Nien Rebellion


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Nien Rebellion:

see Nian RebellionNian Rebellion
or Nien Rebellion
, uprising that occurred against the Ch'ing dynasty of China. Bands [Chinese,=nien] of antigovernment rebels in the south part of the North China Plain (between the Chang and Huai rivers) coalesced in 1853 as government strength
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Nien Rebellion

 

a peasant uprising in North China from 1852 to 1868, directed against the Manchu Ch’ing dynasty. It was instigated and led by members of the Nien secret societies. The term “nien” means “twisted, greasy, paper braid,” as well as “union,” “society,” or “brotherhood.” In both Russian and Western literature, the rebellion is also incorrectly known as the torchbearers’ uprising.

The Nien army began operating in November 1852 in the northern part of Anhwei Province under the leadership of a former salt merchant, Chang Lo-hsing. In 1853 the Nien forces, numbering around 100,000, launched a campaign of guerrilla warfare. In 1855 they were organized into ten major units and proclaimed Chang Lo-hsing as their leader. Along with the impoverished peasantry, which constituted the main element of the Nien movement, various anti-Manchu landowners and other representatives of the propertied classes took part in the conflict. The rebels advanced no socioeconomic demands, issuing only a call for the overthrow of the Ch’ing dynasty. During 1855–56, the Nien armies operated in northern Anhwei, northern Kiangsu, and northern Honan provinces. In March 1857, the Nien forces were joined by those of the Taiping rebels in Anhwei, although some Nien detachments continued to fight independently.

From 1861 to 1863, the Nien suffered a series of major defeats and their best-known leaders, including Chang Lo-hsing, were killed. The remaining detachments united under the command of Chang Tsung-yü, the nephew of Chang Lo-hsing, and continued fighting in Honan. In the autumn of 1864, after the Ch’ing reactionaries had routed the main forces of the Taipings, the Nien formed a single army with the Taiping forces still operating in Honan, Hupei, and Shensi provinces. The combined army was led by Chang Tsung-yü and by a Taiping commander, Lai Wen-kuang. In 1866 two separate bands were formed. The one led by Lai Wen-kuang was destroyed by government forces in Kiangsu during late 1867 and early 1868. The other, headed by Chang Tsung-yü, was defeated in Shantung in August 1868.

REFERENCES

Chekanov, N. K. Vosstanie nian ’tsziunei v Kitae: 1853–1868. Moscow, 1963.
Iliushechkin, V. P. Krest’ianskaia voina taipinov. Moscow, 1967.
Ssu-yü Teng. The Nien Army and Their Guerrilla Warfare, 1851–1868. Paris-The Hague, 1961.

V. P. ILIUSHECHKIN