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Video:Profile of Dowager Empress Cixi

with Christina Hartmen

The Dowager Empress Cixi was a shrewd and brilliant strategist who ruled Imperial China for almost 50 years. Learn about the life and legacy of this powerful Empress in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Dowager Empress Cixi

Hi, I'm Christina Hartman and today we're profiling Dowager Empress Cixi, a commanding and controversial figure in China for almost 50 years.

Dowager Empress Cixi's Early Life

Cixi was born in Beijing on November 29, 1835.  Although she was one of the Chinese emperor's many concubines, in 1856 Cixi bore him his only surviving son. After the emperor died in 1861, their son, Tongzhi, ascended the throne. But it was really Cixi who ruled.

Cixi the Empress

Cixi was a shrewd and brilliant strategist. She led palace coups, bargained with enemies, and executed anyone who got in her way. Imperial China would experience a war with Japan, the Second Opium War, and the Boxer Rebellion. But, through it all, Cixi remained the country's de facto ruler.

In addition to her political power, Cixi was known for her love of beautiful things, extravagant banquets, and opulent attire.

The Dowager Empress Cixi died on November 15, 1908 at the age of 72. Three years later, the last imperial dynasty ended — overthrown in the Chinese Revolution.

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