Qianlong emperor


Qianlong emperor
or Ch'ien-lung emperor orig. Hongli

born Sept. 25, 1711, China
died Feb. 7, 1799, Beijing

Fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty in China.

His reign (1735–96) was one of the longest in Chinese history. China's boundaries reached their greatest extent, encompassing Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Taiwan, and portions of Central Asia. Qianlong sponsored a compilation of the Confucian Classics (see Five Classics); the compilation's descriptive catalog is still used today. At the same time, he ordered that all books containing anti-Manchu sentiments be expurgated or destroyed; some 2,600 titles were lost. He enjoyed excellent personal relationships with Jesuit missionaries in Beijing, though Roman Catholic preaching remained officially forbidden. In the first half of his reign, agriculture made great strides and was superior to that in much of Europe. Taxes were light and education was widespread, even among the peasantry. Subsequently, military expeditions and increasing governmental corruption permanently harmed the dynasty, sowing the seeds for its decline in the 19th century. See also Heshen; Kangxi emperor; Manchu.

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