On April 25, 1644, a former shepherd and blacksmith, Li Hongji, defeated the armies of the Chongzhen Emperor of the once mighty Ming Dynasty in the Battle of Beijing. In response, the emperor committed suicide by hanging himself in a tree in an imperial garden in the city after killing much of his family – effectively marking the end of the Ming Dynasty.
The shepherd, turned rebel general was named the new emperor and took the name Li Zicheng, “The Dashing King.” In so doing, he established a brand new dynasty, the Shun. “But wait,” you say, “I’m not a specialist, but I know a good amount about China. I’ve never heard of the Shun.” This is because this dynasty was particularly short-lived.
Just over one year after the suicide of the Chongzgen Emperor, Li Zicheng and his Shun armies were defeated at the Battle of Shanhai Pass by a former Ming general and a Manchu army. This effectively led to the end of the Shun Dynasty as the ethnic-Manchu Shunzhi Emperor became the first Qing Emperor of China, a dynasty that would that would last until 1912.