Empress Dowager Cixi

Empress Dowager Cixi1, or Empress Dowager Tzu-hsi (Chinese: 慈禧太后; pinyin: Cíxǐ Tàihòu; Wade–Giles: Tz'u2-hsi3 T'ai4-hou4; ; Manchu: Tsysi taiheo; 29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic woman who unofficially but effectively controlled the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years, from 1861 to her death in 1908.

Selected by the Xianfeng Emperor as an imperial concubine in her adolescence, she gave birth to his son, who became the Tongzhi Emperor upon Xianfeng's death. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed regency over her young son with the Empress Dowager Ci'an. Cixi then consolidated control over the dynasty when, at the death of the Tongzhi Emperor, contrary to the rules of succession, she installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor in 1875. Although she refused to adopt Western models of government, she nonetheless supported the technological and military Self-Strengthening Movement. Cixi rejected the Hundred Days' Reforms of 1898 as impractical and detrimental to dynastic power and placed the Guangxu Emperor under house arrest for supporting reformers. After the Boxer Rebellion and the invasion of Allied armies, external and internal pressures led Cixi to effect institutional changes of just the sort she had resisted and appoint reform-minded officials. The dynasty collapsed in 1912, four years after her death.

Historians both in China and abroad have generally portrayed her as a despot and villain responsible for the fall of the Dynasty, while others have suggested that her opponents among the reformers succeeded in making her a scapegoat for problems beyond her control, that she stepped in to prevent disorder, that she was no more ruthless than other rulers, and that she was even an effective if reluctant reformer in the last years of her life.

Read more about Empress Dowager CixiEarly Years, Death of The Xianfeng Emperor, Xinyou Coup: Ousting Sushun, Death and Final Resting Place, Family, Names of Empress Dowager Cixi, Historical Opinions, Succession

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