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

7. The Boxer Rebellion, 1898-1900

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In this module, we think about the outbreak of violence at the very end of the nineteenth century in northern China known as the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1900), focusing in particular on: (i) the severe droughts experienced by northern China in 1876-79 and 1896-7; (ii) the spread of rumours that the droughts are caused by the presence of Manchus in China and the presence of westerner sin China; (iii) the success with which Empress Dowager Cixi deflects blame from the Manchus and fixes it squarely on the westerners, and her reasons for doing so; (iv) the origin of the term ‘Boxers’; (v) the focus of the ‘Boxers’ on Christians in particular; and (vi) the key targets for the Boxer Rebellion, and the extent to which they were successful.


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 - The Boxer Rebellion, 1898-1900 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Laamann, L. "China – The End of the Qing Dynasty, 1842-1911 – The Boxer Rebellion, 1898-1900." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 25 Jan 2021,