God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan

God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan

Jonathan D. Spence

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0393315568

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"A magnificent tapestry . . . a story that reaches beyond China into our world and time: a story of faith, hope, passion, and a fatal grandiosity."--Washington Post Book World

Whether read for its powerful account of the largest uprising in human history, or for its foreshadowing of the terrible convulsions suffered by twentieth-century China, or for the narrative power of a great historian at his best, God's Chinese Son must be read. At the center of this history of China's Taiping rebellion (1845-64) stands Hong Xiuquan, a failed student of Confucian doctrine who ascends to heaven in a dream and meets his heavenly family: God, Mary, and his older brother, Jesus. He returns to earth charged to eradicate the "demon-devils," the alien Manchu rulers of China. His success carries him and his followers to the heavenly capital at Nanjing, where they rule a large part of south China for more than a decade. Their decline and fall, wrought by internal division and the unrelenting military pressures of the Manchus and the Western powers, carry them to a hell on earth. Twenty million Chinese are left dead.














kneel in Hong’s presence, and when he refuses he is tricked into doing so by the sudden shouted command that all present should now kneel in the honor of the Lord—which Roberts follows automatically, till he realizes it is Hong who is being knelt to. Their hour-long conversation is interrupted several times by the assembled Taiping leaders’ further kneeling and chanting in Hong’s honor. Roberts now stands throughout these genuflections—indeed he is never invited to be seated, the only one besides

Qin, Tiandihui, 16–19, 143–44; Ibid., 18, translates the phrase jushi as “carry out a rebellion,” which seems too precise in the context. The Heaven-and-Earth Society was just one of dozens of informal and clandestine groups and federations that spread in China at this time, as vastly growing populations brought new pressures on the land, compounded by bureaucratic inefficiencies, unfair taxation patterns, natural disasters, erosion of uplands, and other environmental damage to lakes, hills, and

honorary title, 236 murder of, 244–45 power struggles, 222, 224, 236 Yang Xiuqing’s murder and aftermath, 242, 243, 244 Qiu Erh, 133 Qiying, 106 Quanzhou campaign, 156, 158 Rebekah, 257 refugees and homeless villagers, 303–6 religion, traditional, 28, 29–30, 34–38 Jade Record, 38–39, 40–41, 42–46, 92 Liang Afa’s denunciation of, 60–61, 63 Revelation Book of, xxvii, 295–97 Reynolds (ship’s officer), 237, 245 Roberts, Issachar, 62, 92–93, 266, 267, 269 Hong Xiuquan and Hong Rengan,

are free from such traitors, so eternal vigilance is needed.26 A brief reminder to all the faithful of Hong Xiuquan’s kingship, and of the awe due to him as the ruler of the world sent down by God, is given by God Himself, speaking through Yang Xiuqing, on April 15, 1851.27 Then, on April 19, while the Taiping troops are still fighting for survival in the same area of Wuxuan, another solemn meeting is held, containing the same general elements as that of March 30 though in different order: a

not yet time to end their period of sexual separation.32 Men who force themselves on women, even if they are veteran soldiers from Guangxi with accumulated merit, must be executed, and even married couples arranging for clandestine reunions, when caught, are sternly punished. Some will seek to avoid these prohibitions by resorting to prostitutes, but that too is strictly forbidden, and enforcement backed by group involvement; those who work as prostitutes, or those who use them, will not only

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