History of China

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1850 Dec 1 - 1864 Aug

Taiping Rebellion

China

The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion and civil war that was waged in China between the Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the Han, Hakka-led Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. It lasted from 1850 to 1864, although following the fall of Tianjing (now Nanjing) the last rebel army was not wiped out until August 1871. After fighting the bloodiest civil war in world history, with over 20 million dead, the established Qing government won decisively, although at a great price to its fiscal and political structure.


The uprising was commanded by Hong Xiuquan, an ethnic Hakka (a Han subgroup) and the self-proclaimed brother of Jesus Christ. Its goals were religious, nationalist, and political in nature; Hong sought the conversion of the Han people to the Taiping's syncretic version of Christianity, to overthrow the Qing dynasty, and a state transformation. Rather than supplanting the ruling class, the Taipings sought to upend the moral and social order of China. The Taipings established the Heavenly Kingdom as an oppositional state based in Tianjing and gained control of a significant part of southern China, eventually expanding to command a population base of nearly 30 million people.


For more than a decade, Taiping armies occupied and fought across much of the mid and lower Yangtze valley, ultimately devolving into total civil war. It was the largest war in China since the Ming-Qing Transition, involving most of Central and Southern China. It ranks as one of the bloodiest wars in human history, the bloodiest civil war, and the largest conflict of the 19th century.


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Last Updated: : Wed Aug 09 2023