Empress Dowager Longyu : biography
Empress Xiaodingjing (), better known as the Empress Dowager Longyu (), (given name: Jingfen 靜芬 A descendant of Longyu's father, Yehenara Gēn zhèng （葉赫那拉·根正）, stated that Longyu's name was Jingfen （靜芬）, her older sister Jingrong （靜榮） and younger sister Jingfang （靜芳）.). She also had the nickname Xizi (喜子). Empress Xiaodingjing was the Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Guangxu Emperor who ruled China from 1875 to 1908. She is best remembered for signing the abdication on behalf of the child Emperor Puyi, in 1912, ending imperial rule in China.
Category:1868 births Category:1913 deaths Category:Qing Dynasty empresses Category:Manchu people Category:Women leaders of China Category:Female regents Category:Regents of China Category:People of the Xinhai Revolution
Titles from birth to death
- 1868 – 26 February 1889: Lady Yehenara
- 26 February 1889 – 2 December 1908: Yehenara, Empress Longyu
- 2 December 1908 – 22 February 1913: Yehenara, Empress Dowager Longyu
File:孝定景皇后旧照.jpg|As Empress Consort File:隆裕皇太后常服旧照.jpg|As Empress Dowager
The end of a dynasty
Immediately after Emperor Guangxu's death, Empress Dowager Cixi appointed Puyi, a nephew of Guangxu, as the new emperor. Longyu had no children of her own, and thus as Empress Dowager adopted Puyi. The Empress Dowager Cixi had decreed before her death that the Qing Dynasty would never again allow the regency of women, but that Longyu was to remain the leading figure and was to be consulted on all major decisions. When Longyu assumed the title of Empress Dowager, she was, theoretically, in a position to make all important decisions. However, because of her inexperience in politics, in the first few years the Imperial Court was dominated by the young regent Zaifeng, Prince Chun, the father of the new emperor and Longyu's brother-in-law, and then by Yuan Shikai; Longyu was dependent on both.
On Yuan's advice in the fall of 1911, Empress Dowager Longyu agreed to sign an abdication on behalf of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor. She agreed only if the Imperial family were allowed to keep its titles. Other agreements were these:
- The Imperial family could keep its possessions.
- They could stay in the Forbidden City temporarily, then would eventually move to the summer palace.
- They would receive an annual stipend of 4,000,000 silver yuan.
- The Imperial graves would be protected and looked after.
- The new government would pay for the funeral and tomb of the late Guangxu emperor.
In 1912, the Qing Dynasty was abolished, making way for the new Republic of China.
Within a few months after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, on 22 February 1913, Longyu died in Beijing after an illness. She was 45 years old, and was the only Empress of China whose coffin was transported from the Forbidden City to her tomb by train. At her funeral, the Vice President of the Republic of China, Li Yuanhong (黎元洪), praised Empress Dowager Longyu as the "most excellent among women".
Sources and literature
- Sterling Seagrave: Dragon Lady ISBN 0-679-73369-8
- Maria Warner: The Dragon Empress: Life and Times of Tz'u-Hsi, 1835–1908, Empress of China. ISBN 0-689-70714-2
- Anchee Min: Empress Orchid ISBN 978-0-618-06887-6
- Een Vrouw op de Drakentroon (A woman on the dragonthrone), Mayli Wen (foreword Lulu Wang), ISBN 90-5429-222-9
- Daily Life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen ISBN 0-670-81164-5
Empress Xiaodingjing née Yehenara (叶赫那拉氏) was the second daughter of Vice General Guixiang (桂祥) by his wife of Mongolian origin. Lady Yehenara was born in the seventh year of Emperor Tongzhi's reign and lived from 1868 to 22 February 1913. In 1889, it was decided that the Guangxu Emperor had to marry before ruling the country in his own right. Among many girls, Lady Yehenara was chosen as the Empress Consort because her aunt, the Empress Dowager Cixi, wanted to strengthen the power of her own family. She married the Guangxu Emperor, her cousin, on 26 February 1889, and became his Empress directly after the wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony of Guangxu and Longyu, an extremely extravagant and spectacular occasion, took place on 26 February 1889. However, prior to the wedding, on 16 January 1889, the Forbidden City caught fire, and the Gate of Supreme Harmony was burnt down. According to the traditions of the Qing Dynasty imperial court, the route of the Emperor's wedding procession had to pass through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, which was completely destroyed. As a result, many people took this incident as a bad omen.
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