Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang

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Empress Xiaozhuangwen
Imperial Portrait of Empress Xiao Zhuang Wen.jpg
Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure 1643–1662
Successor Empress Xiaohuizhang
Grand Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure 1662–1688
Successor Empress Xiaoqinxian
Born (1613-03-28)28 March 1613
Died 27 January 1688(1688-01-27) (aged 74)
Beijing, China
Burial Zhaoling Mausoleum, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
Spouse Hong Taiji
Issue Gurun Princess Yongmu
Gurun Princess Shuhui
Gurun Princess Duanxian
Fulin, the Shunzhi Emperor
Full name
Borjigit Bumbutai
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaozhuang Renxuan Chengxian Gongyi Zhide Chunhui Yitian Qisheng Wen
House Borjigin (by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
Father Jaisang
Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Traditional Chinese 孝莊太后
Simplified Chinese 孝庄太后
Empress Xiaozhuangwen
Traditional Chinese 孝莊文皇后
Simplified Chinese 孝庄文皇后

Empress Xiaozhuangwen (Manchu: ᡥᡳᠶᠣᠣᡧᡠᠩᡤᠠ ᠠᠮᠪᠠᠯᡳᠩᡤᡡ ᡤᡝᠩᡤᡳᠶᡝᠨ ᡧᡠ ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠩᡥᡝᠣ Hiyoošungga Ambalinggū Genggiyenšu Hūwanghu; 28 March 1613 – 27 January 1688), personal name Bumbutai (Manchu: ᠪᡠᠮᠪᡠᡨᠠᡳ), better known as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, was a consort of Hong Taiji, the second ruler of the Manchu Qing dynasty. She was a descendant of the royal Mongol Borjigin lineage, the mother of the Shunzhi Emperor and grandmother of the Kangxi Emperor. As Empress Dowager and Grand Empress Dowager during the reigns of her son and grandson respectively, she had significant influence in the Qing imperial court and was highly respected for her political wisdom and insight. Although she never held the rank of Empress during Hong Taiji's reign, she was posthumously honored as an empress.


Bumbutai was a Khorchin Mongol of Borjigin lineage, the clan of Genghis Khan. Her father, Jaisang (寨桑), was a beile of the Khorchin Mongols and a descendant of Qasar, a younger brother of Genghis Khan.

Bumbutai became a concubine of Hong Taiji, the ruler of the Later Jin, in 1625 and held the rank of a side chamber consort (側室福晉). In 1636, Hong Taiji renamed the Later Jin to "Qing dynasty" and granted titles to his consorts. Bumbutai's aunt Jerjer, who was Hong Taiji's primary consort, became empress. Bumbutai received the title "Consort Zhuang" (莊妃) and was given Yongfu Palace (永福宫) as her residence. She bore Hong Taiji three daughters and a son between 1629 and 1638.

Hong Taiji died in 1643 and was succeeded by the six year old Fulin. Fulin was enthroned as the Shunzhi Emperor. In 1646, Bumbutai, as the mother of the reigning emperor, was honored with the title "Holy Mother, Empress Dowager" (聖母皇太后). Her aunt Jerjer, as the empress consort of the previous emperor, was similarly honored as "Mother Empress, Empress Dowager" (母后皇太后). Hong Taiji's 14th brother, Dorgon, was appointed as Prince regent to rule on behalf of the Shunzhi Emperor until the emperor reached adulthood. After Dorgon died in 1650, the Shunzhi Emperor posthumously stripped him of his princely title and had his dead body exhumed and mutilated. It is believed – though not supported by historical evidence – that Bumbutai secretly married Dorgon after Hong Taiji's death, since levirate marriage was common among Mongols.

Bumbutai kept a low profile during the reign of her son and had little interference in politics. The Shunzhi Emperor died in 1661 and was succeeded by his third son Xuanye, who was enthroned as the Kangxi Emperor. As the grandmother of the reigning emperor, Bumbutai was honoured as Grand Empress Dowager. Since the emperor was underage at the time, the Four Regents of the Kangxi Emperor (appointed by his father) ruled on his behalf until he reached adulthood. During this time, Bumbutai advised her grandson to learn from the regents and took charge of his upbringing after the emperor's mother died.

When the Kangxi Emperor grew up and started personal rule in 1667, he felt threatened by the strong influence of Oboi, one of the four regents. Two years later, Bumbutai assisted her grandson in his plans to get rid of Oboi. Oboi was lured into a trap, placed under arrest, and removed from power. Throughout her life, Bumbutai disliked living in the Forbidden City, despite the luxurious conditions it offered. She also refused to hold any birthday celebrations as she felt that it would be costly.

When Bumbutai fell sick in the autumn of 1687, the Kangxi Emperor personally took care of his grandmother.[1] She died in 1688 and was interred in what later became the Eastern Qing Tombs in Zunhua.


Bumbutai bore Hong Taiji three daughters and a son.

  • Yatu (雅圖; 1629–1678), known as Gurun Princess Yongmu (固倫雍穆長公主), Hong Taiji's fourth daughter. She married Birtakhar (弼爾塔哈爾) of the Khorchin Mongols in 1641.
  • Atu (阿圖; 1632–1700), known as Gurun Princess Shuhui (固倫淑慧長公主), Hong Taiji's fifth daughter. She initially married Suo'erha (索爾哈) of the Manchu Plain Yellow Banner. After Suo'erha's death, she remarried Sebuteng (色布騰) of the Balin Mongols.
  • Gurun Princess Shuzhe (固倫淑哲長公主; 1633–1648), Hong Taiji's seventh daughter. She married Lamasi (喇瑪思), a Manchu bannerman.[2]
  • Fulin (福臨; 1638–1661), the Shunzhi Emperor, Hong Taiji's ninth son and successor.

Modern references[edit]


  • Xiaozhuang Mishi (孝莊秘史), a novel about Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, written by Yang Haiwei (楊海薇).
  • Shaonian Tianzi (少年天子), a novel about the Shunzhi Emperor, written by Ling Li.


  • The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty, a long-running Hong Kong television series about the history of the Qing dynasty. Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang appears only in the first season, aired in 1987, in which she is portrayed by Nora Miao.
  • Zhuangfei Yishi (莊妃軼事), a 1989 Chinese television series about Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, starring Bo Han (柏寒).
  • Yidai Huanghou Dayu'er (一代皇后大玉兒), a 1992 Taiwanese television series about Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, starring Angela Pan.
  • Xinyue Gege (新月格格), a 1995 Chinese romantic television series based on a novel by Chiung Yao. Leanne Liu portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Princess Huai-yu (懷玉公主), a 2000 Taiwanese romantic television series. Leanne Liu portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Kangxi Dynasty, a 2001 Chinese television series about the Kangxi Emperor. Siqin Gaowa portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Shaonian Tianzi (少年天子), a 2002 Chinese television series based on Ling Li's novel, starring Pan Hong as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • The Affaire in the Swing Age, a 2003 Chinese television series depicting the events in the transition of the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty. Niu Li portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, who was known as Consort Zhuang in the series.
  • Xiaozhuang Mishi, a 2003 Chinese television series about Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, starring Ning Jing.
  • Huang Taizi Mishi, a 2004 Chinese television series about Yinreng. Lü Zhong portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Sheizhu Chenfu (誰主沉浮), a 2005 Chinese television series depicting the events in the transition of the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty. Liu Xiaoqing portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Yanhua Sanyue (煙花三月), a 2005 Chinese television series about Nalan Rongruo. Gua Ah-leh portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Shaonian Kangxi (少年康熙), a 2005 Chinese television series about Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang and the young Kangxi Emperor, starring Pan Hong and Deng Chao.
  • Secret History of Kangxi, a 2006 Chinese television series about the Kangxi Emperor. Wu Qianqian portrayed Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • Da Qing Fengyun, a 2006 Chinese television series based on the romance between Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang and Dorgon. Xu Qing portrayed Xiaozhuang and Zhang Fengyi portrayed Dorgon.
  • The Life and Times of a Sentinel, a 2011 Hong Kong historical fiction television series. Ching Hor-wai portrayed Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.
  • In Love With Power, a 2012 Chinese television series dramatising the life of Empress Dowager Xiaozhung during her early years, as consort to Hong Taiji and as mother to the Shunzhi Emperor.


  • Europa Universalis IV is a grand strategy PC game which contains a depiction of Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang as one of its loading screens


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peterson (2000), p. 328.
  2. ^ Qing Shi Gao vol. 166.


Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaoduanwen
Empress Dowager of China
1646 – January 27, 1688
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaokangzhang