Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine who Launched Modern China
, 2013 - China
- 436 pages
ASIAN / MIDDLE EASTERN HISTORY: C 1500 TO C 1900. Empress Dowager Cixi is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for forty-seven years and brought a medieval empire into the modern age. At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of Emperor Xianfeng's numerous concubines and sexual partners. When Xianfeng died in 1861, their five-year-old son Tongzhi became the next emperor. Cixi at once launched a palace coup, ousted the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her male officials. In this ground-breaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph, an army and navy with up to date weaponry.