Who destroyed the Old Summer Palace

who destroyed the old summer palace

The destruction of the Old Summer Palace, also known as the Yuanming Yuan, was a tragic event in Chinese history. The palace was looted and burned during the Second Opium War in 1860, and the perpetrators were the British and French forces that invaded Beijing.

The Opium War began in 1839 when the Chinese government attempted to stop the British from importing opium into China. The British, who were profiting greatly from the opium trade, refused to comply and launched a military campaign against China. The war ended in 1842 with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, which forced China to open its ports to foreign trade and pay reparations to the British.

The Treaty of Nanking marked the beginning of a period of unequal treaties, in which Western powers were granted extraterritorial rights in China and the right to impose their will on the country. These treaties were humiliating for the Chinese government and undermined its authority.

In 1856, a second Opium War broke out, this time between China and a coalition of Western powers, including Britain and France. The war was sparked by an incident in which Chinese officials boarded a British ship to arrest suspected pirates, and the British responded by bombarding the Chinese coastline.

In 1860, the Western forces advanced on Beijing and captured the city. The Chinese emperor, Xianfeng, fled to the Old Summer Palace, leaving the city in the hands of his ministers. The Western forces demanded the emperor’s surrender, but he refused, and the Old Summer Palace was looted and burned in retaliation.

The destruction of the Old Summer Palace was a symbolic act of revenge by the Western forces, who saw it as a symbol of Chinese culture and tradition. The palace was one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Qing dynasty, and it housed a vast collection of art and artifacts, including rare books, paintings, and sculptures.

It was a traumatic event for the Chinese people, who saw it as a violation of their national heritage. The incident further undermined the authority of the Qing dynasty and contributed to the growing sense of resentment and humiliation among the Chinese people towards foreign powers.

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