The Military and Political System in the Qing Dynasty

The Military and Political System in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was mainly composed of the Eight-Banner System, the Six Ministry System, the Privy Council and the Han Green Army.

1. Eight-Banner System

The Eight-Banner System (administrative divisions into which all Manchu families were placed.) was founded by Nurhachi (the founder of the Qing dynasty), composed of the Border Yellow Banner, the Plain Yellow Banner, the Plain White Banner, the Plain Red Banner, the Bordered White Banner, the Bordered Red Banner, the Plain Blue Banner and the Bordered Blue Banner, which combined the army and the common people perfectly as one. The political power was centralized in the hands of nobilities, and the important decisions were discussed and decided by Manchu Council of Princes and Ministers. Hong Taiji (the son of Nurhachi) imitated the political system of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and established the Six Ministries in the 5th year (1631) of Tianchong Period, trying to weaken the power of Manchu nobilities. Emperor Shunzhi reformed the Eight-Banner System by commanding the Plain Yellow Banner, the Plain White Banner and the Bordered Yellow Banner, centralizing all power in his own hands.

2. The Six Ministries

The Six Ministries were established by Emperor Hong Taiji, with a Shangshu (the senior minister) in charge of each ministry, and the vice-senior minister was called Shilang (assistant minister). It was stipulated that the two ministers (served as Shangshu) in each ministry should be chosen from the Manchu ethnic group and the Han ethnic group respectively in the first (1644) year of Shunzhi Period, when a number of coordinate administrative institutions were set up in addition to the Six Ministries, including Hanlin Academy, the Ministry of Tribal Affair, the Imperial Hospital, the Ministry Internal Affair and Court of Censors, so the officials were classified into nine grades based on their ranks in the Qing dynasty.

3. Privy Council

The Qing army was at war with Mongolian army in the 7th (1729) year of Emperor Yongzheng, and the Privy Council was established under imperial order to handle military intelligence, which became the core organ of state power after the 2nd year of Emperor Qianlong's reign and it lasted to the 3rd year of Emperor Xuantong's reign in the Qing dynasty.

4. Green Standard Army

The army was divided into the Eight-Banner Army and the Green Standard Army in the early Qing dynasty. The Eight-Banner Army was composed of the Manchu Eight-Banner, Mongolian Eight-Banner and the Han Eight-Banner, which were directly controlled by the emperors, and the local governors had no rights to call up them. The Green Army was established by the local governors, playing a more and more important part in the late Qing dynasty.