As Concubine (elevated several times through the Xianfeng Emperor's reign) September, 1851 - August 22, 1861, As Empress Dowager until November 15, 1908
(1835-11-29)November 29, 1835
November 15, 1908(1908-11-15) (aged 72)
The Tongzhi Emperor
Empress Dowager Cixi1 (慈禧太后 Tz'u-Hsi T'ai-hou) (November 291835 – November 151908), popularly known in China as the West Dowager Empress (Chinese: 西太后), was from the Manchu Yehe Nara Clan. She was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and ruled over China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908. Though her exact origins are unclear it is very likely that she came from an ordinary Manchu family. She was chosen by the Xianfeng Emperor as a concubine, and so she gained almost total control over the court when the rule of her son the Tongzhi Emperor started. He and her nephew the Guangxu Emperor attempted unsuccessfully to rule in their own right. She was in charge during the Opium Wars, First Sino-Japanese War, and the Boxer Rebellion. She was largely conservative during her rule, and many historians consider her reign despotism, and think that she might be responsible for the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and therefore Imperial China, as a result of Cixi's rule.
Noble Consort Yi's portrait of Ci-Xi, when she was still Imperial Concubine