The Warlord Era wis a period o time i the history o Cheenae, followin the fall o the Qing Dynasty an precedin the establishment o the Nanjing Government bi Chiang Kai-Shek. It is characterised bi mony wars an coalitions atween different warlords, maistly i the North o Cheenae. Mony see this period as endin i 1928, after the Northern Expedition, i that the Kuomintang unifiit maist o the warlords under thaim nominallie. The warlord era wis an important part o the Chinese Civil War, aften kent as the first stage o the weir.

Warlord Era
Map of major Chinese warlord coalitions 1925.png
Warlords i Cheenae at 1925. the blue area is controlled by th' Kuomintang, while the red areas ur ay the northern cliques
Traditional Chinese軍閥時代
Simplified Chinese军阀时代
Flag o the Republic o Cheenae atween 1912 an 1928


Mony warlords drew their strength frae new armies thon haed been creatit durin or efter the Taiping Rebellion, the maist famous o that wis the Beiyang Army. This army wis the main predecessor o the Beiyang warlords, wha rulit ower china nominallie frae Beijing until the capital changit tae Nanjing after the Northern Expedition.

Towards the beginnin o the 20th century, mony questions were bein askit aboot the future o Cheenae. The damage done bi Empress Dowager Cixi wis irreversible, an mony triit tae hastily mak reforms i the empire. On the other side, mony an aw turnit tae revolution as a possibilitie, includin republican leader Sun Yat-sen, nou regardit as the "Father o Cheenae". Sun creatit the republican group o the Tongmenghui, a merger o other republican groups, that eventually became the Kuomintang.

The Qing Dynasty, wha haed rulit ower Cheenae syne 1644, wis overthrown i the Xinhai Revolution, startin wi the Wuchang Uprisin. Yuan Shikai, wha wis workin tae suppress the revolutionaries, decidit tae work wi thaim an negotiate faer thaim wi the Qing. This causit the Xuantong Emperor (commonly kent as Puyi) tae abdicate an faer a new republic tae be establishit.[1] The Provisional President o the Republic o Cheenae haed bin Sun Yat-sen, but Yuan Shikai took his place an movit the capital tae Beijing against Sun's wishes.[2]

President Yuan ShikaiEedit

As President, Yuan Shikai resistit mony attempts faer the Kuomintang tae enter the chain o command o the Beiyang army. Power wis kept i Beijing, an i 1913, Yuan sent four o his lieutenants tae become the militar governors o different provinces. Houaniver, splits already startit tae shaw i this period. Beijing's actual power nou extendit intae Hunan an north intae Manchurie. 1913 see'd the Second Revolution, a revolt anenst Yuan. Houaniver, it wis quickly defeatit. Yuan wad only see his power gone wi the National Protection War frae 1915-1916.

I 1915, Yuan Shikai declarit himsel Emperor o Cheenae, establishin a new Empire o Cheenae. This wis supportit bi a few fowk, maist notably Xinjiang governor Yang Zengxin. Houaniver, due tae the unpleisantness this caused, soothern provinces, lit bi Cai E i Yunnan, startit the National Protection Movement tae depose the Empire o Cheenae. Soon efter the war, Yuan resignit as President o the Republic an deed. This haed broucht complete disunity tae the Beiyang army, an divisions atween different Beiyang figures only widenit. Fowk haed maistly coalescit intae the Anhui clique, the Fengtian clique, an the Zhili clique, the three major factions o Cheenae at the time.[3]

Anhui DominanceEedit

Wi Li Yuanhong replacin Yuan Shikai as President efter his death, the political power fell intae the hands o Premier Duan Qirui. The government workit closely wi the Zhili clique under Vice President Feng Guozhang tae maintain stability.

Duan took the Nishihara loans, that he usit tae build an army.[4] He debatit joinin the First World War wi li, leadin tae both Li an Duan askin faer General Zhang Xun tae step i an restore stability i Beijing. Houaniver, whan Zhang enterit the city on 1 July, he dissolvit the parliament an proclaimit the restoration o the Qing dynasty i the Manchu restoration.[5] Duan quickly returnit frae Tianjin wi reinforcements, crushin the Manchu restoration. Diveesions atween the Zhili an Anhui cliques deepenit until the eventual Zhili-Anhui War, i that a coalition atween the Zhili clique an the Manchurian Fengtian clique lead tae the exile o the Anhui clique tae Shanghai an Zhejiang.

Zhili DominanceEedit

Efter the Zhili-Anhui war, Beijing wis jointly occupiit bi the Zhili an Fengtian cliques. Feng Guozhang deed i 1919, bein replacit as leader o the clique bi Cao Kun. War broke oot atween Zhili an Fengtian i 1922 i the First Zhili-Fengtian War, endin i Fengtian bein driven back tae Manchurie.[6] The Zhili returnit Li Yuanhong tae the position o President an restorit the National Assembly. They drove Sun Yat-sen oot o Guangzhou. Cao took up the position o President i 1923, despite opposition frae rival warlords an the folk o Cheenae.[7]

I 1924, a broken treaty atween Jiangsu governor Qi Xieyuan an Zhejiang governor Lu Yongxiang lit tae the Jiangsu-Zhejiang War, pittin the Zhili anenst the remnants o the Anhui clique. A coalition involvin the Fengtian clique, the Anhui clique an the Kuomintang startit fichtin the Zhili, leadin tae the Second Zhili-Fengtian War. Sun Chuanfang, governor o Fujian, helpit Qi i takin Nanjing, while tae the north, battles were bein foucht tae pass throuch the Great Wall, wi Fengtian forces finally findin a pass towards the end o the war.[6] Zhili general Feng Yuxiang betrayit the Zhili clique, leadin tae the eventual loss o the Zhili i the weir i 1925.[8]


  1. Busky, Donald F. (2002) Communism in History and Theory, Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-97733-1.
  2. Joseph W.; Wei, C.X. George (2013). China: How the Empire Fell. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. pp 239–241. ISBN 978-0-415-83101-7
  3. Spence 282-283
  4. Gray 178-179
  5. Putnam Weale (1917). The fight for the republic in China. Dodd, Mead and Company. pp. 360-366
  6. 6.0 6.1 Waldron, Arthur. From War to Nationalism: China's Turning Point, 1924-1925. Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  7. Nathan, Andrew (1998). Peking Politics 1918-1923: Factionalism and the Failure of Constitutionalism. Center for Chinese Studies. ISBN 978-0-89264-131-4
  8. Fairbank, Reischauer, Craig, John, Edwin, Albert (1978). East Asia: Tradition and Transformation. Boston: Hougton Mifflin Company. pp. 761–762. ISBN 978-0-395-25812-5.