The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Cantonese is a variety of Chinese spoken in the city of Guangzhou and its surrounding area in Southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety and standard form of Yue Chinese, one of the major subgroups of Chinese. In mainland China, it is the lingua franca of the province of Guangdong and neighbouring areas such as Guangxi, it is the official language of Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is widely spoken amongst Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and throughout the Western world. While the term Cantonese refers to the prestige variety, it is used in a broader sense for the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese; when Cantonese and the related Yuehai dialects are classified together, there are about 80 million total speakers. Cantonese is viewed as a vital and inseparable part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of Southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in overseas communities.
Although Cantonese shares a lot of vocabulary with Mandarin, the two varieties are mutually unintelligible because of differences in pronunciation and lexicon. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two varieties. A notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is; this results in the situation in which a Cantonese and a Mandarin text may look similar but are pronounced differently. In English, the term "Cantonese" can be ambiguous. Cantonese proper is the variety native to the city of Canton, the traditional English name of Guangzhou; this narrow sense may be specified as "Canton language" or "Guangzhou language". However, "Cantonese" may refer to the primary branch of Chinese that contains Cantonese proper as well as Taishanese and Gaoyang. In this article, "Cantonese" is used for Cantonese proper. Speakers called this variety "Canton speech" or "Guangzhou speech", although this term is now used outside Guangzhou. In Guangdong and Guangxi, people call it "provincial capital speech" or "plain speech".
Academically called "Canton prefecture speech". In Hong Kong and Macau, as well as among overseas Chinese communities, the language is referred to as "Guangdong speech" or "Canton Province speech", or as "Chinese". In mainland China, the term "Guangdong speech" is increasingly being used amongst both native and non-native speakers. Given the history of the development of the Yue languages and dialects during the Tang dynasty migrations to the region, in overseas Chinese communities, it is referred to as "Tang speech", given that the Cantonese people refer to themselves as "people of Tang". Due to its status as a prestige dialect among all the dialects of the Yue branch of Chinese varieties, it is called "Standard Cantonese"; the official languages of Hong Kong are English, as defined in the Hong Kong Basic Law. The Chinese language has many different varieties. Given the traditional predominance of Cantonese within Hong Kong, it is the de facto official spoken form of the Chinese language used in the Hong Kong Government and all courts and tribunals.
It is used as the medium of instruction in schools, alongside English. A similar situation exists in neighboring Macau, where Chinese is an official language alongside Portuguese; as in Hong Kong, Cantonese is the predominant spoken variety of Chinese used in everyday life and is thus the official form of Chinese used in the government. The Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau is mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in the mainland city of Guangzhou, although there exist some minor differences in accent and vocabulary. Cantonese first developed around the port city of Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta region of southeastern China. Due to the city's long standing as an important cultural center, Cantonese emerged as the prestige dialect of the Yue varieties of Chinese in the Southern Song dynasty and its usage spread around most of what is now the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi. Despite the cession of Macau to Portugal in 1557 and Hong Kong to Britain in 1842, the ethnic Chinese population of the two territories originated from the 19th and 20th century immigration from Guangzhou and surrounding areas, making Cantonese the predominant Chinese language in the territories.
On the mainland, Cantonese continued to serve as the lingua franca of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces after Mandarin was made the official language of the government by the Qing dynasty in the early 1900s. Cantonese remained a dominant and influential language in southeastern China until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and its promotion of Standard Chinese as the sole official language of the nation throughout the last half of the 20th century, although its influence still remains strong within the region. While the Chinese government vehemently discourages the official use of all forms of Chinese except Standard Chinese, Cantonese enjoys a higher standing than other Chinese langua
Austria-Hungary referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria and Hungary and placed them on an equal footing, it broke apart into several states at the end of World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and came into existence on 30 March 1867. Austria-Hungary consisted of two monarchies, one autonomous region: the The Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia under the Hungarian crown, which negotiated the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement in 1868, it was ruled by the House of Habsburg, constituted the last phase in the constitutional evolution of the Habsburg Monarchy. Following the 1867 reforms, the Austrian and the Hungarian states were co-equal. Foreign affairs and the military came under joint oversight, but all other governmental faculties were divided between respective states.
Austria-Hungary was a multinational one of Europe's major powers at the time. Austria-Hungary was geographically the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, at 621,538 km2, the third-most populous; the Empire built up the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world, after the United States and the United Kingdom. Austria-Hungary became the world's third largest manufacturer and exporter of electric home appliances, electric industrial appliances and power generation apparatus for power plants, after the United States and the German Empire. After 1878, Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Austro-Hungarian military and civilian rule until it was annexed in 1908, provoking the Bosnian crisis among the other powers; the northern part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar was under de facto joint occupation during that period but the Austro-Hungarian army withdrew as part of their annexation of Bosnia. The annexation of Bosnia led to Islam being recognized as an official state religion due to Bosnia's Muslim population.
Austria-Hungary was one of the Central Powers in World War I which started when it declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia on 28 July 1914. It was effectively dissolved by the time the military authorities signed the armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918; the Kingdom of Hungary and the First Austrian Republic were treated as its successors de jure, whereas the independence of the West Slavs and South Slavs of the Empire as the First Czechoslovak Republic, the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and most of the territorial demands of the Kingdom of Romania were recognized by the victorious powers in 1920. The realm's official name was in German: Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie and in Hungarian: Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia, though in the international relations better Austria-Hungary was used; the Austrians used the names k. u. k. Monarchie and Danubian Monarchy or Dual Monarchy and The Double Eagle, but none of these became widepsread neither in Hungary, nor elsewhere.
The realm's full name used in the internal administration was The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen. German: Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der Heiligen Ungarischen Stephanskrone Hungarian: A Birodalmi Tanácsban képviselt királyságok és országok és a Magyar Szent Korona országai The Habsburg monarch ruled as Emperor of Austria over the western and northern half of the country, the Austrian Empire and as King of Hungary over the Kingdom of Hungary; each enjoyed considerable sovereignty with only a few joint affairs. Certain regions, such as Polish Galicia within Cisleithania and Croatia within Transleithania, enjoyed autonomous status, each with its own unique governmental structures; the division between Austria and Hungary was so marked that there was no common citizenship: one was either an Austrian citizen or a Hungarian citizen, never both. This meant that there were always separate Austrian and Hungarian passports, never a common one.
However, neither Austrian nor Hungarian passports were used in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. Instead, the Kingdom issued its own passports which were written in Croatian and French and displayed the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia on them, it is not known what kind of passports were used in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the control of both Austria and Hungary. The Kingdom of Hungary had always maintained a separate parliament, the Diet of Hungary after the Austrian Empire was created in 1804; the administration and government of the Kingdom of Hungary remained untouched by the government structure of the overarching Austrian Empire. Hungary's central government structures remained well separated from the Austrian imperial government; the country was governed by the Council of Lieutenancy of Hungary – located in Pressburg and in Pest – and by the Hungarian Royal Court Chancell
Battle of Tientsin
The Battle of Tientsin, or the Relief of Tientsin, occurred on July 13–14, 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in Northern China. A multinational military force, representing the Eight-Nation Alliance, rescued a besieged population of foreign nationals in the city of Tientsin by defeating the Chinese Imperial army and Boxers; the capture of Tientsin gave the Eight-Nation Alliance a base to launch a rescue mission for the foreign nationals besieged in the Legation Quarter of Peking. Tientsin, in 1900, consisted of two adjacent, but different sub-divisions. To the northwest was the ancient high-walled Chinese city, one mile on each side. To the southeast, one to two miles away, along the Hai River, was the treaty port and foreign settlements, a half-mile wide. About one million Chinese lived in satellite communities outside the wall. In the foreign settlements resided 700 foreign civilians European merchants and missionaries, along with tens of thousands of Chinese servants and businessmen. Among the civilians living in the foreign settlement were Herbert Hoover, a future president of the United States, his wife Lou Henry Hoover.
A low mud wall, less than 10 ft tall, surrounded at a distance of several hundred yards both the higher walls of the old city and the foreign settlements. In early June 1900, in response to the growing threat of the Boxers, a militant, anti-foreign and anti-Christian peasant movement, six countries with interests in China sent 2,400 troops to Tientsin to guard the foreign settlements. Another 2,000 were with Admiral Seymour along the railway line between Tientsin and Peking, attempting to march to Peking to protect the foreign community there; the allied military force was composed of soldiers and marines from Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary. With so many nationalities among the Allied force, no overall commander was appointed. Leadership was collective. Thousands of Boxers from the countryside converged upon Tientsin, on June 15, 1900, they rampaged through the walled city destroying Christian churches and killing Chinese Christians. On June 16, a mob of armed Boxers advanced on the foreign settlement.
They were driven off by volleys of fire from the defenders. The Chinese army near Tientsin stood by and awaited orders from Peking to either support the Boxers or protect the foreigners; as a result of the June 17 attack by the foreign armies on the Dagu Forts, the Qing government of China took the side of the Boxers and ordered the army to attack the foreign settlements. The Chinese began bombarding the foreign settlement with artillery on June 17; the Western and Japanese soldiers defending the foreign settlements were stretched thin, all communication with the coast and the allied fleet was cut off for several days. The Chinese army numbered an estimated 15,000 in Tientsin plus Boxers armed with swords and antique guns, although the number of Boxer combatants was diminishing as the movement was fading back into the countryside from where it came; the army were led by general Nieh Shih-ch'eng, considered one of the ablest Chinese officers. Most of the Chinese army action against the foreign settlements consisted of a daily artillery barrage.
The army fired an estimated 60,000 artillery shells at the foreign settlements. However, most of the shells failed to explode on impact due to inefficiency and corruption in the Chinese ammunition factories and did less damage that might otherwise have been expected. On June 21, 1900, some 131 US Marines and 400 Russians made a desperate attempt to reinforce Tientsin by following the railway from the coast to the city. Only two miles from the city they were ambushed by the Chinese and forced to retire, the Americans losing 3 killed and 13 wounded. Additional Western soldiers were unloaded from ships offshore and rushed up the railroad to Tientsin. Five thousand reinforcements reached Tientsin on June 23 to augment the hard-pressed soldiers and civilians defending the foreign settlements, their arrival caused the Chinese to withdraw from their position on the east which enabled the besieged to establish a tenuous line of communication and supply along the railroad to the coast, 30 miles away.
The Chinese army continued to besiege three sides of the Tientsin foreign settlements. On June 26, a force of 2,000 sallied from the settlements and rescued Admiral Seymour and his 2,000 men who were surrounded six miles out of the city. With Seymour's men they returned to the settlements without opposition. Most of Seymour's force of sailors returned to their ships. Reinforced, with their supply line to the coast secured, the coalition of allied soldiers in the foreign settlement began planning an assault on the walled city of Tientsin to defeat the Chinese army and open the road to Peking and the relief of the Siege of the International Legations. Nie Shicheng and Ma Yukun commanded the forces against the Alliance, raining precise and intense ordnance against the Tientsin concessions; the losses suffered by the Alliance in battle was due to artillery bombardment since the Chinese army carried it out with extreme precision and in a superb manner. They hid well, employed good bulwarks of defense by utilizing the landscape and went on the offensive in a dauntless manner and would continue battling until the end.
The allies had underestimated the capability of the Chinese forces at the beginning of the siege, thinking that foreign troops could brush aside Chinese forces. They turned out to be wrong, in the face of fierce Chinese resistance. On July 13, 1900, the allied force to assault the
Siege of the International Legations
The Siege of the International Legations occurred in the summer of 1900 in Peking, the capital of the Qing Empire, during the Boxer Rebellion. Menaced by the Boxers, an anti-Christian, anti-foreign peasant movement, 900 soldiers and civilians from Europe and the United States, about 2,800 Chinese Christians took refuge in the Peking Legation Quarter; the Qing government took the side of the Boxers. The foreigners and Chinese Christians in the Legation Quarter survived a 55-day siege by the Qing Army and Boxers; the siege was broken by an international military force which marched from the coast of China, defeated the Qing army, occupied Beijing. The siege was called by the New York Sun "the most exciting episode known to civilization." The Legation Quarter was 2 mi long and 1 mi wide. It was located in the area of the city designated by the Qing government for foreign legations. In 1900, there were 11 legations located in the quarter as well as a number of foreign businesses and banks. Ethnic Chinese-occupied houses and businesses were scattered about the quarter.
The 12 or so Christian missionary organizations in Beijing were not located in the Legation Quarter, but rather dispersed around the city. In total, there were Japan residing in the city; the northern end of the Legation quarter was near the Imperial City where the Empress Dowager Cixi resided. The southern end was bounded by the massive Tartar Wall; the eastern and western ends were major streets. By 1900 the great powers had been chipping away at Chinese sovereignty for 60 years, they had forced China to allow the import of opium. Thus the Qing or Manchu dynasty that had ruled China for more than two centuries was crumbling, Chinese culture was under religious and secular assault by a powerful alien culture. Authorities differ as to the origin of the Boxers, but they became prominent in Shandong in 1898 and spread northward toward Beijing, they were an indigenous peasant movement, related to the secret societies that had flourished in China for centuries—and which, on occasion, had threatened Chinese central governments.
The Boxers were named—probably by American missionary Arthur H. Smith—for their acrobatic rituals which included martial arts, twirling swords and incantations. Similar to other anti-Western millenarianism movements around the world, such as the Ghost Dance in the US, the Boxers believed that with the proper ritual they would become invulnerable to Western bullets; the religious and magical practices of the Boxers had "as a paramount goal the affording of protection and emotional security in the face of a future..., fraught with danger and risk." The Boxers appear to have been organized on the village level. They were anti-missionary, their slogan was "Support the Qing! Destroy the Foreigner!". Feared as a possible threat by the Chinese government, they gained the support of influential politicians in Beijing, who saw the Boxers as a movement that could be used to eliminate foreign influence in China. In the spring of 1900 the Boxer movement spread north from Shandong into the countryside near Beijing.
Boxers burned Christian churches, killed Chinese Christians and intimidated Chinese officials who stood in their way. Two missionaries, Protestant William Scott Ament and Catholic Bishop Favier, reported to the diplomatic ministers about the growing threat. American Minister Edwin H. Conger cabled Washington, "The whole country is swarming with hungry, hopeless idlers." Requesting a warship to be stationed offshore of Tianjin, the nearest port to Beijing, he reported, "Situation becoming serious." On May 30, 1900, the diplomats, led by British Minister Claude Maxwell MacDonald, requested that foreign soldiers come to Beijing to defend the legations and the citizens of their countries. The Chinese government reluctantly acquiesced, the next day more than 400 soldiers from eight countries disembarked from warships and traveled by train to Beijing from Tianjin, they set up defensive perimeters around their respective missions. On June 5 the railroad line to Tianjin was cut by Boxers in the countryside and Beijing was isolated.
On June 13 a Japanese diplomat, Sugiyama Akira, was murdered by soldiers of Gen. Dong Fuxiang and that same day the first Boxer, dressed in his finery, was seen in the Legation Quarter; the German Minister, Clemens von Ketteler, German soldiers captured a Boxer boy and inexplicably executed him. In response, that afternoon thousands of Boxers burst into the walled city of Beijing and burned most of the Christian churches and cathedrals in the city, killing many Chinese Christians and several Catholic priests; the Chinese Christians were accused of collaborating with the foreigners. American and British missionaries and their converts had taken refuge in the Methodist Mission and an attack there was repulsed by American marines. Soldiers at the British embassy and German legations killed several Boxers. In mid-June 1900 the Chinese government was still indecisive about the Boxers; some officials—Ronglu, for example—counseled the Empress Dowager that the Boxers were "rabble" who would be defeated by foreign soldiers.
On the other side of the question were anti-foreign officials who advised cooperation with the Boxers. "The Court appears to be in a dilemma," said Sir Robert Hart. "If the Boxers are not suppressed, the Lega
The Russian Empire known as Imperial Russia or Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917. The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires; the rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Golden Horde, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south; the House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east.
With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it included a large disparity in terms of economics and religion. There were numerous dissident elements. Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs, Russian peasants; the economy industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility from the 10th through the 17th centuries, subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III laid the groundwork for the empire that emerged, he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, laid the foundations of the Russian state. Emperor Peter the Great fought numerous wars and expanded an huge empire into a major European power, he moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, Europe-oriented, rationalist system.
Empress Catherine the Great presided over a golden age. Emperor Alexander II promoted numerous reforms, most the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861, his policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, Serbia, against the German and Ottoman empires; the Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917 as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War. Though the Empire was only proclaimed by Tsar Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad, some historians would argue that it was born either when Ivan III of Russia conquered Veliky Novgorod in 1478, or when Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan in 1552. According to another point of view, the term Tsardom, used after the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, was a contemporary Russian word for empire.
Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian colonization of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the Russo-Polish War that incorporated left-bank Ukraine, the Russian conquest of Siberia. Poland was divided in the 1790 -- 1815 era, with much of the population going to Russia. Most of the 19th-century growth came from adding territory in Asia, south of Siberia. Peter I the Great played a major role in introducing Russia to the European state system. While the vast land had a population of 14 million, grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West, compelling nearly the entire population to farm. Only a small percentage lived in towns; the class of kholops, close in status to slavery, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter converted household kholops into house serfs, thus including them in poll taxation. Russian agricultural kholops were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks.
His attention turned to the North. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport, except at Archangel on the White Sea, where the harbor was frozen for nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him to make a secret alliance in 1699 with Saxony, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden, resulting in the Great Northern War; the war ended in 1721. Peter acquired four provinces situated east of the Gulf of Finland; the coveted access to the sea was now secured. There he built Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, to replace Moscow, which had long been Russia's cultural center. In 1722, he tur
Battle of Beicang
The Battle of Beicang, during the Boxer Rebellion, was fought August 5, 1900, between the Eight Nation Alliance and the Chinese army. The Chinese army was retreated to Yangcun; the Eight-Nation Alliance army at Beicang consisted of Japanese, British and French troops. The Japanese spearheaded the Alliance victory at Beicang. On August 4, 1900, the soldiers of the Eight Nation Alliance left the city of Tianjin to march towards Beijing in order to relieve the Legations under siege; the force consisted of 20,000 troops from the following countries: Japan, 10,000. Reconnaissance indicated that the Chinese forces were entrenched at Beicang, six miles from Tianjin, on both sides of the Hai River; the Americans and Japanese advanced on the west side of the river and the Russians and French advanced up the east side. The armies bivouacked the night of August 4 near Xigu Fort; the plan was for the Japanese, supported by the British and Americans, to turn the right flank of the Chinese lines and for the Russians and French to turn the left flank on the opposite side of the Hay River.
The Chinese force, estimated at between 8,000-12,000, was positioned behind several lines of well-constructed earthworks with 26 artillery pieces at key positions. It was, according to accounts, "a formidable position to attack". At 3:00 a.m. the Japanese launched the attack by capturing a battery on the extreme right of the Chinese lines. They pushed forward on the flank of the Chinese positions. At dawn an artillery duel began between the Chinese that lasted about a half-hour. During the artillery barrage a Japanese regiment crept forward and launched a direct assault on the Chinese positions near the river, advancing in close order through fields of millet and corn with a barrage of fire from the Chinese trenches pouring onto them; the Japanese had requested assistance from British cavalry for the assault but the British failed to arrive, so the Japanese pushed ahead alone. The Japanese suffered heavy casualties but forced the Chinese out of their entrenchments and into a hasty retreat. On the east bank of the Hai River the Russians and French were unable to get around the Chinese flank due to flooded terrain.
However, the Japanese victory on the west bank forced the Chinese to retreat, which they did in good order. The Chinese preserved most of their artillery by withdrawing it early in the battle, an action that, according to a United States' War Department report, "must have predisposed the rest of their army to its prompt retreat". About 50 Chinese were killed in the battle. All the Alliance casualties were Japanese, amounting to 60 dead and 240 wounded. A few British and Russian casualties were caused by Chinese artillery fire; the Americans were never engaged, not finding their way to the battlefield until the action was over. American medics treated Japanese casualties; the battle was over by 9:00 a.m. Pursuit of the Chinese army was hindered by the Chinese cutting through the river banks to flood the surrounding lowlands; the Alliance army bivouacked at Beicang and its supply train from Tianjin came up during the day. The first battle during the march to Beijing had been a easy victory, albeit costly in casualties for the Japanese.
The Chinese now awaited the Alliance in strong defensive positions at Yangcun. The assessment of one participant at the Battle of Beicang was that the "Chinese troops received a blow from which they never recovered, they after offered no determined resistance"