At the time of the death of Emperor Jiaqing, the seventh of the Manchu-origin Great Qing dynasty, the empire was in decline, but still in control of large areas of greater China and influential over many neighboring territories. By 1806 the White Lotus and Miao rebellions had been overcome, but the empire, though largely pacified, was beset by poverty and corruption. In particular, after the death in 1799 of his father Qianlong, Jiaqing accused one his father’s favourite and famously corrupt deputies, Heshen, of abuse of power, ordering his expropriation and slow execution, which was commuted to ‘suicide’. Jiaqing also attempted to stem the growing financial losses generated by the widening importation of opium. In 1811, a statute of the Qing legal code entitled ‘Prohibitions Concerning Sorcerers and Sorceresses’ was amended to include Christianity, various forms of which were spreading throughout Asia. Christian converts who would not repent were exiled to Muslim-dominated regions. Jiaqing died in September 1820 and was succeeded by his second son Mianning, who was to become the eighth Qing Emperor Daoguang.
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