The Boxer Rebellion, 1900

On one side of the rebellion were the so-called Boxers known as the I Ho Ch’uan or Righteous Harmonious Fists. This was originally a secret society that dated back before 1700 and whose origins are cloaked in myths and legends. What is clear is that in 1747 a group of Jesuits were expelled from China due to Boxer influence. A series of bad harvests, plagues, and harsh sanctions imposed by the Western powers and Japan (after the war of 1894-5) had caused much bad feeling. There was a growing fear that the Chinese would be reduced to servants of the western powers, into this environment the Boxers started preaching anti western beliefs. The Boxers saw anything Western as evil and practiced traditional martial arts and used Chinese weapons such as curved halberds and spears. All foreigners were 1st class devils and Chinese who had converted to Christianity were 2nd class devils, those who worked for the foreigners were 3rd class devils. The Boxers were very superstitious, believing in spells and magic that would mean they were immune to western bullets and such incantations would be used to create a trance like state among the followers. The Boxers were not above using printing presses to publish huge numbers of leaflets spreading their propaganda accusing the catholic church of abusing Chinese women and children.