The Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 CE to 1911 CE, was ruled by the Manchus. This dynasty was a time of wealth and peace in China, especially during the first three reigns of the Kangxi Emperor, the Yongzheng Emperor, and the Quianglong Emperor.
A period of growth followed the establishment of the Qing Dynasty and included the repair and maintenance of public works, lower taxes, new literary texts, improved trade, and blossoming artistic practices. A new introduction to China during the Qing Dynasty was Christianity. Missionaries traveled to China and began influencing Chinese thought on science and religion.
The government of the Qing was much like that of the Ming Dynasty with Manchu and Chinese sharing important positions, and troops owned by the emperor being organized into units. Important during this period was the use of banners for each separate unit, and banner men were useful civil servants. The military was kept strong by assigning separate duties to Chinese and Manchu troops. While there were many uprisings, the government of the Qing was able to maintain and expand its borders for many years.
Overall the rulers of the Qing Dynasty were productive and strong Chinese leaders, while holding fast to their own Manchurian culture by revisiting their region during the summers. They did not allow inter-marriage, they spoke their mother tongue, and did not allow the Chinese access to their important documents.
One of the major developments during this period was fashion. The Manchu rulers had a great influence on the styles of the Chinese. Men were required to shave their heads and wear long braids, as well as Manchu clothing. Women were not constricted by clothing laws, but were forbidden from foot binding, although it was difficult to enforce.
Many things led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty including importation of opium, which hurt China’s agricultural progress. The opium craze also resulted in a failing economy as great sums of money left the country to buy more of the drug for addicted people. Additionally, the rulers of the Qing preferred farming to trade which further damaged the economy. After fighting the Opium Wars with Great Britain, China was forced to relinquish Hong Kong and open their ports to European traders. Eventually, China was weakened to such a point that it operated like a British colony. After several years of weak rulers and internal struggles, rebels took over the final reign of the Qing Dynasty and created the Republic of China in 1911.