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Empress dowager (also Dowager empress or Empress mother) (Chinese: 皇太后; Chinese pinyin: húangtàihòu, Japanese pronunciation: Kōtaigō, Korean pronunciation: Hwang Tae Hu, Vietnamese pronunciation: Hoàng Thái Hậu) was the title given to the mother of a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese emperor.
The title was also given occasionally to another woman of the same generation, while a woman from the previous generation was sometimes given the title of Grand empress dowager. Numerous empress dowagers held regency during the reign of an underage emperor. Many of the most prominent empress dowagers also extended their control for long periods after the emperor was old enough to govern. This was a source of political turmoil according to the traditional view of Chinese history.
Chinese empress dowager
- Empress Dowager Lü
- Empress Dowager Dou
- Empress Dowager Wang
- Empress Dowager Deng
- Empress Dowager Liang
- Empress Dowager He
- Empress Dowager Wu, more commonly known as Wu Zetian
- Empress Dowager Wei, daughter-in-law of Wu Zetian.
- Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
- Empress Dowager Ci'an
- Empress Dowager Cixi, de facto ruler of the Qing Dynasty for 40 years
- Empress Dowager Longyu, abdicated on behalf of Puyi
Indian empress dowager
Queen-Empress Victoria was widowed in 1861, before her accession as Queen-Empress of India. Her son, her grandson and her great-grandson all died before their wives, and their widows were known as empresses dowager in this Indian context. Had George VI, the last Emperor of India, died before the independence of India was proclaimed in 1947, his widow would have been known as the dowager empress of India. However, George VI did not die until 1952, some years after India's formal independence and the renunciation of the title Emperor of India by the British monarch (which took place formally in 1948).
- Queen-Empress Alexandra (d. 20 Nov. 1925), widow of King-Emperor Edward VII (r. 1901-1910)
- Queen-Empress Mary (d. 24 Mar. 1953), widow of King-Emperor George V (r. 1910-1936)
- Queen-Empress Elizabeth (d. 30 Mar. 2002), widow of King-Emperor George VI (r. 1936-1947)
Japanese empress dowager
In the complex organization of the Japanese Imperial Court, the title "dowager empress" does not automatically devolve to the principal consort of an emperor who has died. The title kōtaigō is bestowed or granted by the monarch who will have acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The following were granted this Imperial title:
- HIM Empress Dowager Kōjun (香淳皇太后 Kōjun kōtaigō?, 1903 - 2000), widow of Emperor Shōwa
- HIM Empress Dowager Teimei (貞明皇太后 Teimei kōtaigō?, 1884–1951), widow of Emperor Taishō
- HIM Empress Dowager Shōken (昭憲皇太后 Shōken kōtaigō?, 1849 - 1914), widow of Emperor Meiji
- HIM Empress Dowager Eishō (英照皇太后 Eishō kōtaigō?, 1834 - 1898), widow of Emperor Kōmei
- HIM Empress Dowager Yoshikō (欣子皇太后 Yoshikō kōtaigō?, 1779-1846), widow of Emperor Kōkaku
Korean empress dowager
Russian dowager empress
Dowager Empresses of Russia held precedence over the Empress-Consort. This was occasionally a source of tension. For example, when Emperor Alexander III died, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) held precedence over Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (Alix of Hesse) which put an enormous strain on their already tense relationship. The power struggle culminated when the Dowager Empress refused to hand over certain jewels which were traditionally associated with the Empress Consort.
There have been three Dowager Empresses of Russia. They are:
- HIM Empress Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg) Empress Consort of Paul I of Russia
- HIM Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (Charlotte of Prussia) Empress Consort of Nicholas I of Russia
- HIM Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) Empress Consort of Alexander III of Russia
- Consort clan
- Queen Mother, Queen Dowager and Grand Empress Dowager
- Valide Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
- 1947: Indian independence.
- Ponsonby-Fane (1959), pp. 337-338.
- Ponsonby-Fane (1959), pp. 335-337.
- Ponsonby-Fane (1959), pp. 334-335.
- Ponsonby-Fane (1959), pp. 333-334.