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Lord Elgin orders the destruction of the Summer Palace in Beijing as reprisal for murder of hostages

China, 1857, zoomable map
Angered by the imprisonment and murder of British and French negotiators and their escorts, the British chief diplomat Lord Elgin gave orders that the sprawling Summer Palace outside of Beijing be burned in retaliation and as a warning against using hostages in diplomat relations.  A fine was also levied.  Several thousand Allied troops fired the palace, which burned for three days and left only a few surviving outbuildings intact.(By John Osborne) 
Source Citation: 
The Annual Register or a View of the History and Politics of the Year 1860 (London: F. & J. Rivington, 1861), 270.