Several major factors shaped Manchu institutions and state rituals, the first of which was a strong and persistent impulse to create and retain a separate cultural identity. The Jurchen developed skills of a different sort to create stable alliances with neighboring Mongol tribes. The Mongol–Manchu alliance was vital to Manchu success through at least the middle of the eighteenth century, and formed a conscious element in the culture of the Qing conquest elite. Finally, Jurchen leaders had to appeal explicitly to Han Chinese elites to rule the Ming territories. This chapter concludes that the last emperors of China were true innovators, whose rule represents a creative adaptation to problems of rulership which was not simply a repetition of the dynastic cycle.
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