Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

Sep 25, 2023

Last time we spoke about the battle of Beijing. General Gaselee and the 8 nation alliance began a grand march upon Beijing. They fought numerous battles at places like Beicang and Yangcun utterly routing the Qing and Boxer forces. The road to Beijing was laid bare open to them, lest it not be for the extreme summer heat which took the lives of many. The Russians attempted to outrace everyone else to Beijing, but quickly bit off more than they could chew. Ultimately the British were the first ones to enter the foreign legations. The besieged foreigners in the legations had been met with a last ditch effort by the Qing to overrun them, but they held on for dear life. Now Beijing was being occupied by the 8 nation alliance. What was to become of the Qing officials, of Empress Dowager Cixi? How would justice be served?


#67 The Boxer Rebellion part 7: The Boxer Protocol


Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.

Usually you would assume the story was won and done. The 8 national alliance was flooding into Beijing, as they say “the cavalry had arrived”, but it was not over. The next day of August 15th saw more violence. The French deployed 4 artillery pieces onto the Tartar wall and began bombarding the pink walls of the Imperial City. Meanwhile General Chaffee was mounting an assault upon the Imperial city alongside the American forces who were battering their way through a series of courtyards trying to get to the Imperial Cities southern gate. Their ultimate objective was the Forbidden City. When it seemed they were within reach of the Forbidden City, suddenly General Chaffee commanded a withdrawal. The commanders had been arguing at a conference and they all agreed that the 8 nation alliance should take a more conciliatory approach towards the Qing government.

Everyone was wondering whether the Emperor and Empress Dowager remained within the Forbidden city. If there was to be a conciliation at all, they would be needed. Rumors began to emerge stating if the Empress Dowager were still in the city, she would most likely commit suicide rather than be taken prisoner. Lenox Simpson was trying to investigate the situation, riding up to the Imperial City where he discovered a terrified Eunuch huddled in a Qing guardhouse in the outer wall. He asked the eunuch how many forces guarded the Forbidden city and the whereabouts of the Emperor and Empress Dowager. The Eunuch blurted out “The Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and indeed, the whole Court, had disappeared—had fled, was gone.” There are countless tales of how it occurred, the dramatic flight of the Qing court. It is most likely the decision to flee Beijing came about in the early hours of August 15th. One account given by magistrate Wu Yung claimed he helped the Empress Dowager flee. Cixi was disguised in dark blue clothes of a Chinese peasant woman, they even clipped her nails, go google a picture of Cixi, imagine clipping those things haha. Allegedly Cixi told Wu Yung as she was hastily grabbing some personal belongs “Who would have thought it would come to this?” Of the things she hastily grabbed, one was a precious bloodstone that she believed protect her through all dangers. She boarded one of three wooden carts, and Cixi forcefully grabbed the emperor not allowing him to be taken as a hostage, alongside her niece and the heir apparent. The Imperial concubines were forbidden to accompany them and made tearful farewell. It is said Emperor Guangxu’s favorite concubine begged to take her with him, prompting Cixi who hated the girl to demand she be tossed down a well. Apparently the Eunuchs rolled the poor girl up in a carpet and literally tossed her down a well in front of Emperor Guangxu, which is hardcore? Another account has it that Cixi tricked the girl by telling her “We will all stay where we are, but we cannot allow ourselves to be taken alive by Western barbarians. There is only one way out for you and me—we must both die. It is easy. You go first—I promise to follow you.” Then the Eunuch tossed her in the well, one other account has the Eunuchs simply tossing the girl down the well after the imperial party departed because they didn't like her. Can’t help but picture Varies from GOT leading eunuchs to get revenge on a royal family haha. 

Empress Dowager Cixi had fled the Imperial city once before, in fact 40 years prior during the 2nd opium war. Was a symbolic moment. Back then she had apparently told the Emperor to stay in the city lest the British and French raze Beijing to the ground, this time she did the opposite. On August 10th, Cixi had made an imperial decree ordering General Jung Lu and some other Qing officials to remain in Beijing and maintain the government in exile. The royal party fled through roads filled with others fleeing the city. Their eunuch planners assumed they would buy provisions along the way, but when they entered the countryside they found it completely devastated. On August 17th the royal party made it to the small town of Huailai, north of Beijing. The Boxers and disaffected troops had devastated the town so much, there was only a bowl of millet and green bean porridge to serve the Empress Dowager. Apparently to this she said to her host “In time of distress this is enough. Can I at this time say what is good and what is not good?” From Huailai they traveled to Kalgan and Tatung, near the Mongolian plateau, before they turned towards Taiyuan. Now being so far from Beijing they felt safer and thus instead of conducting themselves under the guise as peasants they now openly showed themselves and told people they were performing an official tour of inspection. It is said by Wu Yung the empress dowager enjoyed talking to him and told him “talk as you please”, and she herself took a large interest in talking to locals and visiting temples and attractions. Wu Yung theorized she had been cooped up for so long in the imperial city, the outside world fascinated her. The mule litters were replaced with sedan chairs, Cixi began wearing luxurious Manchu garb and regrew her fingernails. 

Soon the royal party were issuing edicts and receiving reports on the situation of the court in Beijing. Countless governors, viceroys and other Qing officials flocked to pay respects and tribute to the royal party. They stayed in Taiyuan for 3 weeks at the home of Yuxiang where he boasted to Cixi of how many foreigners he executed. However the Taiyuan massacre meant the foreigners might come to the city for revenge, so the royal party continued southwest towards Sian, the old capital of the Tang dynasty. This was territory held by General Dong Fuxiang whose troops were the primary ones escorting the royal party. It was under Dong Fuxiang’s protection the royal party now hunkered down for winter.

It is said Guangxu’s nephew began drawing pictures of demons and would often sketch a large tortoise with the name Yuan Shikai on its back. You see the tortoise was a symbol of homosexuality, thus it was to insult Yuan Shikai who was seen as an enemy who betrayed Guangxu. It is also said Guangxu took the pictures, hung them up on walls and fired crossbows at them. Personally this story to me sounds like an author giving a bit of foreshadowing flavor, for Yuan Shikai would perform even greater betrayals later on. Indeed Yuan Shikai is kind of a meme on my personal channel, over there I have to the point of me writing this script, covered 1830-1932 thus far for Chinese-Japanese history. Yuan Shikai is a behemoth when it comes to the formation of modern day China and honestly his story is interesting to say the least. If you ever want to jump into the future, just check out my content at the Pacific War channel on the Xinhai revolution and China’s warlord era episodes, or better yet the full China warlord documentary that encompasses pretty much all of it. Anyways.

Back over in Beijing, news of the flight of the Qing court was not met with surprise by the foreigners. Now the foreigners were uncertain what to do next. For some it was a bit reminiscent of Napoleon’s arrival to a deserted Moscow, without the highest ranking Qing officials, what could they do? Meanwhile, one place that was still under threat was Peitang. Over at the Peitang Cathedral the foreigners had been fighting for their lives the entire time. When news emerged that the foreign legations had been rescued, everyone in the Cathedral at Peitang rejoiced awaiting their own rescue. The Cathedral was the only Christian building within the Imperial city that was able to hold on and defend itself. It was a miracle they managed to do so.

The commander of 30 French marines sent by Pichon on June 1st to help out at Peitang was Lt Paul Henry. At the age of just 23, Bishop Favier had to say of his conduct “he was as pious as he is brave— a true Breton.” Henry had been given an impossible task, to defend an area with around 1400 yards of wall 12-15 feet high with a tiny amount of troops. Henry had the men dig trenches, erect parapets, and used the Cathedral as a last stronghold if they were overrun. The first week of June saw fires erupt throughout the capital and gunfire could be heard everywhere. Bishop Favier looked out from the top of the cathedral to see on the 13th and 14th churches and cathedrals in Beijing being razed to the ground. Refugees poured into Peitang Cathedral more and more, and on the 15th a group of Catholic sisters and children were running from Boxers to the cathedral with Favier giving this account of the scene “Their leader, on horse, is a lama or bonze [priest]; he precedes an immense red flag, surrounded by young Boxers who have undergone the incantations and are likewise dressed in red. They burned perfumed sticks, prostrated themselves on entering our street to the south, and then advanced in compact bands”. The French marines allowed them to reach 200 yards from the barricades before unleashing a volley wounded 50 and sending them fleeing. By June 18th, Henry worried about enemy artillery and tried to fortify the defenses more so. On the 20th, news of von Kettelers death came, Pichon sent a message to Favier, there was no hope of fleeing Beijing. 3420 people, two thirds of which were women and children were trapped in Peitang. Their defenses were comically small, 30 French and a dozen Italian marines, whose commander was Lt Olivieri aged 25. The able bodied Chinese christians volunteered to bolster the forces, making spears, brandishing some knives and a few were given rifles by the marines.

June 22nd saw Krupp guns firing upon Peitang shattering windows and sending bricks flying. The main gate to Peitang was being battered by shells. Lt Henry led a sortie of 4 marines and 30 Chinese christians to seize the artillery piece hitting the main gate. They managed to seize it, losing 2 Chinese in the process. The next day simply saw more artillery bombardment. By the 26th, all the buildings near Peitang were ablaze and Boxers were seen erecting ladders and scaffoldings against the walls. The defenders were being pot shotted at every day. On the 27th Henrys second in command Jouannic was shot in the shoulder and would die 3 days later. By July 1st the defenders of Peitang began to eat mule and horse as they ran out of vegetables. Smallpox broke out amongst the children, by July 3rd 15 were dying per day. 

The french marines began making scarecrows to help against snipers. It turned out the watchmakers amongst their Chinese christians were capable of creating cartridges for Mausers and other guns. The defenders were able to manufacture powder for cannons with things they seized from the surrounding enemy during sorties. The men fired only 100 rounds per day, Henry noted on July 5th 13 rounds were only fired, on the 14th 74. Famine was more threatening than lack of ammunition. On July 6th Henry checked rations and estimated they could hold out for 20 days. The Boxers began manufacturing exploding missiles that they lobbed at the cathedral. These were a sort of fire pot, a container carrying around three pounds of gunpowder with long fuses. On a single day the Boxers tossed more than 250 of these, but the defenders ingeniously put buckets, casks and even bathtubs full of water everywhere to fight the emerging fires. 

The Qing artillery smashed the cathedrals clock tower and walls without mercy. On July 18th, the defenders were countermining when a mine exploded killing 25 and injuring 28. One French marine described the carnage “where bits of waste meat were being dragged out, fragments of flesh and severed limbs were spattered about and part of someone’s chest was smashed against a wall”. Qing troops atop the Imperial City walls fired down upon the defenders at all times. By July 28th rations were a meager 8 ounces of food per day. On July 30th the Qing assaulted the north wall, setting the cathedral roof on fire. Henry tried rallying the men and took a bullet in the neck and another into his side. Henry died in the arms of a priest 20 minutes later and was buried beneath a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Cathedral garden. Olivieri took command after his death.

The Qing and Boxers seemed emboldened and began firing arrows with messages to the Christian Chinese urging them to abandon the foreigners and return to the old ways. “You, Christians, shut up in the Pei-tang, reduced to the greatest misery, eating leaves of trees, why do you resist? We have leveled cannon and set mines against you, and you will be destroyed in a short time. You have been deceived by the devils of Europe; return to the ancient religion . . . deliver up Bishop Favier and the others, and you will have saved your lives, and we will give you to eat. If you do not do so, you, your wives and children, will all be cut into pieces.

It is said the Boxers believed Bishop Favier was a demon who was using an invulnerability spell by smearing menstrual blood over his faced and nailing naked women and dead fetuses to the Cathedral walls. They also believed the foreigners posed a weapon called “the ten thousand woman flag” woven from female pubic hair which stole power from the Boxer gods. Gotta hand it to their imagination. Despite the messages, the Chinese Christians stayed put. By August 2nd the besieged were starving and began trying to capture stray dogs to eat. On August 5th, Favier wrote this “we can resist balls, bullets, and bombs, but there is no defense against famine.” On August 10th, 400 pounds of rice and a mule were all that remained. Favier was forced to send Christian Chinese out in desperation to try and reach the foreign legation for help. Many were flayed, beheaded and put in spikes near Peitang.

On August 12th a violent explosion shook Peitang a giant mine had gone off causing a crater 7 yards deep and 40 yards wide. It buried 5 Italian marines with Olivieri and 80 Chinese. Olivieri recounted being saved with the burial “They succeeded in uncovering one of my hands, and finding it still warm, redoubled their efforts until my whole body was free”. However his men were mutilated and dying. The mine had caused a large breach in the wall and the enemy could easily have stormed Peitang, but they didn't. Another mine went off the following day, but the enemy did not storm Peitang. Just when it seemed they were all going to die on August 14th the defender heard Boxers scream out “The devils from Europe are approaching!” The Boxers were also screaming at the defenders of Peitang that they would all be massacred before their rescuers got to them. But Oliveiri and the defenders watch as Qing banners were lowered from walls, Qing soldiers and Boxers were beginning to flee.  By 5pm they saw europeans on the walls waving an american flag. 

The defenders waited for their rescue on August 15th, but no one was coming. Olivieri worried the relief force had been repelled. Then suddenly Japanese troops climbed over the walls and stormed into Peitang. Olivieri rushed over shouting “we are saved!”. The other members of the 8 nation alliance were rather shocked by the actions of the Japanese, Peitang was a French responsibility. The French force that entered Beijing however was too small to fight their way to Peitang. As General Frey noted “What was our surprise to see ahead of us between 250 and 300 Japanese whose presence nobody could explain.” The Japanese without any fuss simply did the deed on their own merit. 

Peitang saw 400 people including 166 children die during the siege, unlike the fight for the legations Peitang never had a single day of rest. There was no truce for Peitang, the defenders fought every single day. As Favier assessed the damage in Beijing he had this to say “In Pekin, three churches, seven large chapels, the colleges, hospitals—all are destroyed. . . . The Peitang . . . damaged by shells, is the only building undestroyed. . . . In short, the ruin is almost entire, the work of forty years is nearly annihilated; the courage of missionaries, nevertheless, is not on the wane; we shall begin over again.

As Bishop Favier wandered Beijing, he estimated perhaps 30,000 catholics had been killed. News emerged that 200 foreign nuns, priests, missionaries and their family members had been murdered. Half the population of Beijing fled in terror as the foreign armies flooded in. Many Qing officials committed suicide, many Chinese women with bound feet likewise did so. The special correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, Dr. E.J Dillon wrote “Chinese women honestly believed that no more terrible fate could overtake them than to fall alive into the hands of Europeans and Christians. It is to be feared that they were right.” Dillon personally saw the corpses of women who had been raped and bayoneted to death. Luella Miner within the foreign legation had this to say of the matter “The conduct of the Russian soldiers is atrocious, the French are not much better, and the Japanese are looting and burning without mercy.... Women and girls by hundreds have committed suicide to escape a worse fate at the hands of Russian and Japanese brutes. Our American soldiers saw them jumping into the river and into wells, in Tungchow. Twelve girls in one well, and one mother was drowning two of her little children in a large water jar.” Roger Keyes added his own account “Every Chinaman . . . was treated as a Boxer by the Russian and French troops, and the slaughter of men, women, and children in retaliation was revolting.” A British officer, Major Luke, told Keyes that “he had never seen anything more horrible, and some of his young Marines were literally sick”. Lenox Simpson stated he say British Indian forces molesting female Chinese christians until they were flogged by some foreign women. It is said the Japanese had planned ahead of time for the situation. According to Roger Keyes “their Government had wisely taken the precaution of sending their ‘regimental wives’ [prostitutes] with them, and they were established in houses at Tientsin and Peking directly the troops settled down”. The first days of the occupation saw indiscriminate looting and rape by all nationalities. The allied commander in chief von Waldersee who only arrived in late september wrote “Every nationality accords the palm to some other in respect to the art of plundering, but it remains the fact that each and all of them went in hot and strong for plunder.

On August 18th all the diplomats and military commanders met at the Russian legation to discuss how to go about reprisals against the Qing. The Germans argued for severe punishment because of Von Kettelers murder, they wanted a punitive expedition and to raze the Imperial city. The Russians favored a more conciliatory line in northern China, but of course something I have not talked about was going on, the Russians had basically invaded Manchuria. One thing they all agreed upon was an enormous victory parade through the Imperial City, a grand humiliation. Each nation scrambled to be the first in the parade, the Russians argued they had the largest force, which was a lie, it was the Japanese. There are countless photographs of the foreign armies in the city and of the parade, but to give a brief description on August 28th George Morrison stated “the appearance of the French troops, complaining that there was every excuse for their uniforms to be dirty but that the faces of many of the men should be so too was quite inexcusable. The French looked singularly decadent in blue dungaree and that their commander, General Frey, was small and pot-bellied. He thought the Cossacks were “heavy” and “rough” but that the Germans looked “splendid” and the Japanese officers “very smart.” The British, by contrast, looked ather “rag tag and bobtail.” The dignity of the occasion was further undermined by the ineptitude of the Russian band, which could not keep pace with eight successive national anthems and found itself blasting out the “Marseillaise” as the Italians marched past the saluting base”. An army of eunuchs escorted by Qing officials brought the foreigners into the Forbidden city which saw looting. Indeed the looting of the capital of China by the 8 nation alliance is probably one of the largest looting accounts in human history, one of the sources I am using has an entire chapter dedicated to only story accounts of what was stolen and by whom, but its simply too much to delve into. Many museums today hold stolen items from this event.

Within 24 hours of taking the city not a race of Boxers existed. There was a wild Boxer hunt that saw much horror. Daily executions occurred as described to us by George Morrison “The execution and the long drawn out neck. The butcher with his apron. The executioner tearing open his long coat—the grunt as he brought down the knife—the dogs lapping up the blood—the closeness of the head to the ground, the face nearly touching.” Apparently the Germans got their prisoners to dig their own trench before being shot in the back of the head. During september the allies were awaiting the arrival of von Waldersee, but a number of military operations were mounted against Boxer strongholds in the Beijing region. 

Von Waldersee arrived to Beijing in October assuming command and established his HQ in Cixi’s palace in the forbidden city. Von Waldersee decided punitive expeditions needed to be increased and Germany began taking the lead in several dozen. The countryside was butchered in a wild hunt for Boxers. Civilians, Qing soldiers, Qing officials, just about anyone faced numerous foreign troops who killed or abused them. Von Waldersee faced a more daunting task however, peace negotiations. There was a mutual distrust amongst the nations and conflicts broke out often. Li Hongzhang, poor old Li Hongzhang and Prince Qing were appointed the imperial plenipotentiary powers and only arrived in Beijing in October. The first meeting was held on Christmas Eve between them and the foreign ministers. Li Hongzhang was not present due to illness. The foreign ministers questioned whether the Qing plenipotentiaries were even real agents of the Emperor or Qing government in exile. Prince Qing managed to convince them he held authority. The allies pondered if the dynasty should change, but it was quickly apparent the Manchu would never allow for such a thing. All the ministers agreed the Manchu dynasty should remain on the throne. Then they pondered punishment of the guilty and a large indemnity on behalf of the Qing dynasty. The indemnity fee first brought up was 67,500,000 roughly 4.3 or so billion dollars by todays figures. The Americans argued it was far too high and would bankrupt China. American secretary of state John Hay sent a telegram to the great powers stating “America’s policy was to bring permanent safety and peace to China and to preserve China’s territorial integrity”. Von Waldersee would go on the record to say  “the United States it seems to desire that nobody shall get anything out of China.” However on May 26th an imperial edict announced that the indemnity payment would be 67,500,000$ to be paid in full over 39 years. The sum was to be distributed as follows: Russia 28.97%, Germany 20.02%, France 15.75%, Britain 11.25%, Japan 7.73%, United States 7.32%, Italy 7.32%, Belgium 1.89%, Austria-Hungary 0.89%, Netherlands 0.17%, Spain 0.03%, Portugal 0.021%, Sweden and Norway 0.014%. The payment by the way would only be amortized on December 31st of 1940. 

Now the negotiations for punishments were a lot more complicated. The allies first wanted to see the executions of prominent pro-Boxer officials, which Empress Dowager Cixi wanted to avoid. Cixi made many counter proposals, but eventually was forced to hand over some officials. Yuxiang, the mastermind behind the Taiyuan massacre was reportedly executed, though notably there is a myth he simply went into exile. Qing official Ying Nien straggled himself, some other officials apparently were killed by having their mouths and nostrils stuffed with rice paper by eunuchs, which is a pretty weird one I must say, many were poisoned. Prince Duan and his brother escaped the death penalty and were exiled to Turkestan. Dong Fuxiang was too powerful to kill much to the dismay of the foreigners. Indeed his Muslim army in the northwest was the bulwark at the time, all he suffered was a demotion, but in reality he was now a major leading figure. Over 100 Qing officials were executed or exiled in the end. 

A peace treaty containing 12 articles was signed in the Spanish legation on September 7th of 1901 known as the Boxer Protocol. The Qing were prohibited from importing arms and ammunition for 2 years; the Taku forts were ordered to be destroyed; the legation quarters would receive special status; Boxers and Qing officials who had supported them would face justice; the Zongli Yamen was replaced with a foreign office; the Qing government was to prohibit under the pain of death, any membership for anti-foreign societies; civil examinations were suspended for 5 years in any area that saw violence against foreigners; the Emperor Guangxu was to apologize to Kaiser Wilhelm for the murder of Baron von Ketteler; Emperor Guangxu was to appoint Na’t’ung to be a special envoy to be sent to apologize the Emperor Meiji for the murder of Mr. Sugiyama; the Qing government was to erect a commemorative arch over the spot Baron von Ketteler was killed; and at last the great powers would be allowed to occupy numerous important cities so as to make sure their legations were protected.

Empress Dowager Cixi was surprised by the terms of the treaty and that she was not punished personally. Hell China was not required to surrender any more territory. Some members of her court argued China should continue the war and that the 8 nation alliance could not hope to face the interior of China. Some argued if Dong Fuxiang were to be allowed to raise his force to 50,000 he could dislodge the foreign encroachment. Cixi however was as much a pragmatist as she was conservative in her ways. If the allied nations would allow Emperor Guangxu and her to return to Beijing retaining their honor, she believed she had little to lose. She also was not a moron and understood exactly why the Boxer Protocol was made in the way it was, the great powers wanted to received payments and in order to do so, needed the Manchu to sit on the throne. She ordered Li Hongzhang to do all he could to re-establish relations with the foreign governments. She also ordered any decrees she made praising the Boxers to be expunged from the official records and secretly ordered all blame to be placed on Guangxu. She gave posthumous honors to all the progressive Qing officials she had beheaded during the siege and disinherited the heir apparent son of Prince Duan, whom apparently she did not like much. An imperial decree in the name of Emperor Guangxu announced “Our Sacred Mother’s advanced age renders it necessary that we should take the greatest care of her health, so that she may attain to peaceful longevity; a long journey in the heat being evidently undesirable, we have fixed on the 19th day of the 7th Moon [1 September] to commence our return journey and are now preparing to escort Her Majesty.

The return to Beijing should be held as one of the greatest feats of public relations exercises in history, second only to Robert Downey Jr. The 700 mile journey began in October of 1901 seeing the imperial family carried in yellow sedan chairs, sparing no expense. George Morrison details it quite well  “Along the frost-bound uneven tracks which serve for roads in northern China, an unending stream of laden wagons croaked and groaned through the short winter’s day and on, guided by soldier torch-bearers through bitter nights to the appointed stopping places. But for the Empress Dowager and the Emperor there was easy journeying and a way literally made smooth. Throughout its entire distance the road over which the Imperial palanquins were carried had been converted into a smooth, even surface of shining clay, soft and noiseless under foot; not only had every stone been removed but as the procession approached gangs of men were employed in brushing the surface with feather brooms. At intervals of about ten miles, well-appointed rest-houses had been built.The cost of this King’s highway, quite useless of course for the ordinary traffic of the country, was stated by a native contractor to amount to fifty Mexican dollars for every eight yards—say, £1,000 per mile—the clay having to be carried in some places from a great distance. As an example of the lavish expenditure of the Court and its officials in a land where squalor is a pervading feature, this is typical.” The Empress Dowager crossed the yellow river in a gilded, lacquered, dragon shaped barge after offering wine and incense to the river god. Believe it or not, the last part of the journey was done by train and Empress Dowager Cixi looked excited to be in what she called an “iron centipede”. Everyone in Beijing was given an imperial decree to graciously permit them to watch the royal family return to the Imperial Court. We are told “As Cixi got out of her chair, the Empress glanced up at the smoke-blackened walls and saw us: a row of foreigners . . . and, looking up at us, lifted her closed hands under her chin, and made a series of little bows.” Cixi was a lover of theatricals and made sure it was a hell of a show. 

Within days foreign ministers were summoned to present themselves to the Emperor and for the first time officially enter the forbidden city. On February the 1st Cixi invited the ladies of diplomats to her. The foreign community nor Cixi could know it, but the Boxer rebellion was to be one of the last nails in a coffin made for the Qing dynasty. 

I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me.

And so the Boxer rebellion excluding some events in Manchuria was ended. The Boxer protocol ushered in a brand new Qing dynasty that surely would survive the test of time and not succumb to an agonizing death as the people of China could take it no longer.