Dowager Empress Ci’an

dowager empress ci'anCi’an (1837-1881, Wade-Giles: Tzu-an) was the Empress Consort of the Xianfeng Emperor. Along with Dowager Cixi, she served as co-regent for both the Tongzhi and Guangxu emperors. Ci’an was born to a Manchu family of minor royalty and entered the Qing court sometime around 1850. In 1852 she became the Xiangfeng Emperor’s Empress Consort (the closest equivalent to a wife) and was thus given responsibility for the upbringing of his children. When the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, Ci’an became Empress Dowager and co-regent of the infant Tongzhi Emperor, alongside his birth mother Cixi. Conventional historiography suggests that while Cixi was politically active, astute and manipulative, Ci’an was quiet, considerate of others and did not seek to involve herself in matters of state. Nevertheless, there are extant examples of Ci’an exerting political influence, both on matters of policy and the future of the two infant emperors in her care. Cixi and Ci’an reportedly remained on good terms until Ci’an died in 1881.

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