Empress Dowager Longyu

Empress Dowager Longyu

Infobox_Monarch | name =Empress Xiao Ding Jing
title =Empress of China

date of birth =1868
date of death =1913 (aged 44)
place of death=Forbidden City, Beijing, Empire of Great Qing of China.
spouse =The Guangxu Emperor|

Yehenara, Empress Xiao Ding Jing ( _zh. 孝定景皇后叶赫那拉氏); is better known as the Empress Dowager Longyu ( _zh. 隆裕皇后), (given name: Jingfen 靜芬) (1868 - 1913). Longyu was the Qing Dynasty Empress Consort of the Guangxu Emperor of China. Longyu came from the Manchu Yehenara clan and was also a cousin of Guangxu Emperor, who reigned from 1875 to 1908. She was also a niece of the Empress Dowager Cixi. She had no children, and was most famously known for signing the abdication on behalf of the child Emperor Puyi, in 1911, ending imperial rule in China.


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 on February 26, 1889 and became his Empress directly after the wedding ceremony".

Yehenara was detested and ignored by the Guangxu Emperor, who favoured the Imperial Consort Zhen of the Tatala clan ( _zh. 他他拉氏珍妃). She undermined Consort Zhen by reporting and exaggerating stories about Zhen's rebellious nature to the Empress Dowager Cixi. Consort Zhen in turn urged the Guangxu Emperor to be more independent and capable. The Imperial Consort Zhen also supported the new political reforms. Empress Dowager Cixi eventually grew more hostile to the Imperial Consort Zhen and sent her to a "cold palace", a place reserved for an emperor's disfavoured consorts. After learning that the Consort Zhen had secretly supported and cooperated with the Guangxu Emperor's attempt to gain power from the Empress Dowager Cixi's hand, Cixi had her drowned in a palace well before the imperial court fled to the City of Xi'an when Beijing became occupied by foreign armies.

After the Guangxu Emperor's attempt to gain power from the Empress Dowager Cixi's hand failed, he was imprisoned by the Empress Dowager in a lagoon inside the former Imperial Residence. Empress Yehenara would frequently spy on the Emperor and report his every actions to Empress Dowager Cixi. When both the Guangxu Emperor and Cixi died within three days, Empress Yehenara was made Empress Dowager with the same honorable titles "Long Yu", meaning "Auspicious and Prosperous".

The end of a dynasty

As an Empress Dowager, Yehenara adopted the Xuan Tong Emperor Puyi as her son after Guangxu Emperor's death in 1908. The Empress Dowager Cixi had maintained before her death that the Qing Dynasty would never again allow the regency of women, but that Long Yu would remain the leading respected figure, and therefore must be consulted on all major decisions. This decision was in many ways contradictory, and when Long Yu assumed the title of Empress Dowager, in theory, she was in a position to make all the most important decisions, but in practice, because of her inexperience in politics, in the first few years the Imperial Court was dominated by the young regent Zaifeng, and then by Yuan Shikai; she was dependent on both.

Under Yuan's advice in the fall of 1911, Longyu agreed to sign an abdication of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor, while providing the conditions that the Imperial Family would continue to live in the Forbidden City, and would keep its assets, titles, and servants. 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, Long Yu died in Beijing following an illness. She was 44 years old, and she 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 Long Yu as the "most excellent among women".



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