December 31, 1650 – Death of Dorgon, Chinese emperor

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Dorgon was a Manchu prince and regent of the early Qing dynasty.

Born in the Aisin Gioro clan as the 14th son of Nurhaci (the founder of the Qing dynasty), Dorgon started his career in military campaigns against the Ming dynasty, Mongols and Koreans during the reign of his eighth brother, Hong Taiji, who succeeded their father.

After Hong Taiji’s death in 1643, he was involved in a power struggle against Hong Taiji’s eldest son, Hooge, over the succession to the throne.

Both of them eventually came to a compromise by backing out and letting Hong Taiji’s ninth son, Fulin, become the emperor; Fulin was installed on the throne as the Shunzhi Emperor.

Dorgon served as Prince-Regent from 1643 to 1650, throughout the Shunzhi Emperor’s early reign.

In 1645, he was given the honorary title “Emperor’s Uncle and Prince-Regent”; the title was changed to “Emperor’s Father and Prince-Regent” in 1649.

Under Dorgon’s regency, Qing forces occupied Beijing, the capital of the fallen Ming dynasty, and gradually conquered the rest of the Ming in a series of battles against Ming loyalists and other opposing forces around China.

Dorgon also introduced the policy of forcing all Han Chinese men to shave the front of the heads and wear their hair in queues just like the Manchus.

He died in 1650 during a hunting trip and was posthumously honoured as an emperor even though he was never an emperor during his lifetime.

A year after Dorgon’s death, however, the Shunzhi Emperor accused Dorgon of several crimes, stripped him of his titles, and ordered his remains to be exhumed and flogged in public.

Dorgon was posthumously restored of his honorary titles by the Qianlong Emperor in 1778.

Tony Simon

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