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Empress Dowager Cixi

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Empress Xiao Qin Xian
Empress of China
Empress Dowager Cixi Standing
Reign As Concubine (elevated several times through the Xianfeng Emperor's reign) September, 1851 - August 22, 1861, As Empress Dowager until November 15, 1908
Born November 29, 1835(1835-11-29)
Died November 15, 1908(1908-11-15) (aged 72)
Children The Tongzhi Emperor

Empress Dowager Cixi1 (慈禧太后 Tz'u-Hsi T'ai-hou) (November 29 1835November 15 1908), popularly known in China as the West Dowager Empress (Chinese: 西太后), was from the Manchu Yehe Nara Clan. She was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and ruled over China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908. Though her exact origins are unclear it is very likely that she came from an ordinary Manchu family. She was chosen by the Xianfeng Emperor as a concubine, and so she gained almost total control over the court when the rule of her son the Tongzhi Emperor started. He and her nephew the Guangxu Emperor attempted unsuccessfully to rule in their own right. She was in charge during the Opium Wars, First Sino-Japanese War, and the Boxer Rebellion. She was largely conservative during her rule, and many historians consider her reign despotism, and think that she might be responsible for the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and therefore Imperial China, as a result of Cixi's rule.

Noble Consort Yi's portrait of Ci-Xi, when she was still Imperial Concubine


  • Chung, Sue Fawn. "The Much Maligned Empress Dowager: A Revisionist Study of the Empress Dowager Tz'u-Hsi (1835-1908)." Modern Asian Studies 13, no. 2 (1979): 177-96.
  • Hummel, Arthur William, ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644-1912). 2 vols. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1943.
  • Warner, Marina. The Dragon Empress: Life and Times of Tz'u-his 1835-1908. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972.

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