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Friday, 13 July 2018

World History: Seven Years' War

A depiction of the Battle of Warburg, 1760
The Seven Years' War was a key war in shaping the world in which we live in today. For one, it has been seen as the first truly world war - Winston Churchill's A History of the English Speaking Peoples goes as far as to call it the First World War and some historians refer to it as World War Zero. American readers would likely know this war by another name - the French-Indian War. What is now Canada and the United States proved instrumental in both causing the war and making them the centre of world politics. From the Seven Years' War Britain and Prussia emerged as great powers, British rule in India became established, and the seeds of the formation of the United States were planted. Events in the Americas greatly linked to the events of Europe which linked to events in India, Africa and the Philippines. We also see a bit of a conundrum in how long the war was. From official declaration of war to the peace treaties the war lasted just under seven years (six years and eight months), fighting broke out in America in 1754, and some historians place it as an extension of earlier wars. I will warn people now; I am not a military historian so I'll be focusing less on battles as I won't be able to properly describe them.

A map of the Five Nations in modern New York and Pennsylvania
Some historians, such as Fred Anderson, place more emphasis on the American origins whereas others, like Franz Szabo, place more emphasis on Europe. Thanks to how intertwined European and American affairs were during this war both are technically correct. In this section we'll look at the background of the war in Europe, the Americas, and India. We'll first look at the Americas. Since the start of the 1600s England (after 1707 Britain) and France had established colonies in North America and the Caribbean and by 1750 they started becoming prosperous. Of course sugar, tobacco, indigo, and coffee plantations in the Caribbean based on slavery made a fortune so until the 1700s London viewed its colonies in what is now the US as a bit of a backwater wilderness. However, thanks to the Navigation Acts of 1651, 1660, and 1663, which prevented non-English shipping to the colonies, they became a thriving market for English/British exports causing the population to boom from 234,000 in 1700 to 1,206,000 in 1750 (of which 242,000 were slaves). For this Britain needed a big navy to protect their maritime merchants. Meanwhile, French colonies in the Caribbean, like Martinique and Saint-Domingue, prospered and they took advantage of their position on the mainland by controlling the Mississippi through New Orleans. French Canada was not prosperous, called a 'barren frontier', but was kept as described by Admiral Roland-Michel Barren, comte de la Galissoniere, who argued that France needed to keep Canada to limit British expansion which would give their enemy an economic advantage. Finally we have the Native Americans. European settlers and traders confronted various Native American peoples including the Iroquois Five Nations, (composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga, and Cayuga) which became the Six Nations when joined by the Tuscarora. Europeans traded weapons with the Five Nations in return for crops, fish, and pelts where in the mid-1600s the Nations waged a vicious and bloody war of conquest to get access to more land. The Hurons, Eries, and Neutrals were dispersed from the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley of Monongahela, Shawnee and other residents so they could have greater access to resources. The Five Nations, and other Native Americans, when they could would pit English and French colonies against one another profiting as the two went to war although at times it did backfire, especially when Anglophile, Francophile and Neutral factions threatened to tear the confederacy apart in 1701. 
Frederick II of Prussia
Meanwhile, in Europe the Anglo-French rivalry wove into geopolitics. After 1661 Bourbon France under Louis XIV became the most important continental power challenging their Habsburg opponents in Austria and Spain. The Nine Years' War (1688-97), War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) and War of Austrian Succession (1740-8) had been waged over the Bourbon-Habsburg rivalry which brought in wider states, including Britain. Until just before the Seven Years' War Britain had allied itself to Austria against their mutual rival of France as argued by the Duke of Newcastle in 1743; he argued Britain had to intervene on the continent as if France managed to dominate the continent it would manage to gain the economic and naval might to threaten Britain. Of course there were other intermittent wars which also affected India and America. Times were changing. Ostensibly dynastic wars soon developed other factors - for example thanks to the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) Britain placed economy and strategy over land grabs gaining land in Canada, and the strategic ports of Gibraltar and Minorca. The rise of Prussia in Germany is part of this. Frederick II of Prussia (r.1740-86), later called 'the Great' by nationalists, built upon the military and economic reforms of his father allowing the small state of Prussia to soon become a dominant power in Europe. Taking advantage of the disputed succession of Austria's Maria Theresa he invaded Austria to seize the wealthy lands of Silesia which he kept after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748). Similarly Russia trying to be closer to its western neighbours started intervening more and more. 

Finally we have India. After the death of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1707, which you can read about here, the Mughals started going into a decline. Parts of the empire fell to the rising power of the Marathas, Mysore and other powers, over-taxation caused uprisings, and decentralised rule started to tear apart the empire. Local rulers named nawabs were increasingly granted by Aurangazeb the ability to be 'tax farmers' where they would collect taxes on behalf of the empire and they would get to keep some of the revenue raised via this. As a result over-taxation happened as some nawabs chose to profit by raising taxes to raise their profit. However, some, like the nawabs of Bengal and Oudh, eventually stopped paying taxes to the central government becoming de facto independent from the Mughals. Since the 1500s Europeans had formed the East Indian Trading Companies to trade in Asia and established fortified settlements, called factories, in India (and other areas) to trade. Among these was Pondicherry for France, Goa for Portugal and Surat for Britain. With the decline of Mughal rule Companies had to rely on their own armies to protect themselves and actively court local merchants - in the case of Bengal Jagat Sen and Omi Chand. 

Fort Duquense
Now that we've looked at the very extensive background we can finally look at the origins of the war. Originally only the European aspects were discussed but since the 1960s the American have started to be seen as being just as, or even more, important as the European origins. The focal point of this was the Ohio Valley. In the early-1740s the wealthy Penn family, of whom Pennsylvania is named after, made a deal with the Six Nations which deprived the Delawares of two-thirds of their land and opened up the region for colonial settlers. At the same time France, wanting to solidify its connection to the Canadian colonies started building forts along the Ohio River which alarmed the British who feared that the French presence would influence Native Americans to attack the settlers. There were few French settlers while instead most were traders so posed far less a threat to their land compared to their Anglo counterparts. Furthermore, religion intervened. French Jesuit missionaries had converted some tribes to Catholicism making them more disposed to be sympathetic to the French compared to the Protestant settlers. Things came to ahead when France, despite threats from Britain, built Fort Duquesne where the Allegheny and Monongehala Rivers met. A colonial militia led by the young George Washington in retaliation attacked a small French force at Jumonville Glen in May 1754 killing ten, including the commander Jumonville, causing a French retaliatory attack on Fort Necessity forcing Washington to surrender. As this was eighteenth-century diplomacy negotiation involved sending more troops to the colonies where in June 1755 the British attacked the French in Canada and then proceeded to expel the Acadians. The following month one of the most famous battle took place during the war. A force of 2,000 British troops under Edward Braddock, with a young Washington, marched to take Fort Duquesne but were ambushed by French and their Native American allies wiping out the force with Braddock even being killed. For two years massacres, atrocities, and battles took place. Hundreds of settlers were killed, around 5,000 Acadians eventually were expelled, British ships attacked the French in the Mediterranean and British forts fell in northern New York. 

As this was happening a 'Diplomatic Revolution' was being organised in Europe. As argued by Franz Szabo victory over Austria had inflated Frederick II's ego while Britain disappointed Maria Theresa by allowing the Habsburgs to lose many key lands. Frederick wanted to continue war against Austria and possibly conquer Hanover but doing so would draw in Britain as through a series of events, which deserves to be talked about by itself, George of Hanover was also George II of Britain. Frederick was unsure if France would be a willing ally as they had been during the War of Austrian Succession as another victory had the potential of making Prussia a big enough power to challenge France. The states of Europe took notice of events in North America and saw a new Anglo-French war was brewing. By 1756 Britain no longer saw Austria as a strong enough to challenge France and George II always preferred Hanover to Britain and believed that Austria was unable to defend his German kingdom. The rising power of Prussia could serve as a good alternative and an alliance was made in the 1756 Westminster Convention formalised in a proper alliance two years later. Seeing this Maria Theresa sent her foreign minister, Count Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz, to approach France who agreed to an alliance with the 1756 Treaty of Versailles as France now viewed the rising Prussia as a bigger threat to them. Hearing about the anti-Prussian alliance and bolstered by the British alliance Frederick invaded Saxony officially starting the Seven Years' War. Doing so, however, enraged Europe who saw it as an unprovoked attack allowing Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia to enter an alliance with France and Austria sending 80,000 to her new allies.

Course of the War
The Battle of Prague
In this section I'll briefly go over the land and naval battles. Prussia managed to get off to an early lead defeating the Saxon army at the Battle of Lobositz in October 1756 before it could be reinforced by the Austrians and quickly managed to occupy Saxony. Things weren't going as well for Britain. The Battle of Minorca saw the French navy defeating the British and the island fell so the angry British decided to court-martial and execute Admiral John Byng who lost the island. In America more and more forts were captured by the French and their Native American allies. Much more tribes allied to France over Britain for the earlier mentioned reasons, hence why it is called the French-Indian War in the US. Frederick, however, would also start seeing defeat. His own indecision had allowed the Austrians to occupy some of Silesia, and a year later despite winning the bloody Battle of Prague he was roundly defeated as he tried to siege the city while also fighting an Austrian counterattack. In the summer of 1757 Russia took Prussia's key fort in Memel and used it to attack the centre of the kingdom but its own logistics prevented it from doing too much damage. Seeing this Sweden intervened to take Prussian Pomerania, (which is why it is called the Pomeranian War in Sweden), and a Hungarian general, Andras Hadik, defeated Frederick even briefly occupying Berlin. Two British governments, the Duke of Newcastle and William Pitt, fell due to setbacks in America, such as the fall of Fort William Henry, forming a new coalition government which combined the two prime minister's tactics. By 1759 the French-Austrian-Russian alliance was succeeding so much that France even managed to formulate a plan to invade Britain! However, the strength of the British navy prevented this. The British navy managed to destroy the French fleets at the Battle of Lagos and Quiberon Bay scuppering these plans and allowed Britain to blockade French ports. From 1759 to 1763 the war in Europe was largely at a stalemate. Frederick's prestige had been shattered, especially by the Russians, and had only been saved by poor Russian logistics and the destroyed economies of France and Austria. In 1762 Elizabeth of Russia died and her son Peter, who loved Prussia, mediated a peace including Sweden and even placed some of his troops under Frederick's control. However, the following year Peter was ousted in a coup led by his wife, Catherine the Great, who took Russia out of the war. The war in Europe was reaching a stalemate with the combatants slipping to bankruptcy and deaths in the hundreds of thousands. However, the war was instead won outside of Europe.

I want to talk about India separately so I'll discuss the course of the war in the Americas, Africa, and Asia instead. British prime minister William Pitt believed, quite rightly, that the war would be won in the colonies over the Duke of Newcastle's plan to focus on propping up Prussia. It turned out both tactics was needed as shown in his quote by an American contemporary 'The great object of the nation is the American war...the probability of our succeeding in our main point is...much increased by the part the French take in the affairs of Germany, which turns their attention, as well as their money, from their marine, and...making expeditions to our Colonies.' French troops in America were led by the Marquis de Montcalm who managed to thrash the British, with his Native American allies, in the first half of the war capturing Fort William Henry in 1757 and Fort Carillon in 1758. However, despite this Montcalm was unable to prevent the capture of several key forts including Frontenac and finally Duquense and 1759 proved to be disastrous for the French. Under generals James Wolfe and James Murray Louisbourg and Fort Niagara fell to the British opening the way to Quebec which fell in September. At the Battle of the Plains of Abraham the British defeated the French and Six Nations despite the death of Wolfe during the battle with Montcalm also dying a day later from his wounds. Montreal was captured shortly after and the Six Nations in 1760 opted to sign a peace treaty with Britain. When Spain entered the war Britain managed to capture both Cuba and the Philippines, as well as Gaudeloupe in 1759. We also have the African front. In 1758 at the request of traders Pitt sent a fleet capturing the fort of Saint Louis in Senegal which they expanded upon later.

India and the Seven Years' War
The Battle of Plassey
In India the Seven Years' War has been known as the Third Carnatic War, the earlier two had been fought between the British East Indian Company (EIC) and the French Compagnie des Indes and had saw Robert Clive become influential for fighting in the wars. The EIC in Kalikata, (Calcutta), had been reinforcing their factory in case of French attack which made the nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud Daula, fearful. The EIC's connection to the wealthy merchants Jagat Seth and Omi Chand in accompaniment with their own might made the nawab fearful that they were working to undermine his rule. When the EIC continued fortifying Fort William Siraj attacked and local Indian troops deserted leading to the fort's capture in June 1756. What happened next has gone down in infamy from the account of the civilian commander John Zephaniah Howell. We know very little about the 'Black Hole of Calcutta' as it was soon exaggerated to justify war in India. Possibly between 64 and 68 soldiers were kept overnight in a 4.3m x 5.5m room, although Howell and some later historians argued that Siraj did not order and may not have known about the imprisonment. The next day thanks to heat and suffocation only around 23 survived. Stories soon were spread exaggerating the numbers and claiming that women and children had also been captured. It gave easy justification for the EIC to send Robert Clive from Madras (modern Chennai) to retake Calcutta and defeat Siraj. They met at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 but Crispin Bates has argued it is a bit of a stretch to call it a battle. Our earlier mentioned merchants disliked Siraj's high taxes and had made money with their EIC connections so decided to make the battle easier. They bribed a major general, Mir Jaffar, into switching sides and he did marching his troops to join Clive. As a result in a battle with over 60,000 combatants only 522 people died. Strangely the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah I, was pleased; he had been angry that Siraj had been stopped sending tax payments which limited attempts at reform. When the war ended in 1765 the EIC was given to them to rule over. After Plassey the EIC and their allies turned on the other Europeans in India, i.e. the French, and roundly defeated them.

Economies and Logistics
The Seven Years' War has been viewed as one of the first 'modern' wars in which the global economy and logistics had to be taken into account. For example, the Russians had failed to reform their supply lines and logistics of such a large army, the Russian army was often twice the size of that of Frederick, since their earlier war with the Ottoman Empire. This meant that although they could take Memel they were unable to properly enter Prussian lands giving Frederick time to breathe. The way the war was thought out also hinged on how they could utilise the economies and resources of their own states and hamper that of their opponents. In 1746 Frederick wrote in General Principles of War that if one wanted to succeed it was legitimate and just to coerce peoples in occupied lands into helping the war effort. Franz Szabo even uses the term 'merciless fiscal exploitation of Saxony' to describe his actions after taking Dresden where 5 million Talers of the 6 million Talers of Saxony's annual taxation went to funding Frederick's war. By the end of the war 50 million was extracted from Saxony. Britain and France were the ones fighting on all fronts so had to balance both. Hence why Britain had to balance Pitt's colonial war and Newcastle's continental one. Small contingents were sent to aid Prussia and after 1758 over £670,000 a year (£91.5 million in 2017's money) was sent to fund the Prussian war. A big part in why it is seen that the Anglo-Prussian (and later Portuguese) alliance won was due to Britain shattering the French and Spanish economy. Capturing the very rich island of Cuba and the Philippines allowed Britain to claim their wealth for itself, Saint Louis allowed Britain to have greater profits from the slave trade, and the seizing of India gave them very lucrative benefits from India trade. Even the conquer of Canada involved breaking of economic access to Quebec. Britain was also very aggressive in attacking neutral ships trading with France, as the Dutch learned, which became a policy they used until the Napoleonic Wars, and British blockades of French ports strangled the economy further. 

Why did Britain manage to do this though? Paul Kennedy has written extensively on this and has placed great emphasis on geopolitics and pre-war economics. Kennedy has argued that it is very difficult for a state to be both a continental and a world power. Although a world power France being on the continent meant that it shared land borders with its enemies which needed defending. Protecting the main base took precedence over defending America and India. In contrast Britain had the luxury of being an island offering a natural defence as a naval invasion was far more difficult although not impossible, in 1745 France (and to an extent Spain) helped Jacobite rebels invade Britain. Due to this Britain could focus far more on being a world power - a mentality which can be seen today if you look at the discourse of some of the right-wing supporters of Brexit. Events before 1754 allowed Britain to truly be a world power instead of a continental one. As mentioned earlier Britain had used its colonies to be a market for exports and was eager to take part in the Triangular Trade (slaves from Africa to the Americas whose goods were sold in Britain and the money was then used to buy more slaves). In order to make sure this trade was protected a large navy was needed. Ironic though considering how there were only a few key naval battles during the Seven Years' War and even then Britain lost one, the Battle of Minorca.

Peace and Aftermath
The expansion of British land in the US, the pinky colour is what they gained after the Treaty of Paris
Four peace treaties were signed ending the war: St Petersburg, Hamburg, Paris, and Hubertursburg. The first two, signed 1762, established status quo peace with Sweden and Russia. The other two were signed in 1763 and decided to go to pre-war borders in Europe. Thanks to Hubertursburg Prussia did manage to get Saxony and Austria to drop claims to Silesia but the real changes came thanks to the Treaty of Paris. Areas seized by Spain and France were returned to Britain and Portugal who returned the Indian factories, Guadeloupe, the Philippines, Cuba, Goree, and several Caribbean islands. Britain kept French Canada, Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica, and Florida. France also lost its land in what is now the continental US. Half of French Louisiana had been given to Spain the year before and the rest, from the Mississippi to the Appalachians, was given to Britain. However, France was just glad to keep the wealthy Guadeloupe and Voltaire dismissed Canada as 'A few acres of snow'. 

The Seven Years' War proved to be the most influential war until the First World War. Prussia had managed to establish itself as a continental power managing to survive an onslaught from France, Austria, Russia, and Sweden and thanks to Frederick managed to bounce back thanks to his immigration policies and agrarian reforms. Despite this Prussia would take a century to return to such military strength; in 1806 Prussia was defeated by Napoleon's army of French peasants at the Battle of Jena. Despite this Prussia soon became the state to imitate. The war did influence attempts to reform the Russian and French militaries to reform themselves with Russia replacing France as the key figure in Polish affairs. Over the next thirty years Russia and Prussia, and to an extent Austria, successfully divided up Poland with no interference from France. Britain came to be a great power. Before that it had been seen as second to Spain and France but thanks to the Seven Years' War the British economic and naval might made it a major player in world affairs. Thanks to the Treaty of Paris France agreed to not intervene with British client states in India giving them free reign to establish their own hegemony in India. One could become very rich via the EIC, so much so that it caused a moral panic in Britain, as it was believed that 'nabobs' like Robert Clive could use their wealth to lead a decadent life. EIC officials, and Clive was no exception, soon became as corrupt and brutal as their Indian predecessors - in 1770 misrule allowed a famine in Bengal to kill a third of the population. For a time when the Mughal emperor was captured the EIC used this to establish their rule in the north and eventually conquered the south.
The famous 1770 painting of the death of James Wolfe. Witnessing Wolfe's death are men representing England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; a trapper for America, and a Native American. Some tribes did fight for the British although more allied themselves with the French
Finally we have events in America. Initially the colonialists had welcomed victory and had expressed their love for the British. It was not uncommon for colonial elites, like Elijah Boardmen of Massachusetts, to make themselves appear like their British counterparts like modelling their homes to resemble the landed gentry, sent their sons to London for study, and Washington even had a coat of arms made! Up until the American Revolution colonialists glamorised the Seven Years' War and some of the major images associated with the war comes from this period. Many of the expelled Acadians went on to settle in Louisiana which explains the remaining strong French aspects of Cajun culture. Tensions remained high though with the Native Americans who were some of the worst affected by the result of the war. With the French out of America they lost a bulwark against Anglo-American encroachment and soon clashes between settlers and Native Americans broke out with the 1763 Pontiac's Rebellion and an attack on Detroit by Ottawas, Hurons and others the same year. This would soon pave way for genocide and displacement which would characterise the late-eighteenth century and the nineteenth. Britain, like other combatants, were bankrupted by the war. At home and America the government raised taxes causing grievances for the colonists. Various other laws, such as emancipation for Catholics and the quartering of soldiers, upset the colonists further. As a result, these all came together resulting in the American Revolution.

As we've looked over today the Seven Years' War went on to shape the world we live in. Caused by politics and economics over dynastic struggles it showed a shift away from the wars of the early modern world and that of the modern. It went on to shape the major factors which would shape the modern world which would last until the Second World War: wars which covered the entire world, the importance of the Americas, British world hegemony, Prussian hegemony in Europe, and British conquest of India. The Seven Years' War, despite not being nearly as destructive or encompassing, was truly the First World War.

Thank you for reading. The next World History post will look at the American Revolution. The sources I have used are as follows:
-Daniel Baugh, The Global Seven Years' War, 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest, (London: Routledge, 2011)
- Patrice Louis-René Higonnet, 'The Origins of the Seven Years' War', The Journal of Modern History, 40:1, (1968), pp.57-90
-Crispin Bates, Subalterns and the Raj: South Asia since 1600, (London: Routledge, 2007)
-M.S. Anderson, Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713-1783, Third Edition, (London: Longman, 1987)
-Franz Szabo, The Seven Years' War in Europe, 1756-1763, (Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2008)
-Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 2000)
-Eric Foner, Give me Liberty! An American History, Fourth Edition, (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2014)
-Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, (New York, NY: Vintage, 1989)

Thank you for reading. For other World History posts please see our list. For future blog updates please see our Facebook or catch me on Twitter @LewisTwiby

Friday, 6 July 2018

World History: Qing China

The last time we looked at China we focused on the Ming dynasty, here, and how it fell to the new Qing dynasty. From 1644 to the end of the Chinese empire in 1912 the Qing ruled China but what set them apart from prior dynasties were that they were not Han Chinese instead being Manchu. Ruling over a multi-ethnic empire we see an intriguing cultural mix and shifts in society and politics. Today we'll look at the Qing but first we first need to understand who they were and why the Ming fell. As a side note, during this post I will mention The Dream of the Red Chamber a lot so I would recommend reading my post on it here.

Fall of the Ming and Rise of the Qing
The Qing were descended from Jurchen peoples in modern Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces of northern China. Like most peoples the Jurchen had a wide variety of lifestyles ranging from hunters and fishers, to arable farmers, to traders on the Liao River who traded with Chinese emigrants. The Jurchen were united under a chieftain named Nurhaci in 1616 declaring his new state the 'Later Jin', named after another Jurchen dynasty from around four centuries prior. Nurhaci would form the backbone of the Qing state, the Banner system, and would start attacking northern China conquering Liaodong. There he started trying to establish Jurchen rule and legitimacy. Among these he claimed to never let 'the rich accumulate their grain and have it rot away' but would 'nourish the begging poor'. Between 1621 and 1625 he had a new capital to be made, Shenyang (modern Mukden), and passed edicts banning footbinding and enforcing the queue, where the front of the head was shaved and the rest was tied into a ponytail, on the Han population. Following Nurhaci's death in 1636 his son Hong Taji began reforming the new state. As Jurchen had been used as a pejorative so he renamed his people making them Manchus and also renamed the state from the 'Later Jin' to the 'Qing' which translates to 'pure' in keeping with the earlier Ming and Yuan dynasties. Hong started greater conquests and assimilating the conquered Han peoples following various revolts. As this was happening the Ming started collapsing so the new Qing started moving southwards. However, Hong died in 1643 designating his ninth son, a five year old, to succeed him as emperor and for his brother, Dorgon, to act as regent. It would be Dorgon who would conquer China for his nephew and would posthumously be called emperor, although his nephew would claim he had commit crimes and stripped him of his titles.

By 1644 the Ming faced a series of problems leading to their collapse. Under their rule China's economy and population had boomed but these would come crashing down. Harsh weather thanks to the Little Ice Age caused crop failure and floods which became far worse thanks to overpopulation. Silver from Japan and the Americas (via European traders) caused massive amounts of inflation weakening China's economic power. Thanks to this peasant rebellions soared. The Ming were unable to stop this for several reasons. An attempted invasion by Japan though Korea in 1592 weakened the state's power as a series of weak emperors dominated by court factionalism and eunuchs affected this further. Chinese society was also changing. The Ming era economic boom had allowed artisans and merchants to become wealthy which upset the Confucian system which placed them at the bottom which greatly angered the traditional elite. Furthermore, the bureaucracy was chosen by those who scored well in the jinshi exams which were expensive to take and had traditionally, as a result, been limited to the scholar class. However, this economic boom allowed merchants to send their sons to sit the exams, or allowed people to simply buy a degree instead. Through this the bureaucracy became weakened thanks to people buying rather than earning their degrees and even then the conservative nature of the jinshi, a student had to basically learn off by heart the Four Classics as an example, the knowledge needed to pass did not serve well during time of crisis. Thanks to all these mentioned factors it appeared that the 'Mandate of Heaven' by 1644 had left the Ming.

The Long Ming-Qing Transition
A depiction of Li Zicheng
The Ming-Qing Transition is one of the bloodiest events in human history claiming around 24 million lives which left lasting scars for generations. Even when the Qing claimed the Mandate of Heaven in 1644 it took another forty years for Ming rule to be properly wiped out. However, the ones to originally take Beijing were not the Qing but rather a figure named Li Zicheng. From Shaanxi Li was a violent man who joined the military in 1630 and when denied promised supplies mutinied with other soldiers. Li became known as a charismatic leader and started further revolts before in 1644 declaring himself the founder of a new dynasty, the 'Shun' or 'Loyalty', at Xi'an. He proceeded to formally claim the Mandate of Heaven by capturing Beijing. The Ming's last official emperor, the Chongzhen, was now desperate. His last major general, Wu Sangui, was too far away to rescue the royal family so Chongzhen took matters into his own hands. We don't fully know what happened - some accounts say that he personally killed his family to avoid them falling into enemy hands - but what we do know is that Chongzhen hung himself in his garden ending the official Ming dynasty. Li Zicheng's new Shun dynasty was not popular. The Ming themselves were popular, (a report stated that a beggar in Nanjing when he heard the emperor was dead bought a bottle of wine, downed it, and then jumped into the river in grief), and the Shun made enemies quickly. As Li had failed the jinshi he allowed his supporters, especially one called Niu Jinxing, to kill any degree holders they could find and when Li failed to pay his troops they ransacked Beijing. As a result the invading Qing soon gained the support of Wu Sangui as they claimed they were seeking revenge for the fall of the Ming. Using cannons, many accounts refer to the use of cannon and gunpowder warfare (such as Shi Kefa describing the fall of Yangzhou), they took Beijing and Li fled to Xi'an. Li was killed possibly in 1645, we don't know how. Once establish in Beijing the Qing could easily declare that they held the Mandate, however, they had only managed to subdue the North. The remaining parts of the Ming is often referred to as the 'Southern Ming' but this is inaccurate as it implies it was one unified government and entirely in the South. Instead we see five different courts of which the last was in Taiwan. Furthermore, until 1647 another rebel leader called Zhang Xianzhong declared himself emperor of the Xi dynasty in Sichuan. Like Li he was known for brutality maiming thousands of scholars and their families, decimating whole regiments of his own army, and applying a scorched earth policy after burning his capital of Chengdu to the ground. He was eventually defeated in 1647 by Manchu forces.

After Chongzhen's suicide a grandson of the Wanli emperor, the Prince of Fu, declared himself the new Ming emperor in Nanjing. He did, however, correspond with Dorgon: Fu offered presents and subsidiaries in return for the Manchus to return north while Dorgon offered Fu his own kingdom if he renounced his imperial claims. Both refused. In May 1645 the Manchu army marched along the Grand Canal and captured Yangzhou, just north of Nanjing, which was sacked for ten days as a warning for future resistance. A merchant's, Wang Xiuchu, account shows us some of the horrors of the massacre:
Before I'd caught my breath, a young man dressed in red came straight at me with the point of a long sword. I gave him silver, but he also wanted my wife. She, in her ninth month of pregnancy, was crouching on the ground and absolutely refused to rise. So I lied to the man...So he paid no more attention to her. He had already taken a young woman, her daughter, and little boy captive. When the boy cried to his mother for something to eat, the soldier grew angry and bashed in the child's skull with one blow. Then he carried the mother and daughter away.
Seeing the massacre at Yangzhou convinced Nanjing to open its doors to the Manchus. In a twist of fate the Qing under Kangxi would condemn this act; in a Confucian trend it was seen as more honourable to fight for Ming loyalty rather than submit to the new Qing. Fu was taken captive and died a year later in captivity in Beijing. Two brothers, descended from the Ming's founder, established themselves in Fuzhou (a coastal city with access to Taiwan) and Guangzhou (Canton) but both fell to the Qing by 1647. A resistor on the east coast surrendered in 1653 leaving the Prince of Gui, a pampered twenty-one year old grandson of Wanli with no experience with governmental or military affairs, as the last claimant. After fleeing Hunan thanks to Zhang Xianzhong and later Guangdong by the Qing he fled to near the modern Vietnamese border. Meanwhile, Qing conquests in the far south, although spectacular in speed, were only partial so loyal officials in 1648 declared loyalty to Gui and massacred Qing forces in Guangdong in 1650. However, Gui court was described as being filled with 'all manner of betel-nut chewers, brine-well workers, and aborigine whorehouse owners' by K'ung Shang-jen showing the prince was somewhat naive in regards to his position. However, by December the Qing had reorganised and using former Ming generals who had defected in 1633 chased Gui out of Guangdong until he fled to the Kingdom of Burma. The Burmese king decided against offering sanctuary to a Ming court when the Qing was in power so massacred most of Gui's retinue and took the remains as prisoners. In 1661 Wu Sangui led an attack into Burma capturing Gui who was strangled with his son the following year. There was finally Koxinga's revolt but we shall discuss that later.
Wu Sangui
The Ming-Qing transition did not just affect the people in charge. As mentioned earlier many millions of civilians perished during the wars being massacred by rebel, Ming and Qing forces a like. There were vast amounts of suicides as well; as only 10% of the population were literate our accounts are skewed in favour of the elite. We cannot tell if the Nanjing beggar's suicide story is accurate but if it is we can therefore assume that some lower down in society did so as well. Anyone interested in early modern Chinese history will see that many late Ming writers died somewhere around 1646, such as the owner of a supposedly beautiful garden Qi Biaojia, and that is because suicide was seen as being better than serving the Qing. If suicide wasn't liked then life as a monk was the next best thing. We see a culture clash as well. Dorothy Ko has highlighted how footbinding was seen as a sign of culture and civilisation by Ming literati as shown in Shen Defu's (1578-1642) Private Gleanings in the Reign of Wanli who wrote about a suggestion by an official, Qu Jiusi, who suggested sending women with bound feet to corrupt the 'barbarians' in the north. As mentioned earlier Nurhaci banned footbinding and implemented the queue which Dorgon continued when he arrived in Beijing in 1644 much to Han outrage. Long hair was seen as a sign of filial piety and culture so the queue was seen as attacking both, which they also argued the same for footbinding, and many scholars became monks to avoid having a queue. Memories of the Qing conquest would persist with artists and poets subtly insulting Qing rule or openly lamenting how certain cultural aspects, like courtesans, were relics of the Ming. However, we see the blending of cultures. A painting of Dorgon shows him in Manchu dress while surrounded by Han iconography.

Kangxi, r.1661-1722
Kangxi is perhaps one of China's most influential emperors and definitely the Qing's. Although under a regency until 1669 and facing a Ming loyalist revolt during this time he managed to consolidate Qing rule and start a cultural epoch in China. Under Kangxi's father Qing rule in the south was weak so three generals were placed in charge to manage administration and the military who became known as the 'Three Feudatories': Wu Sangui, Shang Kexi, and Geng Jimao. Together they ruled an area the same size as the southern US, controlled their domains as their own virtual kingdoms, and earned 10 million ounces of silver a year from taxes and subsidiaries from Beijing to keep them loyal. Kangxi quite rightly feared their power and in 1671 Shang grew ill giving power to his son, Zhixin, and Geng died passing it onto his son, Jiangzhong. Much to the dismay of both his Han and Manchu advisers Kangxi decided to cut them down to size and jumped on the chance when Shang asked if he could retire to Manchuria in 1673. Wu, Geng, and Shang all rebelled, (Shang had to imprison his father who remained loyal to the Qing) and Wu even declared a new dynasty, the Zhou. Those in the south had to decide whether to stay loyal to Kangxi or cast their lot in with one of the Feudatories. Wu strained this further by not declaring himself emperor hinting that he would enthrone any surviving Ming. The War of the Three Feudatories had the potential to destroy the Qing and they almost did if it were not for several reasons put forward by Jonathan Spence. First, Kangxi was intelligent and charismatic which helped unify the court with him banning killings of women and children in rebel areas and his generals were tenacious; second, in his old age Wu had become indecisive and the Feudatories were not unified giving Kangxi's Manchu generals time to counterattack; third, they had difficulty appealing to Ming loyalists considering they themselves had toppled the Ming; and fourth, they themselves were poor leaders, Wu had become accustomed to luxury and had readily engaged in despotism. By 1681 all their leaders were dead and Kangxi replaced the Feudatories with governors and governor-generals. However, he would deeply distrust the centres of the revolt for decades to come and had to deal with Koxinga in Taiwan.
A Dutch depiction of Shang
Zheng Chenggong, called Koxinga thanks to the Dutch on Taiwan, was the son of a pirate and trader made an official by the Ming but had joined the Qing. Koxinga was a product of the emerging global world; born in 1624 to a Japanese mother he had regularly visited Nagasaki and Macao and their home in Xiamen had black slaves as bodyguards from Macao with a chapel depicting Buddhist and Christian images. The younger Zheng remained loyal to the Ming offering his fleet to take loyalists to Taiwan and throughout the 1650s fought the Manchu fleet. In 1661 he attacked the Dutch fortress of Zeelandia finally capturing it in February 1662 killing the men and enslaving the women in order to establish his own dynasty. However, the Qing angry at his revolt executed his family in Beijing. Koxinga led a violent final years flying into rages before dying in 1662 of malaria. As Koxinga had been recruiting followers from the mainland Kangxi's regent, Oboi, started forcibly removing the coastal Chinese population but still over 100,000 had managed to flee to Taiwan. In 1683 Kangxi had used Koxinga's own actions against him. Shi Lang was an admiral of Koxinga's father who remained loyal to the Qing so Koxinga executed some of his family. Shi managed to take Taiwan and Kangxi, weary of war, decided to spare the Zheng family. Their armies were moved to the Russian border and it was decided to keep Taiwan at arms length. The Qing were disinterested in maritime trade so never invested in making it a centre for that purpose which would prove disastrous in the nineteenth century.
A surviving Kangxi dictionary
Although Kangxi was tired of civil war he was not tired of foreign war. As a result under the Qing China would expand to actually be larger than the current People's Republic (Mongolia and Taiwan were both part of the Qing). A constant theme in Chinese history is the threat from the north, as of course the Qing themselves were from the north, and starting under Kangxi were the wars against the Dzungar Khanate. For years China had traded silver and silk for Dzungar horses but in 1687 when the khan Galdan defeated his local enemies Kangxi saw them as a threat. Personally leading an army, something he didn't do during the civil wars, of 80,000 and Galdan was killed in 1697. The Dzungar Wars continued until 1757 when they were finally conquered resulting in a genocide of the Dzungars. After 1701 wars with the Dzungars erupted over who would rule Tibet which was very important for the Qing and China; Buddhism was very important to China and the Qing in particular who were part of the Tibetan branch of Buddhism. This was successful and Tibet was brought into the empire in 1720 allowing him to choose the next Dalai Lama. Not all of Kangxi's foreign relations resulted in war. In 1689 the Treaty of Nerchinsk establishing the border between China and Russia and Kangxi apparently knew a lot of Russian rites during the meeting. Kangxi was also eager to meet Jesuit missionaries, at this stage they were deeply respectful of China, and he wanted to use their knowledge of astrology, maths, and engineering. Matteo Ripa, for one, became very close to Kangxi where in 1723 he brought four converts back to Naples with him with the intention of sending them back to China to convert the empire. Under Kangxi the Qing attempted to bring the Han elite back into the bureaucracy. He made the Southern Tours, which we'll discuss soon, where he attempted to portray himself as a Han intellectual and in 1679 issued the Boxue hongci, a personal invite to Han literati to take part in the exams. To further engage them they were commissioned to make an official history of the Ming resulting in the Ming History Project as well as a new edition of the I Ching. Further projects was the Kangxi zidian in 1719 which was a dictionary project standardising Chinese and was used right until the end of the 1800s. With the end of the domestic wars the economy boomed as well allowing the engagement in luxury to continue not seen since the end of the Ming. When he died in 1722 Kangxi became as influential as his contemporary Louis XIV of France and one of the longest serving rulers.

How the Qing ruled
There was much continuity in regards to rule going from the Ming to the Qing. On top was the emperor and under strong leaders, like Dorgon and Kangxi, administration ran smoothly. Initially eunuch power was curbed but as always as emperors became complacent, despite earlier activity Qianlong spent most of his time smoking opium in his last few years, eunuch power and court factionalism returned. To rule such a large empire one needed a large bureaucracy and to recruit those into the bureaucracy one needed to pass a jinshi exam, or be a military man. The Qing enforced Confucian orthodoxy so women could not partake although as shown in The Dream of the Red Chamber court concubines and other women could exert considerable influence over the court. Despite many individuals loathing the exams it proved a good way for the Qing to find loyal bureaucrats and families would start training sons from a young age to take part in the exams, from at least age five. This is why in Dream the family patriarch Sir Jia bullies his son Baoyu into studying the Classics and why one cousin even dies through stress (as well as other things). Originally only the literati could only take part in the exams but due to the economic boom merchants could later send their sons just like under the Ming before them. Mentioned earlier we have the Banner system. This remained in place until 1912 but after the reign of Qianlong they started to decrease in importance. Initially they were to distinguish groups during battle but became a way to signify ethnicity; there were four Manchu banners, two Han, and two Mongol. Through intermarriage it was possible for a Han bannerman to become a Manchu one.

A shoe used for footbinding
There was both continuity and change from the Ming to the Qing. Like their predecessors the Qing placed emphasis on Confucian morality which left women in a subordinate role to men: they were barred from exams, political power, and were extremely subordinate in inheritance. Also, only a percent of those able to read were women who were often forced into the inner quarters, guikun. A new branch of feminist history under figures like Dorothy Ko has indeed argued there is a false dichotomy between oppression and freedom. For example, despite restriction to the guikun women could use it to exercise their own influence though reading, writing and even using Buddhist theology to undermine Confucianism. In Dream many female characters like Wang Xifeng and Grandmother Jia hold great amounts of power over the Jia household, Xifeng is even chosen instantly to run the affairs of one of the mansions. Ko's work on footbinding is very interesting as well. Throughout the Qing there were edicts against footbinding, there were at least three under Kangxi, as mothers were willing to bind the feet of their daughters - it took until the establishment of the People's Republic for it to be stay banned. Women bound their daughters feet to continue Han identity under Manchu rule and to appeal to male beauty standards which presents a key idea - Han women freely bound their feet but did they truly want to or was it was because they were expected to? Instances of freedom often came with a limitation. The poet Huang Yuanjie (c.1620-c.1669) was very popular but her supporters dismissed critics who said she shouldn't be a travelling poet by saying that she was continuing the legacy of her father, a poet who commit suicide during the Qing conquest. Hence, women were neither free nor oppressed.

Southern Tours
Scroll 3, depicts Kangxi's trip to Mt. Tai
The Southern Tours were a series of tours performed by Kangxi and his grandson Qianlong which shows so many interesting things about Qing rule where parts were beautifully captured in art. Kangxi went on six between 1684 and 1707 while Qianlong loved travelling; he spent a quarter of his reign (about 15 years) on the move amounting to 72 tours across China, as well as his many wars. It is important to note when Kangxi's tours began it was after the Ming had formally been defeated with the conquest of Taiwan. Officially these tours were meant to observe the local canals and infrastructure but in reality it was meant to show the previously rebellious people that Kangxi was one of them. Also, power projection - the grandfather of Dream's author, Cao Yin, hosted the emperor and his retinue costing 50,000 taels to do. The first few tours Kangxi wrote poetry, read Confucius and did tea ceremonies in order to appeal to the local Han Chinese. On the third tour in 1699 at Hangchow he made references to the Classics before doing an archery competition on horseback to show his Manchu roots. His grandson fully embraced touring in what Michael Chang described as a synthesising of Han and Manchu cultures and even then he expanded the tours to include all of China. In 1743 a pilgrimage to the tombs at Mukden to revere his ancestors and many tours he took along with him his mother to show filial piety. He made several trips to a major Buddhist site to Mt. Wutai, especially as his grandfather had gone there - Qianlong deeply respected his grandfather even abdicating so his reign wouldn't be as long as Kangxi's (although he ruled behind the scenes). He also made several visits to Mt. Tai as it was near Confucius's birthplace. Of course, these tours were expensive. His Southern Tours included an entourage almost 10,000 and costing 3 million taels of silver. Qianlong wanted to portray himself as a Han literati but also as a powerful one.

As mentioned throughout there was a Han-Manchu dynamic in the Qing empire which slowly managed to diminish as the decades went on. However, China was, and still is, an incredibly ethnically diverse region. Due to the Qing placing emphasis on Han relations they were often overlooked, especially those on the periphery of the empire. For example, Kangxi barred land from being confiscated from indigenous Taiwanese peoples but it was perfectly acceptable for those who helped defeat Kongxia's descendants to take the land. The Miao also faced discrimination which resulted in a series of revolts when the Qing started collapsing in the nineteenth century. Qianlong was frustrated at failed attempts to integrate the Miao he declared that 'The Miao barbarians should be kept illiterate!'. A colonisation policy also happened in the frontiers where Han and Manchu were encouraged to settle in non-Han or Manchu regions. The term 'barbarian' was regularly used to refer to anyone non-Han and the Qing tried to prevent the Manchus from being referred to as 'barbarians'.

Culture and the Arts
The culture and arts consumption under the Qing has often been overlooked by the one which occurred under the Ming. Craig Clunas has argued that conspicuous consumption can be used to show power, if you could afford wealthy products that means you are wealthy, and this is shown under the Qing. Although idealised Dream shows this effectively as characters are regularly depicted wearing expensive and extravagant clothing and jewellery - as the emperor's concubine, who is a member of the Jia household, comes to visit the Jias build an entire garden for her. Gardens were very linked with social power in early modern China. Qianlong spent much time in his own garden where he even pretended to be in a market with his retinue. It was under him that the magnificent garden, the Yuanming yuan, was constructed with it being one of the greatest spectacles in China until its destruction at the hands of the British and French during the Second Opium War. Qianlong was also an eager collector of art. It was common to stamp a piece of art before selling it on to show that you had once owned that piece and Qianlong certainly had a large stamp - he has been accused by one historian of basically destroying art because of the size of his stamp. Of course, only the wealthy could engage in this cultural boom. Although Dream does depict some commoners, like the slave Aroma's cousin, engaging in this we have to remember it is highly romanticised. Like under the Ming the growing wealth of the merchants and artisans allowed them to engage in this cultural boom, much to the chagrin of the traditional elite. 

China and Europe
A caricature of the Macartney mission. Notice the offensive depiction of the Chinese showing a shift in views.
Unlike later on during this period Europe was respectful of China although we see this slowly change as the years went on. For example, Kangxi was very pleased to have Jesuits at court due to their respect and knowledge going as far as to declare an Edict of Toleration in 1692. By the start of the eighteenth century we see conflict emerge about whether Chinese converts could continue ancestor worship - the Jesuits thought they could while the Dominicans disagreed. The Dominicans won out and in 1715 the pope issued a Papal Bull banning ancestor worship so an enraged Kangxi banned Christian missions. The Qing were more interested in land and not maritime relations so they were largely disinterested in European affairs, however, Europe was very interested in China. Ever since the days of Marco Polo Europe fantasised about China going as far as to imagine that Chinese porcelain had to be buried for a century to be so good - in fact that is often why we refer to it as 'China'. Qianlong although did invite a French Jesuit, Jean-Denis Attiret, to live in the Yuanming yuan for sometime. A trend named 'chinoiserie' came into being - a desire for all things China. We see the Shugborough dinner service and Kew gardens as part of this, and Voltaire praised Confucianism saying that France had much to learn from China. There was some pushback - Daniel Defoe criticised China but this maybe because he owned his own porcelain factory. By 1800 this respect soon started to drip away as we see with the Macartney Mission which even affects Chinese-British relations today. China viewed itself as the most important state - and for most of its history this was a correct view - so expected foreign visitors as vassals paying homage. Britain had views that it was the most important state and wanted access to the huge potential of a Chinese market. George Macartney was sent to China to ask for a permanent embassy in Beijing, an island to operate from, and relaxation of trade restrictions on British merchants in Guangzhou. Macartney refused to kowtow to the emperor which historically has been seen as the reason for the failed mission but instead it was simply because Qianlong was uninterested in what George III was offering. Britain thought itself important in the Chinese world but China disagreed. Despite arguing that he was humiliated Macartney he made a steady profit from it - he insisted on an annual allowance of £15,000 and profited over £20,000 from the mission. At the time it did not seem important but retroactively it can be seen as a key point in shifting British-Chinese relations. It also remains important today in how Britain views itself with China; in the news if Britain seems to do a deal with China which favours China you will often see a phrase along the lines of 'Britain kowtowing'.

The early Qing greatly shaped China. It expanded its borders and truly reflected the multiethnic aspect of China often overlooked. A constant theme of their rule was balancing their own Manchu identity against that of the Han, and to an extent the minorities in their borders. They shaped Chinese culture, politics, and society setting the stage for how people now view China. From these heights the next time that we will see them it would be the collapse of their empire and how the 'Hundred Years of Humiliation' began.

The next World History post will look at what has been described as the first world war: the Seven Years' War. The sources I have used are as follows:
-Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China, (New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton, 1990)
-Denis Twitchett and John K. Fairbank (eds.), The Cambridge History of China, Vol.9. Part One: The Ch'ing Empire to 1800, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
-Susan Naquin and Evelyn S. Rawski, (eds.), Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century, (London: Yale University Press, 1987)
-Lynn A. Struve, (ed.), Voices from the Ming-Qing Transition: China in Tigers' Paws, (London: Yale University Press, 1993)
-Richard J. Smith, The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture, (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
-John Keay, China: A History, (London: Harper Press, 2008)
-Michael Chang, A Court on Horseback: Imperial Touring and the Construction of Qing Rule, 1680-1785, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007)
-Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chamber: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994)
-Cao Xueqin, The Dream of the Red Chamber, Trans. David Hawkes, (London: Penguin, 1973)

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Friday, 29 June 2018

Comics Explained: Bushmaster

The new season of Luke Cage is now out on Netflix with a new villain stealing the scene: Bushmaster. Bushmaster is a perfect main antagonist for the second season and today we'll look at the two individuals who have claimed the moniker of Bushmaster. There won't be any spoilers for the Netflix show ahead; mostly as I have only watched the first two episodes of the second season as of writing.

Real World Origins
Iron Fist #15 where he debuted
Bushmaster isn't a major Marvel villain and he never became one of Marvel's major villains, like the Kingpin. As a result his publication history is fairly simple and straightforward compared to other comic book characters. He first appeared in Iron Fist #15 in 1977 in an issue written by X-Men titans Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Like with Luke Cage, which you can read about here, Bushmaster was born thanks to the Blaxploitation of the 1970s. In fact, Bushmaster's first appearance combined two aspects of the crazes of the 1970s: Blaxploitation and martial arts. Bushmaster was from the Caribbean and appeared in Iron Fist who was a martial arts expert combining the two together.

John McIver grew up in the Caribbean, although not Jamaica as he is in the Netflix series, with his younger brother Quincy. Growing up in poverty the brothers were forced to steal from shopkeepers and merchants, although John had far greater street smarts so managed to evade capture far more easily. However, John had a homicidal streak to him as shown when once Quincy ratted him out to a shopkeeper who had caught him. Furious John savagely beat Quincy and then went on to murder the shopkeeper. Eventually John managed to get a job with the Maggia, an international crime syndicate, and through that got Quincy a job with them which ended in disaster. Revealed in Captain America Annual #10 John and Quincy went on a job and to avoid the police Quincy hid underwater. However, this brought him dangerously close to a boat's propeller which resulted in Quincy's limbs being cut off. John later visited Quincy only to laugh at his brother's misfortune. Years later John, now changing his surname to Bushmaster, managed to become the head of the European branch of the Maggia but wanted to expand his criminal syndicate to New York. This brings us to his debut in Iron Fist #15. Bushmaster was visiting New York in order to begin his criminal empire there attracting the attention of Interpol and the FBI. Misty Knight was sent undercover with the name Maya Korday to see what Bushmaster was up to. He warmly greeted her and was completely oblivious that she was an undercover agent, so much so that he openly stated that he was putting a hit on her boyfriend, the Iron Fist, in front of her. Angered Misty used her bionic arm to attack Bushmaster resulting in him calling the hit off but also vowing revenge.

Other Incidents
After his debut Bushmaster would become determined in taking down Misty Knight or drawing her over to his side. In Marvel Team-Up #63 she even faked a relationship with him in order to take him down. Bushmaster also was the one who brought Luke Cage and Iron Fist together, other than the real world drop in popularity of martial arts and Blaxploitation stories. In Power Man #48 Bushmaster claimed that he had evidence that the heroin found on Luke Cage had indeed been planted and that he was willing to give it to Cage for a favour. In return for the evidence Bushmaster wanted Cage to capture Knight for him. To make him more compliant he also captured two friends of Cage: Claire Temple and Dr. Noah Burstein (who gave Cage his powers). Cage's attempt to capture Knight brought him into conflict with Iron Fist but the three teamed up to take down Bushmaster. However, part of this story, Power Man #49, saw Bushmaster making Dr Burstein repeat the experiment he had done on Cage on him. This resulted in Bushmaster receiving the same powers as Cage: super-strength, durability and stamina. However, this did not help him and he was even paralysed thanks to the fight and procedure.

Bushmaster before his death
In 1981's Power Man and Iron Fist #67 Bushmaster met his end. In an attempt to end his paralysis his was subjected to a process which turned his body into a liquid metal like substance. He knew that he had to have Dr. Burstein reverse the procedure he had done to him so had his agents capture Burstein, his wife, and Cage. Taken to Seagate prison Burstein started the procedure until Iron Fist arrived and destroyed the equipment before Bushmaster could kill Burstein's wife. This resulted in Bushmaster being reduced to a metal skeleton and Cage briefly losing his powers. When Cage got his own title again in Cage #1 in the early 1990s Bushmaster made a return with his son, Cruz. Cruz wanted to rebuild his father's fortune and he believed that to do so he needed the powers his father once had. In Cage #12 Cruz managed to obtain his father's skeleton and captured Cage with the intention of Luke being his shield. Cage would receive the negative effects of the procedure which had resulted in his father's paralysis and death. However, the process revived Bushmaster who then proceeded to kill his son and start draining the energies of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, who arrived too late to stop the procedure. However, in doing so he absorbed Iron Fist's chi energy which was too much for his untrained body which then exploded from the energy overload. Bushmaster now permanently died.

Quincy as Bushmaster
The second Bushmaster
In 1985 in Captain America #310 we were introduced to Quincy McIver. In Marvel there is the Roxxon Oil Company, a multinational conglomerate infamous (although the general public are unaware of this) for funding supervillain activity or aiding Hydra. The reason for this is that they can later use villains to distract heroes from their other shady deals. The Oil Company gave the quadriplegic Quincy and gave him a bionic suit in the shape of a snake. Adopting the name 'Bushmaster' after his deceased brother he joined the Serpent Society, a group of snake themed criminals, and would fight MODOK for the organisation A.I.M. The second Bushmaster would be like his brother and many other Marvel villains where he would appear as a minor antagonist for other heroes, and even then he would appear alongside other villains fighting the Avengers and other heroes. He wouldn't have a big role until Civil War and even then it was alongside other villains. Bushmaster and a few other villains working for Baron Zemo were defeated and left for the authorities at the very start of the Superhero Civil War by Captain America's group; despite being underground and fighting the government they still wanted to fight crime. After Civil War Bushmaster would continue his bit parts appearing in various criminal groups including Kraven's zoo - a team of animal themed villains working under Kraven the Hunter. However, Bushmaster was seemingly killed by Kraven who left him beaten and face-down in some water just before the Punisher attacked in Punisher War Journal Vol. 2 #15. It later turned out that he survived and has again continued in bit parts including being in Purple Man's Villains for Hire in X-Men: To Serve and Protect #2-4.

Thank you for reading and I hope you found it useful. For future blog updates please see our Facebook or catch me on Twitter @LewisTwiby

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Comics Explained: Luke Cage

As of writing the second season of Luke Cage has just begun on Netflix. Cage is one of Marvel's major characters and his debut in 1972 represented trends of the time. He is also extremely important in the history of comics as although he is far from the first black comic book character, Black Panther as one example appeared in 1966, he is the first to have his own comic. Born during Blaxploitation he has had his own identity since then and remains one of Marvel's biggest characters.

Real World Origins
During the 1970s as a new genre came to prominence following the end to legal racism in the United States during the 1960s. This genre featured African-Americans as protagonists with majority African-American casts, quite often heavily featured African-American Vernacular English, was originally for an urban African-American audience (although this soon changed) and looked at issues still plaguing the African-American community which the Civil Rights Movement failed to address. Junius Griffin of the NAACP coined a phrase to describe this new genre: Blaxploitation. Some have argued that Blaxploitation was empowering while others have argued it reinforced white views of African-Americans. Marvel soon took part in Blaxploitation with the creation of Luke Cage. Created by Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, and John Romita Sr. Cage debuted in his own comic, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 in 1972.

Comic Origins
Cage's debut in Hero for Hire #1
Cage's backstory has periodically been explained over a course of around four decades in various stories, The Defenders Vol.5 #3 is a good example which showed us a lot of his backstory. Luke Cage was born to a family in Harlem, New York and was originally called Carl Lucas. The young Carl joined a gang with his friends called The Rivals and you may recognize a few of them from the Netflix show, such as Shades but he is different to his comic counterpart. His best friend was Willis Stryker who will become important later. Carl decided to leave the underworld seeing how it was hurting his family and he decided to lead a legal life, but Stryker became very involved with the underworld becoming powerful. However, when Stryker was running fowl of the mob he planted drugs on Carl and called the police; this could eliminate the drugs and get both the police and mob off his back. This brings us to Hero for Hire #1. Taken to Seagate Prison Carl declares his innocence earning the hatred of a racist warden called Albert 'Billy Bob' Rackham who decided to make his life hell. Then Marvel's figurehead's legacy came into play. A recurrent theme in Marvel's history is people trying to recreate the Supersoldier serum which gave Captain America his powers; Weapon Plus which gave Wolverine his adamantium is one example of this. Dr. Noah Burstein wanted to test his new serum in Seagate and Carl volunteered. Burstein left the machine he was using alone as Carl was undergoing the procedure so Billy Bob Rackham decided to tamper with it. Instead of killing him it made his skin super durable and expanded his muscle mass giving him super-strength and making his skin unbreakable. Carl literally punched his way through the prison walls and escaped; the prison saying he drowned as he escaped. Arriving back in Harlem he changed his name to Luke Cage and decided to adopt a new life course.

Hero for Hire
Now called Cage he decided to rent an apartment to operate from owned by a film student called David W. Griffith, (quite ironic considering film director D.W. Griffith, although talented, made the movie seen as reviving the KKK, Birth of a Nation). Cage decided to be a 'Hero for Hire' - if you needed help or needed criminals dealt with you could call Cage with his signature catchphrase heavily rooted in Blaxploitation, 'Sweet Christmas!'. Stryker, meanwhile, became scared that his former friend was alive and out of prison so he ordered a hit on him. At the same time Burstein set up in New York after learning of Cage's innocence assisted by Dr. Claire Temple. When Cage was attacked by Stryker's hitman Claire Temple rushed to help him only to find out that his was fine thanks to his unbreakable skin. In Hero for Hire #2 Cage planned to confront Stryker in order to clear his name with Claire's help which goes wrong as Stryker fell through a skyline killing him. Cage would begin fighting crime to help New York, or to help others, and in Hero for Hire #5 he came across one of his enemies who would later appear in the TV series: Mariah Dillard. A man was murdered and his body taken by a gang called the Rat Pack. His wife came to Cage and taking her job for free in sympathy which would bring him in confrontation with the gang's leader Mariah. Cage would defeat them and they would be sent to prison. In Hero for Hire #8 he would properly come into contact with the wider superhero community in such a fantastic fashion. He would be hired by Dr Doom to take down rouge Doombots and when he skipped town the Fantastic Four took him to Latveria! He then beat up Doom saying 'Where's my money, Honey?'. From issue seventeen the comic would go on to be called Power Man as Cage regularly started interacting with other heroes, including briefly replacing the Thing in the Fantastic Four, as he officially adopted that as his superhero moniker. 

Power Man #18, Cottonmouth's debut
A story arc introduced one of Cage's most enduring opponents in Power Man #18 and ending in #20: Cottonmouth. Luke came home one day to see two venomous snakes on his desk. When he had defeated them two men arrived to take him to their boss Cottonmouth. Cottonmouth was one of New York's major bosses and a key figure in the drug trade. He revealed his urge to hire Cage to which he agreed who hoped to trap Cottonmouth thinking he's the one who supplied the heroin used to frame him. After retrieving a shipment of heroin from a rival gang for Cottonmouth he was accepted into it and was introduced to the boss' assistant Mr Slick who was supposed to show him the ropes. Cage hoped to use Mr Slick's accounts to take down Cottonmouth but as he was contacting the police Cottonmouth attacked him. During the scuffle Mr Slick was accidentally knocked from a window killing him and ending Cottonmouth's with it as it was revealed that Slick's photographic memory meant that they had never needed to hold records. With that Cage had taken down another underworld boss but was still no closer to clearing his name.

Power Man and Iron Fist

As the 1970s wore on the interest in Blaxploitation started to dip and it coincided with a dip in interest of martial arts. As a result Marvel decided to bring their martial arts hero, Iron Fist, and place him in Power Man who still remained popular enough to warrant his own series. In Power Man #48 Iron Fist would join with Cage. The criminal overlord Bushmaster had found evidence of Cage's innocence and decided to use this to blackmail Cage - he would give Cage the evidence if he kidnapped investigator Misty Knight. However, Knight was the girlfriend of Iron Fist and the three came together to fight Bushmaster resulting in them permanently joining together and clearing Cage's name. He had his name legally changed to 'Lucas Cage' as the comic itself with issue fifty being renamed Power Man and Iron Fist. Together they would form the Heroes for Hire which remains a key part of Marvel up until today. Like when he was alone the Heroes for Hire would protect people and fight crime if asked by a law-abiding person. Throughout the run the two would become best friends and come into contact with other heroes. One of these, retroactively done, was Jessica Jones. With Power Man and Iron Fist #111 James Owsley (now called Christopher Priest) would take over the comic - he now writes the current run of Deathstroke. Owsley would try and move Cage away from his Blaxploitation roots including limiting how much he said 'Sweet Christmas' and expanding his vocabulary to not just include stereotypical phrases associated with Blaxploitation. Quite shocking in Power Man and Iron Fist #125 in 1986, the last issue, Iron Fist was killed off and Cage got the blame. Owsley later commented 'Fist's death was senseless and shocking and completely unseen. It took the readers' head clean off. And, to this day, people are mad about it. Forgetting, it seems, that (a) you were supposed to be mad, that death is senseless and Fist's death was supposed to be senseless, or that (b) this is a comic book'. Regardless in a traditional Marvel manner the dead Iron Fist was revealed to be a doppleganger five years later and he was brought back.

In 1992 Cage would get his own series again by Marcus McLaurin titled Cage where the front cover had Cage tearing apart his old uniform to show there was a break with the past. Set in Chicago where he would be a Hero for Hire again. He even teamed up with the Punisher in Punisher 60-62 where the two would fight drug dealers together. Eventually when Iron Fist turned up alive former Heroes for Hire lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth, would clear Cage's name. Trying to reconnect with his family he finds out that his brother, James Jr., had been recruited by an organization giving him powers. Now calling himself Coldfire he ended up fighting Cage but the two eventually came together to fight the organization with James sacrificing himself to take them down. Eventually Cage and Iron Fist came back together to reform the Heroes for Hire in 1997's Heroes for Hire #1. A villain called Onslaught had apparently killed the major Avengers, Fantastic Four and Dr Doom leaving a power vacuum in New York which Cage and Fist decided to resolve. They were joined by other heroes including She-Hulk, Hercules, Black Knight, White Tiger, the original Human Torch, Hercules, and the second Ant-Man. During this time Cage would face international foes, like Master of the World, and street level crime.

Jones and the Avengers
Cage and Jones from Alias #28
Cage would later appear in Jessica Jones' mature title Alias. After a sexual encounter as Jones worked as a private investigator the two would begin bonding from Alias #15 when they worked together as bodyguards for Matthew Murdoch, the Daredevil. Later on in the series when we found out about the abuse she was subjected to by Purple Man (partially shown in her own Netflix series) they grew closer until Alias #28 when she revealed that she was pregnant. Moving in together Jones would become a reporter for the Daily Bugle in another title, called The Pulse, which would involve Cage teaming up with Spider-Man to lure out the Green Goblin, who had attacked Jones, and reveal that he was Norman Osborn. We now get to Secret War. Nick Fury had recruited a team of heroes consisting of Cage, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Quake, Daredevil, and Black Widow to take down Lucretia von Bardas of Latveria. However, as Fury had left out that it would involve destroying part of a city he had the minds of the heroes wiped as he knew they would have opposed this. A year later von Bardas blew up Cage's apartment hospitalizing him as although he has unbreakable skin he is susceptible to trauma. Despite this he recovered and married Jessica who gave birth to a daughter called Danielle (named after Iron Fist). He would also form a new team of Avengers. In New Avengers #1 Cage would be one of the heroes to respond to an attempt at mass escape of several supervillains from the Raft prison alongside Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Wolverine. Together they would form the New Avengers.

The new team would face issues. During 2006's Civil War, which you can read about here, the superhero community became divided about the Superhuman Registration Act which would basically turn them into police officers. Cage was one of many heroes to oppose this and unlike the film the act was US only so Jessica went to Canada with their daughter. Cage became one of the key figures in the resistance to the act being second only to really Captain America himself. After Captain America's death at the end of the Civil War Jessica would join him in hiding where he would lead a resistance group called the New Avengers with other heroes, including Wolverine, against the government aligned Mighty Avengers. Cage would continue leading his team throughout the Skrull invasion in the Secret Invasion story and Norman Osborn's rule over SHIELD (which he renamed HAMMER) in Dark Reign. With Osborn's fall, and with it the Registration Act, Cage finally came out of hiding. However, he initially rejected joining the new version of the New Avengers in New Avengers Vol.2 #1 and only accepted when Tony Stark let him run his own team from the Avengers Mansion which he sold to Cage for a dollar (which he borrowed from Iron Fist to buy).
Luke Cage and the Mighty Avengers
Cage remained a integral part of the Avengers with him initially leading the new Thunderbolts, a team comprised of villains wanting to reform themselves, and he helped the Avengers fight the X-Men in Avengers vs. X-Men where he fought Namor. Eventually, Cage went on to form a new version of the Mighty Avengers who later actually defeated some of Thanos' invading force during the Infinity storyline. Cage has since remained very integral to Marvel's stories including the recent ongoing Hunt for Wolverine story being published as of writing.

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