Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge
Revenge is a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance, be it real or perceived. It is also called payback, retribution, retaliation or vengeance; it may be characterized, justly or unjustly, as a form of justice.-Function in society:Some societies believe that the...

. More commonly in the 19th century, punitive expeditions were used as pretexts to colonial adventures that resulted in annexations, regime changes or changes in policies of the affected state to favour one or more colonial powers.

provides the following definition:

"When the territorial sovereign is too weak or is unwilling to enforce respect for international law, a state which is wronged may find it necessary to invade the territory and to chastise the individuals who violate its rights and threaten its security".

Notable punitive expeditions

  • In the 13th century Kublai Khan
    Kublai Khan
    Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

    , the founder of the Yuan Dynasty
    Yuan Dynasty
    The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

    , sent emissaries demanding tribute from the Singhasari kingdom of Java
    Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

    . The ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, Kertanagara, refused to pay tribute and tattooed a Chinese messenger, Meng Qi, on his face. A punitive expedition
    Mongol invasion of Java
    In 1293, Kublai Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, sent a large invasion fleet to Java with 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers...

     sent by Kublai Khan arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. Jayakatwang, a rebel from Kediri, had killed Kertanagara by that time. The Mongols allied with Raden Wijaya
    Raden Wijaya
    Raden Wijaya was a Javanese King, the founder and the first monarch of Majapahit empire. The history of his founding of Majapahit was written in several records, including Pararaton and Negarakertagama...

     of Majapahit against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, Wijaya turned against the Mongols and forced them to withdraw in confusion.
  • The First Opium War
    First Opium War
    The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

    , in retaliation of the burning of opiate products by Commissioner Lin Zexu
    Lin Zexu
    Lín Zéxú ; 30 August 1785 – 22 November 1850) was a Chinese scholar and official during the Qing Dynasty.He is most recognized for his conduct and his constant position on the "high moral ground" in his fight, as a "shepherd" of his people, against the opium trade in Guangzhou...

    , which resulted in the opening of a number of ports, the cession of Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

     to Great Britain
    Great Britain
    Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

    , and the Treaty of Nanjing.
  • In 1599 the Spanish
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

     Juan de Onate
    Juan de Oñate
    Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar was a Spanish explorer, colonial governor of the New Spain province of New Mexico, and founder of various settlements in the present day Southwest of the United States.-Biography:...

     ordered his nephew Vincente de Zaldivar to engage in a punitive expedition against the Keres natives of Acoma Pueblo
    Acoma Pueblo
    Acoma Pueblo is a Native American pueblo approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the United States. Three reservations make up Acoma Pueblo: Sky City , Acomita, and McCartys. The Acoma Pueblo tribe is a federally recognized tribal entity...

    . When the Spanish arrived the fought a three day battle
    Acoma Massacre
    The Acoma Massacre, or the Battle of Acoma Pueblo, was fought in January of 1599 between Spanish conquistadors and Acoma, or Keres, native Americans of New Mexico. After the killing of twelve soldiers at Acoma Pueblo in 1598, the Spanish retaliated and it led to the deaths of around 800 men, women...

     with the Keres leaving about 800 men, women and children dead.
  • From 1838 to 1842 ships of the United States Exploring Expedition
    United States Exploring Expedition
    The United States Exploring Expedition was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands conducted by the United States from 1838 to 1842. The original appointed commanding officer was Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones. The voyage was authorized by Congress in...

     engaged in three punitive expeditions against Pacific islanders.
  • The 1842 Ivory Coast Expedition
    Ivory Coast Expedition
    The Ivory Coast Expedition, or the Liberia Expedition, was a naval operation in 1842, launched by the United States against the West African Bereby people. After the attacks on the merchant ships Mary Carver and Edward Barley, the American Congress approved a punitive expedition to the area and...

     was led by Matthew C. Perry against the Bereby people of West Africa
    West Africa
    West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

     after two attacks
    Mary Carver Affair
    The Mary Carver Affair occurred in April of 1842 when the American merchant ship Mary Carver was attacked by Bereby warriors in canoes near the kraal of Little Bereby on the Ivory Coast...

     on American merchant ships.
  • The French Campaign
    French Campaign against Korea, 1866
    The French campaign against Korea of 1866 is also known as Byeong-in yangyo . It refers to the French invasion of Ganghwa Island in Korea in retaliation for the earlier execution by Korea's Joseon Dynasty of French Catholic priests proselytizing in that country...

     against Korea in 1866, a response to the earlier execution by Korea of French priests proselytizing in that country.
  • The 1867 Formosa Expedition, a failed punitive operation of the United States.
  • The United States expedition to Korea in 1871, in retaliation to the General Sherman incident
    General Sherman Incident
    The General Sherman Incident was the destruction of an armed merchant marine side-wheel steamer that visited Korea in 1866. It was an important catalyst to the end of Korean isolationism in the 19th century...

    , where a U.S. merchant ship was burned as it entered Pyongyang.
  • The 1874 Japanese expedition
    Taiwan Expedition of 1874
    The , usually referred to in Taiwan and mainland China as the Mudan incident , was a punitive expedition launched by the Japanese in retaliation for the murder of 54 Ryukyuan sailors by Paiwan aborigines near the southwestern tip of Taiwan in December 1871...

     against Formosa
    Formosa or Ilha Formosa is a Portuguese historical name for Taiwan , literally meaning, "Beautiful Island". The term may also refer to:-Places:* Formosa Strait, another name for the Taiwan Strait...

  • The shortest war in history, the Anglo-Zanzibar War
    Anglo-Zanzibar War
    The Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted 38 minutes and is the shortest war in history. The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession...

    , can be described as a punitive expedition.
  • Benin Expedition of 1897 British punitive action that led to the annexation of the Kingdom of Benin. The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    reported on January 13, 1897 that a "punitive expedition" would be formed to "punish the murderers of the Benin City expedition."
  • The Pancho Villa Expedition
    Pancho Villa Expedition
    The Pancho Villa Expedition—officially known in the United States as the Mexican Expedition and sometimes colloquially referred to as the Punitive Expedition—was a military operation conducted by the United States Army against the paramilitary forces of Mexican insurgent Francisco "Pancho" Villa...

     from 1916 to 1917, led by General John J. Pershing
    John J. Pershing
    John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

    , was an operation in retaliation against Pancho Villa's incursion into United States.
  • Suppression of the 1920 Iraqi Revolt
    Iraqi revolt against the British
    The Iraqi Revolt against the British , or the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920, started in Baghdad in the summer of 1920 with mass demonstrations of both Sunni and Shia, including protests by embittered officers from the old Ottoman army, against the policies of British Acting Civil Commissioner Sir...

     against the British Mandate of Mesopotamia,
  • The 1979 invasion of Vietnam by China
    Sino-Vietnamese War
    The Sino–Vietnamese War , also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa , was a brief but bloody border war fought in 1979 between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam...

     was characterised by Deng Xiaoping
    Deng Xiaoping
    Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician, statesman, and diplomat. As leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng was a reformer who led China towards a market economy...

    as an act of punishment necessitated by Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, saying that "Children who don't listen have to be spanked.".
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