Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor

Last updated

The Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor (Chinese :宣統帝退位詔書; lit. "Xuantong Emperor's Abdication Edict") was an official decree issued by the Empress Dowager Longyu on behalf of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor, who was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, on 12 February 1912, as a response to the Xinhai Revolution. The revolution led to the self-declared independence of 13 southern Chinese provinces and the sequent peace negotiation between the rest of Imperial China with the collective of the southern provinces. The issuance of the Imperial Edict ended the Qing dynasty of China, which lasted 276 years, [lower-alpha 1] and the era of imperial rule in China, which lasted 2,132 years. [2]



The Qing dynasty was established by the Manchus in 1636. In Chinese historiography, the Qing dynasty bore the Mandate of Heaven after it succeeded the Ming dynasty in 1644. In the late 19 century, wars with foreign powers led to the loss of territories and tributary states, such as Hong Kong in the First Opium War and Korea in the First Sino-Japanese War, which significantly reduced the Chinese people's trust in the empire, fueling Chinese nationalism. The sentiment was strengthened by the failed political reform, where the desire to form a constitutional monarchy resulted in the establishment of the Prince Qing's Cabinet with the majority being part of the imperial family in May 1911. [3]

The revolutionaries aided by millions of overseas Chinese calling for a government reform continued to launch anti-Qing military campaigns in southern China, yet these campaigns were soon suppressed by the government. In October 1911, however, the uprising in Wuchang in central China caused nationwide echos, [3] where 13 out of 18 Han-majority Chinese provinces declared independence from the empire and later established a republican government led by the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen. In response to the call for constitutional democracy, the Imperial Government appointed Yuan Shikai as the prime minister, yet Yuan continued to negotiate with the revolutionaries who later offered to make Yuan the first president of the Republic of China and to provide preferential treatment for the imperial family. To confront the internal pressure, Yuan ordered 50 of generals and senior officials in Beiyang Army, led by General Duan Qirui, to publish telegraphes calling for peace and threatening the imperial family. [4] The Empress Dowager Longyu, on behalf of the Xuantong Emperor, issued the imperial edict which transferred power to the nascent Republic of China and two sequent edicts.


The true author of the edict is debated, but it is believed that Zhang Jian drafted the edict. However, a report on Shen-Pao , a leading Shanghai newspaper then, on 22 February 1912, titled the sad words by the empress when issuing the edict of the abdication, says that the edict was first drafted by Zhang Yuanqi, the Deputy Minister of Education, amended by Xu Shichang, shown to the Empress by Yuan Shikai on 25 January 1912. After reading the edict, the Empress was said to cry with tears streaming down, and added her own personal seal instead of the imperial seal to the edict. The personal seal of the Empress shows the four Chinese characters meaning the great way of the nature and the heaven, which suggested her scorn towards the new republic. [5]

Content of the edict

Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor Qingtuiweizhaoshu.JPG
Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor

The full texts of the Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor, in English translation and the Classical Chinese original, are as follows: [6]

By Imperial Decree:

I am in receipt of an Edict from the Empress Dowager Longyu: Owing to an earlier uprising of the people's army, all provinces have risen up in support, JiuzhouHuaxia has been plunged into disorder, and the people are in misery. Yuan Shikai was specially commanded to appoint Commissioners to discuss the situation with the representatives of the people's army, with a view to the convention of a National Assembly session in order to decide the form of Government. Two months have elapsed without yet reaching a suitable settlement. Great distances separate the South from the North, each upholding its own against the other. Merchants on the roads are halted and scholars are exposed in the wild—all because, should the form of Government be undetermined, so must the people's lives be thrown out of gear. Now, the majority of the people are leaning towards republicanism; provinces in the South and the Central took the pioneering step in advocating for it, then the officers in the North also desired to follow their example. In the universal desire of the heart of the people may be discernible the will of Heaven. How could we then, for the honor and glory of one specific surname, persist in opposing the desire of millions of people? Surely the general position abroad should be examined and the popular opinion domestically should be weighed. I, together with the Emperor, hereby transfer the ruling power to the people of the country, and decide that the form of Government shall be constitutional republicanism. This is to satisfy the demands of those within the Four Seas who detest disturbances and yearn for peace, and to follow the example of the ancient sages in regarding all under Heaven as public property.

Yuan Shikai, having been formerly elected Prime Minister by the Advisory Council, now standing at this juncture marking the transition to the new regime from the old, has surely devised a plan for unifying the South and the North. Let Yuan Shikai organize with full powers a provisional republican Government and confer with the people's army as to the methods of procedure for the union, so that peace may be assured to the people and the country, all while retaining the complete territorial integrity of the lands of the five races—Manchu, Han, Mongol, Hui, and Tibetan—which shall combine to form a great Republic of China. I, together with the Emperor, may retire into a leisured life and spend our years pleasantly, enjoying the courteous treatment from the citizens, and witnessing with our own eyes the realization of great governance. Would this not be a grand feat? End of Decree.




Endorsed by the Empress Dowager Longyu on behalf of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor, the edict explicitly transferred the sovereignty over all the territories held the Qing dynasty at the time of its collapse—including Tibet, Xinjiang, and Outer Mongolia—to the Republic of China. [7] [8] [9]

Signatories to the edict were:


The Articles of Favourable Treatment of the Great Qing Emperor after His Abdication allowed the Xuantong Emperor to retain his imperial title and enjoy other privileges following his abdication, resulting in the existence of a nominal court in the Forbidden City called the "Remnant Court of the Abdicated Qing Imperial Family" ( 遜清皇室小朝廷 ) from 1912 to 1924. [10] Feng Yuxiang revoked the privileges and abolished the titular court in AD 1924. [10]


The edict was first collected by Zhang Chaoyong, the secretary of the cabinet, who saved it with two sequent imperial edict regarding the abdication and the 3 February edict authorising peace negotiation with the revolutionists in a single scroll. After Zhang died, the president of Beijing Normal University bought the scroll. Since 1975, the scroll has been part of the collection of the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, now known as the National Museum of China. [11]

The Xuantong Emperor issued three edicts of abdication throughout his life. The first two was issued in his capacity as Qing emperor, including the one described in this article and another issued following the failure of the Manchu Restoration. The third one was issued after the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, in his capacity as Emperor of Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state during World War II.

See also


  1. The Qing dynasty lasted 276 years, when counted from the inauguration of the dynastic name "Great Qing" in 1636 by Hong Taiji. If its predecessor, the Later Jin, is considered, the regime lasted 296 years. If the duration is counted from 1644 when the Qing dynasty replaced the Ming dynasty as the legitimate dynasty of China, it lasted 268 years. [1]

Related Research Articles

Yuan Shikai Chinese military and government official (1859-1916)

Yuan Shikai was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty and eventually ending the Qing dynasty rule of China in 1912, later becoming the Emperor of the Empire of China (1915–1916). He first tried to save the dynasty with a number of modernization projects including bureaucratic, fiscal, judicial, educational, and other reforms, despite playing a key part in the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform. He established the first modern army and a more efficient provincial government in North China in the last years of the Qing dynasty before the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Through negotiation, he became the first President of the Republic of China in 1912. This army and bureaucratic control were the foundation of his autocratic rule. He was frustrated in a short-lived attempt to restore hereditary monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor. His death shortly after his abdication led to the fragmentation of the Chinese political system and the end of the Beiyang government as China's central authority.

An edict is a decree or announcement of a law, often associated with monarchism, but it can be under any official authority. Synonyms include "dictum" and "pronouncement".

Liu Bian, also known as Emperor Shao of Han and the Prince of Hongnong, was the 13th emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty in China. He became emperor around the age of 13 upon the death of his father, Emperor Ling, and ruled briefly from 15 May to 28 September 189 before he was deposed, after which he became known as the "Prince of Hongnong". His emperor title, "Emperor Shao", was also used by other emperors who were in power for very short periods of time. In 190, he was poisoned to death by Dong Zhuo, the warlord who deposed him and replaced him with his younger half-brother, Liu Xie.

Empress He, personal name unknown, posthumously known as Empress Lingsi, was an empress of the Eastern Han dynasty. She was the second empress consort of Emperor Ling and the mother of Emperor Shao. After the death of Emperor Ling in 189, she became empress dowager when her young son, Liu Bian, became the new emperor. She was caught up in the conflict between her brother, General-in-Chief He Jin, and the eunuch faction, who were both vying for power in the Han imperial court. After He Jin's assassination and the elimination of the eunuch faction, the warlord Dong Zhuo took advantage of the power vacuum to lead his forces into the imperial capital and seize control of the Han central government. He subsequently deposed Emperor Shao, replaced him with Liu Xie, and had Empress Dowager He poisoned to death.

Jia Xu Cao Wei politician and official (147-223)

Jia Xu, courtesy name Wenhe, was an official of the state of Cao Wei during the early Three Kingdoms period of China. He started his career in the late Eastern Han dynasty as a minor official. In 189, when the warlord Dong Zhuo took control of the Han central government, he assigned Jia Xu to the unit led by Niu Fu, his son-in-law. In 192, after Dong Zhuo was assassinated by Lü Bu, Jia Xu advised Li Jue, Guo Si and Dong Zhuo's loyalists to fight back and seize control of the imperial capital, Chang'an, from a new central government headed by Lü Bu and Wang Yun. After Li Jue and the others defeated Lü Bu and occupied Chang'an, Jia Xu served under the central government led by them. During this time, he ensured the safety of the figurehead Han emperor, Emperor Xian, who was being held hostage by Li Jue. He also attempted to prevent internal conflict between Li Jue and Guo Si, but with limited success. After Emperor Xian escaped from Chang'an, Jia Xu left Li Jue and briefly joined the general Duan Wei before becoming a strategist of the warlord Zhang Xiu. While serving under Zhang Xiu, he advised his lord on how to counter invasions by the warlord Cao Cao, who had received Emperor Xian in 196 and taken control of the central government. In 200, during the Battle of Guandu between Cao Cao and his rival Yuan Shao, Jia Xu urged Zhang Xiu to reject Yuan Shao's offer to form an alliance and instead surrender to Cao Cao. Zhang Xiu heeded his advice. Jia Xu then became one of Cao Cao's strategists.

The Ten Attendants, also known as the Ten Eunuchs, were a group of influential eunuch-officials in the imperial court of Emperor Ling in Eastern Han China. Although they are often referred to as a group of 10, there were actually 12 of them and all held the position of zhong changshi in Emperor Ling's imperial court.

Empress Dowager Longyu Chinese empress during the end of the Qing dynasty

Jingfen, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Yehe Nara clan, was the wife and empress consort of Zaitian, the Guangxu Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1889 until her husband's death in 1908, after which she was honoured as Empress Dowager Longyu. She was posthumously honoured with the title Empress Xiaodingjing.

Cao Song, courtesy name Jugao, was an official who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was the foster son of the eunuch Cao Teng and the father of the warlord Cao Cao, who rose to prominence in the final years of Eastern Han and laid the foundation of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period. Cao Song was posthumously honoured as "Emperor Tai" by his grandson Cao Pi in 220 when the latter ended the Han dynasty and founded the Cao Wei regime.

Xun Chen, courtesy name Youruo, was an official who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. Born in the influential Xun family of Yingchuan Commandery, he was the fourth brother of Xun Yu and a second cousins once removed of Xun You. He initially served as an adviser to the warlord Han Fu and later to another warlord, Yuan Shao.

Liu Yao (157–198), courtesy name Zhengli, was a Chinese politician and warlord who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was a descendant of Liu Fei, the eldest son of the Han dynasty's founding emperor, Liu Bang. When he was 18, he became famous after rescuing a relative who was being held hostage by bandits. He started his career in the Han civil service after being nominated as a xiaolian, and was known for his incorruptibility. In 194, although he was appointed by the Han imperial court as the governor of Yang Province, he barely managed to gain a foothold over his jurisdiction because the warlord Yuan Shu controlled a large part of the territories around the Huai River region in Yang Province. In 195, conflict broke out between Liu Yao and Yuan Shu, who sent his ally Sun Ce to attack Liu Yao. Sun Ce defeated Liu Yao and forced him to retreat south into present-day Jiangxi, where Liu Yao defeated a minor warlord Ze Rong and died of illness shortly later. His elder brother was Liu Dai, another prominent warlord.

Lu Kai, courtesy name Jingfeng, was a Chinese military general and politician of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Born in the influential Lu clan of the Wu region towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, Lu Kai started his career around the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period as a county chief and later a military officer under Sun Quan, the founding emperor of Eastern Wu. During the reign of Sun Liang, he participated in some battles against bandits and Eastern Wu's rival state Cao Wei, and was promoted to the rank of General. Throughout the reign of Sun Xiu and early reign of Sun Hao, Lu Kai continued to hold military commands until September or October 266, when Sun Hao appointed him and Wan Yu as the Left and Right Imperial Chancellors of Eastern Wu respectively. Well known for being outspoken and candid, Lu Kai strongly objected to Sun Hao's decision to move the imperial capital from Jianye to Wuchang in 265, attempted to dissuade Sun Hao from going to war with the Jin dynasty that replaced the Cao Wei state in 266, and spoke up against Sun Hao's cruel and extravagant ways on numerous occasions. Although Sun Hao deeply resented Lu Kai for openly defying him, he tolerated Lu Kai because Lu Kai held an important office and also because he did not want to antagonise the Lu clan. After Lu Kai's death, Sun Hao sent his family away to a distant commandery in the south.

Empress Nara

Empress of the Nara clan was the wife and second empress consort of Hongli, the Qianlong Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1750 until her death in 1766.

Xin Xianying (191–269) was a Chinese noblewoman, aristocrat and advisor who lived during the Three Kingdoms period. She was the daughter of Xin Pi, an official of the state of Cao Wei. The only extant historical source about her life is her biography written by her maternal grandson, Xiahou Zhan (夏侯湛), who was a notable scholar and official of the Jin dynasty. She is best known for giving advice to her family members and relatives during significant events in the history of Cao Wei such as the Incident at Gaoping Tombs and Zhong Hui's Rebellion.

China–Mongolia relations Diplomatic relations between the Peoples Republic of China and Mongolia

China–Mongolia relations, or Sino-Mongolian relations, refer to the bilateral relations between Mongolia and China. These relations have long been determined by the relations between China and the Soviet Union, Mongolia's other neighbour and main ally until early-1990. With the rapprochement between the USSR and China in the late 1980s, Sino-Mongolian relations also began to improve. Since the 1990s, China has become Mongolia's biggest trading partner, and a number of Chinese businesses are operating in Mongolia.

Xin Pi, courtesy name Zuozhi, was an official of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Along with his elder brother Xin Ping, he started his career in the late Eastern Han dynasty as an adviser to the warlord Yuan Shao. Following Yuan Shao's death and a power struggle between Yuan Shao's sons Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang, Xin Pi initially sided with Yuan Tan but later defected to Yuan Shao's rival Cao Cao, while seeking Cao Cao's aid on Yuan Tan's behalf in the fight against Yuan Shang. As a result, his family members were executed by Shen Pei, a Yuan Shang loyalist who blamed Xin Pi for the downfall of the Yuan family. After avenging his family, Xin Pi served as an official under Cao Cao, who controlled the Han central government and the figurehead Emperor Xian. After the Cao Wei state replaced the Eastern Han dynasty, Xin Pi continued serving under Cao Cao's successor Cao Pi, the first Wei emperor, and later under Cao Rui, Cao Pi's son. Throughout his service in Wei, he was known for being outspoken and critical whenever he disagreed with the emperors and his colleagues. His highest appointment in the Wei government was the Minister of the Guards (衞尉). He died around 235 and was survived by his son Xin Chang and daughter Xin Xianying.

Xun Shuang (128–190), courtesy name Ciming, was a Chinese essayist, politician, and writer who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. Born in the influential Xun family of Yingchuan Commandery, Xun Shuang, for most of his life, distanced himself from politics because he perceived the political arena to be corrupt and dangerous. He repeatedly turned down offers to serve in the government, and spent his time producing numerous writings and giving lectures. However, in late 189, he was forced to join the civil service and became an official. Within a span of only 95 days, he rose through the ranks quickly from his initial status as a commoner to the highly prestigious office of Minister of Works (司空). Prior to that, within the 95 days, he had held the appointments of Chancellor of Pingyuan (平原相) and Minister of the Household (光祿勳). He died of illness in 190 while secretly making plans with Wang Yun, He Yong and others to eliminate the tyrannical warlord Dong Zhuo, who had hijacked and controlled the Han central government.

Jiang Ji, courtesy name Zitong, was an official and military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Born in the late Eastern Han dynasty, Jiang Ji started his career as a low-level official in his native Yang Province before becoming a subordinate of Cao Cao, the warlord who controlled the central government towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty. After the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, he served in the state of Cao Wei through the reigns of the first three emperors – Cao Pi, Cao Rui and Cao Fang – and held various appointments in the military before rising to Grand Commandant, one of the top positions in the central government. During his service in Wei, he was known for being candid in giving advice to the emperor on various issues, including consolidating power, halting labour-intensive construction projects, and officials' abuses of power. In February 249, he joined the regent Sima Yi in staging a successful coup d'état against his co-regent Cao Shuang, but died from illness a few months later.

Xun Yi, courtesy name Jingqian, was a Chinese politician of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. After the fall of Wei, he continued serving under the Jin dynasty, which replaced Wei in 266. He was the sixth son of Xun Yu.

Xun Xu, courtesy name Gongzeng, was an official, musician, writer and painter who lived during the late Three Kingdoms period and early Jin dynasty of China. Born in the influential Xun family, he was a great-grandson of Xun Shuang and a distant maternal relative of Zhong Yao's family. he served as an official in the state of Wei in the late Three Kingdoms era before serving under the Jin dynasty.

Articles of Favourable Treatment of the Great Qing Emperor after His Abdication

The Articles of Favorable Treatment of the Great Qing after His Abdication, also known as the "Articles of Favorable Treatment", was an agreement drawn up by the Qing government and the Provisional Government of the Republic of China on the relevant protection measures after the abdication of the Qing imperial family and the Revolution in 1911. The document is dated 26 December, 1914.


  1. Harris, Lane J. (2018-01-24). The Abdication, 1912. Brill. ISBN   978-90-04-36100-3.
  2. Guan, Xiaohong (2014-07-03). "Continuity and transformation: the institutions of the Beijing government, 1912–1928". Journal of Modern Chinese History. 8 (2): 176–193. doi:10.1080/17535654.2014.960150. ISSN   1753-5654. S2CID   143605067.
  3. 1 2 "Milestones: 1899–1913 - Office of the Historian". Office of The Historian. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  4. "1925年12月30日,北洋军阀皖系将领徐树铮于廊坊车站遭冯玉祥仇杀". Archived from the original on 2018-04-03. Retrieved 2018-04-03.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. 张耀杰 (2012-02-14). "张耀杰:是谁起草了清帝逊位诏书" (in Chinese). 人民网,原载于《文史参考》2012年第4期(2月下). Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  6. Harris, Lane (2018). The Peking Gazette: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Chinese History. pp. 361–362. doi:10.1163/9789004361003_032. ISBN   9789004361003.
  7. Esherick, Joseph; Kayali, Hasan; Van Young, Eric (2006). Empire to Nation: Historical Perspectives on the Making of the Modern World. p. 245. ISBN   9780742578159.
  8. Zhai, Zhiyong (2017). 憲法何以中國. p. 190. ISBN   9789629373214.
  9. Gao, Quanxi (2016). 政治憲法與未來憲制. p. 273. ISBN   9789629372910.
  10. 1 2 Hao, Shiyuan (2019). China's Solution to Its Ethno-national Issues. p. 51. ISBN   9789813295193.
  11. ""复兴之路"基本陈列" (in Chinese). 中国国家博物馆. Archived from the original on 2020-04-02.