15 - The Empire Strikes Back: The Second Opium War

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Want more FOH? Visit footnotesofhistory.com/join Subscribe and get shownotes at footnotesofhistory.com/15 We're back in the East for China's second run-in with the European powers. What with the humiliation experienced by China at the hands of Britain a decade beforehand, it's not surprising that a second generation of Chinese were a bit more touchy about being pushed around. Their patience finally ran out when the confusing trading system led them to raid a British vessel - assuming it to be a pirate ship - and arresting the crew. In the usual proportionate manner, then-PM and serial subject of Footnotes of History interest, Viscount Palmerston, ordered an assault against Canton and the Taku forts, firing the first shots of the Second Opium War. What with the Taipeng Rebellion kicking off on one side and trigger-happy Europeans on the other, it's hard to see how the Qing dynasty could find a way out of this one.

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