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Civilization Collapse and Environmental History - Essay Example

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According to Pierre-Etienne Wang Lun's uprising was more important as a symptom of deep underlying discontents than for its immediate effects, and it should be considered along with other rebellions that erupted elsewhere in China, often with no precisely stated grievances or goals…
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Download file "Civilization Collapse and Environmental History" to see previous pages... The rebels were suppressed and their leaders executed in 1788.
Pierre-Etienne further elaborates that also in the 1780s, in Gansu province, there were two major revolts of the Muslim communities, sparked by adherents of a fundamentalist "new sect" who opposed the local Muslim officials appointed by the Qing.
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Both Muslim uprisings were suppressed after heavy fighting, as were a series of revolts by Miao tribesmen in southwest China. But the fighting was costly to the Qing, who despite their victories did not eradicate the underlying causes of religious, economic, and ethnic resentments. In 1799, as Qianlong's reign ended, rebels claiming the same White Lotus affiliation that had animated the followers' of Wang Lun were rising up all across central China and were actively fighting Qing troops in many areas of Sichuan, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Henan.
Can one link these outbreaks to Specific Manchu policies that alienated the people The evidence is not clear on this, but it is certain that in the late eighteenth century many Qing government institutions began to falter: the emergency granaries were often empty, sections of the Grand Canal silted up, regular banner troops behaved with incompetence or brutality, efforts to stop ecologically dangerous land-reclamation projects were abandoned, the bureaucracy was faction-ridden, and corruption ran deep. It is also possible that Qing reluctance to create new county governments in areas of new settlement or dense population put impossible stresses on officials in the bureaucracy. Moreover, the intense pressure for jobs meant that those who had finally obtained office sought a swift return' for all their waiting and anxiety, pressing local peasants in their jurisdictions for speedy tax payments and for supplementary charges. The White Lotus insurgents of the 1790s, for instance, stated categorically that "the officials have forced the people to rebel." It is also true that in the conduct of the border campaigns, as in the suppression of local rebellions, Qing officials indulged in an unusually high level of graft. This was made possible by collusion between high figures in military and civil government, who often hid the real situation from Emperor Qianlong. And Qianlong, having allowed the secret palace memorial system of his father Yongzheng to become impersonal and routine, now had no reliable, confidential sources from which to learn of his officials' malfeasance. There is no doubt that this pattern of corruption grew worse after 1775, when a young Manchu guards officer named Heshen became entrenched as the elderly emperor's court favorite,although Heshen was not responsible for everything that was going awry. At that time Heshen was twenty-five and the emperor sixty-five, and the following year the favorite received an extraordinary series of promotions: Qianlong named Heshen a deputy lieutenant general of the Manchu plain blue banner, a minister of the imperial household, vice-minister of revenue, and a grand councilor. There were no parallels in Qing history for giving so many powerful appointments to a young man, and Qianlong later piled honor on honor. Heshen was made minister of revenue (and, for a time, minister' of civil ...Download file "Civilization Collapse and Environmental History" to see next pagesRead More
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