Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang

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Empress Xiaozhuangwen
Imperial Portrait of Empress Xiao Zhuang Wen.jpg
Empress dowager of Qing
Tenure21 September 1643 – 27 January 1688
SuccessorEmpress Xiaohuizhang
Empress Xiaokangzhang
BornBorjigit Bumbutai
(博爾濟吉特 布木布泰)
(1613-03-28)28 March 1613
(萬曆四十一年 閏二月 八日)
Died27 January 1688(1688-01-27) (aged 74)
(康熙二十六年 十二月 二十五日)
Cining Palace, Forbidden City
Hong Taiji
(m. 1625; died 1643)
IssuePrincess Yongmu of the First Rank
Princess Shuhui of the First Rank
Princess Shuzhe of the First Rank
Shunzhi Emperor
Full name
Borjigit Bumbutai
(博爾濟吉特 布木布泰)
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaozhuang Renxuan Chengxian Gongyi Zhide Chunhui Yitian Qisheng Wen
HouseBorjigit (博爾濟吉特; by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Traditional Chinese孝莊文皇后
Simplified Chinese孝庄文皇后

Empress Xiaozhuangwen (28 March 1613 – 27 January 1688), of the Khorchin Mongol Borjigit clan, personal name Bumbutai, was a consort of Hong Taiji. She was 21 years his junior.

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 honoured as an empress.


Family background[edit]

  • Father: Zhaisang (寨桑), held the title of a first rank prince (親王)
    • Paternal grandfather: Manggusi (莽古思), held the title of a first rank prince (親王)
    • Paternal aunt: Empress Xiaoduanwen (1599–1649)
  • Mother: Boli (博禮)
  • Four elder brothers
    • First elder brother: Wukeshan (吳克善; d. 1666), held the title of a first rank prince (親王), the father of Consort Jing
    • Fourth elder brother: Manzhuxili (滿珠習禮; d. 1665), held the title of a first rank prince (親王), the paternal grandfather of Empress Xiaohuizhang (1641–1718)
  • One elder sister

Wanli era[edit]

The future Empress Xiaozhuangwen was born on the eighth day of the intercalary second lunar month in the 41st year of the reign of the Wanli Emperor, which translates to 28 March 1613 in the Gregorian calendar.

Tianming era[edit]

In March or April 1625, Lady Borjigit married Hong Taiji and became one of his multiple wives. Prior to this, the Khorchin Mongols had sent Hong Taiji another woman, Jerjer, the future Empress Xiaoduanwen, on 28 May 1614, to strengthen the relationship between the Qing dynasty and the Khorchin. Lady Borjigit's elder sister, Harjol, the future primary consort Minhui, would marry Hong Taiji on 6 December 1634.

Chongde era[edit]

Lady Borjigit gave birth on 31 January 1629 to Hong Taiji's fourth daughter, Princess Yongmu of the First Rank, on 2 March 1632 to his fifth daughter, Princess Shuhui of the First Rank, and on 16 December 1633 to his seventh daughter, Princess Shuzhe of the First Rank.

When Hong Taiji conferred titles on his five primary spouses in August 1636, Lady Borjigit was named "Consort Zhuang" of Yongfu Palace (永福宮).

On 15 March 1638, Lady Borjigit gave birth to Hong Taiji's ninth son, Fulin.

Shunzhi era[edit]

Hong Taiji died on 21 September 1643 and was succeeded by Fulin, who was enthroned as the Shunzhi Emperor. Lady Borjigit, as the mother of the reigning emperor, was honoured with the title "Holy Mother, Empress Dowager". Her aunt Jerjer, as the empress consort of the previous emperor, was similarly honoured as "Mother Empress, Empress Dowager". Hong Taiji's younger half-brother, Dorgon, was appointed as Prince regent to rule on behalf of the Shunzhi Emperor until the emperor reached adulthood. After Dorgon died on 31 December 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 Lady Borjigit secretly married Dorgon after Hong Taiji's death, since levirate marriage was common among Mongols.

Kangxi era[edit]

Lady Borjigit kept a low profile during the reign of her son and had little interference in politics. The Shunzhi Emperor died on 5 February 1661 and was succeeded by his third son Xuanye, who was enthroned as the Kangxi Emperor. As the grandmother of the reigning emperor, Lady Borjigit was honoured as "Grand Empress Dowager Zhaosheng". Since the emperor was underage at the time, the Four Regents of the Kangxi Emperor, appointed by the Shunzhi Emperor, ruled on his behalf until he reached adulthood. During this time, Lady Borjigit 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 began his personal rule in 1667, he felt threatened by the strong influence of Oboi, one of the four regents. Two years later, Lady Borjigit 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, Lady Borjigit 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 Lady Borjigit fell sick in the autumn of 1687, the Kangxi Emperor personally took care of his grandmother.[1] She died on 27 January 1688.


  • During the reign of the Wanli Emperor (r. 1572–1620):
    • Lady Borjigit (from 28 March 1613)
  • During the reign of Nurhaci (r. 1616–1626):
    • Secondary consort (側福晉; from March/April 1625[2])
  • During the reign of Hong Taiji (r. 1626–1643):
    • Consort Zhuang (莊妃; from August 1636[3]), fourth rank consort
  • During the reign of the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1643–1661):
    • Empress Dowager Zhaosheng (昭聖皇太后; from 21 September 1643[4])
  • During the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722):
    • Grand Empress Dowager Zhaosheng (昭聖太皇太后; from 5 February 1661[5])
    • Empress Xiaozhuangwen (孝莊文皇后; from October/November 1688[6])


  • As secondary consort:
    • Princess Yongmu of the First Rank (固倫雍穆公主; 31 January 1629 – February/March 1678), personal name Yatu (雅圖), Hong Taiji's fourth daughter
      • Married Bi'ertaha'er (弼爾塔哈爾; d. 1667) of the Khorchin Borjigit clan in 1641
    • Princess Shuhui of the First Rank (固倫淑慧公主; 2 March 1632 – 28 February 1700), personal name Atu (阿圖), Hong Taiji's fifth daughter
    • Princess Shuzhe of the First Rank (固倫淑哲公主; 16 December 1633 – 1648), Hong Taiji's seventh daughter
  • As Consort Zhuang:
    • Fulin (福臨; 15 March 1638 – 5 February 1661), Hong Taiji's ninth son, enthroned on 8 October 1643 as the Shunzhi Emperor


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. ^ 天命十年 二月
  3. ^ 崇德元年 七月
  4. ^ 崇德八年 八月 九日
  5. ^ 順治十八年 正月 七日
  6. ^ 康熙二十七年 十月


  • Hummel, Arthur W. (1943). Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644-1912). United States Government Printing Office.
  • Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 49–52. ISBN 0-674-01212-7.
  • Peterson, Barbara Bennett (2000). Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century (Illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 076560504X.
  • Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998). The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 052092679X.
  • Wan, Yi; Shuqing, Wang; Yanzhen, Lu; Scott, Rosemary E. (1988). Daily Life in the Forbidden City: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912 (Illustrated ed.). Viking. ISBN 0670811645.
  • Zhao, Erxun (1928). Draft History of Qing (Qing Shi Gao) (in Chinese).
Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaoduanwen
Empress Dowager of China
1646 – January 27, 1688
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaokangzhang