Battle of Palikao
The Battle of Palikao (French: Le Combat de Palikao, Chinese: 八里橋之戰; pinyin: Bālǐqiáo zhī zhàn; literally: "Battle of the Eight-Mile Bridge") was fought at the bridge of Palikao by Anglo-French forces against China during the Second Opium War on the morning of 21 September 1860. It allowed Western forces to take the capital Beijing and eventually defeat the Qing Empire.
The combined Anglo-French force which had recently occupied Tianjin engaged a Chinese army numbering thousands at Baliqiao. A fierce battle ensued, with the Anglo-French force inflicting massive losses on the Chinese army. Beijing was invaded thereafter.
On the Chinese side, Sengge Rinchen's troops, including elite Mongolian cavalry, were completely annihilated after several doomed frontal charges against concentrated firepower from the allied forces.
The French troops were led by Charles Guillaume Cousin-Montauban, who was then awarded the title of Count of Palikao and a decade later, the 31st prime minister by Napoléon III. The British land forces were commanded by Sir James Hope Grant.
The Anglo-French forces entered Beijing on 6 October. Anglo-French troops in Beijing began looting the Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace. Harry Smith Parkes and the surviving diplomatic prisoners were freed, Lord Elgin ordered the Summer Palaces be burnt down, starting on 18 October. The destruction of the Forbidden City was even discussed, as proposed by Lord Elgin to discourage the Chinese from using kidnapping as a bargaining tool, and to exact revenge on the mistreatment of their prisoners.
In the Treaty of Tientsin, the Qing court agreed to all Western demands, including the payment of indemnities and the acceptance of foreign diplomats at the imperial court in Beijing. Because neither Qing nor Western diplomats discussed the opium trade, the Treaty effectively liberalized it.
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