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The Manchu Army Takes Beijing

A few years ago a popular revolt (meaning a revolt at the level of the people) rose up in China after financial collapse, crop failure, drought and perceived government incompetence. The Manchu dynasty was established and it declared itself rulers of China, but they really weren't yet. The rebellion has continued until the Manchu army now approaches Beijing. The gates are thrown open! General Wu Sangui welcomes the army into the Forbidden City. The current Ming Emperor is just 33 but he realizes what comes next. He hangs himself and the new Manchu Emperor takes control... for about a year. Then someone else will take control. Then General Wu will take the reigns before he is removed too. General Wu, was a traitor and he was NOT to be trusted, but unfortunately... someone trusted him. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was the Ming dynasty really incompetent? In some ways the bureaucracy had become so inefficient that it was laughable. They would make excuses to go on fact-finding trips and while on those trips the locals would perceive the visit as a prelude to some Chinese government incursion or crackdown and riots would ensue. The bureaucrats would seem too glib. This would be perceived as lies... which they probably were, but not lies to hide something terrible other than they were goofing off and spending a lot of money on nothing. They also had problems with piracy, but their solution was to stop all shipping. This increased smuggling, and in the end, the government had to make a deal with the pirates, turning them into government officials themselves. It was a policy of "It takes a thief to catch a thief" which is an interesting idea until you find your government run by thieves. [4]

The Jews of Mogilev are Murdered for a Metaphor

Mogilev is a town in Lithuania and in a ceremony performed as the Jewish New Year begins, Jews empty the contents of their pockets into a body of water as a metaphor for casting away one's sins. (Don't take your wallet.) Often they will carry bread to cast into the water instead. It doesn't matter. It's a metaphor, and it is not clear what happened next, but as they were casting things into that body of water they were attacked and killed. A few years later, the town will surrender to the Russian army on the promise that the town expel all the Jews. The Jews are marched to the outskirts of the city but instead of letting them go they will be murdered by Russian troops. [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. That was gruesome. I mention it because I am Jewish so I care about that kind of thing, and because it is the Jewish New Year, right now. I'm offline and hopefully I'm attending religious services. I also hope not to get kneecapped while I'm casting my sins on the water. IT'S JUST A METAPHOR! I once attended services at the synagogue in Tokyo, Japan. They told me of the time when they couldn't find a natural body of water in which to cast away their sins, so they walked to the local reservoir and simply flicked their hands as if they were throwing something away. Someone saw them and called the cops. It took a long time to convince the Japanese authorities that IT WAS A METAPHOR! They weren't actually throwing anything into the reservoir. Folks sometimes get nervous. I understand, but let's all take a deep breath. We can get through this. [7]

It's Mass Murder in China... uh... Portugal... no.... China *

Portugal was absorbed into Spain something like 60 years ago, but it remained a separate province. Then Portugal broke away from Spain in 1640 in a violent way and it continues to fight for its independence. Thus it is no longer safe to be a Spaniard in Portugal, especially if you are a strong supporter of rejoining Spain and Portugal. However, one would think one would be reasonably safe IN CHINA! Not so. One such fellow, a Spanish solider, seeks refuge in Saint Dominic's Church after a mob attacks him. Unfortunately the Church membership IN CHINA has sided with the Portuguese. During the mass, he is murdered at the altar. Nationalism often trumps religion even when you are in a different nation entirely. [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I made this point when the 30 Years' War changed from a religious war into a war for national interests. It essentially came down to the soldiers of the same religion fighting each other. Nationality matter more than religion. If you think that imposing a religion on government will somehow bring government to heel, think again. I've not seen that work in practice. It is an ideal not yet proven to work in the current environment and often proven to fail except for small homogenous communities... and often not even then. (I'm looking at you, Pilgrims! You forced people to create Providence, Rhode Island because you couldn't make a religious state work in Massachusetts.)

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1644, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Li Zicheng - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “Li Zicheng (22 September 1606 – 1645), born Li Hongji, nicknamed 'Dashing King', was a Chinese rebel leader who overthrew the Ming dynasty in 1644 and ruled over China briefly as the emperor of the short-lived Shun dynasty before his death a year later.”
  2. Wu Sangui - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “Considered by traditional scholars as a traitor to both Ming, and ultimately, Qing, Wu in 1678 declared himself Emperor of China and ruler of the 'Great Zhou', but his revolt was eventually quelled by the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.”
  3. Chongzhen Emperor - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “On April 25, Chongzhen was said to have walked to Coal Hill in Jingshan Park. There, he either hanged himself, or strangled himself with a sash. By some accounts, the emperor left a suicide note which said, 'I die unable to face my ancestors in the underworld, dejected and ashamed. May the bandits dismember my corpse and slaughter my officials, but let them not despoil the imperial tombs nor harm a single one of our people.'”
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: I've covered similar subjects before regarding China. I am simply repeating those ideas here. Do a search on the TSP Wiki for references on those subjects.
  5. Mogilev - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “In 1654, the townsmen negotiated a treaty of surrender to the Russians peacefully, if the Jews were to be expelled and their property divided up among Mogilev's inhabitants. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovitch agreed. However, instead of expelling the Jews, the Russian troops massacred them after they had led them to the outskirts of the town.”
  6. 1644 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “October 1 – the Jews of Mogilev, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, were attacked during Tashlikh.”
  7. Map of Beth David Synagogue Tokyo Japan. mavensearch.com (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “Beth David Synagogue, 8-8 Hiroo 3-chrome,8-8 Hiroo 3-chrome, Tokyo, Japan”
  8. St. Dominic's Church, Macau - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “It was the scene of violence in 1644, when a Spanish officer—loyal to the King of Spain and opposing the colony's determination to stay allegiant with Portugal after the dissolution of the Iberian Union—entered the church in order to seek refuge from an angry mob. He was promptly murdered at the foot of the altar while mass was being celebrated.”
  9. Portuguese Restoration War - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 September 2015. “The Portuguese Restoration War was the name given by nineteenth-century 'romantic' historians to the war between Portugal and Spain that began with the Portuguese revolution of 1640 and ended with the Treaty of Lisbon (1668). The revolution of 1640 ended the sixty-year period rule of Portugal by the Spanish Habsburgs.”

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