The Manchu khan, Nurhachi, ruthlessly brought the Manchurian clans together and in 1618 attacked the Imperial Ming armies north of Beijing. Two decades of conflict brought down the Ming rulers and in 1644 Nurhachi’s grandson became the first emperor of the Ch’ing dynasty. The Manchus ruled China for nearly 270 years. Nurhachi was known as the Grandfather of the Manchu empire.
The Jurchen were a sedentary, Tungus-speaking people living in Manchuria and southeastern Siberia. In the eleventh century there were two groups of Jurchen. One was a little-assimilated group of “raw” tribesmen living more or less the traditional life. The other was the “cooked” Jurchen, who had interacted closely with the Kitan, the dominant political group at that time in north China and rulers of the Liao dynasty (906–1125), and with the many Chinese ruled by the Kitan.