According to palace archives, her father, who was an ordinary official from the Manchu Yehenara clan, was working in Beijing in 1835, indicating her place of birth as Beijing. Historians both in China and abroad have debated her contentious legacy. Even worse, Cixi’s actual “power” was non-existent. Therefore, the new emperor had to be from a generation below or the same generation as the Tongzhi Emperor. As the only photographic series taken of Cixi – the supreme leader of China for more than 45 years – it represents a unique convergence of Qing court pictorial traditions, modern photographic techniques, and Western standards of artistic portraiture. [53], Cixi stated that "I have always been of the opinion, that the allied armies had been permitted to escape too easily in 1860. [30] Many officials felt and showed more loyalty to the empress dowager than they did to the emperor,[31] owing in part to her seniority and in part to her personalized cultivation of court favorites, many of whom would be given gifts of her artwork and invitations to join her at the theater for opera and acrobatics. Informal seals numbered in the thousands and were not considered political accouterments, rather objects of art commissioned for pleasure by emperors to stamp on items such as paintings, or given as presents to the concubines. They also took the massive pearl that had been placed in the empress dowager's mouth to protect her corpse from decomposing (in accordance with Chinese tradition). Cixi was despised and demonised abroad. Historians have long speculated whether this was a coincidence; there is certainly some evidence to suggest the emperor was poisoned. The Guangxu Emperor technically gained the right to rule at the age of 16 in 1887 after Cixi issued an edict to arrange a ceremony to mark his accession. Within a few weeks, the emperor died on January 14, 1875; the Jiashun Empress followed suit in March. For more info, visit Alpha History or our Terms of Use. By the late 1880s Cixi, then in her 60s, claimed to have retired from political life to reside at her palatial home, the Summer Palace. [69] Backhouse was later found to have forged some of the source materials used in this work. This event followed a trend of recent natural disasters that were considered alarming by many observers. As a result of the death of the emperor, the Empress and Cixi were elevated to the positions of Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi respectively. He was conferred the "Marquess Yiyong, First Class” title, for the feat. He turned heavily to alcohol and drugs and became seriously ill.[9] He summoned eight of his most prestigious ministers, headed by Sushun, Zaiyuan and Duanhua, and named them the "Eight Regent Ministers" to direct and support the future emperor. In regards to the Hundred Days' Reforms of 1898, she feared that sudden implementation would disrupt Manchu rule, and that the Japanese and other foreign powers would take advantage of the ensuing weakness. In Jehol, while waiting for an astrologically favorable time to transport the coffin back to Beijing, Cixi liaised with powerful court officials […] Still according to Lei's findings, on 13 October, British ambassador Claude MacDonald reported to his government about the Chinese situation, saying that Chinese reforms had been damaged by Kang Youwei and his friends' actions. Cixi thus took on part of the role usually given to the Bureaucratic Affairs Department (吏部). The defeat of Chinese forces by invading Allied armies that followed however led to signing of Boxer Protocol between Qing Empire and Eight-Nation Alliance on September 7, 1901 in Beijing. Cixi suggested that they become co-reigning empress dowagers, with powers exceeding the eight regents; the two had long been close friends since Cixi first came to the imperial household.[11]. The Guangxu Emperor and Cixi did not return to Beijing from Xi'an until roughly 18 months after their flight. Empress Dowager Cixi : biography 29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908 Succession Xinyou Coup: Ousting Sushun By the time of the Xianfeng Emperor’s death, Empress Dowager Cixi had become a shrewd strategist. Given the honorific title Dowager Empress, Cixi came to wield political power in the last four decades of the Qing dynasty. "Tomb East of the Ding Mausoleum in the Broad Valley of Good Omen"), while Empress Dowager Cixi built herself the much larger Putuoyu Eastern Ding Mausoleum (菩陀峪定東陵; lit. Under the command of Zeng Guofan, the victorious Xiang Army defeated the Taiping rebel army in a hard-fought battle at Tianjing (present-day Nanjing) in July 1864. The Tongzhi Emperor received a rigorous education from four famous teachers of Cixi's own choosing: Li Hongzao, Qi Junzao, Weng Xincun, and Woren. Kang nonetheless asked fellow reformers Yang Shenxiu (楊深秀) and Song Bolu (宋伯魯) to report this plan to the Guangxu Emperor. Cixi rose to prominence amidst foreign challenges as well as internal discord. In 1898 Cixi, supported by conservatives in the royal court and the military, moved to thwart the Guangxu Emperor’s Hundred Days reforms. [47], During the war, Cixi displayed concern about China's situation and foreign aggression, saying, "Perhaps their magic is not to be relied upon; but can we not rely on the hearts and minds of the people? Included in the terms of the agreement was a guarantee that China would not have to give up any further territories to foreign powers. "[13] John K. Fairbank wrote, "That the Qing managed to survive both domestic and international attacks is due largely to the policy and leadership changes known as the Qing Restoration."[14]. Cixi was born on November 29, 1835, to Yehenara Huizheng and Lady Fuca. Additionally, she publicly executed the main reformers, an act which extinguished the momentum for China's modernization while fueling public disfavor that would ultimately end her dynasty's rule. Crossley felt that Cixi appealed to feminists as a powerful leader and to Chinese patriots as a defender of China, claiming that in the 1960s and 1970s, Cixi was one of "a small collection of 'powerful' women newly discovered" and now "she appears in the vanguard of stubborn Chinese opposition to foreign arrogance and encroachment".[77]. Additionally, in the next three years, Cixi appointed Han Chinese officials as governors in all southern Chinese provinces, raising alarm bells in the court, traditionally protective of Manchu dominance.

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