By Wendy Palace
In August 1904 Sir Francis Younghusband's invasion strength reached the forbidden urban of Lhasa. The British invasion of Tibet in 1903 acted as a catalyst for switch in a global remodeled via revolution, battle and the increase of a brand new order. utilizing unofficial govt resources, deepest papers and the diaries and memoirs of these concerned, this publication examines the effect of Younghusband's invasion and its aftermath inside of Tibet.
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The additional complication of the approaching winter (which would block the passes and make a speedy return to India impossible), coupled with pressure from Brigadier-General James Macdonald, the military head of the expedition (whom Younghusband constantly suspected of trying to wrest control from him and whom some expedition members had already nicknamed ‘retiring Mac’), meant that any decisions taken had to be taken quickly. The extent to which Younghusband therefore acted in ignorance of instructions from India remains a matter for continuing speculation, but it is a fact that, despite all the trappings of officialdom, his position was quite precarious and certainly no longer as secure as it had formerly been when the expedition first set out.
By 1904, for example, it was possible for a telegraph message to reach Calcutta or Peking within a day, a great trial to those men on the spot who, like Younghusband, found themselves in the same dangerous and compromising situations but without the ability to use their initiative for fear of having to risk their careers and account for mistakes for which, in the past, greater allowance would almost certainly have been made. This also had the additional effect of undermining confidence without providing essential backup, for although messages from London might reach Calcutta or Peking within hours, passing them on to remote posts on the north-east frontier could take many days.
As soon as British agents began working inside Tibet after 1904 they quickly discovered that the trade marts they were supposed to be monitoring under the terms of the Lhasa Convention were in fact part of a complex ancient network of well-used trade routes, often collectively owned by the nomads and herders who moved their animals from one trade mart to another, and by Tibetan officials granted monopolies for certain kinds of trade by the Lhasa authorities. The British presence, and more particularly their attempts to introduce Indian traders artificially and set up new boundary markers, frequently generated understandable anger and resentment amongst local Tibetan monopoly holders towards strangers who did not understand the nature of the Tibetan economy or even share their ideas about landownership.