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3 Ways to Embrace Christlike Humility During the Holidays

During the Christmas season, as we focus on the birth of Christ, it is easy to draw attention to the humility of that baby…to see all of heaven’s wonder “wrapped in swaddling clothes.”
To read the verses portraying a stable, a manger, barn animals, and straw. Here we have listed a few ways to embrace humility during the holidays with family and friends.

One, remember who loves you.

Jesus didn’t have to stand up for Himself because He trusted His Father. When you are God’s, you don’t have to keep score. You know that you are valued – apart from the opinions of anyone else! When you realize just how much God loves you, you care more about loving Him back than you care about loving yourself.

Two, remember where you are.

This isn’t heaven. Even at Christmastime, you are surrounded by sin, pain, and grief. Let that motivate you to forget yourself and be a blessing to others. This isn’t hell. Just like the story of the infamous Scrooge, there is hope! We can reach out, and if we are the ones hurting, we can find comfort in the humility of our Savior coming down.

Three, remember why you are here.

Jesus came to this earth for a purpose, to give us a glorious gift. In the Philippians 2 passage, it says He humbled Himself to be obedient to the point of death on the cross. We are all here to make a choice…will we choose God, like He chose us? Or will we reject His gift?
We all claim that Christmas is a time of love and giving. Yet, it’s still so easy to get caught up in what we want, instead of looking for ways to simply let go of ourselves and love. Take this time to remember these small but grand reminders during these holidays.

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William Carey (1761-1834)

English pastor and preacher William Carey (1761-1834) was one of the foremost Christian missionaries in early 19th-century India. He has often been lauded as the “father of modern missions” thanks to his creation of the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen (now BMS World Mission), as well as his pioneering work among the people of Serampore. He helped establish the Serampore College, as well as helped fight the ancient customs of infanticide and sati. He lived and worked in India for 41 years, and never returned to his native England.

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The Early Years

William Carey was born on August 17, 1761, in the village of Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, England. He was the son of weavers, Edmund and Elizabeth Carey. Apart from working as a weaver, the elder Carey was a devout Anglican who served as a schoolmaster and parish clerk.

Carey’s interest in science and languages began in his youth. He was interested in and studied botany, and even taught himself Latin and Greek. Because of his family’s poverty, Carey’s parents could not afford to send him to college. He became an apprentice to a local shoemaker named Thomas Old, and later married Thomas’s sister-in-law, Dorothy Plackett.

Carey became the official cobbler when Thomas Old died. It was also during this time that he became involved with Particular Baptists. He met several of the most prominent Particular Baptists of the day, including Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, and John Sutcliff. By 1783, he was already baptized and became an official member of the Particular Baptists congregation.

He served as a pastor of a Baptist church, as well as a schoolmaster in Moulton, a village in Northamptonshire, in 1785. He also served as a pastor of the Harvey Lane Baptist Church in the city of Leicester.

Carey has always been interested in preaching God’s word to others. He published a short book entitled, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, in 1792. Apart from this book, he also spread the zeal for missionary work through preaching. It was during this time that he created the quote, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God. “

In the same year, he and his Baptist colleagues founded the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen. The group’s first order of business was to raise funds for the planned mission to India. Dr. John Thomas, an English surgeon and missionary who had a stint in India, later joined them. The members of the group agreed that John Thomas and William Carey would set sail to India and that they would support their missionary efforts.

The Missionary in Calcutta and Serampore

William Carey left England for India in 1793.

William Carey and his family (along with Dr. Thomas, his wife, and his daughter) set sail from England to Calcutta in the spring of 1793. Carey’s wife Dorothy, her sister Kitty, and the couple’s three sons accompanied him to India. Dorothy, who gave birth before they sailed to India, agreed to come with him with great hesitation and trepidation.

The Careys experienced multiple difficulties during their first few years in India. Money was constantly a problem in their household. Apart from working as a missionary, he also had to look for more work to supplement his income. He had to move his family again and again so he could work and support them. 

It was illegal for Baptist missionaries to preach in areas controlled by British authorities. This made it harder for Carey to find a foothold as a missionary in eastern India. To Carey’s dismay, Thomas deserted the mission sometime later. 

A series of illnesses added to the Careys’ miserable life in India. His 5-year-old son Peter succumbed to dysentery, while William himself contracted malaria. Dorothy had been unwilling to come with him to India and was ill-suited in her role as a missionary’s wife. The stress of William’s illness, her son’s death, and her longing for home finally took its toll and led to her nervous breakdown. Dorothy was increasingly violent and paranoid that her husband was conducting affairs with other women, so her husband was forced to confine her in a room for the rest of her life to contain her violent rages.

It was not until late 1799 when things became a little bit better. Carey and his family relocated to Danish-held Serampore, a settlement near Calcutta. Because Serampore was held by the Danes, it was now legal for Carey to proselytize.

Carey was able to secure a position as a teacher at Fort William College. Thanks to this teaching position and the help of fellow missionaries, his finances finally improved. 

He baptized his first convert, an Indian named Krishna Pal, in 1800. Seven years after his arrival in the subcontinent, William finally baptized Krishna Pal, his first Indian convert. 

He published the New Testament in Bengali in 1801 with the help of his friend and printer, William Ward. This was the very first edition of a portion of the Bible translated in Bengali. In the years that followed, Carey and several Brahmin scholars (pandit/pundit) translated the Bible into different languages of India. These include Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, Assamese, and other Indian languages and dialects. 

Carey sought the help of the British Governor-General in abolishing the customs of infant sacrifice and sati (widows who self-immolate on their husband’s funeral pyre).

Carey, along with fellow Baptist missionaries Willliam Ward and Joshua Marshman, established the Serampore College in 1818. The school was open to anyone who wanted to train as ministers, as well as those who want to study arts and sciences. His keen interest in botany finally paid off in 1820 when he established the Agri Horticultural Society of India. The organization still exists today and is located on Alipore Road in Calcutta (Kolkata).

Last Years in India

William Carey was forced to cut ties with the Society he founded after several disagreements with the new secretary, John Dyer. He left the mission compound and moved to the Serampore College grounds instead. There he spent his days teaching his students and preaching. He also continued to revise the Bengali Bible he translated so many years ago. 

He died in Serampore on June 9, 1834. William Carey spent 41 years in the subcontinent, never returning to his native England during his lifetime. 

Family

William Carey and his wife Dorothy had five sons (Felix, William, Peter, Jabez, and Jonathan) as well as two daughters (Ann Eliza and Lucy). His daughters both died in England when they were still infants. His 5-year-old son Peter died in India due to dysentery.

Dorothy Carey became ill with fever and died on December 8, 1807. William later married a Danish woman named Charlotte Emilia Rumohr on May 9, 1808. Unlike Dorothy, the 46-year old Rumohr was Carey’s intellectual equal. The marriage was happy overall, and she became a surrogate mother to Carey’s younger children. She died in 1821, 13 years after they were married.

At the age of 62, Carey surprised fellow missionaries when he married a 45-year-old widow named Grace Hughes. What Grace lacked in intellectual capacity or refinement, she made up with caring for William during his last years on earth.

William Carey’s Legacy

William Carey is often called the “father of modern missions.” He is also lauded for his efforts in the abolishment of the customs of infanticide and sati. The Serampore College was established thanks to the efforts of the Serampore Trio (Carey, Ward, and Marshman).

Although he only had an estimated 700 converts, he is still best remembered for putting the Bible into the hands of ordinary Bengalis, Assamese, Marathis, and other people in India.

The genus Careya was also named after William Carey. These flowering plants are native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Malaysia (except Borneo). These plants can also be found in the Andaman Islands.

Carey co-founded the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen in 1792. The organization changed its name to BMS World Mission, and it still carries out Christian missions all over the world.

References

Picture: Unknown author – William Carey: The Shoemaker Who Became the Founder of Modern Missions; John Brown Myers; London 1887, Public Domain, Link

Mangalwadi, Vishal, and Ruth Mangalwadi. The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of a Culture. Crossway Books, 1999.

Wayland, Francis, et al. Memoir of William Carey, D.D. Jackson and Walford, 1836.

William Carey.” Christian History | Learn the History of Christianity & the Church, Christian History, 30 July 2019, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/missionaries/william-carey.html.

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How to Start Bible Journaling

We don’t mean journaling like in a diary when you were a preteen, but as an adult continuing your education and your faith. You don’t have to be a Picasso but a little color never hurt anyone. Anyone can start bible journaling and make it their own craft as time comes. Oh, and keep it fun!

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The War of the Sixth Coalition: Napoleon’s Invasion of and Disastrous Retreat from Russia

So there is a term called, micro bible journaling. This is a simple “note taking” style in the margin columns or white space on the side of paragraphs. This is where you can let your imagination soar. You can draw arrows, personal quotes, doodles, symbols, names, anything! This is to help bring you back here to this part of the book and remember the importance was on this page, this paragraph, or this line.

Another fun idea to keep things interesting is using “die-cuts…” a new fancy word for stickers. There are sticker sets you can find online that are theme based, color based, and so on. You can find what suits you and incorporate it into your pages for a quick eye-line glance. Plus, it helps keep the creative juices flowing.

Lets not forget consistency is key! Do this daily. Set aside whatever time frame and range you want that suits your daily schedule and do this for yourself. Not only do you want to keep your faith a primary essential in your life but the activity of bible journaling daily will keep you inspired and with your new creative edge, keep things interesting. This isn’t rocket science but it definitely is a quick way to keep things fresh in your head about the bible and keep some pop of creativity in your life.

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Jim Elliot (1927-1956)

On January 6, 1956, a group of American missionaries led by Jim Elliot (1927-1956) welcomed three members of the isolated Huaorani ethnic group in their camp in the middle of the Ecuadorian jungle. The meeting, which was preceded by several gifts from the American missionaries, began on a positive note. 

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Jim Elliot and fellow missionaries believed that the friendly meeting would be the start of the evangelization among the previously uncontacted Huaorani. What was supposed to be another friendly meeting with the tribe ended in tragedy with the murder of Elliot and his friends two days later.

However, the death of Jim Elliot and his friends is not the end of the story. Jim Elliot’s ill-fated mission was only the start of this story of God’s redemptive power even in the face of atrocity.  

Early Years

Jim Elliot was passionate about reaching the Huaorani people with the gospel of Christ.

Jim Elliot was born on October 8, 1927, in Portland, Oregon. He was born to a fiercely devout Christian family. His father, Fred Elliot, served as an itinerant preacher with the Plymouth Brethren, and it was during his travels that he met his would-be wife, Clara. Jim’s older brothers Robert and Herbert, and their younger sister, Jane, regularly attended church. Regular Bible-reading was also a must in the Elliot household. Jim committed his life to Christ early on in his childhood. He was a model student, an eloquent student, and steadfast in his Christian beliefs.

The Bumpy Road to Ecuador

Jim studied linguistics at Camp Wycliffe as preparation for a life of missionary work. His meeting with a former missionary to Ecuador during his stay at the camp in 1950 changed the course of his life. The missionary, who used to minister to the Quechua people, told him of a group the Quechua called Huaorani. The Quechua also called this ethnic group “Auca” (“savages”) because of their violence against other tribes. The young Jim Elliot’s interest was piqued, and it was not long before he made plans to leave the United States to work as a missionary among the uncontacted Huaorani. 

The road to Ecuador was not an easy one. His friend, Bill Cathers, was supposed to accompany him to the country, but the plan was postponed when Cathers announced his decision to get married. In the meantime, Jim worked with a friend named Ed McCully in Illinois. McCully agreed to accompany Jim to Ecuador, but the former’s decision to marry Marilou Hobolth ultimately disrupted their plans.  

Jim became friends with Pete Fleming, a philosophy major who graduated from the University of Washington. He succeeded in convincing Fleming to come with him to Ecuador and establish a mission among the Huaorani people. To his delight, Pete agreed. 

Fleming and Elliot arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador on February 21, 1952, and continued north to Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Fellow Wheaton alumna and fiancée Elisabeth Howard later traveled to Ecuador to join Elliot and Fleming. From Quito, the trio moved to the Shandia mission station to work with and learn the language of the Quechua people.

They were later joined by Jim’s friend Ed McCully, his wife Marilou, and the couple’s infant son Stevie in 1953. In the same year, Jim Elliot and Elisabeth Howard got married. Valerie, the couple’s daughter was born on the 27th of February, 1955.

Jim Elliot’s team of missionaries grew. He met and befriended a former Army pilot named Nate Saint, who also worked as a transporter of supplies to different missionaries stationed all over the Ecuadorian jungle. Saint agreed to become the official pilot of Operation Auca.

The last member of the team was missionary Roger Youderian. He and his family had been in Ecuador in 1953, but he was dissatisfied with his work with the Shuar people. Nevertheless, he agreed to join Elliot’s Operation Auca.

The Ill-Fated Operation Auca

Operation Auca officially began in 1955. The plan was to search for the uncontacted Huaorani people via plane and drop off some gifts to them to try to win them over. Some of the gifts they offered the Huaorani included pots, salt, kettle, trinkets, machetes, and clothing. 

These gifts were tied to a rope and lowered to curious Huaorani tribesmen who had come to investigate these curious-looking objects given by strange-looking men from a strange flying machine. The missionaries made several calculated drop-offs until it was clear their strategy worked. The Huaorani reciprocated by tying gifts to the rope, and the missionaries saw this as a sign that it must be safe to go ahead and meet the Huaorani on the ground.

The group, which consisted of Elliot, Fleming, McCully, Youderian, and Saint, landed on a camp along a sandy beach on the Curaray River on the 3rd and 4th of January, 1956. After dropping off the missionaries and some supplies, Nate Saint used a loudspeaker to invite the Huaoranis living nearby to come and visit the camp.

It was not until two days later that the first group of Huaoranis accepted the missionaries’ invitation. This group of curious Huaoranis consisted of a young woman, a young man named Nankiwi (most likely the young woman’s suitor), and an older woman (the duo’s de facto chaperone). The missionaries’ fluency with the Huaorani language was limited, but it seemed to them that their efforts were a success thanks to the friendliness shown by the three natives.

After receiving several gifts from the missionaries and spending several hours with them, the two Huaorani youths suddenly decided to leave the camp and return to their village. On the way back to the village, the Nankiwi and the Huaorani girl came across Nampa (the girl’s brother) and a group of Huaorani men and women who also wanted to meet the foreign missionaries. 

Nampa was enraged when he saw his sister with Nankiwi but without a female chaperone. In his fear of Nampa, Nankiwi concocted a story of them being attacked by Jim Elliot and his group. According to Nankiwi, they were separated from the older woman when they fled. Nampa and the Huaorani were furious. They decided to exact revenge by killing Jim Elliot’s group.

The attack happened on the afternoon of January 8, 1956. Jim Elliot, despite having a pistol and using it to protect himself, died after he was speared by the enraged Huaorani. The group also attacked and killed Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian.

The men’s bodies and their supplies were dumped into the river by the Huaorani after they had been killed. Believing that the companions of the foreign men would exact revenge, the Huaorani burned their village in the aftermath of the attack and retreated deeper into the rainforest.

The missionaries’ wives began to worry when they did not receive any word from their husbands during the afternoon of January 8, 1956. Johnny Keenan, one of the missionaries who accompanied the men during the initial contact with the Huaorani, flew to the missionaries camp to see if something was amiss. He saw no signs of Elliot and his companions, so the missionaries wives’ were forced to seek help from the United States military stationed in Central America to help them look for their husbands.

A search party made up of America servicemen and missionaries combed the Ecuadorian jungle for signs of Jim Elliot and his companions. It was not until January 11 that the first two bodies were found. Ed McCully’s body was found the following day, and the last two remains were found on the 13th of January, 1956. The remains of Jim Elliot and his companions were buried at their camp (which they called Palm Beach) on the 14th of January, 1956.

This was not the end of Jim Elliot’s story. His life ended in tragedy, but his legacy was continued and amplified by his wife, Elisabeth. Elisabeth, along with Nate Saint’s sister Rachel, returned to the area and lived with the Huaorani. The women were largely successful in their missionary work, and many Huaorani (including some of the individuals who attacked and killed the men) converted to Christianity.

References

Photo: Fair use, Link

Miller, Susan Martins. Jim Elliot. Barbour and Co., 1998.

White, Kathleen. Jim Elliot. Bethany House Publishers, 1990.

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Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) was an Irish missionary, author, and founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship in Dohnavur, India. Apart from her work as an evangelist, she is best known for rescuing and providing much-needed shelter to India’s exploited devadasis and their children. She was a prolific author, writing more than 30 books during her lifetime. Carmichael spent most of her life living among the devadasis and their children in India, and never returned to her native Ireland,  Four years before the great missionary’s death, India officially outlawed the dedication of girls to Hindu temples.

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The Early Years

Amy Beatrice Carmichael was born in the town of Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland on December 16, 1867. She was the eldest of seven children of staunch Presbyterians, David and Catherine Carmichael.  The Carmichaels moved to Belfast around 1883, and it was in this city that they established the Welcome Evangelical Church. It was in this church that Amy first honed her skills as an evangelist and as a missionary. 

Amy’s earliest mission work was the founding of a Sunday morning class for Belfast’s mill girls. These women were called ‘shawlies’ because they preferred to wear shawls instead of hats. The Sunday morning class was held in the hall of the Rosemary Presbyterian Church.

The Sunday morning class was a huge success.  The number of ‘shawlies’ that attended the class grew so much that Amy was forced to look for a bigger place to hold a meeting for 500 persons. As fate would have it, she received a donation amounting to $500 from Miss Kate Mitchell. 

One of the mill owners she ministered to also donated a plot of land where the hall could be built. The plot of land is located on the corner of Heather and Cambrai Streets. The Welcome Evangelical Church established by the Carmichaels still occupies this plot of land in the city of Belfast.

Amy suffered from neuralgia, a condition that often kept her weak and in pain. However, this didn’t stop her from serving those who need to hear about Christ. In 1887, she attended the Keswick Convention where she heard about the founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor. Hearing about the legendary missionary inspired her to become one, too.

Among the Devadasis of Southern India

Amy Carmichael was well known for her commitment to advocacy for the vulnerable children of India.

In 1889, Amy relocated to Manchester to start a ministry among the mill girls who worked there. She later joined and trained with the China Inland Mission, but her trip to Asia was postponed because of poor health. She cut ties with the China Inland Mission,and joined the Church Missionary Society instead.

She had a short stint in Japan in 1893 under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society before illness forced her to return to Britain. In 1895, Amy joined the Church of England Zenana Mission. She was sent to Sri Lanka, but ill health once again interfered in her work.

Amy then traveled to Bangalore, India to recuperate and join the rest of the missionaries of the Zenana Mission. It now seemed that her illness was a boon as it was in India that she would finally find her vocation and her permanent home.

While she was recuperating, she studied the Tamil language and preached to the locals along with Thomas Walker, a prominent CMS missionary. Amy and other English missionaries were assisted by several Indian women converts. They later relocated from Bangalore to Dohnavur, Tamil Nadu, where she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship.

Devadasis were a common sight in South India when Amy Carmichael worked there. Devadasis were young girls that were considered by Hindus as female servants of god. Girls, sometimes as young as four, were dedicated or ‘married’ to the Hindu goddess of fertility, Yellamma, and sent to one of her temples to serve the goddess.

Devadasis held a high status in medieval India, and were trained in classical dance and music. They lived in temples, performed and danced in religious rituals, and were supported by kings and wealthy patrons of the temples. But the social status of devadasis gradually diminished. Some became concubines of priests, kings, and other prominent men of their communities. As the centuries passed, the roles of devadasis changed. Instead of dancing and performing religious rituals, these women became nothing more than temple prostitutes.

Most of the young girls given to the temples came from poor families who want to unburden themselves of another mouth to feed. Other girls were daughters of devadasis themselves who had nowhere to go. Many devadasis were nothing more than sex slaves for the men in charge of the temple and prominent men of the village. Many lived their whole lives as devadasis in temples and brothels, while others managed to escape.

One of the devadasis that escaped a temple in Dohnavur eventually sought shelter with Amy Carmichael. Some of the villagers demanded that the young girl be returned to the temple or her family, and they even threatened Amy if she did not give up the child. However,  Amy stood her ground and sheltered the girl in spite of the threats.

This young girl was not the last devadasi Amy Carmichael took under her wing. Several devadasis left the Hindu temples to seek shelter with the Dohnavur Fellowship. Amy and her team of missionaries at the Dohnavur Fellowship also rescued young girls from this plight.

Amy Carmichael never married or had children of her own, but she was ‘amma’ (mother) to the girls under her care. She and other missionaries of the Dohnavur Fellowship donned Indian dresses not only to blend in but also as a sign of respect to the Indian culture. The Dohnavur Fellowship was at first dedicated only to providing shelter for female devadasis and their daughters. It was not until 1918 that the fellowship admitted the sons of former devadasis.

Amy was not just a missionary and a precursor of modern social workers. She also wrote books chronicling her life and her work in Japan and India. A prolific writer, she wrote more than thirty books and devotionals from 1895 until her death in 1951.

Later Years

Amy Carmichael suffered a fall and was severely injured in 1931. Unable to continue her work because of the serious injury, she nonetheless continued to live in India and wrote books during the last twenty years of her life.  Amy died and was buried in Dohnavur in 1951. She was 83 years old. 

References
Picture by: Heroes of Faith, Public Domain, Link

Hill, Myrtle. “Carmichael, Amy Beatrice (1867–1951), Missionary.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/59081.

Sharpe, Eric J. “The Legacy of Amy Carmichael.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 20, no. 3, 1996, pp. 121–125., doi:10.1177/239693939602000307.

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Napoleon Invades Russia 1812

In summer of 1812, the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte led his Grand Army to invade Russia. After occupying Smolensk, Napoleon’s army marched to Moscow which they found deserted and on fire. Despite being razed to the ground, the allied troops spent several weeks in Moscow. The French troops were already running low on supply and morale, so the emperor decided to withdraw from the city. On October 19, 1812, they left the city and attempted to march back to their homeland.  The arrival of winter and the onslaught of Russian gunfire decimated Napoleon’s troops.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History during this time period.

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The War of the Sixth Coalition: Napoleon’s Invasion of and Disastrous Retreat from Russia

A painting that depicts Napoleon watching the burning of Moscow in 1812.

In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Russian Emperor Alexander I signed the Treaty of Tilsit. The two men then became friends and allies, giving Russia a brief respite from the wars that devastated much of Europe. However, the alliance between France and Russia crumbled in 1812 when grievances from both sides resurfaced.

Napoleon’s main issue with Alexander was his lax enforcement of the French Continental System in the Baltic. This accusation had basis as the Russian emperor felt that his country did not benefit from French trade policy. In spite of his alliance with France, he continued to let ships which carried British goods into Russian ports in the Baltic.

Alexander, on the other hand, believed that the presence of French troops in the Duchy of Warsaw threatened Russia’s interests in Poland. Russia had also waged a war against the Ottoman Empire starting in 1806 and had been trying to get a chunk of its territories in the Balkans. Although it was unclear to him what Napoleon’s Balkan plans were, Alexander knew that France (the Ottoman Empire’s long-time ally) would block any Russian attempt to partition the Ottoman Empire.

Both emperors knew that war was on the horizon and were busy seeking allies between 1810 and 1812. Prussia and Austria pledged reinforcements to Napoleon, while Russia wooed Sweden for its support. Alexander then hurriedly wrapped up the war against the Ottoman Empire so he and his troops could concentrate on the new Coalition War against France.

On June 24, 1812, 600,000 soldiers marched east to attack the Russians in the city of Smolensk. Apart from French soldiers, the Grand Army also included allied German, Swiss, Dutch, Polish, Austrian, and Italian soldiers. Even before entering Smolensk in August, Napoleon’s army was already suffering from the heat, hunger, and disease. However, they still outnumbered the city’s defenders, so the Russian army retreated from Smolensk without putting up much of a fight. The French emperor originally planned to winter in Smolensk but decided to pursue the Russians into Moscow.

The Russians tried to halt the Grand Army’s advance by engaging them in a battle at Borodino. Around 70,000 men from both sides were wounded or killed on September 7, and the Russians were once again forced to retreat deeper into their territory. The Grand Army arrived in Moscow on September 14 but found the city deserted and ablaze.

 Despite Moscow’s desolate condition, Napoleon and his army still lingered in the city to celebrate this “success.” As the weeks progressed, however, he saw that his troops’ supplies and morale had become dangerously low. Worse, Alexander had rejected his offer of peace and the dreaded Russian winter was fast approaching. After five weeks of staying in Moscow in vain, Napoleon finally ordered his men to march west. On October 19, French and allied troops left Moscow and marched back to their homeland. Little did these men know that they would be decimated on the way home. Russian troops led by General Mikhail Kutuzov fired upon the men as they made their way to Smolensk. By the time they arrived in the city, the French and allied troops had been reduced to half. Hunger, disease, and extreme cold also contributed to their demise.

Thousands of French and allied soldiers died as they attempted to cross the Berezina River once again. Russian troops proceeded to rain gunfire on their enemies. Most of the French and allied troops were killed, while many were captured and taken as prisoners. By December 18, 1812, only around 100,000 of the original 600,000 men returned to their homelands alive.

References

Picture by:  Альбрехт Адам – скан из книги, Public Domain, Link

Breunig, Charles. The Age of Revolution and Reaction: 1789-1850. New York: Norton, 1977.

Lieven, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 2. The Cambridge History of Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521815291.

Markham, Felix. The New Cambridge Modern History: War And Peace In An Age Of Upheaval 1793-1830. Edited by C. W. Crawley. Vol. IX. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. The Romanovs: 1613-1918. New York, Vintage Books, 2017.






  





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Paul, Son of Catherine, Reigns 1796

Paul, son of Catherine the Great and Peter III, started his reign in 1796. Born in 1754 and raised by his great-aunt Elizabeth, the young prince never had an affectionate relationship with his own mother. Young Paul always fell short of his mother’s expectations and was almost bypassed in favor of his own sons. Paul started his short and tyrannical reign upon Catherine’s death in 1796, but his reign was mostly overshadowed by the First and Second Coalition Wars waged against the expanding French Republic.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during this time period.

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Early Years and Accession

Catherine, Empress of Russia, gave birth to her son on September 20, 1754. The baby was named Paul (Pavel) and was kidnapped several minutes later by the childless Empress Elizabeth. Grand Duke Peter, the boy’s father, was busy drinking himself into a stupor somewhere in the palace while the empress was taking the child away from his mother.

Any form of affection failed to grow between mother and son as Paul was raised by Empress Elizabeth in her own household. He rarely saw his own mother, and he was entrusted early on to a tutor named Nikita Ivanovich Panin. Elizabeth died in 1762 and was soon succeeded by her nephew, the Grand Duke Peter. Emperor Peter III, however, did not reign long. Catherine, his own wife, deposed him in a coup just five months after he acceded the throne. After sending her husband to Ropsha, she then crowned herself Empress of Russia in Moscow.

Although the Empress did not neglect him altogether, Paul’s relationship with his mother worsened as the years passed. In 1773, she arranged his marriage to the Prussian princess Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt. She knew that she would have to leave the throne to him after her death, so she allowed him to attend the meetings of the Council to give him some training.

Paul’s first wife died in 1776 after giving birth to a stillborn son, so Catherine once again arranged his marriage to another Prussian princess. This time she picked the lovely Sophia Dorothea of Wurttemberg, and the two were married in September 1776. What was initially a marriage of convenience turned out to be a good match when Paul and Maria Feodorovna (Sophia Dorothea’s Orthodox name) fell in love. She gave birth to their son Alexander I in 1777, and the heir was soon followed by nine more children.

Paul was also infatuated with military drills—a quirk that irritated his mother as it reminded her of her dead spouse. He also inherited his father’s temper, impulsiveness, and cruelty. He terrorized his family with his fits of rage, so his wife was often forced to calm him down. The Empress and her court often scoffed at him and considered him mad.

Catherine and Paul’s relationship worsened when the Empress insinuated that she would bypass him and elevate her grandson Alexander to the throne instead. When his third son Nicholas was born, Catherine persuaded Maria to convince her husband to renounce his claim to the throne in favor of their sons. Maria refused, and Paul’s resentment of her mother only worsened.

 Catherine came down with a stroke on November 17, 1796. When he heard that his mother fell, the forty-two-year-old Paul immediately traveled from his estate in Gatchina to his mother’s palace at Tsarskoye Selo. But it was the desire to secure his succession and not affection nor worry from his part that made him hurry to be by her bedside. When he arrived, he immediately ordered his mother’s ministers to surrender her papers to him. The grandees and soldiers who were loyal to him soon arrived and gathered around the Tsarevich as Catherine lay dying. Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for thirty-five years, died at 9:45 PM on the same day. She was sixty-eight.

The Mad Emperor

Emperor Paul I of Russia reigned for four years before he was assassinated.

Paul became Emperor of Russia as soon as his mother breathed her last in 1796. His priority was to consolidate power and ensure the loyalty of his courtiers. Then it was time to settle old scores. The new Emperor had his father’s remains exhumed from the Nevsky Monastery. He then ordered Orlov and Bariatinski (the ringleaders of Peter’s assassination) to lead the funeral procession. When she was alive, Catherine had insinuated that Paul was the son of her first lover Saltykov and therefore was not a true Romanov. Paul never forgot this slight, and he had Peter buried with her as revenge.  

So great was his hatred of Catherine that the Emperor started his reign by erasing his mother’s legacy. He forbade the troops from wearing the simpler and more practical uniform introduced by Catherine’s favorite and former lover Grigory Potemkin. He favored the Prussian style uniforms (with matching wig and powder) which he soon reintroduced to the army. He had General Alexander Suvorov (one of Catherine’s favorites) dismissed and sent to his estate when the general defied him by rejecting his reforms. Paul and his wife also formulated a decree which forbade a female offspring of the House of Romanov from inheriting the throne.

Apart from military parades, he also liked to bend people to his will with or without the use of violence. Members of the nobility needed to submit to corporal punishment, and they were required to adhere to the strict hierarchy he created for them. He was not above to beating soldiers who offended him. Banishment to Siberia as punishment for petty sins was also common so that soldiers assigned in the capital resorted to padding their coats with cash just in case they were suddenly sent into exile.

His volatility and pettiness confused and terrified his courtiers. He was gracious with people whom he favored but severe with people who fell from his grace. He drove out his mistress Yekaterina Nelidova and the Kurakin family when he got tired of their scheming. He also elevated his barber, valet, and occasional pimp Ivan Kutaisov to the position of count.

The Coalition Wars

Paul spent much of his reign trying to contain the expansionist ambitions of the newly created French Republic. The French Brigadier General Napoleon Bonaparte embarked on the Italian campaign in the year of Paul’s accession to the throne. Bonaparte and his troops easily took Savoy, Piedmont-Sardinia, Ferrara, Romagna, and Bologna during the War of the First Coalition (1792-1797). Austria, a haven for French royalists and enemy of France during much of the war, was forced to sue for peace on April 1797. Napoleon Bonaparte and his Austrian counterpart signed the Treaty of Campo Formio on October 18, 1797.

The treaty left Austria’s former ally Britain out in the cold as it was only between Austria and France. Bonaparte was eager to attack Britain, but he was doubtful that a French invasion of the island would ever succeed. He then decided that it would be wiser to weaken Britain first by disrupting the British commerce. To this end, he decided to block the Mediterranean route taken by British ships to India and establish French domination in Egypt. Napoleon and his fleet then sailed to Egypt but stopped mid-way in Malta to besiege the island.

News of the fall of Malta to the French in 1798 enraged Paul. He had been elected as Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and he considered this distant island his jurisdiction. To his delight, however, Bonaparte and his fleet were later routed by Captain Nelson’s navy in the Battle of the Nile. Despite the defeat at sea, the French were still victorious on Egyptian land. French troops successfully captured Cairo and soon were spreading their tentacles into Syria.

Alarmed at the expansion, the British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger traveled to St. Petersburg in 1799 to convince the Emperor to form the Second Coalition that would counter France. Paul agreed to join the coalition and sent Russian soldiers to attack the French troops in the Batavian Republic (former Dutch Republic), Italy, Piedmont-Sardinia, Savor, and Switzerland along with British and Austrian troops.

The Austrian and the Russian armies (under the command of General Suvorov) was able to route the French army in Italy. Despite this victory, the relationship between the Austrian and the Russian troops soon floundered. Suvorov and his men later marched to Switzerland to fight the French forces, but they were soon abandoned by the Austrians. The Russians were forced to fight their way out of Switzerland to survive. To Paul’s dismay, the troops he sent to Holland to work with the British forces fared no better. Enraged at his allies’ ineptitude and unreliability, he formally withdrew his troops from the coalition on October 22, 1799.

Coup d’etat and Death

Two men held sway over Paul during his reign. First was the pro-British Count Nikita Panin whom Paul appointed as vice-chancellor. Panin’s more powerful rival was the president of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs Feodor Rostopchin who was known to advocate pro-French policies. Frustrated with Paul’s inept foreign policies, Count Nikita Panin soon planned to have the Emperor deposed and elevate his son Alexander instead. He met with Alexander, but the terrified heir neither agreed to the plan nor breathed a word to his father about the plot.

Bonaparte, meanwhile, had overthrown the French Directory in a coup in November 1799 and soon became the country’s First Consul. In the same year, Paul granted Rostopchin the title of count and soon made overtures to Napoleon. Nothing could have made the First Consul happier. To secure Paul’s goodwill, he released 7,000 Russian prisoners of war and sent them back to their homeland in 1800. He also agreed to evacuate French troops from Malta and let Russian troops occupy the island. The British navy, however, got there first and promptly captured the island which they then refused to hand over to the Russians. Paul responded by planning an attack on British-held India together with Bonaparte.

The Emperor’s stifling paranoia increased during the last year of his life. He trusted no one (not even his own sons) and often sent people to exile for tiniest offenses. His heir—the perceptive and liberal Alexander—bore the brunt of his tyrannical tendencies. He saw threats all around but suspected Alexander more than the others.

Men who served Paul (even those who were loyal to him) often found themselves dismissed from their jobs when they fell from grace. One of these men was Count Nikita von der Pahlen who was appointed, dismissed, reappointed and dismissed once again as governor of Livonia. In 1800, Pahlen finally had enough of Paul’s volatility. He approached Alexander and slowly began to suggest the idea of ousting Paul in favor of his son. Alexander, terrified or deeply filial, refused to go along with Pahlen.

In early 1801, Pahlen finally convinced Alexander to join his allies in forcing his father to abdicate. Ever the devoted son, he asked for Pahlen’s assurance that Paul would remain alive and that he would only be retired to the Mikhailovsky Palace. Pahlen agreed but knew that he would not be able to keep his promise to Alexander. Now all he had to do was to find someone who did not mind to having his hands stained with blood.

By some stroke of luck, Pahlen was able to convince Paul to recall Prince Nikolay Zubov from exile. Zubov, one of Catherine’s favorites, had been Paul’s nemesis. Upon his mother’s death, the Emperor immediately had him and his brother Platon (Catherine’s lover) exiled. Levin Bennigsen, one of Catherine’s most prominent generals, was also exiled in 1798 but was pardoned by Paul along with Zubov. Some 200 soldiers soon joined in on the plot after some their fellow soldiers were sent into exile.

Paul retreated to the Mikhailovsky Castle as his paranoia deepened. He knew that something was up and it was only a matter of time before someone deposed or worse, killed him. He once confronted Pahlen on the news of a conspiracy which reached him, but the latter only reassured the Emperor that it would not succeed. Pahlen decided to play along. He told the Emperor that his wife and elder sons were planning to oust him, and advised him to plan a counter-coup.

He then betrayed the Emperor by telling his son of the plot and advised him to be ready to strike. Unaware of the whole plot, Paul then gave his wife and elder sons a dressing down for plotting against him. He had his sons placed on house arrest, but Alexander remained in contact with Pahlen.

Pahlen and his men surrounded the Mikhailovsky Palace during the early morning hours of March 23, 1801. Meanwhile, a group of drunk and angry soldiers led by Prince Platon Zubov, his brother Nikolay, and Bennigsen stormed into the palace. Alarmed at the noise, Paul got out of his bed and hid behind a screen. The assailants soon found him and dragged him from behind his hiding place. Bennigsen then declared him deposed and elevated Alexander as the new Emperor. A ruckus ensued as the disbelieving Paul struggled against his captors.

Nikolay Zubov then took a heavy snuffbox and hit the emperor’s face with it. Several officers also joined the melee and started beating and choking him. Another officer took the Emperor’s sash then looped it around his neck while Paul begged for mercy. None was spared for him that night.

 Paul died soon after, but the officers continued to beat and kick his corpse for several minutes. Bennigsen stopped the assailants and ordered them to put the Emperor’s body on his bed. Nikolai Zubov then went downstairs and informed Alexander of his father’s death. The new Emperor broke down in tears upon hearing that his father had died. He felt betrayed and guilt since fully expected that the coup plotters would spare the life of his father. Pahlen arrived to admonish him for his remorse and bade the rueful Emperor to start his reign.

References

Picture by: Vladimir Borovikovskyhttps://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/portrait-of-the-emperor-paul-i-of-russia-1799-1800-news-photo/464427333, Public Domain, Link

Breunig, Charles. The Age of Revolution and Reaction: 1789-1850. New York: Norton, 1977.

Lieven, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 2. The Cambridge History of Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521815291.

McGrew, Roderick E. Paul I of Russia, 1754-1801. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. The Romanovs: 1613-1918. New York, Vintage Books, 2017.



     

















       







  




 

 

 

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Opening to Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch

In late 14th century, the Ming emperor issued a ban on sea trade (haijin) to combat Yuan loyalists and Japanese pirates. Although a later Ming emperor developed a navy and a tributary system, China’s isolationist policies still continued after the time of the time of the great Chinese explorer Zheng He. The arrival of the Age of Exploration, however, would change all that. The first Europeans to arrive in China were the Portuguese and were soon followed by the Spaniards and the Dutch.  These events are recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History during this time period.

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Portuguese

Portuguese explorers and merchants soon established trading outposts in Goa and Malacca after reaching Asia in 1498. Although Portuguese trade in India and Malacca grew, China still held much allure for the traders. It was not until 1514, however, that explorer Jorge Álvares was able to set foot on an island off the coast of Guangdong. He was followed later that year by Rafael Perestrello who was able to reach the mainland. Nothing concrete came out of these visits as the Portuguese did not understand the Ming’s tribute system.

In 1517, King Manuel I sent Tomé Pires and Fernão Pires de Andrade as ambassadors to Zhengde emperor’s court. While waiting for the permission to proceed to the capital, Simão (Fernão’s brother) built a fort at Tuen Mun and prohibited foreign traders from conducting trade in the area. If this was not enough, Simão also hit a Ming official who tried to reprimand him. The embassy was also endangered when he bought (or kidnapped) Chinese children and sent them to India as slaves.

He and his companions then sailed further north and established a settlement in Ningbo where they terrorized the locals. From then on, Tomé Pires and Fernão Pires de Andrade’s embassy to China was doomed. Those who remained at Tuen Mun were driven out by the Ming navy. Pires and Andrade were taken as prisoners (along with many of their companions) after this misadventure. Most of the Portuguese prisoners died in China in the years that followed.

Friendly relations between China and Portugal resumed only during the reign of Jiajing Emperor (1521-1567). Portuguese ships were permitted to dock in Macau’s (Aomen) harbor in 1535, but their crew was not allowed to disembark and establish contact with the locals. In 1553, however, Ming officials finally allowed Portuguese traders to build a factory in Macau. In 1557, Jiajing Emperor allowed the Portuguese to lease Macau and establish a permanent settlement there in exchange for their assistance in suppressing the pirates which prowled the Pearl River Delta. The lessee paid 500 taels of silver yearly for the occupation of Macau. The Portuguese continued to occupy the area until sovereignty was transferred back to the People’s Republic of China in 1999.

Spanish

In 1565, the Spanish explorer

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was a Spanish navigator and explorer.

claimed the Philippines for Spain and started to establish settlements in several islands of the archipelago. After some years of establishing a foothold in the colony, he and the friar-navigator Andres de Urdaneta created the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade.

 Prohibitive regulations on trade with outsiders discouraged Chinese merchants from trading directly with Spanish merchants, so they used the port of Manila as an entrepot. Starting in 1571, galleons carrying tons of silver from the mines of New Spain and Peru left Acapulco and unloaded their cargo at the port of Manila. The tons of silver would then be shipped to China where they would be minted. Spanish merchants, meanwhile, would then purchase spices, Chinese silks, porcelains, and other luxury items in Manila and send them back to Acapulco. These goods would then be sold in Mexico, or transported overland and shipped to Spain where the items would then be sold.

In 1589, Wanli Emperor finally granted additional trade licenses for Chinese merchants and allowed them to continue the lucrative trade in Manila. This trade, however, would come to a halt during the last years of the Ming Dynasty. Between 1590 and 1600, Spain and China were already on the verge of a political and economic decline.

Indebted and with its supply of American silver already declining, the Spanish Crown was pressured to undertake economic reforms during the early 17th century. The efforts to revive a dying economy (including the debasement of coinage and tax reforms) failed. Spain’s economic problems also had a far-reaching effect on China when the amount of silver shipped to Manila also dwindled. The reduced supply of silver on the market also affected its silk trade with Spanish merchants.

Japan, another important supplier of silver to the Chinese market, also withdrew from trading with most of the European countries in the early 1600s. The shortage of the metal led to hoarding and a sudden spike in its value. Peasants were especially hard-pressed as they used copper coins for selling and buying but used silver taels to pay their taxes. Because of the shortage in taels of silver, China’s beleaguered peasants could only pay their taxes in grain. This eventually led to the Ming government’s bankruptcy.

Political uprisings followed the economic collapse of the Ming Dynasty and ushered in the rule of the Qing Dynasty. In 1647, the Qing authorities issued a renewed ban on sea trade and limited trade only in Macau.

Dutch

Dutch merchants came in just as the Spanish and Portuguese domination on Asian-European trade was waning. Although Dutch ships had plied Asian waters since the early years of the Age of Exploration, it was only in 1601 that one of its ships was able to drop its anchor off the coast of Macau. Sailors disembarked from the ship and ventured on land, but they were soon seized by Portuguese authorities. The ship’s captain left the prisoners behind in Macau where most died in captivity.

This incident did little to discourage the Dutch government and merchants into venturing to China. In 1602, Dutch government granted a charter to a group of merchants allowing them to create a company that would break England’s domination in the European market. Thus the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) was created.

In 1604, the Dutch commander Wybrand van Warwijck was enticed by Chinese merchants in Pattani to establish trade relations with China with their help. Van Warwijck agreed and sailed to Macau with his middlemen, but a typhoon drove his ship to Penghu Islands (Pescadores) instead. He and his crew then decided to stay there while his middlemen negotiated with the authorities in the mainland. Instead of trade ships, a fleet of war junks arrived instead with the intent of driving the Dutch out of Penghu. Their arrival forced van Warwijck and his crew to seek refuge in Taiwan (Formosa). After finding Taiwan unsuitable for their ships, the sailors were forced to retreat to Pattani.

The Dutch tried once again to enter Macau in 1607, but they were driven off by the Portuguese. During the next ten years, they were confined to their strongholds in Java and Maluku Islands. During the early phases of the Thirty Years’ War against Spain, Dutch ships blockaded Chinese junks and harassed Spanish galleons in Manila. The Dutch navy also attacked Macau in 1622 but was unsuccessful in taking it.

By July 1622, Dutch sailors and merchants came back to Penghu and occupied the islands. After building forts and outposts on the islands, they then tried to strong-arm Chinese merchants in nearby Fujian province into trading with them. Merchants who refused to trade with them would be attacked and their towns destroyed by the Dutch. Captives were then taken to Penghu where they would remain as slaves or be shipped Batavia later on. They also issued passes to Chinese trade ships bound for Batavia but refused to issue the same passes for those bound for Manila which was held by Spain.

Starting in 1623 and amid negotiations, the Dutch and Chinese navy continued to clash around Penghu Islands. By the end of 1624, the Dutch decided to withdraw from Penghu and sailed to Taiwan to establish Fort Zeelandia. The Dutch maintained a presence in Taiwan until they driven out by the Ming resistance leader Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) in 1662.

References

Picture by: Celestí Sadurní i Deop (1830-1896) – (16 April 1887). “Miguel López de Legaspi“. La Hormiga de Oro (16): 252. ISSN 2171-7591., Public Domain, Link

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Elliott, J.H., and J.B. Harrison. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War 1609-48/59. Edited by J.P. Cooper. Vol. IV. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

Peterson, Andrew C. The Spanish Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia. Edited by Tarver Denova Hollis Micheal and Emily Slape. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016.

Roberts, J.A.G. A Concise History of China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Wills, John E., and J. L. Cranmer-Byng. China and Maritime Europe, 1500-1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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Virtual Engagement With The Bible

Virtual Bible study is going to be outside of the comfort zone for many of us. Here we share some tips on keeping engagement within your groups and how you can show accountability and strength for your support system. We suggest your first online Bible study meeting be less Bible study and more checking-in. It may have been a few weeks since you’ve seen each other face-to-face and this would be the perfect opportunity to present a safe space to reconnect. The first few times you meet, you and your group may be a bit timid as they figure out the features and controls available in the tech tool you’re using. The cross-talking due to technology lag and so forth but we promise, it gets easier!

You all know each other, now it’s just a group call. Since you are limited with in person queues and body language, you will have to be more detailed than usual. The communication has to be on point so everyone stays engaged and at speed with everyone. You can start by sharing links to tutorials on how to use platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, Skype, Google Video, and more. This will help with familiarity. Encourage your crew to show up and express that it will still be as fun. You don’t have to be a tech guru or Bible expert, this is all about remaining connected to one another and keeping the Word alive in your daily lives. Just remember, you already are friends, now it’s just going to be online and everyone can still have a voice. Keep your normal routine if you like or change it up a bit. Set goals/tasks for you and your group to share at the next meeting. Even present fun memes or videos at the beginning to be an icebreaker. More people could potentially be more vulnerable and open to discussion in the virtual world because they won’t feel judged as some may feel in person. This is a great opportunity and a workout for communication skills.

Understanding the environment we are in helps us adapt. Reading the Word and sharing the Bible with friends was a part of your life before and should remain. The way technology is nowadays, it’s almost impossible to avoid it. There are Bible apps, Bible videos on YouTube, Bible blogs, and more. Get connected and keep your Faith. Hold your friends and peers accountable during these unprecedented times. You never know when they are needing someone. Until next time!

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Queue Wearing Began 1644-1645

After defeating the Ming Dynasty in 1644, the Qing Dynasty immediately solidified their rule by forcing the Han Chinese to assimilate. One of the Manchu emperor’s first edicts was for men to shave the front parts of their heads and braid the remaining hair at the back into a long queue. Those who defied the order were punished with death.  These events are recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during this time.

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The Rise of the Qing and the Enforcement of the Queue

Queue wearing was mandatory for the men of the Qing Dynasty.

By the middle of the 16th century, the Ming Dynasty was already on the verge of collapse. The gradual collapse started when the empire was ruled in succession by incompetent or indifferent rulers. The division between the eunuchs and government officials also affected the imperial court. The Yuan Mongols had retreated back into the steppes after their downfall in the 14th century, but a new confederation under Altan Khan ramped up the raids into northern China during the mid-1500s. The raids finally stopped when the Ming sued for peace in 1571.

However, the threat from the marauding northern tribes was not yet over. During the late 1500s, the Jianzhou Jurchens (descendants of the Jin Dynasty) led by Nurhaci started to raid China’s northern frontiers. The Jianzhou (along with other Jurchen tribes) occupied Jilin and Heilongjiang and had long paid tribute to the Ming emperors. In 1599, Nurhaci started to organize his people into a banner system. 300 households comprised a company, and 50 companies, in turn, were organized into colored banners. The original banners made up of Jurchen tribesmen grew overtime when they brought to heel the neighboring Mongol tribes and Chinese people.

By 1600, Nurhaci had transformed the Jurchen confederation into a cohesive state. They saw themselves as inheritors of the Jin Dynasty, so in 1616, Nurhaci announced the creation of the Later Jin Dynasty with himself as its head. They intensified the raids in northern China, but the Ming were able to rout them with the help of cannons obtained from the Portuguese.

The troubles of the Ming Dynasty only intensified in the years that followed. The drastic drop in temperatures during the early 1600s led to a series of droughts and floods. The crises worsened when the supply of silver from Japan and the Americas dropped. Impoverished peasants were unable to pay their taxes, and many soon turned to rebellion and banditry.

The Jurchens, meanwhile, were steadily consolidating power. Upon Nurhaci’s death in 1626, his son, Abahai (Hong Taiji), succeeded him as leader of his people. He continued his father’s quest to subjugate Mongols, Chinese, and Koreans during the early years of his reign. With the help of Chinese collaborators, the Jurchens adopted the Chinese government system and modernized their military by acquiring knowledge on how to manufacture cannons. In 1635, Abahai renamed his people “Manchus” and discarded the Later Jin Dynasty in favor of “Qing” (“pure” or “clear”).

While the Jurchens were busy subduing northern peoples and transforming their state, Ming China, on the other hand, was racked with uprisings. Li Zicheng led the rebellion in Henan, while Zhang Xianzhong harassed the Ming authorities in Sichuan. Watching from their vantage point in the north and seeing the chaos that engulfed China, the Manchus came to believe that the Ming had lost the Mandate of Heaven. The loss of the Mandate gave them the determination to conquer China. Abahai died in 1643, and he was succeeded by his young son (the later Shunzhi emperor). His uncle Dorgon and Jirgalang ruled as his regents.

In 1643, the rebel leader Li Zicheng declared the Ming emperor deposed and announced the creation of the Shun dynasty. He then mobilized his supporters and stormed Beijing on April 24, 1644. The doomed Chongzhen emperor hanged himself on the same night when he learned of his troops’ defeat.

Wu Sangui, a Ming general, asked the Manchus for assistance in driving out Li Zicheng and the rebels. The Manchus used this moment to sweep into China itself. They kept their promise to Wu Sangui and drove out Li Zicheng and his rebels out of Beijing when they arrived in June 1644. They also used the moment to establish a foothold in China. The remaining Ming administrators were forced to leave Beijing and move the seat of government to Nanjing. Pockets of resistance against Manchu rule, however, still existed. Shi Kefa led a Ming resistance in the city of Yangzhou, but it was ruthlessly crushed by the Manchus in 1645.

By June 1645 and despite the resistance, the Manchu rulers were already solidifying their rule in China. One of the first decrees they issued was to compel Chinese men to shave the front part of their heads and braid the remaining hair at the back into a queue. The shaving and plaiting were to be done within ten days, and those who refused to comply would be executed.

For the Manchus, the wearing of the queue was a symbol of submission, but for the Chinese, it was a symbol of oppression and forced assimilation. Many refused to comply, and it was followed by a ruthless crackdown on dissenters. The wearing of the queue, however, was limited only to the Manchus and the (Han) Chinese. Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighurs were exempted from wearing this hairstyle. The practice of plaiting the hair lasted until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

References

Picture by: Internet Archive Book Imageshttps://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14580605068/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/geschichtedeskos05rose/geschichtedeskos05rose#page/n192/mode/1up, No restrictions, Link

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Rhoads, Edward J. M. Manchus and Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861-1928. University of Washington Press, 2011.

Roberts, J.A.G. A Concise History of China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.