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Tiananmen Coup (Napoleon's World)

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The Tiananmen Coup was an attempted coup d'etat by conservative members of the Chinese Imperial military on October 4th, 1908 against the Guangxu Emperor, in which a force of 3,500 soldiers, many of them ranking officers, marched to Tiananmen Square in Peking and attempted to storm the palace and seize the Emperor and his family to prevent Western-style reforms from being enacted, as they had been ten years prior during the Hundred Days' Reform that had ended in a similarly failed coup.

The leader of the coup attempt, Yuan Shikai, was a staunch conservative supporter of the dying Empress Dowager Cixi, who had been marginalized by the reform-minded Guangxu in the early years of the 20th century, although the impetus for the coup was the anger felt by the military over a lack of compensation, gratitude or recognition by Guangxu following their hard-earned victory over Japan in the Yellow Sea War. Guangxu and his family escaped Peking during the violence outside, and the coup officially began the Chinese Civil War.

Historians cite the disorganized methods of the soldiers as a reason for their failure to secure all of Peking as well as the Emperor, and one of the major conservative figureheads, Cixi, died a month later. However, the coup indicated to both the radical liberals - especially the agrarian communists - that destabilizing the Guangxu government was possible, and the army leaders came to find a healthy stable of disillusioned veterans to recruit to their cause over the next several months.

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