The Boxer Rebellion: Background information when reading Rebellion

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Rebellion

by Molly Patterson

Rebellion by Molly Patterson X
Rebellion by Molly Patterson
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 560 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2018, 512 pages

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Chris Fredrick

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About this Book

The Boxer Rebellion

This article relates to Rebellion

Print Review

One of the main characters in Rebellion is a Protestant missionary to China in the 1890s, who goes missing during the Boxer Rebellion.

Though not nearly as old as Confucianism, Christianity existed in China as early as the seventh century, but the presence of Christianity in the country varied widely as Nestorian Christian, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox groups fell in and out of favor with Chinese rulers. The Protestant branch arrived through missionaries beginning in the 1800s.

In the late 1890s, a secret group of Chinese rebels, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, began attacking Christian missionaries and the Chinese who had converted to Christianity. They began their resistance in the north, but eventually made their way to the country's capital of Peking (now Beijing), laying siege to the official quarters of foreign diplomats.

Westerners nicknamed the rebel group "Boxers" because its members performed ritualistic exercises that resembled shadow boxing. Many Boxers were peasants from the Shandong province, an area that had suffered from famine, flooding, and territorial concessions China made to European interests. The Boxers connected their low standard of living to the new influx of foreigners. Though the rebel movement had its roots in the Shandong province, it attracted members from all over the country, gaining support from anti-imperialist interests and fueling nationalist sentiment against foreigners and Christianity.

Both foreign Christian missionaries and Christian converts were killed; property including Christian churches and railroads was destroyed. By some estimates, several hundred foreigners and several thousand Chinese Christians were killed. The Boxer Rebellion ended when an international force of 20,000 troops from Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States defeated the rebels. The agreement that formally ended the rebellion heavily punished China monetarily and those directly involved in the uprising.

Picture of Boxer Rebellion from U.S. Library of Congress

This "beyond the book article" relates to Rebellion. It originally ran in September 2017 and has been updated for the August 2018 paperback edition.

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