The Taiping Rebellion: Asian Studies Paper

973 words - 4 pages

The Taiping Rebellion was one of the deadliest wars in recorded history. The war lasted from 1851 to 1865. It was between Imperial China and the force lead by Hong Xiuquan, a self-proclaimed mystic and Christian convert, who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and the new Messiah. Most sources estimate the total death toll at about twenty million.Hong was the son of a poor farmer near Canton. He was a good student, but failed his civil service exams repeatedly. Once after he had failed, he overheard a Christian missionary talking and received some Christian readings. After failing his exam again, he had a nervous breakdown. It is said that he had several visions, such as an old man that told him people had began worshipping demons and he was appointed demon slayer. Hong believed that he old man in his visions was God, and that a younger man that had also visited him was Jesus Christ, his older brother. Hong believed that he was sent by God to eradicate demons and demon worship, and that the Imperial rulers were the main spreaders of demon worshipSupporters of Hong joined him due to the lack of response by the ruling Quing dynasty to natural disasters, economic problems, and military defeats by Western powers. The first blood shed during the revolt occurred in the Guangxi province, in the south of China, in January 1851. Ten-thousand rebels defeated Imperial warriors in the town of Jintian. In August of the same year, Hong established the Heavenly Kingdom of Taiping and declared himself absolute ruler.The kingdom enforced strict militarized rule on its citizens. Private property ownership was banned and all land was owned and given out by the state. The solar calendar was to be used in place of the lunar calendar. The citizens were declared classless and the sexes were treated as equals. Foot binding, opium, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, polygamy, slavery, and prostitution were all banned. The rule was terribly ineffective, disorganized, and brutal. All attention from leaders went to the armies, and little time was taken to enforce local laws. The kingdom also coined their own money, coins that were around twenty-five millimeters in size and about 4 grams in weight. The money was etched with "The Heavenly Kingdom of Taiping" on the front and "Holy Treasure" on the back.As the revolt gained momentum, Hong gathered over 500,000 soldiers by 1853. The rebellion moved northward, and the rebels took Nanjing in March 1853. 30,000 Imperial soldiers were killed and thousands of civilians were slaughtered. Nanjing became the rebellion's capital and was renamed Tianjing, or Heavenly Capital.The rebel army was highly disciplined and dedicated to their cause. They grew their hair out, wore red jackets, and blue pants. Many women served in the rebel army, a unique feature for army's of the time. Corps of 13,156 men were arranged into armies of various sizes. Besides the main...

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