On June 21, 1900, China’s Empress Dowager Cixi declared war on the Eight Nation Alliance—the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, United States, Germany, Italy, France, and Austria-Hungary. The declaration was the height of the Boxer Rebellion, a violent anti-Western movement that was crushed a year later.
 
Members of the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan) were nicknamed “Boxers” by Westerners because of their practice of martial arts and vigorous calisthenics. The Boxer movement resented what it interpreted as a growing and unfair Western and Japanese influence in China—the expansion of Western businesses, the outreach of Christian missionaries, and the privileged treatment of Western residents. The Boxers and their supporters attacked and burned businesses and churches, and assaulted and killed individuals. Christian missionaries were especially targeted.
 
The Boxers were ultimately defeated. Troops from the Eight Nation Alliance stormed the Forbidden City, took control of the Chinese capital of Beijing, forced the imperial court (including the empress) to flee, and imposed a treaty that devastated the Chinese economy
 
The failure of the Boxer Rebellion led to a leadership crisis in China. This, in turn, contributed to the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, in which a republican government replaced the 2,000 year-old Chinese empire.
assault
Noun

violent attack.

Boxer Rebellion
Noun

(1898-1901) anti-Western, anti-Christian movement in China.

calisthenics
Plural Noun

repetitive exercises (such as sit-ups or jumping jacks) performed to promote physical fitness, usually conducted without special equipment.

Noun

city where a region's government is located.

Christian
Noun

people and culture focused on the teachings of Jesus and his followers.

court
Noun

monarch or other noble person and the group of people who serve, advise, and consult with them, or the place where this group meets.

declare
Verb

to state clearly, in formal terms.

defeat
Verb

to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

devastate
Verb

to destroy.

dowager
Adjective

widow who has inherited property or titles from her husband.

economy
Noun

system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

empire
Noun

group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.

expansion
Noun

process of enlarging.

flee
Verb

to run away.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

immunity
Noun

condition of being resistant to disease or liability.

imperial
Adjective

having to do with an empire.

impose
Verb

to force or set out rules to be followed.

influence
Verb

to encourage or persuade a person or organization to act a certain way.

interpret
Verb

to explain or understand the meaning of something.

martial arts
Plural Noun

forms of self-defense and combat that do not usually use weapons.

militia
Noun

group of armed, ordinary citizens who are called up for emergencies and are not full-time soldiers.

privilege
Noun

benefit or special right.

republic
Noun

system of government where power rests in citizens who vote and representatives who stand for those citizens. The United States is a republic.

resent
Verb

to reject or dismiss due to a sense of injury or insult.

treaty
Noun

official agreement between groups of people.

ultimate
Adjective

final or maximum.

vigorous
Adjective

active or energetic.

West
Noun

having to do with the developed nations of Europe and North America.