History Accounts

A History podcast
 1 person rated this podcast

Best Episodes of History Accounts

Mark All
Search Episodes...
The incident beginning the Second Opium War is shrouded in contested facts and mystery.  It was alleged that in 1856, Chinese officials boarded a ship called the Arrow. The officials arrested and removed several Chinese that were alleged to be involved in the opium trade. The French claimed at that same time that they were offended by the murder of a French missionary in 1856. As a result, the English and the French began joint military operations.  In 1858, the allied forces reached Peking and forced the Chinese into negotiations. The parties met at Tianjin and worked out the treaty bearing the city's name.  Eleven more seaports would be opened.  Permanent foreign embassies were allowed in Peking. China agreed to pay a large indemnity.  Opium and the coolie trade were legalized. The next summer the Allies returned to ratify the treaty. The Emperor, however, prevented them from going to Peking. So in 1860, a much larger allied force pressed their way into Peking.  Again the Manchus were at the negotiating table.  The Convention of Peking Agreement resulted and it was agreed the 1858 treaty would be obeyed.
Any discussion of the Meiji Restoration in Japan would be incomplete without a discussion of the Era that preceded it.The Edo Era (or Tokugawa Shogunate) began after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.  The first half of the Shogunate was a prosperous and peaceful time in Japan.  It was ruled by a Shogun (the Emperor was only a nominal political leader) and locally by Samurais.  It followed a complex feudal system and strict social class hierarchy.  As Japan prospered cracks began to appear in the class hierarchy and the feudal system.Japan was largely isolated from the rest of the world until the early to mid-19th century.  From this Era we are all familiar with iconic Japanese institutions such as Geisha, Kabuki, Haiku, and to some extent Sumo.  
Welcome to the second season of my podcast.  This season I want to delve into and answer the question that I have long wondered.  Why did Japan respond and fare better than China to relentless, aggressive assaults in the 19th century from foreign (particularly Western) nations?To get there I talk about the Japanese Meiji Restoration including the Era that preceded it and greatly influenced the Meiji Era.  I will also compare and contrast Japan's experience with modernization and foreign nation aggression to that of China's. I designed the podcast series to also be a stand alone history of the Meiji Restoration.The first few episodes I discuss the Edo Era (or Tokugawa Shogunate) that immediately preceded the Meiji Restoration.
The new, young (and the last) Emperor took the Qing Dynasty throne.  He is most famously known by his Western name, Henry Puyi.  He would be Emperor for less than three and a half years.What started out as a benign issue over the ownership and control of some railways in Central China metastasized into the Xinhai Revolution.  The Manchus badly managed both the railway issue and the reactions and revolution resulting from it.  The young Emperor abdicated in early 1912, ending the Qing Dynasty and Imperial China.  Henry Puyi goes down in history as one of the most tragic and saddest figures in history.  After World War II, he was returned to China as a prisoner of war.  He eventually became a citizen of Communist China.The year of the rat is a significant feature of this episode.  It also plays a role in Chinese culture.  It not only relates to the events that happened in China at the end of the Qing Dynasty.  I produced and published this podcast series in 2020 and during the global pandemic.  Also the year of the rat.  It may portend the future.
Talk grew of removing the Manchus from power.  The revolutionary leader, Sun Yat Sen, emerged as a leader of a new revolutionary alliance.  Their goal was to replace the Qing Dynasty with a republican form of government.The Manchus managed some reforms in the early 20th century.  They were too little and too late.Russia and Japan went to war with each over their interests in Manchuria, China.  Japan handily defeated Russia.  As a result, Japan reclaimed and occupied the sea port city in Southern Liaoning Province, Port Arthur (modern day Dalian).In 1908, both the Emperor Guangxu and the Empress Dowager died.  The two-year old nephew of the Empress Dowager was chosen to be the next (and last) Emperor.
Beginning in the mid-70s Japan expanded its influence in Korea.  China tried to support Korea but this led to political and military conflict with Japan. In the mid-80s a treaty was completed between the Manchu Dynasty and Japan. Both nations agreed to stay out of Korea. A religious rebellion in Korea forced the Korean King to request assistance from the Qing Emperor.  Japan objected to the intervention.  This resulted in the Sino/Japanese war of 1895.  This was an overwhelming victory for Japan.  China ceded to Japan, Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and the Southern portion of the Liaoning Peninsula in China.  Russia, France and Germany, however, soon thereafter intervened (a/k/a Triple Intervention) and forced Japan to return Liaoning Peninsula to China. In 1900, the Boxer Sect rebelled in China.  This was an anti-foreigner, xenophobic uprising.  An eight-nation coalition was needed to suppress the uprising.   These last two events further proved that the Manchus were unable to cope with the challenges of the time.    
Emperor Guangxu succeeded the deceased Emperor Tongzhi.  Tongzhi died without issue.  Guangxu was the three-year old cousin to the deceased Emperor.  The Empress Dowager was the new, young Emperor's principal Regent. Late in his reign, he tried to implement sweeping, radical political and cultural reforms to China.  The Empress Dowager prevented that.  Instead she had him arrested and effectively imprisoned him for the remainder of his life.China and Japan tussled again.  This time it was over Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands.  Japan took aggressive measures, and China lost the Ryukyu Islands to Japan.  Had it not been for diplomatic intervention by the English and the Americans, China would have lost Taiwan then too.In 2008, an autopsy revealed that the Emperor Gaungxu died from arsenic poisoning.  This had long been rumored.
After relative peace had finally arrived in China, the Manchus began a set of modernizing reforms. The reforms are commonly known as the self-strengthening phase or also known as the Tongzhi Restoration (named for the current Emperor).Successful implementation of the right reforms might steer China into a better direction and help ensure its prosperity.  The reforms were both internal and external.  She relied to some extent on Western ideas and concepts, as Japan had done.In the 1870s Japan began to reach out to China.  The two nations agreed to a treaty with each other in 1871.  It was a basic non-aggression and trade pact. In 1875, the Emperor Tongzhi died at the young age of nineteen.  He is remembered for little during his short life and reign.  He died without leaving an heir.
By the 1860s the Qing Dynasty had started to threaten the Taiping rebels’ stronghold at Nanjing.  The Western powers inside China, grew weary and distrustful of the Taipings.  They intervened militarily against the Taiping and helped to defeat them and end the rebellion. The Nian rebellion ended as well.The Emperor Xian Feng died in 1861.  Before he died he named his five-year old son to succeed him.   He would become the Emperor Tongzhi.  One of the late Emperor’s concubines, Cixi (a/k/a The Empress Dowager and the mother of the five-year old), orchestrated a coup d’tete against the boy’s advisors. She became the de-facto Emperor of the Dynasty for the next fifty years. She would rule China from behind the curtain. 
The terms of the Treaty of Nanjing were: Hong Kong ceded to the English, and pay the English an indemnity.  They also agreed to four additional seaports for trade. A year later, a supplemental treaty was agreed by the same parties, Treaty of the Bogue. This gave English citizens the rights to extra-territoriality.The Americans signed their own treaty with the Qing Dynasty. It is known as the Treaty of Wangxia (1844).  It gave the Americans the same treatment as the English.The Emperor Daoguang died in 1850.  His successor was the Emperor Xian Feng. He is probably most associated with the seminal event in the Dynasty’s history, the Taiping Rebellion.The rebellion would take the Dynasty fourteen years to stop. The new feature of this rebellion was its leader - Hong Xiuquan. He preached that he was the son of God. He wanted to establish a Kingdom of God.By 1853, the rebels established their Kingdom at Nanjing. Despite their early success and momentum, they stalled at Nanjing.  Initially the English and the French were neutral toward the rebels.  They only requested that the treaty ports be unaffected. 
The new Emperor's name was Daoguang.  His reign began the onslaught into China of Western imperialism and colonialism.  This period begins the era of unequal treaties.From 1810 to 1838, opium imports into China went from 4,500 chests each year to 40,000 chests. The Emperor appointed an opium commissioner.  He was to eradicate opium from China, and prosecute anyone involved in its trade. This marks the beginning of the opium wars. There would be two of them. In 1839, 1,700 opium dealers were arrested.  20,000 chests of opium that were stored at Canton were also confiscated and destroyed.  Later that same year, in an unrelated event, several drunken Western soldiers killed a Chinese villager. Despite repeated requests from the Chinese, the English refused to turn over the assailants to the Chinese.In 1840, in response, the English sent military forces to China. The English quickly captured Canton and many other cities, secured the Pearl River and the Hong Kong area. The Chinese were no match for the military superiority of the English.  The Chinese sued for peace.  Both sides agreed to the Treaty of Nanking (1842).
It is high noon for the Qing Dynasty.  China was in pitiful condition on many fronts.Emperor Jiaqing had to deal with a rebellion spread out over three provinces.  It was known as the White Lotus Rebellion. It lasted ten years from 1794 to 1804. Another unrelated rebellion was with the Miao people in the rugged mountain areas of Hunan and Guizhou provinces. It took the Manchu government ten years to suppress.The population explosion of the 18th century now became a burden.  It was clear China could not continue to absorb the population. Pressures began on the food distribution system. The Yellow River flooded and silted and blocked the Grand Canal.The Emperor was attacked and nearly killed by street mob in 1803. A family member tried to kill him about ten years after that.Opium imports into China exploded. The West finally found something the Chinese would buy in quantities.   In 1816, England sent another diplomatic trade emissary mission to China. Lord William Amherst was the ambassador. The purpose of the mission was to reopen diplomatic negotiations with China. It again failed. The Emperor died in 1820.
I want to discuss a little about the Manchu influence, women, gender issues, families, culture and fashion, trade, and population.The Ming or Han Chinese encouraged foot binding in females. For Manchu females it was never practiced and was forbidden.   A smartly appearing Ming (Han) Chinese male would wear his hair in a top knot. But for a Qing (Manchu) male he would shave his forehead except for the back of his head from which he would grow long hair or a braided queue.The accepted conservative opinion is that the population exploded during the first half of the 17th century.  The population doubled by the 19th century to over 300M.Prior to the Qing Dynasty, the only trade connections China had with foreigners were tribute missions rather than full-scale trade for commercial purposes.  European tea consumption, demand, and import soared during the early 18th century, and was paid for with silver. A huge trade imbalance grew between China and its trading partners.  It was into this imbalance or vacuum that opium appears. By 1735, English traders stated opium was everywhere. This had enormous consequences in the 19th century.
Qianlong referred to himself as “old man of the ten completed great campaigns”.  He was referring to his military exploits. Some of the great campaigns he was referring were disasters for China and him. He was everywhere, North, South, East, and West.  Some of these military expeditions exceeded geographical distances accomplished by Napoleon's famous march on Russia.Heshen was a Manchu guardsman that befriended and impressed Qianlong.  He eventually became a Dynasty manager for the Emperor.Late in Qianlong’s reign, in 1792, King George III of England sent Earl George McCartney to China seeking a treaty. The English wanted a trade agreement with China and a permanent embassy in Peking. The English ambassador, however, refused to kowtow in front of the Emperor Qianlong.  All the English demands were denied. Qianlong retired on Chinese New Year in 1796.  He did this because he did not want to overshadow the reign of his grandfather Kangxi. He appointed one of his sons to succeed him.  The Emperor died in 1799.
Qianlong was and remains an enigmatic man and Emperor.  To many he is one of China's greatest Emperors. To others, he is a scapegoat for many of the woes the Qing Dynasty would incur in the next century.  Qianlong’s reign occurred during some of the momentous events in modern world history: The Seven-Years’ War (or the French and Indian War), the American Revolution, and the French Revolution.   Qianlong died the same year as George Washington.The Qing Dynasty reached its zenith, culturally, geographically, and economically, during his rule.  He pushed China out in all directions like a balloon. During his reign, there were parts of China that rivaled the same standard of living as the richest parts of Europe.In the early 1770s he commissioned the assembly and publishing of essentially a Chinese encyclopedia.  When it was published in 1782, it contained seven sets of over 36,000 bound volumes each over 2,000,000 pages. But Qianlong also ordered the destruction and editing of any book or text he found to be anti-Manchu, or undesirable, or unacceptable.
This forgotten Emperor is sandwiched between his father and his son. Both of which had very long reigns of sixty years or more. The three of them together account for nearly fifty percent of the Qing Dynasty.   His official emperor name was Emperor Yong Zheng.  He is easily forgotten because he reigned only a short time, and was bookended by the long reigns held by his father and his son.He was a decent emperor.  This is so despite the questions regarding the legitimacy of his reign from the succession crisis caused by his father's death.  He was a workaholic like his father. He was efficient, vigorous, and well educated. He fought corruption. He settled the Southwest region of China. He replenished a badly depleted national treasury. In 1727, he negotiated the Kyakhta Treaty between China and Russia. This treaty established trade relations between China and Russia.The emperor died unexpectedly in 1735.  He named his son, Hong Li, to succeed him.  He became the great Qianlong emperor.  I will spend the next two episodes talking about the reign of Qianlong.
There were issues along the border with Russia.  After a couple of impressive Manchu military campaigns to the fort at Albazin, both sides in 1689, met at Nerchinsk, a Siberian outpost.  The Treaty of Nerchinsk settled the border between China and Russia.   It was the first treaty between a Far East Asian State and a European State.While the Emperor was tolerant, there were limits.  Those limits were exposed in the Rites Controversy.  Pope Clement XI in 1704, banned some of the rituals practiced by Chinese Catholics. Kangxi was enraged and issued his own edict banning Christianity in China and Christian missions. Issues with his many sons all seeking to be designated as the crown prince plagued his reign.   In 1721, Kangxi fell ill during a deer hunting trip.  On his death bed about a year later he assembled seven of his non-disgraced sons and told them which son was to succeed him.  Emperor Kangxi epitomized the Mandate of Heaven. A true Renaissance Emperor and man.
Emperor Kangxi has been compared to the Renaissance King, the Sun King, Louis XIV of France. Kangxi had the longest reign of all the Qing Dynasty Emperors. He ascended the throne in 1661. He took over his Dynasty from the regents appointed by his father.  Nearly immediately, the War of the Three Feudatories began. One of the feudatories rebelled in September 1673.  The other two joined.  For the first few years there was little resistance from the Manchus. Kangxi fought back.  By 1681, the war was over. Kangxi also rebuilt Peking.  He opened seaports to foreign trade. He welcomed Western culture, arts, and European refinements. He also worked on the infrastructure in China.  The Grand Canal is the longest, oldest, artificial river in the world and was built long before the Qing Dynasty.  Kangxi repaired it.  Trade flourished under him.  He published the first Chinese atlas.  He promoted the use of smallpox vaccination. He had a close relationship with many Jesuit priests. He allowed Catholic churches in China and legalized the practice of Christianity.
The young Emperor Fulin disliked the Manchu influence. He wanted to move away from that and wanted more outside input into his reign. In 1651, he issued an anti-corruption edict. He tried to root out corrupt practices and officials.  He ordered more Han Chinese into the royal household.  He brought back eunuchs. Eunuchs had been disfavored in the Qing Dynasty.He had deep religious beliefs. He befriended a German Jesuit priest by the name of Adam Schall von Bell.  Later in his life he shifted from Catholicism to Buddhism.He died in 1661.  There were claims he died of smallpox.  Some claim he was murdered. In his last will and testament he named his third son as his successor.  His last will and testament also named four Manchu nobles that would be co-regents for the new young Emperor.  Fulin's reign was far too short to make an honest assessment of it.  It was largely overshadowed by his powerful and larger than life uncle, Dorgon.  Fulin's greatest legacy was he fathered the next Emperor. Maybe the greatest of all the Qing Emperors, and the subject of my next episode.
Emperor Huang Taiji had died.  At that time, decisions on succession were made by a deliberative council. One brother stood out, Dorgon. Two candidates were being considered.  One was Dorgon. The other was Haoge. He was one of Huang Taiji’s sons.  The council chose Dorgon.  Haoge, however, had the best qualification because he was Huang Taiji’s oldest male heir.  But there is one problem with Hoage. Dorgon did not like him.  But Dorgon refused to become the Emperor out of respect for his father, and because he believed the Emperor designation should go to one of Huang Taiji’s son, as long as it was not Haoge. A compromise was reached.  Hoage's younger brother, Fulin, was chosen. Dorgon and a cousin were co-regents.  Dorgon was the defacto Emperor until Fulin was old enough to rule himself.Dorgon’s reign is known for his masterful campaigns through Southern China in the late 1640s. He nearly conquered all of China.  Dorgon was an effective, competent, if not brutal military leader.  He was the chief engineer behind the Qing conquest.Next episode I will talk about the new Emperor Fulin.
Part of Nurhaci's legacy are the sons that he left behind. Collectively and individually they were powerful, competent, strong, and experienced military leaders. The surviving sons chose a successor and it would be Nurhaci’s 8th son by the name of Huang Taiji.Huang Taiji invaded Ming Dynasty China. It did not go well for the Manchus. Huang Taiji attacked again.  This time via Inner Mongolia.  His army made it to the outskirts of Peking in 1629. But Peking was well defended by the Ming army, and eventually the Manchu army withdrew from this area completely. In 1636, Huang Taiji himself led a second assault into Korea.  Again, as before, the Korean King was forced to swear an allegiance to the Manchus, renounce their allegiance to the Ming Dynasty, and give aid and support to the Manchus in their conquest of China.The way now was open to China. But he never made it.  Huang Taiji died unexpectedly in 1643.  It would be only seven months later from this point that the Ming Dynasty would end.The new dynasty begins in the next episode.
Who were the Qing? The traditional mandarin written character for Qing means clear, pure, distinct. China has 56 ethnic groups, or 56 minorities. The Han Chinese are the majority. The Qing were Manchus, one of the other 55 minorities or ethnic groups in China.Their founding father is Nurhaci. The region he was born was, at that time, outside of China bordering its Northeast border. That area is now within China and it comprises parts of its furthest Northeast provinces. The Manchus' relationship with the Ming Dynasty was rocky for many decades. While the Manchus paid their annual tribute as they were expected.  They also harassed the Dynasty along the border with China. Nurhaci created the eight-banner system.  The banner system was the backbone of the early Qing Dynasty.In the early 17th century Nurhaci declared that Manchuria was independent from China. The Ming Emperor was not too happy about that declaration.  He sent the army to Manchuria to teach the Manchus a lesson. Nurhaci and his bannerman army defeated the Ming army.  The next episode I will talk about his son.
The Ming Dynasty would rule China for nearly 300 years. Firmly ensconced in the Chinese pathos is the concept of the Mandate of Heaven. This is similar to the European concept of the Divine Right of Kings. Both the Divine Right of Kings and the Mandate of Heaven are given by heaven.  Beyond that they are different.For many decades the Ming had been fighting along their long border with Manchuria. There was also a major rebellion late in the 16th century in Sichuan Province. It was called the Bo Zhou Rebellion. The Ming also got involved in a war with Japan.  That war was called the Imjin War. A fellow by the name of Li ZhiChang led an uprising in North Central China.  He was called the Dashing King.  There was also another guy by the name of Zhong Xian Zhong that led an uprising.  He had the colorful name of the Yellow Tiger.  The Dashing King eventually made it all the way to Peking in 1644. On June 6, 1644, the combined Ming and Manchu armies defeated the Dashing King and conquered Peking and declared a new dynasty.Next time I will talk about the Qing Dynasty's founding father.
When I started my research for this podcast, I did not know that prior to present day China that there was such a thing as a national anthem during the Qing dynasty or any other dynasty prior to that.  It was never officially adopted until October 4th 1911, when the Qing Government made it official. Although they never made it public or never gave it an official debut.I have several reasons for this podcast. This is personal to me. I have been to the area of China associated with the Qing, that is the northeast part of China, seven times. I have seen firsthand with my own eyes a lot of the geographic areas I am going to talk about. Secondly, I am passionate about history and passionate about all things history not just Chinese history. I also believe that this period of Chinese history as well as what was going on the world is not well known by Westerners.The next episode I will talk about the end of the Ming Dynasty which is the dynasty that immediately preceded the Qing.
Rate Podcast

Share This Podcast

Recommendation sent



Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more

Podcast Details

Created by
Podcast Status
Dec 19th, 2019
Latest Episode
Oct 9th, 2020
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
21 minutes
Do you host or manage this podcast?
Claim and edit this page to your liking.
Are we missing an episode or update?
Use this to check the RSS feed immediately.