Southern MingThe Southern Ming (), also known in historiography as the Later Ming (), officially the Great Ming (), was an imperial dynasty of China and a series of rump states of the Ming dynasty that came into existence following the Jiashen Incident of 1644. Peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng who founded the short-lived Shun dynasty captured Beijing and the Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide. The Ming general Wu Sangui then opened the gates of the Shanhai Pass in the eastern section of the Great Wall to the Qing banners, in hope of using them to annihilate the Shun forces. Ming loyalists fled to Nanjing, where they enthroned Zhu Yousong as the Hongguang Emperor, marking the start of the Southern Ming. The Nanjing regime lasted until 1645, when Qing forces captured Nanjing. Zhu fled before the city fell, but was captured and executed shortly thereafter. Later figures continued to hold court in various southern Chinese cities, although the Qing considered them to be pretenders.
The Nanjing regime lacked the resources to pay and supply its soldiers, who were left to live off the land and pillaged the countryside. The soldiers' behavior was so notorious that they were refused entry by those cities in a position to do so. Court official Shi Kefa obtained modern cannons and organized resistance at Yangzhou. The cannons mowed down a large number of Qing soldiers, but this only enraged those who survived. After the Yangzhou city fell in May 1645, the Manchus started a general massacre pillage and enslaved all the women and children in the notorious Yangzhou massacre. Nanjing was captured by the Qing on June 6 and the Hongguang Emperor was taken to Beijing and executed in 1646.
The literati in the provinces responded to the news from Yangzhou and Nanjing with an outpouring of emotion. Some recruited their own militia and became resistance leaders. Shi was lionized and there was a wave of hopeless sacrifice by loyalists who vowed to erase the shame of Nanjing. By late 1646, the heroics had petered out and the Qing advance had resumed. Notable Ming "pretenders" held court in Fuzhou (1645–1646), Guangzhou (1646–1647), and Anlong (1652–1659). The Yongli Emperor was the last and also the longest reigning Emperor of the dynasty (1646–1662) and managed to fight against the Qing forces alongside the peasant armies in southwestern China prior to his capture in Myanmar in 1662. The Prince of Ningjing, in the Kingdom of Tungning (based in present-day Tainan, Taiwan) claimed to be the rightful successor to the throne of Ming until 1683, although he lacked real political power. The Yongli Emperor was the last generally recognized sovereign of the Southern Ming before his death in 1662.}}
The end of the Ming and the subsequent Nanjing regime are depicted in ''The Peach Blossom Fan'', a classic of Chinese literature. The upheaval of this period, sometimes referred to as the Ming–Qing cataclysm, has been linked to a decline in global temperature known as the Little Ice Age. With agriculture devastated by a severe drought, there was manpower available for numerous rebel armies. Provided by Wikipedia