Civilizations in Crisis:
The Ottomans, the Islamic
Heartlands, and Qing China
Civilizations in Crisis
• The once wealthy and great
Ottoman Empire was rocked
in 1798 by Napoleon’s
invasion of Egypt.
• Napoleon chose to fight the
British in Egypt in order to cut
British ties to the Middle East,
its colony in India, and to
damage British trade.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The French
were met by
tens of
thousands of
cavalry bent on
defending the
Mamluk regime
under their
leader Murad.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Murad, when told of Napoleon’s
invasion, dismissed the invader as a
“donkey boy” whom he would soon
drive from his lands.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Murad’s contempt for Napoleon
and the French was symptomatic
of the profound ignorance of
events in Europe that was typical
of the Islamic world at the time.
• This ignorance led to a series of
crushing defeats to the French,
the most famous was fought in
the shadows of the great
Civilizations in Crisis
• Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of
the Pyramids, July 1798.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Mamluks were clad in
medieval armor and used spears
against French artillery, rifles,
and disciplined French legions.
• The defeat of the Mamluks was
traumatic for the Ottoman world
because they were considered
fighters of great prowess.
Civilizations in Crisis
• This also showed how vulnerable
the Muslim world was to European
aggression, and how far they had
fallen behind Europe in their
capacity to wage war.
Civilizations in Crisis
• When the French were forced
out by the British in 1799, an
Ottoman military officer (of
Albanian origin) named
Muhammad Ali seized control as
an independent ruler.
• The Ottoman Empire never did
regain control of Egypt.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali, known as the
“father of modern
Egypt,” was the
first non-Western
leader in the
Middle East to try
to modernize his
society in
Western terms.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali never visited the
West (like Peter the
Great) but he
admired Western
achievements and
realized he must
modernize in order to
stay independent of
Civilizations in Crisis
• Impressed by the discipline and
weapons of the French army, Ali
began building an up-to-date
European style military force.
• He introduced Western-style
conscription among the Egyptian
peasants, hired French officers to
train his troops, and imported
Western armaments.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali does what every other
country does as it modernizes—
it first focuses on the military.
• But Ali was unable to create
industrialization (like in Western
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali concentrated
on developing an
export market
for Egyptian
(considered by
many to be the
world’s finest),
hemp, and
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali had many Western
science and technology
books translated into
Arabic, he hired
Western teachers, and
he sent Egyptian
students to study
• French became an
unofficial second
language next to
Civilizations in Crisis
• Unfortunately, few
in Egypt were
actually educated
beyond the children
of the most
powerful families.
• Egyptian society,
for the most part,
wasn’t transformed.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali died in 1848, never able to realize
his dream of Egyptian expansion.
• His successors, known as the
khedives, tended to be weak men
content with maintaining the status
• The khedives would formally rule
Egypt until they were overthrown in
Civilizations in Crisis
• Ali was unable to break
the limitations imposed
by Western dominance
of the world economy.
• Egypt became
increasingly dependent
on the Western market
for cotton (meaning it
had to compete on the
world market with India
and the southern
United States).
Civilizations in Crisis
• Export earnings were
most often
insufficient to pay for
machines or military
equipment so Egypt
often went into debt
to Western banks.
• Egyptians paid a
whopping 12%
interest on loans for
improvements while
Europeans paid less
than 5%.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Here was the tragic irony that happened in
Egypt, the Middle East, and many other
places in the 19th and 20th centuries:
• Governments want to modernize their
countries, they want to buy new armaments
and modernize their militaries, they want
industrial machinery, to build public
buildings, roads, etc. but these cost a lot of
money at a time when their economies
were often sluggish.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Oftentimes, in situations like this,
nations are tempted to borrow
money from foreign banks.
• This gives the foreigners an interest
in protecting their loans. If a
borrower defaulted on the loan, the
Western bank would usually ask for
military assistance.
• Egypt was being crushed by debt.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Crimean War had shown the
major powers that the eastern
Mediterranean was of
pivotal/strategic importance to the
Eurocentric system.
• So the Europeans invested in
building railroads throughout Egypt.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Napoleon III (nephew of
the Napoleon) took a
major interest in building
the Suez Canal, which
would connect the
Mediterranean with the
Red Sea and the Indian
Ocean, dramatically
shortening the travel time
between Europe, Eastern
Africa, and Asia.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Egypt was now one of the most
strategic places on earth.
• When the French completed the Canal
in 1869, Europeans developed a craze
for anything Egyptian…architecture,
furniture, textiles, art.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Controlling the Canal became a key
objective of the imperial powers.
• It was Egypt’s heavy indebtedness
to British banks that enabled Britain
to gain control of the Suez Canal and
then in the 1882, established a
protectorate over the Egyptian
• The British said they were merely
protecting their investment.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Before steamships,
it could take 2 years
to get a message
to/from Britain/India.
• Steamships cut that
to 4 months
• The Suez Canal cut
that time to 2 weeks
Civilizations in Crisis
• Even though Egypt was not formally
colonized, the British controlled
Egyptian finances and foreign affairs,
and British troops ensured British
directives were followed.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The British forced the reshaping
of the Egyptian economy from
the production of several crops
(which maintained selfsufficiency) to the production of
only a few crops that were
useful to European
manufacturing (cotton, tobacco,
silk, wheat, rice).
Civilizations in Crisis
• This made the British a lot of money
but the population of Egypt barely
eked out an existence.
• Britain, France and Germany flooded
Egypt and Middle East with cheap
manufactured goods, driving
artisans from their trades and into
low paying work (building railroads
or processing tobacco/cotton, etc).
Civilizations in Crisis
• Instead of basing wages on gender
(like in Europe), the Europeans used
ethnicity and religion…Muslims were
paid less than Christians, and Arabs
less than other ethnic groups.
• This, a hatred for the occupiers, plus
a growing sense of nationalism
created the seeds for anti-colonial
Civilizations in Crisis
• The French asserted control first in
Africa by invading Algeria in 1830 to
suppress piracy and to collect debts
owed them by the Algerian
Civilizations in Crisis
• The French occupied Algiers
and two other ports, and when
they showed no signs of
leaving, resistance to them
• An Algerian army was raised to
defend the Algerian
Civilizations in Crisis
• War broke out, and even though
the French won, hostility towards
their occupation continued to
fester, and new revolts broke out.
• By the 1870s the French even
occupied rural Algeria and they
opened it to French settlers.
Civilizations in Crisis
• As Egypt fell under
British control, they
(the British) were
drawn into conflicts
with Egypt’s
southern neighbor,
• Egypt had tried to
control Sudan since
the 1820’s, and the
Sudanese resisted
Civilizations in Crisis
• By the late 1870’s, Egyptian
oppression and British
intervention had aroused deep
resentment and hostility in
Civilizations in Crisis
• A Sudanese leader
arose, known as
the Mahdi, who
claimed to be a
descendant of the
Muhammad (he
even had a mole
on his right cheek
and a cleft
between his
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Mahdi called for jihad as he
promised to rid the land of the
Egyptian heretics and the British
• He led his followers on violent
assaults (usually using guerrilla
tactics) on the Egyptians and British.
• Within a few years, his forces
controlled most of Sudan.
• But at the peak of his power, he
caught typhus and died (1885).
Civilizations in Crisis
• But rather than collapse after his
death, his followers continued to
build a strong Islamic state.
• They outlawed smoking, alcoholic
drink, dancing, prostitution, theft
and adultery.
• Islamic religious and ritual
practices were strictly enforced.
Civilizations in Crisis
• In late 1896, the British, tired of
this activity (a British general
had been killed in 1895), sent an
expeditionary force into Sudan
to do battle with the Mahdis and
end the most serious threat to
European domination of Africa.
Civilizations in Crisis
• At the Battle of Omdurman
(September 1898), the spears and
magic garments of the Mahdis (who
were known as the Sudanese
Dervishes) were no match for the
artillery and Maxim guns of the
Civilizations in Crisis
• More than 11,000
Sudanese Mahdis
were killed and
16,000 wounded
compared to less
than 40 British
Civilizations in Crisis
• The English left the wounded enemy
to die on the plain and later, after
triumphantly entering Khartoum,
they looted the city and murdered
many of the Khalifa’s leading
• They also had the Mahdi’s bones
exhumed and thrown into the Nile
(rumour has it that the commanding
general had the Mahdi’s skull made
into a drinking cup).
Civilizations in Crisis
• Within a year, the Mahdist state
collapsed, and British power
advanced into the interior of
Africa while they secured their
control of the Nile.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Ottoman Empire in the 18th century:
Civilizations in Crisis
• After Suleyman died in the late
16th century, the Ottoman Empire
began a slow and prolonged
death rattle.
• A long succession of weak or
inept sultans caused destructive
power struggles within various
factions, all vying for power.
Civilizations in Crisis
• No longer able to afford the
enormous expense of maintaining
a far-flung empire, and
consistent losers in battle,
several surrounding states began
chipping away at the edges of
territory controlled by the
Civilizations in Crisis
• By the early 18th century, the
Austrians and the Russians had
removed the Ottomans from control
of the northern Black Sea region,
from Hungary, and from the northern
• By the early 19th century, revolts in
Serbia (eventually put down) and
Greece (gained independence 1830)
showed an empire in collapse.
Civilizations in Crisis
• For the empire to survive, reform
initiatives had to be performed
from within the government.
• Unfortunately, many initiatives
were met with resistance from
those factions that stood to lose
power or prestige from their
Civilizations in Crisis
• For example,
Sultan Selim III
(r. 1789-1807)
understood the
need to make his
government more
efficient and to
build a new army
and navy.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The powerful
Janissary corps
felt threatened
by this and
staged a revolt,
killing the sultan
and ending his
modest reforms.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Twenty years later, Sultan
Mahmud II (r. 1808- 1839)
secretly built a small, elite,
private army with European
• In 1826, he incited the
Janissaries to mutiny, then
had them slaughtered by
his private army.
• Mahmud II now felt able to
enact reforms.
Civilizations in Crisis
• While religious leaders and
traditionalists wanted a return to
past models, Mahmud II pushed
for Western styled reforms.
• European military advisors were
hired to modernize and
Westernize the army and navy
(armaments and training).
Civilizations in Crisis
• Mahmud II also established a
Western styled diplomatic corps
and exchanged ambassadors
with the European powers.
• But Mahmud’s modest reforms
were not enough to strengthen
the Ottoman military to the point
where it could repel the European
Civilizations in Crisis
• Britain, France,
Germany, and Italy
snatched Northern
Africa from the
Ottomans who were
so weak by the
middle of the 19th
century, the once
great empire was
known as the “sick
man of Europe.”
Civilizations in Crisis
• The European powers could
have taken whatever they
wanted from the Ottomans but
those powers could not decide
who got what, so they left the
center of the Ottoman Empire
(Turkey-Asia Minor) intact.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Crimean War (1853-56) was an
example of Ottoman weakness.
• The Russians pressed against
Ottoman territory and had it not been
for the aid of the British and French,
the Russians might have been
successful in dismembering the
• The British didn’t want the Russians
controlling the eastern
Civilizations in Crisis
• Starting after the reign of
Mahmud II, Western influence
became even more pronounced
in what became known as the
Tanzimat reforms (1839-1876).
• Tanzimat means reorganization
or reform in Turkish.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Reforms tried to encourage
Ottomanism among the many
ethnic groups that lived in the
Ottoman Empire and to prevent the
slow decline of the empire.
• The reforms attempted, but failed,
to integrate non-Muslims and nonTurks more thoroughly into the
Ottoman society through civil
liberties and regulations.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The initial Tanzimat reforms
• Western styled university educations;
• Training in European sciences and
• Establishing a state-run postal service
and telegraph service;
• Railroad construction (1860s);
• Establishing newspapers in major cities
and extensive legal reforms.
Civilizations in Crisis
• In 1856, the Ottoman
government under
sultan Abdul Mecid I
(r. 1849-1861), issued
the Hatt-i Humayun,
the most far-reaching
reform of the
Civilizations in Crisis
• It abolished the civil authority of religious
• Equality before the law was guaranteed.
• Open eligibility for public office without
regard of one’s religion.
• The army was opened to Muslims and
• The political ideas of Montesquieu and
Rousseau were translated.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Sultan Abdul Mecid I sent 52
volumes of Ottoman literature,
mathematics, poetry, history,
and logic to the new School of
Oriental Languages at Harvard.
Civilizations in Crisis
• But the reforms also lifted trade
barriers which hurt the artisans,
whose position was weakened now
that they were unprotected against
the competition of the West.
 Women gained very little from the
reforms because even though
women’s education was discussed,
not much was accomplished.
Civilizations in Crisis
• In 1876 the sultan Abdul
Hamid II (r.1876-1909)
promoted a constitution
which declared the
Empire would promote
personal liberty,
freedom of education,
freedom of the press,
and a parliamentary
Civilizations in Crisis
• But within two years, he threw
out the constitution and
dissolved the parliament because
he believed his power was being
• Reforms concerning women
(education, ending seclusion and
the veil, and polygamy) were
debated, but few, if any, were
actually enacted.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Abdul Hamid II became
increasingly fearful of
anything Western.
• For example, new
chemistry books for the
university were
considered seditious
because he thought their
chemical symbols were
secret codes.
Civilizations in Crisis
• However, Abdul Hamid continued to
push for westernizing his military
(he hired German military advisors).
• He also extended
telegraph/communication lines
between cities and railway lines
(including the Orient Express and
the Berlin to Baghdad line).
Civilizations in Crisis
• But financial mismanagement
and incompetence, along with
national revolts in the Balkans
and eastern Anatolia, the French
occupation of Algeria and
Tunisia, the takeover by the
British in Egypt and the Italians
in Libya, threatened to end the
very existence of the Empire, let
alone its reforms.
The Young Turks
• Abdul Hamid’s despotism caused several
intellectuals and political opponents to
move to Paris.
• There, they formed the Ottoman Society
for Union and Progress (1889), more
commonly known as the Young Turks.
• The Young Turks wanted to restore the
1876 constitution and continue the
reforms they felt necessary for the
empire to survive.
The Young Turks
• In 1908, the
Young Turks
staged a coup
that put
military officers
in charge of the
The Young Turks
• They restored the constitution and
freedoms of the press.
• Educational reforms and reforms for
women were promised.
• The sultan was not killed, but he
was reduced to merely being a
political figurehead and the
religious leader of Islam.
The Young Turks
• But the Young Turks didn’t fare
much better, as they lost wars in
the Balkans (1912) and they lost
Libya (their last possession in
North Africa) to Italy.
• Only by playing the European
powers against each other did the
Ottoman Empire survive (but
The Armenian Genocide
• In the three decades before the
creation of modern Turkey (1890’s1918), Turkish nationalism took an
ugly course.
• Traditionally, the Ottomans had let
minorities live in their own
communities and practice their own
religions. From the 1890’s until WWI,
Turkish nationalism clashed with
minority peoples who wanted their
own states.
The Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide
• One such group
were the Christian
Armenians, who
were concentrated
in the mountainous
eastern region of
the empire.
The Armenian Genocide
• After joining the Central Powers,
the Ottomans looked for a way to
“solve” their “Armenian question.”
• They forced the Armenians to turn
over every pistol or rifle they
• Armenians in the Turkish military
(about 40,000 men) were forced to
turn over their weapons then sent
to slave labor camps.
The Armenian Genocide
• When Armenians protested against
Ottoman repression, the sultan had
tens of thousands arrested and
• The genocide began in April 1915
as 300 Armenian religious, cultural,
and political leaders were taken
from their homes, tortured, then
hung or shot.
The Armenian Genocide
• The Muslim Turks
distrusted the Christian
Armenians and accused
them of siding (and
fighting) with Russia
against the Ottomans.
• Mass arrests of
thousands of men ended
in their murders, usually
on the outskirts of their
The Armenian Genocide
• Women, children, and the elderly
were next as they were told to
leave all possessions behind (they
were told they were quickly being
re-located to a non-military zone—
for their own safety).
• They were actually being sent on
death marches southward towards
the Syrian desert.
The Armenian Genocide
• They were sent without food and water
and were escorted by Turkish horsemen.
• Many were forced to march in the desert
sun completely nude, where they died of
dehydration or exhaustion.
The Armenian Genocide
• Some were killed by being thrown off
cliffs, burned alive, or drowned in rivers.
• An estimated 75% of the Armenians on
these death marches died.
• The Turkish countryside became littered
with corpses.
The Armenian Genocide
• Between April 1915January 1919, the
New York Times ran
190 articles related to
the genocide.
America raised money
but did little else.
• Even the Pope asked
Kaiser Wilhelm to
The Armenian Genocide
• By the end of
WWI, over 1
million Armenians
had been killed,
victims of ethnic
cleansing and the
20th century’s
first genocide.
The Armenian Genocide
• After the war, the Allies asked the
United States to be the guardian of
the new Republic of Armenia.
• President Wilson’s attempt to make
Armenia an American protectorate
failed in Congress in May 1920.
• Armenia was eventually absorbed
by Soviet Russia.
The Armenian Genocide
• An unfortunate lesson of history:
When Hitler decided to conquer Poland in
1939 he told his generals: "Thus for the
time being I have sent to the East
only my 'Death's Head Units' with
the orders to kill without pity or
mercy all men, women, and children
of Polish race or language. Only in
such a way will we win the vital
space that we need. Who still talks
nowadays about the Armenians?"
Civilizations in Crisis
• After the Ottomans sided with the
Central Powers in WWI (and lost),
the Allies agreed to partition the
Ottoman Empire (particularly
Turkey) in favor of a ‘greater’
• After the war, Greek, Italian, and
French forces invaded Turkey
while Italian, French, and British
forces tried to capture Istanbul
and take it away from the Turks.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• When the Ottoman sultan agreed to
peace terms with the Allies, he didn’t
know the Allies wanted to divide up
much of Turkey’s territories among
• Upset by the sultan’s inability to
defend Turkey, the army rallied
behind a Turkish military hero,
General Mustapha Kemal (18811938).
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Kemal organized
a Turkish national
movement that,
with help from
Soviet Russia,
expelled the
Greek and
Western invasion
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Kemal’s success produced a 1923
treaty that created the Turkish
Republic as a new, independent
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Turkish
guaranteed the
nation’s strategic
importance in
European and
Russian (and later
American) affairs
because of its
geographic location.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• As Turkey’s
first President,
Kemal’s vision
was to create a
Islamic state,
able to stand
up to Europe.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• After the collapse of the Ottoman
Empire, Turkey became the first
secularized (meaning without
religious influence) Middle Eastern
attempt at statehood.
• Like Muhammad Ali in Egypt a
century before, Kemal fostered a
new Turkish nationalism separate
from religious faith. Turkey became
the first Muslim country to separate
the state and religion.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• One of the first things to happen
was to transport over 1.4 million
Greeks from Turkey back to
Greece. This large Greek
minority had lived in Turkey since
1000 BCE.
• At the same time, 400,000 Turks
were removed from Greece and
sent back to Turkey.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• This exchange created a largely
homogeneous Turkish
population (except for a Kurdish
minority in eastern Turkey).
• Kemal moved the capital from
Istanbul to Ankara, in the
Turkish heartland.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Influenced by Western political
ideas, Kemal introduced
parliamentary institutions,
universal male suffrage, and a
modern voting system.
• But his version of democracy was
tightly controlled with a single
party-(the People’s Party)preventing any legal opposition.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Like many before (and after)
him, Kemal believed that
authoritarianism was an
essential precondition to
• Kemal believed his people had
to be forced to accept reforms.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• He vigorously attacked the hold of
Islam over the state; civil marriage
was required, and a secular school
system was created.
• Many Muslim symbols and customs
became outlawed, including
polygamy and the wearing of veils.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Like Peter the Great (Russia) and
the Meiji Emperor (Japan),
Kemal’s government looked to
the West.
• Traditional clothing was frowned
upon--Western dress and hair
styles were expected and
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• In the case of Kemal, the
largest attack came against the
fez, the traditional cap of an
upper-class Ottoman male.
• Kemal saw the fez as backward
and conservative. The Western
style hat was the symbol of
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• “It was necessary to
abolish the fez, which sat
on our heads as a sign of
ignorance, of fanaticism,
of hatred to progress and
civilization, and to adopt
in its place the hat, the
customary head-dress of
the whole civilized world,
thus showing that no
difference existed
between the Turkish
nation and the whole
family of civilized
mankind.” Kemal
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Laws of the state (modeled after
Swiss legal codes) overruled the
Muslim laws of the Qur’an (Sharia).
• Sunday, not Friday, became the day
of rest.
• Extending school age and building
more schools reduced illiteracy from
85% in 1914 to 42% in 1932. Today
Turkey has a literacy rate of 86%.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• The Western calendar and metric
system were adopted.
• Family surnames, like those in the
West, were used. Kemal himself was
granted the surname Ataturk (Father
of the Turks) by the Turkish
parliament in 1934.
• Against Islamic tradition, in 1934
Ataturk granted women the right to
vote, hold public office, and to get an
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Arabic script was
replaced with the
Latin alphabet for
the Turkish
• In this famous
photo, Ataturk
teaches Latin
letters to school
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Ataturk developed a five-year
economic plan. The Turks were
determined not to be dependent
on Western capital.
• Turkey trained engineers and
technical experts so the
country wouldn’t have to rely on
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• Under Ataturk, industrialization
increased, factories were
established under state
guidance, and cities grew.
• Unions were forbidden to strike
(so as not to impede economic
The Birth of Modern Turkey
• But Ataturk’s goals
were not entirely
• The rural majority
was not entirely
supportive so many
secular reforms did
not overcome
Muslim objections.
• Economic growth
was slow and
poverty continued
to be widespread.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Qing China:
Qing China
• In Qing (Manchu) China (16441912), technical, bureaucratic,
and organizational innovation that
had been among the hallmarks of
Chinese society went into serious
• This will set the stage for both
internal turmoil and external
Qing China
• American foodstuffs from the
Columbian Exchange (corn,
potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts,
etc) helped China’s population
explode during the Qing period.
• More people in a stagnating empire
is a recipe for disaster for the ruling
Qing China
• The Qing also greatly
underestimated the tenacity of the
“barbarian” Europeans they were
going to encounter.
• Even though Britain (and Europe)
had a fraction of China’s population,
Europe had greatly advanced
technologically and was by the late
18th century, China’s superior.
Qing China
• China remained politically and
socially independent as it was not
directly ruled by Europeans.
• But China, like so many others, lost
its economic independence as it
was drawn into the European
dominated world economy.
Qing China
• Further away and stronger than
Africa or India, China was able to
keep the West at bay until the late
• But by the 1830’s, Europe’s desire to
get into China was unstoppable…
especially the British who were too
strong to be kept out…they wanted
new markets and more Chinese
Qing China
• The British wanted Chinese
trade goods but there was little
the Chinese wanted in return
from Britain.
• So a lot of British bullion (silver)
flowed to China (making the
British very unhappy).
Qing China
• The Qing (Ching)
maintained the Ming
policy of restricting
foreign trade.
• In 1793, the British
sent a diplomatic
delegation led by
Lord Macartney to
establish better
trade relations with
the Chinese.
Qing China
• Lord Macartney brought
samples of British-made goods
to show the advantages of trade
with the West.
• The Chinese thought these
goods were crude products and
merely gifts of tribute to the
Qing China
• Macartney insisted
on an audience
with the emperor
and was told he
would have to
perform the
traditional kowtow
(touching his head
to the ground to
show respect for
the emperor).
Qing China
• Macartney refused, and further
insulted the Chinese by
speaking of the “natural”
superiority of the British.
• The negotiations went nowhere
and Lord Macartney returned to
Britain without a deal.
Qing China
• Emperor Qianlong (r.
1736-1795) wrote a
letter to King George
III denying Britain’s
request for more
trading rights and
ambassadors. How
does his language
express his view that
China is superior to
Qing China
• “As to what you have requested in your
message, O King…this does not conform
to the Celestial Empire’s ceremonial
system, and definitely cannot be
done…How can we go so far to change the
regulations of the Celestial
Empire…because of the request of one
man—of you, O King?
We have never valued clever articles,
nor do we have the slightest need of your
country’s manufactures…You, O King
should simply act in conformity with our
wishes by strengthening your loyalty and
swearing perpetual obedience so as to
ensure that your country may share the
blessings of peace.”
Qing China
• For the 82 year old Chinese emperor,
nearing the end of his long reign (59
years), the concept of permanent
representation by a European power at
the Chinese court was inconceivable.
• His letter expressed the emperor’s
continuing belief in China’s central
position in the world, and his lack of
understanding of the changes taking
place in the West during the early
industrial revolution.
Qing China
• By the early 1800’s, China faced
several internal problems. A
continuously rising population put
pressure on resources and the
government’s administrative
• The 100 million people of 1650
tripled to 300 million in 1800 and
reached 420 million by 1850.
Qing China
• More land was needed but the
Manchus wouldn’t allow Chinese
settlement in their homeland.
• Nor did they increase the size of
their bureaucracy to service the
growing population…instead
delegating responsibilities to
inept/corrupt local authorities.
Qing China
• One strength of the Chinese
economy was the sale of tea,
silk, and porcelains to the West
in exchange for silver and gold.
• Through time, the British
discovered the Chinese would
accept opium in place of
Qing China
• So the British began
selling opium to the
Chinese in exchange
for silver and goods in
the late 1700’s (about
1000 chests a
year/133lbs per chest).
• By 1838, Britain
shipped over 40,000
chests of opium to
China a year (over 5
million pounds).
Qing China
• Even though China had laws
prohibiting the importation and sale
of opium, the Chinese government
did little to enforce their laws.
• By the 1820’s, China was
purchasing so much opium that the
flow of silver was going back to
Qing China
• Levels of addiction eventually grew
so large, China created more laws
banning the importation, sale, and
use of the drug. Chinese drug
dealers were executed.
• Addiction was so rampant (over 1%
of the population) that it began to
affect the ability of the military and
government to conduct daily
Qing China
• The Chinese government wanted
to stop the opium trade but the
British refused. The British
insisted on the right of “free
Qing China
• In 1839, the Chinese
government blockaded
the port of Canton
hoping to force the
British opium traders
to hand over their
• The leading English
opium trader was
arrested and 20,000
chests of opium were
Qing China
• The British
responded with
force by declaring
war on the Chinese
(to protect British
• China was no match
for British firepower
as Britain flexed its
new industrial
Qing China
• Outdated Chinese ships and
weapons were quickly rendered
• British troops landed in
southern China and quickly
captured five key port cities and
destroyed several Chinese forts.
Qing China
• In 1842 the British made the
Chinese accept the Treaty of
Nanjing which forced China to
open its markets to European
commerce. Christian
missionaries were now also
permitted to preach in China.
• The treaty also gave the British
five coastal ports (the most
famous was Hong Kong).
Qing China
• The flow of opium to China
continued. The Chinese even
had to pay the British a huge
indemnity (payment for losses
in the war).
• Europeans lived in their own
separate sections of these five
port cities and were not subject
to Chinese law
Qing China
• After their crushing defeat to
the British in the Opium War,
the Manchu’s (or Qing) tried to
westernize by trying to
modernize their army and by
trying to develop an industrial
base (railroads, armaments,
shipbuilding, etc).
Qing China
• But the Manchu were weak and
getting weaker.
• European traders and missionaries
made inroads for the West.
• This interaction with the West,
creating both major economic and
cultural pressure on China, helped
create a mass movement called the
Taiping Rebellion (“Heavenly
Kingdom of Peace”) 1850-1864.
Civilizations in Crisis
• This pressure was compounded by
widespread poverty, an extravagant
royal court, widespread official
corruption, and tax evasion of the
• The leaders of the rebellion
promoted “radical” ideas like
prohibition of opiumsmoking,
gambling, the use of tobacco and
wine, polygamy, the sale of slaves,
and prostitution.
Civilizations in Crisis
• They promoted the equality of the
sexes, they abolished foot-binding,
and even appointed of women as
administrators and officers in the
Taiping army.
• They also tried to abolish the
private ownership of land and
property while developing a program
for the equal distribution of land.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Hong Xiuquan, leader
of the Taiping (he
believed he was the
younger brother of
• By the mid-1850’s the
Taiping controlled half
of China.
• The Qing asked the
British and French for
aid in exchange for
greater influence.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Taiping
Rebellion (actually it
was a civil war)
became the most
devastating peasant
revolt in history.
• It has been
estimated that
between 20-30
million people died.
Civilizations in Crisis
• When the rebellion was finally
crushed, the Manchu were still
weak and Western powers had
virtually unlimited access to China.
• Several nations then developed
spheres of influence (exclusive
trading or mineral rights to a
region) within China.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Britain, France, Russia, Germany,
and Japan all had spheres of
influence in China, where they
paid a regional warlord for the
rights to his province.
• China was even forced to lease
these powers land to build naval
bases to protect their “spheres.”
Civilizations in Crisis
• In 1894, the Chinese suffered a
humiliating defeat by the
Japanese in the Sino-Japanese
War. Japan now controlled the
Korean Peninsula and the Island of
Civilizations in Crisis
• This war, and
the European
spheres of
influence, has
often been
referred to
“carving up the
Chinese melon.”
Civilizations in Crisis
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Russians got Port Arthur, the
British got the “New Territories”
around Hong Kong, the Germans
got a leasehold in Shantung, and
the Americans got nothing.
• Concentrating largely on the
Philippines and Guam, the
Americans had missed the Chinese
boat and so insisted on an "open
door" policy in China.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The American response
to spheres of influence
was Secretary of State
John Hay’s “Open Door
Policy” (1899).
• Hay insisted that the
United States receive
the same commercial
rights as the other
foreign powers. It
demanded equal
access for all nations
to trade in China.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The “Open Door Policy” was meant
to prevent foreign powers from
carving China into colonies.
• The “Policy” was sent to the
diplomatic missions of Britain,
France, Germany, Russia, and
Japan but Secretary Hay never
received a formal response.
• He took that to mean that everyone
accepted his proposal.
Civilizations in Crisis
• In reality, the Open Door Policy
was an attempt by the United
States to get in on the Chinese
market before it was totally used
up by the European powers.
• Chinese frustration with the West
exploded in 1898-1900 in what
became known as the Boxer
Civilizations in Crisis
• The influx of
foreigners and foreign
ways gave rise to a
nativist group called
the Society of the
Righteous and
Harmonious Fists…
they were commonly
called the Boxers. The
boxing stance was
thought to protect
them from Western
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Boxers looked to kill all
foreigners and Chinese Christians.
• The goal of the Boxers was to rid
China of the “foreign devils” who
were polluting the land with their
un-Chinese ways (clothes,
hairstyles, food, etc), strange
buildings, machines (like the
railroad), and telegraph lines.
Civilizations in Crisis
• This is an orthodox
• These are examples
icon of Chinese
of traditional weapons
Christian martyrs from
used by the Boxers.
the Boxer Rebellion.
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Boxers were
secretly favored by
Manchu officials
and the court of
the Empress Cixi
who hoped to use
them to rid the
country of
Civilizations in Crisis
• The Boxers moved through
north-eastern China, attacking
foreigners and killing more than
250 missionaries, thousands of
Chinese Christians, and a
German embassy official.
• They derailed railroads, cut
telegraph lines, and attacked
anything foreign.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Then they besieged foreign diplomats and
their families living in the diplomatic
compound of Peking (Beijing). After
several weeks of siege the diplomats
were nearly out of food and on the verge
of annihilation.
Civilizations in Crisis
• An international military force of
50,000 troops (led by Japan)
came in and crushed the Boxers.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Humiliated, the Chinese government
was forced to pay the western
powers for all damages. The Manchu
government became even shakier
and revolution was in the air.
• The indemnity the Chinese were
forced to pay these nations amounted
to $333.0 million (in silver) to be paid
over the next 39 years.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Of that sum, $24.5 million was to go
to United States.
• When the U.S. government realized
that this was far more than the
expense for its troops and the
damages caused from the fighting, it
reimbursed the Chinese government
$18.0 million.
• The Chinese government was so
grateful, Sino-American relations
became very close.
Civilizations in Crisis
• As a result of the Boxer Rebellion,
China was forced to allow foreign
troops to be stationed on her soil
and to allow foreign naval vessels to
patrol Chinese rivers and coastal
• Before the Boxer Rebellion, the
Empress Cixi (Tz’u-hsi) had resisted
Western influences and change.
• Now China was forced to change.
Civilizations in Crisis
• An education system, based on the
Western model was established.
• Even a regional, ELECTED assembly
was established in 1905.
• Elections for a national assembly
took place in 1910.
Civilizations in Crisis
• These reforms were not
enough to stem the
mounting discontentment
with the Manchu dynasty.
Its days were numbered.
• When the Empress Cixi
(Tz’u-hsi) died in 1908, she
had named a two year-old
prince (nephew) to become
emperor. Henry Puyi (P’u-yi)
became known as the “last
Civilizations in Crisis
• In 1911,
revolutionaries led by
American educated
Dr. Sun Yat-sen
overthrew the
Manchu and declared
China to be a republic
(the ROC).
• Over 2,500 years of
dynastic rule in China
was over.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Unfortunately, Dr. Sun Yat-sen did
not have the full backing of the army
and a civil war ensued.
• Dr. Sun Yat-sen fled the country but
returned seven years later as the
leader of the “new” China.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Dr. Yat-sen promoted the
ideas of liberalism, and
pushed for a nationally
elected president, a publicly
elected parliament, and a
• These ideas were new to
• He also promoted equalizing
land ownership (something
not done until the
Communists much later).
Civilizations in Crisis
• Most famously, Dr. Sun Yat-sen
developed a political philosophy
known as The Three Principles
necessary to make China a free,
prosperous, and powerful country:
• 1). nationalism
• 2). Democracy (or government of the
• 3). social welfare (government making
sure people had access to food, clothing,
housing, transportation)
Civilizations in Crisis
• From before WWI
and into the
1920’s, there was
a growing
acceptance of
Western culture,
especially among
the growing urban
(and increasingly
educated) middle
Civilizations in Crisis
• Western hairstyles, western
clothes, western novels, western
art, western music, etc all
became very popular with the
growing middle class.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Westernization positively affected the
Chinese economy in three ways:
• 1). The West introduced modern production
methods (the factory system),
transportation, and communications.
• 2). The West created an expanded Chinese
export economy.
• 3). The West re-integrated China into the
world economic system.
• Unfortunately, the downside was local
Chinese industry was often destroyed and
most profits went overseas.
Civilizations in Crisis
• Traditional Confucian ideals declined
in influence throughout the first
quarter of the 20th century.
• But despite China’s natural
resources, large population, and
initial Westernization, it remained
relatively weak and was a primary
target of Japanese aggression in the
decade leading up to World War II.

Civilizations in Crisis: The Ottomans, the Islamic