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China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911

6. Hundred Days' Reform, 1898

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In this module, we think about the Hundred Days' Reform that took place in 1898, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which China had changed between 1861 and 1898; (ii) the figure of Kang Youwei (1858-1927) and his ideas for political and cultural reform in China; (iii) the key features of Kang Youwei’s suggested reforms; (iv) the changes in the Qing leadership in this period – the ‘retirement’ of the Empress Dowager Cixi and the emergence of the Guangxu Emperor as a ruler in his own right; (v) the Guangxu Emperor’s enthusiasm for reform; and (vi) the failure of the Hundred Days’ Reform and the reasons for this failure.


In this course, Dr Lars Laaman (SOAS, University of London) explores the history of China between the end of the First Opium War (1839-42) to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. In the first module, we think about the immediate aftermath of the First Opium War and the growing influence of the western powers up to the sweeping changes introduced by the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858. After that, in the second module, we shift our focus to two huge rebellions that took place almost simultaneously in different parts of the country – the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and the Nian Rebellion (1851-68) – before turning in the third, fourth and fifth modules to explore the three phases of the Self-Strengthening Movement (1861-72, 1872-85, 1885-95). In the sixth module, we think about the Hundred Day’s Reform – an abortive attempt to introduce sweeping cultural, political and educational reforms to the Qing Empire – before turning in the seventh module the causes, course and consequences of the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1900). Finally, in the eighth module, we look at the final decade of Qing rule, in which the Qing administration made one last attempt at reform before its final collapse in 1911.


Dr Lars Laamann is a Lecturer in the History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He specialises in the history of imperial China, including popular religion, medicine, drugs and healing and Manchu culture in the Qing empire. His publications include Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (co-authored with Frank Dikotter and Xun Zhou, 2004) and Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China (2006).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Laamann, L. (2021, January 25). China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911 - Hundred Days' Reform, 1898 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Laamann, L. "China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911 – Hundred Days' Reform, 1898." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 25 Jan 2021,