Alute, The Empress Xiao Zhe Yi - Biography - Death

Death

The Tongzhi Emperor died in January 1875. Some sources claim that Lady Alute was pregnant at that time. Tongzhi had not chosen a successor before his death, so it was up to Empress Dowager Cixi to choose the new emperor. Cixi chose her three year old nephew Zaitian, who succeeded Tongzhi as the Guangxu Emperor.

Lady Alute was not mentioned in the crisis over the succession. Neither was she granted the title of Empress Dowager, which was the custom after the death of an emperor. She received the title of Jiashun Empress (嘉顺皇后) instead. Within 100 days of the death of the Tongzhi Emperor, Empress Dowager Cixi pushed the blame of the emperor's death on Lady Alute. She ordered Lady Alute's food rations to be reduced. Lady Alute wrote a letter to her father asking for help, but his reply was simply, "Your Majesty knows what to do." It was said that Lady Alute committed suicide but official court records state that she died after a long and serious illness. Empress Dowager Cixi granted Lady Alute the posthumous title of "Empress Xiaozhe".

In 1876 a censor to the throne wrote that Lady Alute, as a wife who had committed suicide after her husband's death, should be posthumously honoured. Empress Dowager Cixi rebuked him curtly for writing a memorial based on rumours.

In 1900 as the armies of the Eight-Nation Alliance pressed on Beijing, Empress Dowager Cixi asked Lady Alute's father Coci to remain behind and handle state affairs. Coci and his family committed suicide after the capital fell to the foreigners.


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