I've been reading a bit about the Taiping Rebellion and the Hunan Army lately, and a couple times, it's mentioned how Zeng was encouraged to overthrow the Qing after the Taiping were defeated. From what little I've read about the man, he was far too orthodox a Confucian to cast down the dynasty he had just played such a major part in saving. But it seems like an interesting idea to me, so can we try and make it happen? One potential route I'm seeing is the Taiping are more successful - they managed to break out into the north and capture Beijing (however briefly). The court flees to the northeast and the Taiping try to hold their gains... but can't, and the Hunan and Anhui armies eventually quell the rebels. In the aftermath, Zeng is persuaded that the Qing have lost the Mandate of Heaven and eventually takes the imperial throne. Alternatively, the Qing court does something really stupid and short-sighed after the Taiping Rebellion is put down, and Zeng is alienated from them to the point of revolt himself. What do the more knowledgeable folks concerning Chinese history thing?