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Taiping Rebellion

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Taiping Rebellion
Naval battle between Taiping-Qing on Yangtze.jpg
Battle of the Yangtze
Date December 1850 – August 1864
Location China
Result Victory by the Qing Dynasty
Fall of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Weakening of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty

Later stages:
United Kingdom United Kingdom
France France

Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Qing Dynasty Xianfeng Emperor

Qing Dynasty Tongzhi Emperor
Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi
Qing Dynasty Zeng Guofan
Qing Dynasty Sengge Rinchen
Zuo Zongtang
United Kingdom Charles George Gordon
United States Frederick Townsend Ward 
Qing Dynasty Guam Wing

Hong Xiuquan 

Yang Xiuqing
Xiao Chaogui 
Feng Yunshan 
Wei Changhui 
Shi Dakai 
Li Xiucheng 
United States Henry Andres Burgevine 

2,000,000–5,000,000 regulars
~340,000 militia
1,000,000–3,000,000 regulars 100,000 female regulars
Casualties and losses
Over 50,000 soldiers killed Around 75,000 soldiers killed
Total Dead~20,000,000 including civilians and soldiers (best estimate)[source?]

The Taiping Rebellion was a civil war in China from 1850 to 1864. It was led by Hong Xiuquan. The Taiping Rebellion was against the ruling Qing Dynasty. About 20 million people died.[source?] Most of them were civilians.

Hong established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (太平天囯).[1] When it was most powerful, it had about 30 million people joining in it. The rebels tried to change society. Troops were nicknamed the Long hair (長毛, cháng máo).

History of the rebellion

The Taiping Rebellion at its greatest power

Hung Xiuquan was a clever student. He wanted to go into government service. He studied hard and would probably have passed the government tests.[2] However, he discovered that the officials in charge expected .[2] Hung's family was poor at this time and did not have any money.Their family was loyal to the old Ming dynasty, and decided that his failure was because of the corrupt Manchu dynasty.[2] Soon after, Hung became seriously ill. In a fever, Hung saw himself in the "Thirty-third Heaven".[2] He said that he saw a man called the Venerable (Respected) in Years. The Venerable in Years gave Hung a sword and told him to destroy the demon-worshipers who had rebelled against the Venerable in Years. With the help of the Venerable in Years's son, Hung saw himself doing battle against the demon forces. Shortly after he became healthy again, Hung read the Old Testament and believed it showed his vision was right. He felt that he had met with God and that God had chosen him for a son.[2]

Hung wanted to know more about Christianity. The missionaries he met disagreed with Hung's vision. They did not agree that he was the brother of Jesus.[2] Hung left them and decided to make his own cult. In Hung's cult, God was the Father, Christ was the Son and Elder (Older) Brother, and Hung was the Younger Brother.[2] He called the New Testament the Former Testament. He called his own ideas the New Testament.[2] Hung's friend Yang Xiuqing used to sell firewood.[3] Yang claimed to be able to act as a voice of God, to direct the people and gain political power.[3]

China was very weak at this time, and the people were hungry. People began to join Hung's new religion. By 1851 he had a ten-thousand-man army. The rebels cut off their pigtails and made their hair loose. This showed that they were in rebellion to the Manchu.

The Taiping Rebellion lasted from 1851 to 1864. It has been guessed that in the fighting 20 to 30 million people died.[2] At last, corruption of the rebellion's leaders made people angry. Hung committed suicide in June 1864.[2] His attacked capital, Nanking, became controlled by the Imperial Army.


  1. note that the uncommon variant character 囯 is used. This is different from the more common variants 國 and 国. The variant is different because it does not have a dot stroke, like 国. This was the variant used by the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in its name. The character for 天 also uses an uncommon variant. However, it is not present in Unicode. The upper stroke going sideways in 天 is longer than the lower one in this case.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Koontz, Terri; Mark Sidwell, S.M.Bunker. World Studies. Greenville, South Carolina 29614: Bob Jones University Press. ISBN 1-59166-431-4 .
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jonathan Spence, God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan (1996) ISBN 0-393-03844-0

Further reading

  • Jonathan Spence, God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan (1996) ISBN 0-393-03844-0
  • Thomas H. Reilly, The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom: Rebellion and the Blasphemy of Empire (2004) ISBN 0-295-98430-9
  • Lindley, Augustus, Ti-ping Tien-Kwoh: The History of the Ti-Ping Revolution (1866, reprinted 1970) OCLC 3467844 Google books access
  • Hsiu-ch°êng Li, translator, The Autobiography of the Chung-Wang (Confession of the Loyal Prince) (reprinted 1970) ISBN 9780275027230
  • Carr, Caleb, The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China (1994) ISBN 0-679-76128-4
  • Gray, Jack, Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to the 1980s (1990), ISBN 0-19-821576-2
  • Immanuel C. Y. Hsu, The Rise of Modern China (1999), ISBN 0-19-512504-5