The Double Dowagers or The Emperor Has Two Mothers
|Emperor Hsien-feng (Xianfeng)|
|Concubine Yehenara, later Tsu Hsi (Cixi)|
Back in 1856 one of his second wives, or concubines, had born him a son! She is known to history as Yehenara. At the last moment, Yehenara, seeing the significance of her situation, forced the dying Emperor to recognize her son as the heir. He did so with his dying breath, and he announced Yehenara as regent for the boy.
|Prince Kung (Gong)|
Their plan was foiled when Prince Kung (Gong), the middle brother, and the smartest of all the line of imperial brothers, arranged to hurry the widow and little Tung Chih back to Beijing. The funeral procession bearing the body of the Emperor would shortly follow. Time was of the essence. Kung quickly gathered support for Tung Chih and his mother Yehenara.
|Empress Tzu An (Ci'an )|
|Baron Jung-Lu (Ronglu)|
|Li Hung-Chang (Li Hongzhang)|
|Tung Chih (Tongzhi) Emperor|
|Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (Cixi)|
|Kuang Hsu aka. Guangxu Emperor|
|PuYi aka. Xuantong Emperor|
At the end, public opinion in the west had changed somewhat. The Chinese subjects of the Manchus were calling her “Old Buddha,” and looked upon her as their ruler. During the last decade of her life, Tzu Hsi had done her utmost to change the miserable image she had been given by western reporters around 1900.
Nevertheless, it is only in our time that the truth of her life and times has been told with any accuracy. The real story is every bit as thrilling and dramatic as the sordid tales of yesteryear. The Dowager Empress of China has become an icon for all time to come.
- G. S. Stuart
For more information see the Chinese Group on our website - HISTORICAL FIGURES FOUNDATION