Skip to content

OU on the BBC: Timewatch - The Boxer Rebellion

Updated Tuesday, 30th September 2008

The Boxer Rebellion might only be dimly-remembered, but as Timewatch explained, it was pivotal in world history

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

A Boxer at a performance Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team Gruppe 5 - cleared for TV, DVD and internet

Based on the eyewitness accounts of the entrapped, and drawing on the latest historical research by Western and Chinese historians, this programme illustrates a unique historic episode in which, brought together in war, the Middle Kingdom and the western states wrote world history.

Peking, June 1900: The “Society of Rights and Harmonious Fists”, known by the Europeans as “Boxers,” have entrapped more than 3,000 foreigners and Chinese Christians in the diplomatic quarter. The Boxers want to kill all foreigners and free China from the influence of the 'western devils'. After 55 days of despair, a western relief army brings the siege to an end.

On the 20th of June 1900, fighting breaks out between Western troops and Chinese insurgents supported by imperial forces. The rebels, known as Boxers, want to rid China of Western control and of the hated Christian missionaries. Soon, hundreds of diplomats and their families, as well as thousands of Chinese Christian converts, are under siege in the Western legations, cut off from the outside world. In an unprecedented alliance, the foreign powers, among them the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany, send a relief force to rescue the beleaguered.

Further reading

A Brief History of the Boxer RebellionDiana Preston, Robinson Publishing

The Boxers, China, and the WorldRA Bickers, Rowman & Littlefield

The Fists of Righteous Harmony: History of the Boxer Uprising in China Henry Keown-Boyd, Pen & Sword Books

Go deeper

Women at the Siege, Peking 1900, Susanna Hoe, (HOLO Books: The Women's History Press

First broadcast: Friday 20 Jan 2006 on BBC TWO





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?