17th Century

In 1644, the Battle of Shanhai Pass placed the Qing Dynasty into power of mainland China upon defeating the Ming Dynasty. The ruling Qings were afraid of the Shaolin Monks and ordered them to be destroyed under Shunzhi Emperor. The Shaolin Monks fled and marked the beginning of Chinese secret societies.[3] However, only Five Shaolin Monks survived and escaped seeking refuge in the Sacred Mountains of China. The five monks were referred to as The Triad Five Elders and founded the martial art known as Ng Jo Kuen.[4] The Tiandihui were believed to derive from Ming Dynasty loyalists and these Shaolin monks. The Battle of Shanhai Pass, fought on 27 May 1644 at Shanhaiguan (?) at the eastern end of the Great Wall of China, was a decisive battle leading to the formation of the Qing dynasty in China. There, Qing Prince-Regent Dorgon allied with former Ming general Wu Sangui to defeat rebel leader Li Zicheng of the Shun dynasty, allowing Dorgon and the Manchus to rapidly conquer Beijing and replace the Ming Dynasty. Rise of the Manchus As the Ming dynasty faltered and the threat from northern enemies grew, Ming emperors saw the strategic value of Shanhai Pass and frequently garrisoned troops there, armies which sometimes reached up to 40,000 men. Under Emperor Hung Taiji (r. 16261643), the Qing was becoming more aggressive against the Ming. After an intermittent siege that lasted over ten years, Qing armies led by Jirgalang captured Songshan and Jinzhou in early 1642.[4] The garrison of Ming general Wu Sangui in Ningyuan became the only major army standing between the Qing forces and the Ming capital in Beijing.[5] In the summer of 1642, a Qing army managed to cross the Great Wall and ravaged northern China for seven months before withdrawing in May 1643 with prisoners and booty, without having fought any large Ming army.[6] In September 1643 Hung Taiji suddenly died without having named an heir.[7] To avert a conflict b

tween two strong contenders for succession namely Hong Taiji's eldest son Hooge and Hung Taiji's agnate brother Dorgon, a proven military leader a committee of Manchu princes chose to pass the throne to Hong Taiji's five-year-old son Fulin and appointed Dorgon and Jirgalang as co-regents.[8] Because Jirgalang had no political ambition, Dorgon became the prime ruler of the Qing government.[9] [edit]The fall of Beijing Just as Dorgon and his advisors were pondering how to attack the Ming, peasant rebellions were ravaging northern China and dangerously approaching the Ming capital Beijing. In February 1644, rebel leader Li Zicheng had founded the Shun Dynasty in Xi'an and proclaimed himself king. In March his armies had captured the important city of Taiyuan in Shanxi. Seeing the progress of the rebels, on April 5 the Ming Chongzhen Emperor requested the urgent help of any military commandant in the empire.[10] Eager to secure the loyalty of his military elite, on April 11 he granted the title of "Earl" to four generals, including Wu Sangui and Tang Tong ().[11] Tang Tong, the only one of these new earls who was then in Beijing, reorganized the capital's defenses and, with a eunuch named Du Xun (), went to fortify Juyong Pass, the last stronghold protecting the northern approach to Beijing.[12] On April 22, the Ming court learned that Tang Tong had surrendered to Li Zicheng the day before, and that the rebels' army was now in Changping, sixty-five kilometers northwest of Beijing.[13] Li and his army reached the suburbs of the capital on April 23, but instead of mounting a full-scale attack on the city walls Li sent the recently surrendered eunuch Du Xun to see the emperor, hoping to secure his surrender.[14] The monarch refused.[15] On April 24 Li Zicheng breached the walls of Beijing; the emperor hanged himself the next day on a hill behind the Forbidden City. He was the last Ming emperor to reign in Beijing.

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Updated in February 2013