The British Empire comprised the dominions, protectorates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2, 24% of the Earth's total land area; as a result, its political, legal and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories. During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, in the process established large overseas empires.
Envious of the great wealth these empires generated, England and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England and following union between England and Scotland in 1707, Great Britain, the dominant colonial power in North America, it became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company's conquest of Mughal Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The independence of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after the American War of Independence caused Britain to lose some of its oldest and most populous colonies. British attention soon turned towards Asia and the Pacific. After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century. Unchallenged at sea, British dominance was described as Pax Britannica, a period of relative peace in Europe and the world during which the British Empire became the global hegemon and adopted the role of global policeman.
In the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution began to transform Britain. The British Empire expanded to include most of India, large parts of Africa and many other territories throughout the world. Alongside the formal control that Britain exerted over its own colonies, its dominance of much of world trade meant that it controlled the economies of many regions, such as Asia and Latin America. During the 19th century, Britain's population increased at a dramatic rate, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, which caused significant social and economic stresses. To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the British government under Benjamin Disraeli initiated a period of imperial expansion in Egypt, South Africa, elsewhere. Canada and New Zealand became self-governing dominions. By the start of the 20th century and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied upon its empire.
The conflict placed enormous strain on the military and manpower resources of Britain. Although the British Empire achieved its largest territorial extent after World War I, Britain was no longer the world's pre-eminent industrial or military power. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East and Southeast Asia were occupied by Japan. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped to accelerate the decline of the empire. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire; the Suez Crisis confirmed Britain's decline as a global power. The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire. Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty. After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states.
The United Kingdom is now one of 16 Commonwealth nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms, that share a monarch Queen Elizabeth II. The foundations of the British Empire were laid when Scotland were separate kingdoms. In 1496, King Henry VII of England, following the successes of Spain and Portugal in overseas exploration, commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to discover a route to Asia via the North Atlantic. Cabot sailed in 1497, five years after the European discovery of America, but he made landfall on the coast of Newfoundland, mistakenly believing that he had reached Asia, there was no attempt to found a colony. Cabot led another voyage to the Americas the following year but nothing was heard of his ships again. No further attempts to establish English colonies in the Americas were made until well into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during the last decades of the 16th century. In the meantime, the 1533 Statute in Restraint of Appeals had declared "that this realm of England is an Empire".
The subsequent Protestant Reformation turned Catholic Spain into implacable enemies. In 1562, the English Crown encouraged the privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake to engage in slave-raiding attacks against Spanish and Portuguese ships off the coast of West Africa with the aim of breaking into the Atlantic slave tr
Old Summer Palace
The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as Yuanming Yuan, called the Imperial Gardens, was a complex of palaces and gardens in present-day Haidian District, China. It is 8 kilometres northwest of the walls of the former Imperial City section of Beijing. Constructed throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Old Summer Palace was the main imperial residence of Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty and his successors, where they handled state affairs. Perceived as the pinnacle work of Chinese imperial garden and palace design, the Old Summer Palace was known for its extensive collection of gardens, its building architecture and numerous art and historical treasures, it was reputed as the "Garden of Gardens" in its heyday. In 1860, during the Second Opium War, as the Anglo-French expedition force relentlessly approached Beijing, two British envoys, a journalist for The Times and a small escort of British and Indian troopers were sent to meet Prince Yi under a flag of truce to negotiate a Qing surrender.
Meanwhile, the French and British troops reached the palace and conducted extensive looting and destruction. On, as news emerged that the negotiation delegation had been imprisoned and tortured, resulting in 20 deaths, the British High Commissioner to China, Lord Elgin, retaliated by ordering the complete destruction of the palace, carried out by British troops; the palace was so large – covering more than 800 acres – that it took 4000 men 3 days of burning to destroy it. Many exquisite artworks – sculptures, jade, silk robes, elaborate textiles, gold objects and more – were stolen and are now found in 47 museums around the world, according to UNESCO; the Imperial Gardens at the Old Summer Palace were made up of three gardens: Garden of Perfect Brightness Garden of Eternal Spring Elegant Spring Garden Together, they covered an area of 3.5 square kilometres five times the size of the Forbidden City grounds and eight times the size of the Vatican City. Hundreds of structures, such as halls, temples, gardens and bridges, stood on the grounds.
In addition, hundreds of examples of Chinese artwork and antiquities were stored in the halls, along with unique copies of literary works and compilations. Several famous landscapes of southern China had been reproduced in the Imperial Gardens; the most visible architectural remains of the Old Summer Palace can be found in the Western mansions section of 18th century European-style palaces and formal gardens. These structures, built of stone but with a Chinese infrastructure of timber columns, coloured tiles and brick walls, were planned and designed by the Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione with Michel Benoist responsible for the fountains and waterwork. Qianlong Emperor became interested in the architectural project after seeing an engraving of a European fountain, employed Castiglione and Benoist to carry out the work to satisfy his taste for exotic buildings and objects. Western-style palaces, aviaries, a maze, fountains and waterworks as well as perspective paintings organized as an outdoor theatre stage were constructed.
A striking clock fountain was placed in front of the Haiyan Tang. The fountain had twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac that spouted water in turn every 2 hours, but all spouting water in concert at noon; these European-style buildings however only occupied an area along the back of the Garden of Eternal Spring, small compared to the overall area of the gardens. More than 95% of the Imperial Gardens were made up of Chinese-style buildings. There were a few buildings in Tibetan and Mongol styles, reflecting the diversity of the Qing Empire. Initial construction of the Old Summer Palace began in 1707 during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, it was intended as a gift for the emperor's fourth son, Prince Yong, who would expand the Imperial Gardens in 1725. The Yongzheng Emperor introduced the waterworks of the gardens, creating lakes and ponds to complement the rolling hills and grounds, named 28 scenic spots within the garden; the Yongzheng Emperor constructed a number of "living tableaux" he and his family could observe and interact with.
One such scene was called "Crops as Plentiful as Fields" which involved court eunuchs and maids pretending to be rural farmers on an island. Another was called the "Courtyard of Universal Happiness", a mock village where the imperial family could interact with shopkeepers, again eunuchs in disguise. During the Qianlong Emperor's reign, the second expansion was well underway and the number of scenic spots increased to 40; the splendors of the palace and the grounds were depicted in the Forty Scenes of the Yuanmingyuan, an album produced in 1744 by the Qianlong Emperor's court painters. The construction of the European-style palaces was initiated in 1747; the first European appearance in the Old Summer Palace in the context of traditional Chinese imperial foreign relations was a diplomatic mission in 1795 representing the interests of the Dutch and Dutch East India Company. The Titsingh delegation included Isaac Titsingh, the Dutch-American Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest, the Frenchman Chrétien-Louis-Joseph de Guignes.
Both published complementary accounts of the mission. Titsingh died. In 1860, during the Second Opium War and French expeditionary forces
Treaty of Shimonoseki
The Treaty of Shimonoseki was a treaty signed at the Shunpanrō hotel, Japan on 17 April 1895, between the Empire of Japan and the Qing dynasty, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. The peace conference took place from March 20 to 17 April 1895; this treaty followed and superseded the Sino-Japanese Friendship and Trade Treaty of 1871. Article 1: China recognizes definitively the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea, and, in consequence, the payment of tribute and the performance of ceremonies and formalities by Korea to China, that are in derogation of such independence and autonomy, shall wholly cease for the future. Articles 2 & 3: China cedes to Japan in perpetuity and full sovereignty of the Pescadores group and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula together with all fortifications and public property. Article 4: China agrees to pay to Japan as a war indemnity the sum of 200,000,000 Kuping taels. Article 5: China opens Shashih, Chungking and Hangchow to Japan.
Moreover, China is to grant Japan most favoured nation status for foreign trade. The treaty ended the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 as a clear victory for Japan. In this treaty, China renounced any claims to that country, it ceded the Liaodong Peninsula, the islands of Formosa and Penghu to Japan. China paid Japan a war indemnity of 200 million Kuping taels, payable over seven years, the signing of a commercial treaty similar to ones signed by China with various western powers in the aftermath of the First and Second Opium Wars; this commercial treaty confirmed the opening of various rivers to Japanese trade. As a result of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China recognized the "full and complete independence and autonomy" of Joseon. In the next year Yeongeunmun was demolished leaving its two stone pillars. Qing China's indemnity to Japan of 200 million silver kuping taels, or about 240,000,000 troy ounces. After the Triple intervention, they paid another 30 million taels for a total of over 276,000,000 troy ounces silver, worth about $5 billion US Dollars in 2015.
During the summit between Japanese and Qing representatives in March and April 1895, Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito and Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu were serious about reducing the power of Qing Dynasty on not only the Korean Peninsula but the Taiwan islands. Moreover, Mutsu had noticed its importance in order to expand Japanese military power towards South China and Southeast Asia, it was the age of imperialism, so Japan wished to mimic what the Western nations were doing. Imperial Japan was seeking colonies and resources in the Korean Peninsula and Mainland China to compete with the presence of Western powers at that time; this was the way the Japanese leadership chose to illustrate how fast Imperial Japan had advanced compared to the West since the 1867 Meiji Restoration, the extent it wanted to amend the unequal treaties that were held in the Far East by the Western powers. At the peace conference between Imperial Japan and Qing Dynasty, Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang, the ambassadors at the negotiation desk of Qing Dynasty did not plan to cede Taiwan because they realised Taiwan's great location for trading with the West.
Therefore though the Qing had lost wars against Britain and France in the 19th century, the Qing Emperor was serious about keeping Taiwan under its rule, which began in 1683. On 20 March 1895, at Shunpanrō in Shimonoseki in Japan, a one month long peace conference began. At the first half of the conference, Ito and Li talked about a cease-fire agreement, during the second half of the conference, the contents of the peace treaty were discussed. Ito and Mutsu claimed that yielding the full sovereignty of Taiwan was an absolute condition and requested Li to hand over full sovereignty of Penghu Islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula. Li Hongzhang refused on the grounds that Taiwan had never been a battlefield during the first Sino-Japanese War between 1894 and 1895. By the final stage of the conference, while Li Hongzhang agreed to the transfer of full sovereignty of the Penghu islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to Imperial Japan, he still refused to hand over Taiwan.
As Taiwan had been a province since 1885, Li stated, "Taiwan is a province, therefore not to be given away." However, Imperial Japan was too strong for the Qing Dynasty to cope with, Li gave Taiwan up. On 17 April 1895, the peace treaty between Imperial Japan and the Qing Dynasty had been signed and was followed by the successful Japanese invasion of Taiwan; this had a huge impact on Taiwan, the turning over of the island to Imperial Japan marking the end of 200 years of Qing rule despite an attempt by Qing loyalists to prevent the annexation. The treaty was drafted with John W. Foster, former American Secretary of State, advising the Qing Empire, it was signed by Count Itō Hirobumi and Viscount Mutsu Munemitsu for the Emperor of Japan and Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang on behalf of the Emperor of China. Before the treaty was signed, Li Hongzhang was attacked by a right-wing Japanese extremist on March 24: he was fired at and wounded on his way back to his lodgings at Injoji temple; the public outcry aroused by the assassination attempt caused the Japanese to temper their demands and agree to a temporary armisti
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between China and Japan over influence in Korea. After more than six months of unbroken successes by Japanese land and naval forces and the loss of the port of Weihaiwei, the Qing government sued for peace in February 1895; the war demonstrated the failure of the Qing dynasty's attempts to modernize its military and fend off threats to its sovereignty when compared with Japan's successful Meiji Restoration. For the first time, regional dominance in East Asia shifted from China to Japan; the humiliating loss of Korea as a tributary state sparked an unprecedented public outcry. Within China, the defeat was a catalyst for a series of political upheavals led by Sun Yat-sen and Kang Youwei, culminating in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution; the war is known in China as the War of Jiawu, referring to the year as named under the traditional sexagenary system of years. In Japan, it is called the Japan–Qing War. In Korea, where much of the war took place, it is called the Qing–Japan War.
After two centuries, the Japanese policy of seclusion under the shōguns of the Edo period came to an end when the country was opened to trade by the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. In the years following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the fall of the shogunate, the newly formed Meiji government embarked on reforms to centralize and modernize Japan; the Japanese had sent delegations and students around the world to learn and assimilate Western arts and sciences, with the intention of making Japan an equal to the Western powers. These reforms transformed Japan from a feudal society into a modern industrial state; the Qing Dynasty had started to undergo reform in both military and political doctrine, but was far from successful. In January 1864, Cheoljong of Joseon died without a male heir, through Korean succession protocols Gojong of Korea ascended the throne at the age of 12. However, as King Gojong was too young to rule, the new king's father, Yi Ha-ŭng, became the Heungseon Daewongun, or lord of the great court, ruled Korea in his son's name as regent.
The term Daewongun referred to any person, not the king but whose son took the throne. With his ascendancy to power the Daewongun initiated a set of reforms designed to strengthen the monarchy at the expense of the Yangban class, he pursued an isolationist policy and was determined to purge the kingdom of any foreign ideas that had infiltrated into the nation. In Korean history, the king's in-laws enjoyed great power the Daewongun acknowledged that any future daughters-in-law might threaten his authority. Therefore, he attempted to prevent any possible threat to his rule by selecting as a new queen for his son an orphaned girl from among the Yŏhŭng Min clan, which lacked powerful political connections. With Empress Myeongseong as his daughter-in-law and the royal consort, the Daewongun felt secure in his power. However, after she had become queen, Min recruited all her relatives and had them appointed to influential positions in the name of the king; the Queen allied herself with political enemies of the Daewongun, so that by late 1873 she had mobilized enough influence to oust him from power.
In October 1873, when the Confucian scholar Choe Ik-hyeon submitted a memorial to King Gojong urging him to rule in his own right, Queen Min seized the opportunity to force her father-in-law's retirement as regent. The departure of the Daewongun led to Korea's abandonment of its isolationist policy. On February 26, 1876, after confrontations between the Japanese and Koreans, the Ganghwa Treaty was signed, opening Korea to Japanese trade. In 1880, the King sent a mission to Japan, headed by Kim Hong-jip, an enthusiastic observer of the reforms taking place there. While in Japan, the Chinese diplomat Huang Zunxian presented him with a study called "Chaoxian Celue", it warned of the threat to Korea posed by the Russians and recommended that Korea maintain friendly relations with Japan, at the time too economically weak to be an immediate threat, to work with China, seek an alliance with the United States as a counterweight to Russia. After returning to Korea, Kim presented the document to King Gojong, so impressed with the document that he had copies made and distributed to his officials.
In 1880, following Chinese advice and breaking with tradition, King Gojong decided to establish diplomatic ties with the United States. After negotiations through Chinese mediation in Tianjin, the Treaty of Peace, Amity and Navigation was formally signed between the United States and Korea in Incheon on May 22, 1882. However, there were two significant issues raised by the treaty, the first concerned Korea's status as an independent nation. During the talks with the Americans, the Chinese insisted that the treaty contain an article declaring that Korea was a dependency of China and argued that the country had long been a tributary state of China, but the Americans opposed such an article, arguing that a treaty with Korea should be based on the Treaty of Ganghwa, which stipulated that Korea was an independent state. A compromise was reached, with Shufeldt and Li agreeing that the King of Korea would notify the U. S president in a letter that Korea had special status as a tributary state of China.
The treaty between the Korean government and the United States became the model for all treaties between it and other Western countries. Korea signed similar trade and commerce treaties with Great Britain and Germany in 1883, with Italy and
Taiwan under Japanese rule
Japanese Taiwan was the period of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands under Japanese rule between 1895 and 1945. Taiwan became a dependency of Japan in 1895 when the Qing dynasty of China ceded Taiwan Province in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after Japanese victory in the First Sino-Japanese War; the short-lived Republic of Formosa resistance movement was suppressed by Japanese troops and defeated in the Capitulation of Tainan, ending organized resistance to Japanese occupation and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule. Taiwan was Japan's first overseas colony and can be viewed as the first steps in implementing their "Southern Expansion Doctrine" of the late 19th century. Japanese intentions were to turn Taiwan into a showpiece "model colony" with much effort made to improve the island's economy, public works, cultural Japanization, to support the necessities of Japanese military aggression in the Asia-Pacific. Japanese rule of Taiwan ended after the surrender of Japan concluded World War II in August 1945, the territory was placed under the control of the Republic of China with the issuing of General Order No. 1.
Japan formally renounced rights to Taiwan in the Treaty of San Francisco in April 1952. The experience of Japanese rule, ROC rule and the February 28 massacre of 1947 continues to affect issues such as Taiwan Retrocession Day, national identity, ethnic identity, the formal Taiwan independence movement. Japan had sought to expand its imperial control over Taiwan since 1592, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi undertook a policy of overseas expansion and extending Japanese influence southward. Several attempts to invade Taiwan were unsuccessful due to disease and armed resistance by aborigines on the island. In 1609, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent Arima Harunobu on an exploratory mission of the island. In 1616, Murayama Toan led an unsuccessful invasion of the island. In November 1871, 69 people on board a vessel from the Kingdom of Ryukyu were forced to land near the southern tip of Taiwan by strong winds, they had a conflict with local Paiwan aborigines and many were killed. In October 1872, Japan sought compensation from the Qing dynasty of China, claiming the Kingdom of Ryukyu was part of Japan.
In May 1873, Japanese diplomats arrived in Beijing and put forward their claims, but the Qing government rejected Japanese demands on the ground that the Kingdom of Ryukyu at that time was an independent state and had nothing to do with Japan. The Japanese refused to leave and asked if the Chinese government would punish those "barbarians in Taiwan"; the Qing authorities explained that there were two kinds of aborigines on Taiwan: those directly governed by the Qing, those unnaturalized "raw barbarians... beyond the reach of Chinese culture. Thus could not be directly regulated." They indirectly hinted that foreigners traveling in those areas settled by indigenous people must exercise caution. The Qing dynasty made it clear to the Japanese that Taiwan was within Qing jurisdiction though part of that island's aboriginal population was not yet under the influence of Chinese culture; the Qing pointed to similar cases all over the world where an aboriginal population within a national boundary was not under the influence of the dominant culture of that country.
The Japanese launched an expedition to Taiwan, with a force of 3,000 soldiers in April 1874. In May 1874, the Qing dynasty began to send in troops to reinforce the island. By the end of the year, the government of Japan decided to withdraw its forces after realizing Japan was still not ready for a war with China; the number of casualties for the Paiwan was about 30, that for the Japanese was 543. By the 1890s, about 45 percent of Taiwan was under standard Chinese administration while the remaining populated regions of the interior were under aboriginal control; the First Sino-Japanese War broke out between Qing dynasty China and Japan in 1894 following a dispute over the sovereignty of Korea. Following its defeat, China ceded the islands of Taiwan and Penghu to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, signed on April 17, 1895. According to the terms of the treaty and Penghu were to be ceded to Japan in perpetuity. Both governments were to send representatives to Taiwan after signing to begin the transition process, to be completed in no more than two months.
Because Taiwan was ceded by treaty, the period that followed is referred to by some as the "colonial period", while others who focus on the fact that it was the culmination of a war refer to it as the "occupation period". The cession ceremony took place on board a Japanese vessel because the Chinese delegate feared reprisal from the residents of Taiwan. Though the terms dictated by Japan were harsh, it is reported that Qing China's leading statesman, Li Hongzhang, sought to assuage Empress Dowager Cixi by remarking: "birds do not sing and flowers are not fragrant on the island of Taiwan; the men and women are inofficious and are not passionate either." The loss of Taiwan would become a rallying point for the Chinese nationalist movement in the years that followed. Arriving in Taiwan, the new Japanese colonial government gave inhabitants two years to choose whether to accept their new status as Japanese subjects, or leave Taiwan; the "early years" of Japanese administration on Taiwan refers to the period between the Japanese forces' first landing in May 1895 and the Ta-pa-ni Incident of 1915, which marked the high point of armed resistance.
During this period, popular resistance to Japanese rule was high, the world questioned wheth
First Opium War
The First Opium War known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty of China over diplomatic relations and the administration of justice in China. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the demand for Chinese goods in Europe created a trade imbalance between Qing Imperial China and Great Britain. European silver flowed into China through the Canton System, which confined incoming foreign trade to the southern port city of Canton. To counter this imbalance, the British East India Company began to grow opium in India and smuggle them into China illegally; the influx of narcotics reversed the Chinese trade surplus, drained the economy of silver, increased the numbers of opium addicts inside the country, outcomes that worried Chinese officials. In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor, rejecting proposals to legalize and tax opium, appointed viceroy Lin Zexu to go to Canton to halt the opium trade completely. Lin wrote to Queen Victoria an open letter in an appeal to her moral responsibility to stop the opium trade.
When he failed to get a response, he attempted to get foreign companies to forfeit their opium stores in exchange for tea, but this failed too. Lin resorted to using force in the western merchants' enclave, he confiscated all supplies and ordered a blockade of foreign ships to get them to surrender their opium supply. Lin confiscated 20,283 chests of opium; the British government responded by dispatching a military force to China and in the ensuing conflict, the Royal Navy used its naval and gunnery power to inflict a series of decisive defeats on the Chinese Empire, a tactic referred to as gunboat diplomacy. In 1842, the Qing dynasty was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking—the first of what the Chinese called the unequal treaties—which granted an indemnity and extraterritoriality to Britain, opened five treaty ports to foreign merchants, ceded Hong Kong Island to the British Empire; the failure of the treaty to satisfy British goals of improved trade and diplomatic relations led to the Second Opium War, the perceived weakness of the Qing dynasty resulted in social unrest within China, namely the Taiping Rebellion, which the Qing dynasty fought against the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.
In China, the war is considered the beginning of modern Chinese history. Direct maritime trade between Europe and China began in 1557 when the Portuguese leased an outpost from the Ming dynasty at Macau. Other European nations soon followed the Portuguese lead, inserting themselves into the existing Asian maritime trade network to compete with Arab, Chinese and Japanese merchants in intra-regional commerce. After the Spanish conquest of the Philippines the exchange of goods between China and Europe accelerated dramatically. From 1565 on, the Manila Galleons brought silver into the Asian trade network from mines in South America. China was a primary destination for the precious metal, as the imperial government mandated that Chinese goods could only be exported in exchange for silver bullion. British ships began to appear sporadically around the coasts of China from 1635 on. Without establishing formal relations through the Chinese tributary system, by which most Asian nations were able to negotiate with China, British merchants were only allowed to trade at the ports of Zhoushan and Guangzhou.
Official British trade was conducted through the auspices of the British East India Company, which held a royal charter for trade with the Far East. The East India Company came to dominate Sino-European trade from its position in India and due to the strength of the Royal Navy. Trade benefited. Taiwan came under Qing control in 1683 and rhetoric regarding the tributary status of Europeans was muted. Guangzhou became the port of preference for incoming foreign trade. Ships did try to call at other ports, but these locations could not match the benefits of Canton's geographic position at the mouth of the Pearl River, nor did they have the city's long experience in balancing the demands of Beijing with those of Chinese and foreign merchants. From 1700 onward Canton was the center of maritime trade with China, this market process was formulated by Qing authorities into the "Canton System". From the system's inception in 1757, trading in China was lucrative for European and Chinese merchants alike as goods such as tea and silk were valued enough in Europe to justify the expenses of traveling to Asia.
The system was regulated by the Qing government. Foreign traders were only permitted to do business through a body of Chinese merchants known as the Cohong and were forbidden to learn Chinese. Foreigners could only live in one of the Thirteen Factories and were not allowed to enter or trade in any other part of China. Only low level government officials could be dealt with, the imperial court could not be lobbied for any reason excepting official diplomatic missions; the Imperial laws that upheld the system were collectively known as the Prevention Barbarian Ordinances. The Cohong were powerful in the Old China Trade, as they were tasked with appraising the value of foreign products, purchasing or rebuffing said imports, charged with selling Chinese exports at an appropriate price; the Cohong was made up of between 6 to 20 merchant families. Most of the merchant houses these families ruled had been established by low-ranking mandarins, but
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II or Nikolai II, known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer in the Russian Orthodox Church, was the last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire from one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse, he was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody or Vile Nicholas by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the execution of political opponents, his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War. Soviet historians portrayed Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects. Russia was defeated in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, which saw the annihilation of the reinforcing Russian Baltic Fleet after being sent on its round-the-world cruise at the naval Battle of Tsushima, off the coasts of Korea and Japan, the loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, the Japanese annexation to the north of South Sakhalin Island.
The Anglo-Russian Entente was designed to counter the German Empire's attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, but it ended the Great Game of confrontation between Russia and the United Kingdom. When all Russian diplomatic efforts to prevent the First World War failed, Nicholas approved the Imperial Russian Army mobilization on 30 July 1914, which gave Imperial Germany formal grounds to declare war on Russia on 1 August 1914. An estimated 3.3 million Russians were killed in the First World War. The Imperial Russian Army's severe losses, the High Command's incompetent management of the war efforts, lack of food and supplies on the home front were all leading causes of the fall of the House of Romanov. Following the February Revolution of 1917, Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, he and his family were imprisoned and transferred to Tobolsk in late summer 1917. On 30 April 1918, Nicholas and their daughter Maria were handed over to the local Ural Soviet council in Ekaterinburg.
Nicholas and his family were executed by their Bolshevik guards on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The remains of the imperial family were found, identified and re-interred with elaborate State and Church ceremony in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998. In 1981, his wife, their children were recognized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in New York City. On 15 August 2000, they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion bearers, commemorating believers who face death in a Christ-like manner. Nicholas was born in the Alexander Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, the eldest child of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, he had five younger siblings: Alexander, Xenia and Olga. Nicholas referred to his father nostalgically in letters after Alexander's death in 1894, he was very close to his mother, as revealed in their published letters to each other. His paternal grandparents were Empress Maria Alexandrovna, his maternal grandparents were King Christian Queen Louise of Denmark.
Nicholas was of German and Danish descent, his last ethnically Russian ancestor being Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, daughter of Peter the Great. Nicholas was related to several monarchs in Europe, his mother's siblings included Kings Frederick VIII of Denmark and George I of Greece, as well as the United Kingdom's Queen Alexandra. Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, German Emperor Wilhelm II were all first cousins of King George V of the United Kingdom. Nicholas was a first cousin of both King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway, as well as King Christian X of Denmark and King Constantine I of Greece. Nicholas and Wilhelm II were in turn second cousins-once-removed, as each descended from King Frederick William III of Prussia, as well as third cousins, as they were both great-great-grandsons of Tsar Paul I of Russia. In addition to being second cousins through descent from Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse and his wife Princess Wilhelmine of Baden and Alexandra were third cousins-once-removed, as they were both descendants of King Frederick William II of Prussia.
Tsar Nicholas II was the first cousin-once-removed of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich. To distinguish between them the Grand Duke was known within the imperial family as "Nikolasha" and "Nicholas the Tall", while the Tsar was "Nicholas the Short". In his childhood, his parents and siblings made annual visits to the Danish royal palaces of Fredensborg and Bernstorff to visit his grandparents, the king and queen; the visits served as family reunions, as his mother's siblings would come from the United Kingdom and Greece with their respective families. It was there in 1883, that he had a flirtation with one of his English first cousins, Princess Victoria. In 1873, Nicholas accompanied his parents and younger brother, two-year-old George, on a two-month, semi-official visit to England. In London and his family stayed at Marlborough House, as guests of his "Uncle Bertie" and "Aunt Alix", the Prince and Princess of Wales, where he was spoiled by his uncle. On 1 March 1881, following the assassination of his grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, Nicho