China

Having expelled the Mongols, Choo assumed the style of Hongwou, and he gave his dynasty the name of Ming, which signifies "bright." He then rewarded his generals and officers with titles and pecuniary grants, and in 1369, the first year of his reign after the capture of Pekin, he erected a temple or hall in that city in honor of the generals who had been slain, while vacant places were left for the statues of those generals who still held command.

The reign of Wanleh covers the long and important epoch from 1573 to 1620, during which period occurred some very remarkable events in the history of the country, including the first movements of the Manchus with a view to the conquest of the empire. The young prince was only six when he was placed on the throne, but he soon showed that he had been well-trained to play the part of ruler.

Tingbi, with the wrecks of the Chinese armies, succeeded in doing more for the defense of his country than had been accomplished by any of his predecessors with undiminished resources. He built a chain of forts, he raised the garrison of Leaoutung to 180,000 men, and he spared no effort to place Leaouyang, the capital of that province, in a position to stand a protracted siege.

While the Manchu generals and armies were establishing their power in Southern China the young Emperor Chuntche, under the direction of his prudent uncle, the regent Ama Wang, was setting up at Pekin the central power of a ruling dynasty.

Among the Mongol tribes the noblest at this period were the Khalkas. They prided themselves on being the descendants of the House of Genghis, the representatives of the special clan of the great conqueror, and the occupants of the original home in the valleys of the Onon and Kerulon. Although their military power was slight, the name of the Khalka princes stood high among the Mongol tribes, and they exercised an influence far in excess of their numbers or capacity as a fighting force.

Immediately after the death of Kanghi, his fourth son, who had long been designated as his heir, was proclaimed emperor, under the style of Yung Ching, which name means "the indissoluble concord or stable peace." The late emperor had always favored this prince, and in his will he publicly proclaimed that he bore much resemblance to himself, and that he was a man of rare and precious character. His first acts indicated considerable vigor and decision of mind.

It was the arrival of a chief named Amursana at his court that first led Keen Lung to seriously entertain the idea of advancing into Central Asia, and having determined on the Central Asian campaign, Keen Lung's military preparations were commensurate with the importance and magnitude of the undertaking. He collected an army of 150,000 men, including the picked Manchu Banners and the celebrated Solon contingent, each of whom was said to be worth ten other soldiers.

Keen Lung was the first Manchu prince to receive formal embassies from the sovereigns of Europe. Among these the Portuguese were the first in point of time, although they never attained the advantage derivable from that priority; and indeed the important period of their connection with China may be said to have terminated before the Manchus had established their authority.

The favorable opinion which his father had held of Kiaking does not seem to have been shared by all his ministers. The most prominent of them all, Hokwan, who held to Keen Lung the relation that Wolsey held to Henry the Eighth, soon fell under the displeasure of the new emperor, and was called upon to account for his charge of the finances. The favor and the age of Keen Lung left Hokwan absolutely without control, and the minister turned his opportunities to such account that he amassed a private fortune of eighty million taels, or more than one hundred and twenty-five million dollars.

by Demetrius Charles Boulger

 

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