering 1,000 couples was arranged by Prince Yoto 岳托 (Prince Keqin) and Hongtaiji in 1632 to promote harmony between the two ethnic groups.

This policy, which began before the invasion of 1644, was continued after it. A 1648 decree from Shunzhi allowed Han Chinese civilian men to marry Manchu women from the Banners with the permission of the Board of Revenue if they were registered daughters of officials or commoners or the permission of their banner company captain if they were unregistered commoners, it was only later in the dynasty that these policies allowing intermarriage were done away with. The decree was formulated by Dorgon.

In the beginning of the Qing dynasty the Qing government supported Han Chinese defectors weddings to Manchu girls. Han Chinese Bannermen wedded Manchus and there was no law against this.

The “Dolo efu” 和碩額駙 rank was given to husbands of Qing princesses. Geng Zhongming, a Han bannerman, was awarded the title of Prince Jingnan, and his son Geng Jingmao managed to have both his sons Geng Jingzhong and Geng Zhaozhong become court attendants under the Shunzhi Emperor and married Aisin Gioro women, with Prince Abatai’s granddaughter marrying Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 and Haoge’s (a son of Hong Taiji) daughter marrying Geng Jingzhong.

A daughter 和硕柔嘉公主 of the Manchu Aisin Gioro Prince Yolo 岳樂 (Prince An) was wedded to Geng Juzhong 耿聚忠 who was another son of Geng Jingmao.  Aisin Gioro women were offered to Mongols who defected to the Manchus. The Manchu Prince Regent Dorgon gave a Manchu woman as a wife to the Han Chinese official Feng Quan, who had defected from the Ming to the Qing. Feng Quan willingly adopted the Manchu queue hairstyle before it was enforced on the Han population and Feng learned the Manchu language.

So many Han defected to the Qing and swelled up the ranks of the Eight Banners that ethnic Manchus became a minority within the Banners, making up only 16% in 1648, with Han Bannermen dominating at 75% and Mongol Bannermen making up the rest.

In their later years, the Ming faced a number of famines and floods as well as economic chaos, and rebellions. Li Zicheng rebelled in the 1630s in Shaanxi in the north, while a mutiny led by Zhang Xianzhong broke out in Sichuan in the 1640s. Many people were killed in this self-proclaimed emperor’s reign of terror.

It was Han Chinese Bannermen who were responsible for the successful Qing takeover of China. They made up the majority of governors in the early Qing and were the ones who governed and administered China after the conquest, stabilizing Qing rule.

The Qing victory was overwhelmingly the result of the defection of the Ming dynasty’s Liaodong military establishment and other defectors, with the Manchu military playing a very minor role.

Edited by staff

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