This chapter discusses the role played by Cixi in the Boxer Uprising. During the uprising, Beijing lay in ruins concealed by smoke, flames, and darkness. Hoping to damage foreign properties, the Boxers instead had dealt a blow to one of Beijing's architectural treasures: fires set in the Dutch legation were shifted by prevailing winds from the real target, the American legation, and soon had the Qianmen (Zhengyangmen), the grand southern gateway leading into the Tartar City, exploding in flames. This chapter argues that although it is not easy to characterize the empress dowager loving a spectacle of destruction, one thing can be reasonably sure, however: through the smoke of burning Beijing, she had an eye trained on the American legation.
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