The Deliberative Council of Princes and Ministers (traditional Chinese :議政王大臣會議; simplified Chinese :议政王大臣会议; pinyin :Yìzhèng Wáng Dàchén Huìyì), also known as the Council of Princes and High Officials and Assembly of Princes and High Officials, or simply as the Deliberative Council (traditional Chinese :議政處; simplified Chinese :议政处; pinyin :Yìzhèng Chù; Manchu :ᡥᡝᠪᡝ ᡳ
ᠪᠠ; Möllendorff : hebe-i ba), was an advisory body for the emperors of the early Qing dynasty (1636–1912). Derived from informal deliberative groups created by Nurhaci (1559–1626) in the 1610s and early 1620s, the Council was formally established by his son and successor Hong Taiji (1592–1643) in 1626 and expanded in 1637. Staffed mainly by Manchu dignitaries, this aristocratic institution served as the chief source of advice on military matters for Hong Taiji and the Shunzhi (r. 1643–1661) and Kangxi (r. 1661–1722) emperors. It was particularly powerful during the regencies of Dorgon (1643–1650) and Oboi (1661–1669), who used it to enhance their personal influence.
After serving as the most influential policymaking body of the dynasty for more than a century, the Deliberative Council was displaced and then made obsolete by the more ethnically mixed Grand Council, which the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722–1735) created in the late 1720s to circumvent the influence of the deliberative princes and ministers. The Deliberative Council was formally abolished in 1792.
Historian Robert Oxnam has called the origin of the Council "a complicated and often confusing process." 議政王yìzhèng wáng; Manchu: doro jafaha beise).The Council originated in informal institutions created by Nurhaci (1559–1626) to promote collegial rule among his sons. In 1601, Nurhaci had organized Manchu society into four "Banners" that were doubled in number in 1615 to become the Eight Banners. In 1622, he gave eight of his sons (who were called "princes," or beile ) control over one banner each and ordered them to meet to deliberate major policies, especially military matters. Nurhaci's eight sons were known collectively as the "princes who deliberate on government" (
Another precursor to the Council was a group of "five high officials" and "ten judges" (jarguci), all Manchu, that Nurhaci put in charge of administrative and judicial tasks in 1615 or 1616. 議政大臣yìzhèng dàchén; Manchu: hebe-i amban) and assisted the princes in discussing policy. Franz Michael, however, claims that they were mere "technical advisors", a point of view supported by Silas Wu. In 1623, "eight high officials" were also made deliberative officials, but their functions were chiefly censorial and their primary role was to let Nurhaci know of conspiracies among the princes.Robert Oxnam claims that this group was then referred to as "high officials who deliberate on government" (
Nurhaci was succeeded by his son Hong Taiji (r. 1626–1643), who, instead of following his father's wish for collegial rule, became a strong ruler who laid the institutional foundation of the Qing dynasty. In 1627 he placed the Eight Banners under the command of eight "high officials" (Ma.: gusai ejen; Ch.: dachen), who were also told to assist the princes in policy deliberations. 都統 in Chinese) with two deputies (fu dutong副都統) each, who were put in charge of managing the Eight Manchu Banners. By limiting Council membership to Manchu military leaders from outside the imperial clan, Hung Taiji enhanced his personal power at the expense of the other princes. Nonetheless the Council remained a bastion of "collective aristocratic rule" within the Qing government.Silas Wu identifies this reform as the bona fide origin of the Deliberative Council, which then became Hong Taiji's main policymaking structure and was consulted on foreign and military matters. In 1637, one year after he had declared himself emperor of the Qing dynasty, Hong Taiji officially excluded imperial princes from the Council. Instead, the Council was manned by eight lieutenant-generals (later called dutong
When Hong Taiji died in 1643, he was replaced by the young Shunzhi Emperor and two co-regents: Dorgon and Jirgalang. In 1644, under their leadership, the Qing dynasty replaced the collapsed Ming dynasty and moved its capital to Beijing. The Deliberative Council of Ministers was Dorgon's main policymaking body during his regency.Soon after moving to Beijing, he gave the Council control over both military and civil affairs, and expanded its membership to all lieutenant-generals and deputy lieutenant-generals in the Manchu and Mongol Banners, as well as to all Mongols and Manchus who held posts of Grand Secretary or Board president. Far from limiting Dorgon's power, the Council served as his tool to denounce and arraign other princes who challenged his authority. In May 1644, for instance, he had Hong Taiji's son Hooge accused of seditious behavior and made Hooge's enemies testify against him in front of the Council. He used the same method to purge Hooge for good in 1648.
After Dorgon's death on the last day of 1650, the Shunzhi Emperor started his personal rule: he ordered the members of the Council to memorialize to him directly on important matters of state.After Dorgon's supporters had been purged from the court (by March 1651), his former co-regent Jirgalang made a number of special appointments to the Council to foster loyalty among the Manchu elite. Between 1651 and 1653, he added thirty new members who lacked official positions in the Banners or the metropolitan bureaucracy. Two of the new appointees were Chinese Bannermen Fan Wencheng 范文程 (1597–1666) and Ning Wanwo 寗完我 (d. 1665), two of only three Chinese who were ever appointed to the Council. All four of the future regents for the Kangxi Emperor (Oboi, Suksaha, Ebilun, and Soni) were also appointed to the Council at that time. In 1656, the emperor issued an edict abolishing the automatic appointment to the Council of Manchu and Mongol Grand Secretaries, yet by the end of his reign in 1661, the Council still counted more than fifty members. During the Shunzhi reign, the Council was often convened to investigate important officials who had been accused of corruption or malfeasance.
The Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1643–1661) was succeeded by four regents led by Oboi, who took care of state affairs during the minority of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722). Under the Oboi regency (1661–1669), the Deliberative Council became "the most prominent Manchu institution."While keeping their own seats on the Council, the regents limited membership to lieutenant-generals of the Manchu and Mongol Banners and to Manchu and Mongol presidents of the Six Ministries. They also decided to grant membership to the president of the Court of Colonial Affairs, whose independence the Shunzhi Emperor had compromised by subjugating it to the Board of Rites. By 1662, the Deliberative Council had been reduced to 31 members, chiefly senior Manchu leaders who had significant experience in both military affairs and civil government.
The Kangxi Emperor reverted many of the bureaucratic reforms of the Oboi faction after 1669, but continued to rely on the Deliberative Council as a body of Manchu counselors whom he consulted on a wide variety of military and civil matters, especially those that were too sensitive or complex to handle through the regular bureaucracy.The emperor allowed the president of the Censorate to sit on the Council, then in 1683, after the rebellion of the Three Feudatories had been suppressed and peace reestablished, he decided that the lieutenant-generals of the Banners would no longer be automatic members. After that, the Deliberative Council became more oriented toward civil administration. Nonetheless during the First Oirat–Manchu War, fought from 1687 to 1697 between the Qing Empire and the Dzungar Khanate, the Kangxi Emperor often consulted the Council on how to deal with Galdan, the khan of the Dzungars, and with the Dzungars' enemies the Khalkha Mongols. During his reign, the Council met on imperial request and transmitted the result of its deliberations to the emperor, who usually followed the Council's advice.
The Yongzheng Emperor succeeded the Kangxi Emperor after a crisis that pitted many of the Kangxi Emperor's sons against one another. Many Manchu nobles who had sided with the Yongzheng Emperor's rivals during the succession struggle were still members of the Deliberative Council.To avoid alienating these grandees, the Yongzheng Emperor still made new appointments to the Council and consulted it on various military matters, but he also worked to undermine its power. To bypass the Council, he created smaller parallel bodies which he found more reliable and less entrenched. Slowly, he transferred deliberative powers to these more trusted ministers. Around 1730, these informal institutions crystallized into the Grand Council. Unlike the Deliberative Council, whose membership was almost exclusively Manchu, the Grand Council counted many Chinese among its ranks. This more ethnically mixed privy council served as the empire's main policymaking body for the rest of the Qing dynasty.
After the stabilization of the Grand Council in the 1730s, the influence of the Deliberative Council quickly declined.During the Qianlong period (1736–1796), the titles of "deliberative minister" and "deliberative prince" became mainly honorific. Manchu Grand Secretaries held such titles until 1792, when the Council was formally abolished by the Qianlong Emperor. The title was revived in the second half of the nineteenth century for Prince Gong and others when Prince Gong was head of the Grand Council.
Dorgon, formally known as Prince Rui, was a Manchu prince and regent of the early Qing dynasty. Born in the Aisin Gioro clan as the 14th son of Nurhaci, Dorgon started his career in military campaigns against the Ming dynasty, Mongols and Koreans during the reign of his eighth brother, Hong Taiji, who succeeded their father.
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigned from 1644 to 1661. A committee of Manchu princes chose him to succeed his father, Hong Taiji (1592–1643), in September 1643, when he was five years old. The princes also appointed two co-regents: Dorgon (1612–1650), the 14th son of the Qing dynasty's founder Nurhaci (1559–1626), and Jirgalang (1599–1655), one of Nurhaci's nephews, both of whom were members of the Qing imperial clan.
Hong Taiji, sometimes written as Huang Taiji and formerly referred to as Abahai in Western literature, was the second khan of the Later Jin and the founding emperor of the Qing dynasty. He was responsible for consolidating the empire that his father Nurhaci had founded and laid the groundwork for the conquest of the Ming dynasty, although he died before this was accomplished. He was also responsible for changing the name of the Jurchen ethnicity to "Manchu" in 1635, and changing the name of his dynasty from "Great Jin" to "Great Qing" in 1636. The Qing dynasty lasted until 1912.
Empress Xiaozhuangwen, of the Khorchin Mongol Borjigit clan, personal name Bumbutai, was a consort of Hong Taiji. She was 21 years his junior.
Oboi was a prominent Manchu military commander and courtier who served in various military and administrative posts under three successive emperors of the early Qing dynasty. Born to the Guwalgiya clan, Oboi was one of four regents nominated by the Shunzhi Emperor to oversee the government during the minority of the Kangxi Emperor. Oboi reversed the benevolent policies of the Shunzhi Emperor, and vigorously pushed for clear reassertion of Manchu power over the Han Chinese. Eventually deposed and imprisoned by the new emperor for having amassed too much power, he was posthumously rehabilitated.
The Bordered Yellow Banner was one of the Eight Banners of Manchu military and society during the Later Jin and Qing dynasty of China. The Bordered Yellow Banner was one of three "upper" banner armies under the direct command of the emperor himself, and one of the four "left wing" banners. The Plain Yellow Banner and the Bordered Yellow Banner were split from each other in 1615, when the troops of the original four banner armies were divided into eight by adding a bordered variant to each banner's design. The yellow banners were originally commanded personally by Nurhaci. After Nurhaci's death, his son Hong Taiji became khan, and took control of both yellow banners. Later, the Shunzhi Emperor took over the Plain White Banner after the death of his regent, Dorgon, to whom it previously belonged. From that point forward, the emperor directly controlled three "upper" banners, as opposed to the other five "lower" banners. Because of the direct control of the three upper banners, there was no appointed banner commanders as opposed to the other five. The emperor's personal guards and guards of Forbidden City were also only selected from the upper three banners.
Dodo, formally known as Prince Yu, was a Manchu prince and military general of the early Qing dynasty.
Aisin Gioro was the Manchu ruling clan of the Later Jin dynasty (1616–1636), the Qing dynasty (1636–1912) and, nominally, Manchukuo (1932–1945). The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China proper from 1644 until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911–1912, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the Aisin Gioro's ancestral home in present-day Yilan, Heilongjiang Province. In Manchu custom, families are identified first by their hala (哈拉), i.e. their family or clan name, and then by mukūn (穆昆), the more detailed classification, typically referring to individual families. In the case of Aisin Gioro, Aisin is the mukūn, and Gioro is the hala. Other members of the Gioro clan include Irgen Gioro (伊爾根覺羅), Šušu Gioro (舒舒覺羅) and Sirin Gioro (西林覺羅).
Soni (1601–1667), also known as Sonin, and rarely Sony, was a Manchu noble of the Hešeri clan who served as one of the Four Regents of the Kangxi Emperor during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). His clan belonged to the Plain Yellow Banner.
Suksaha was a Manchu official of the early Qing dynasty from the Nara clan. A military officer who participated in the Manchu conquest of China, Suksaha became one of the Four Regents during the early reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). He eventually fell out with another regent, Oboi, and was sentenced to death.
Ebilun was a Manchu noble and warrior of the Niohuru clan, most famous for being one of the Four Regents assisting the young Kangxi Emperor from 1661 to 1667, during the early Qing dynasty (1644–1912). A largely passive figure during the regency, Ebilun was disgraced following the ouster of the far more powerful regent Oboi and considered a political supporter of the latter. He was stripped of his positions by the emperor but later regained his noble rank. Many of his descendants became influential figures in the Qing imperial government.
Empress Xiaoliewu, of the Manchu Plain White Banner Ula Nara clan, personal name Abahai, was a consort of Nurhaci. She was 31 years his junior.
The Battle of Shanhai Pass, fought on May 27, 1644 at Shanhai Pass at the eastern end of the Great Wall of China, was a decisive battle leading to the formation of the Qing dynasty in China. There, Qing Prince-Regent Dorgon allied with former Ming general Wu Sangui to defeat rebel leader Li Zicheng of the Shun dynasty, allowing Dorgon and the Manchus to rapidly conquer Beijing and replace the Ming dynasty.
The Plain Yellow Banner was one of the Eight Banners of Manchu military and society during the Later Jin and Qing dynasty of China. The Plain Yellow Banner was one of three "upper" banner armies under the direct command of the emperor himself, and one of the four "right wing" banners. The Plain Yellow Banner was the original banner commanded personally by Nurhaci. The Plain Yellow Banner and the Bordered Yellow Banner were split from each other in 1615, when the troops of the original four banner armies were divided into eight by adding a bordered variant to each banner's design. After Nurhaci's death, his son Hong Taiji became khan, and took control of both yellow banners. Later, the Shunzhi Emperor took over the Plain White Banner after the death of his regent, Dorgon, to whom it previously belonged. From that point forward, the emperor directly controlled three "upper" banners, as opposed to the other five "lower" banners.
Daišan was an influential Manchu prince and statesman of the Qing dynasty.
Jirgalang or Jirhalang was a Manchu noble, regent, and political and military leader of the early Qing dynasty. Born in the Aisin Gioro clan, he was the sixth son of Šurhaci, a younger brother of Nurhaci, the founder of the Qing dynasty. From 1638 to 1643, he took part in many military campaigns that helped bring down the fall of the Ming dynasty. After the death of Huangtaiji in September 1643, Jirgalang became one of the young Shunzhi Emperor's two co-regents, but he soon yielded most political power to co-regent Dorgon in October 1644. Dorgon eventually purged him of his regent title in 1647. After Dorgon died in 1650, Jirgalang led an effort to clean the government of Dorgon's supporters. Jirgalang was one of ten "princes of the first rank" (和碩親王) whose descendants were made "iron-cap" princes (鐵帽子王), who had the right to transmit their princely titles to their direct male descendants perpetually.
This is a chronicle of important events that took place under the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1636–1912) in what is now China. It spans from the death of his predecessor Hong Taiji in September 1643, to the emperor's own death on 5 February 1661, seven days into the eighteenth year of the Shunzhi reign period. These dates do not correspond perfectly with the Shunzhi era itself, which started on 8 February 1644—on New Year's Day of the lunisolar year following the emperor's accession—and ended on 17 February 1662, more than one solar year after the emperor's death. The posthumous events related to the Shunzhi Emperor's burial and posthumous cult are also included.
The transition from Ming to Qing,Ming–Qing transition, or the Manchu unification of China from 1618 to 1683 saw the transition between two major dynasties in Chinese history. It was the decades-long conflict between the emergent Qing dynasty (清朝), the incumbent Ming dynasty (明朝), and several smaller factions in China. It ended with the rise of the Qing, the fall of the Ming and other factions, and the unification of Outer Manchuria, Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan under China.
Fan Wencheng was a Qing dynasty Scholar-Official, Prime Minister and Grand Secretary (Daxue Shi). His official career went through four generation of Qing dynasty emperors through Nurhaci, Hong Taiji, Shunzhi, and Kangxi. Many rules and regulations in the early days of the Qing Dynasty were drafted by him.