During the Qing Dynasty, after many years of rebellion, followed the reign of one of China’s most powerful women in history, Empress Dowager Cixi. She began as one of Emperor Xianfeng’s simple concubine, who conceived a child with Cixi in 1856. It was rumored that she poisoned Xianfeng in 1861 to place their son on the throne as the new Emperor. This was not the only rumor that surfaced of Cixi, but “many legends have been said to her being a sexual deviant, and an assassin to those that fall into her tempting trap” (McMahon 221). She was cunning, that’s for sure, and knew due to her son’s early age, that she had the power to rule through him as Empress and oversee China to make primarily all hierarchy decisions. With this power she worked hard to reinstate China’s stability after the rebellions, lowering taxes, repairing damaged parts of the cities, along with many other good deeds, although she did like to indulge her funds in her lavish lifestyle at times as well. Later on, in 1875 when the Emperor was 19 years of age, he began to perish due to contracting syphilis in what was allegedly sexual debaucheries. However, this did not stop Cixi from maintaing her reign as Empress because soon after her son’s death, she replaced his throne with that of her four-year-old nephews, continuing her ruling until her death in 1861. Through all her tales, adventure and power she had as Empress of China, Dowager Cixi became the epitome of feminist culture in the late 19th century.
Life in the Qing Dynasty of China was not an easy one. Due to China’s impoverished economy and civilian welfare, many revolts and rebellions occurred during this time trying to pull China out of it’s beaten state. The Qing Dynasty’s downfall began with
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