Empress Xiaoduanxian (Chinese: 孝端顯皇后; 1565 – April, 1620), personal name Wang Xijie (Chinese: 王喜姐), was the empress of the Wanli Emperor of the Chinese Ming dynasty. Her only child was Princess Rongchang.
She was born in a commoner's family in Yuyao, Zhejiang, and was married to the young Wanli Emperor when she was barely 13 years old, in early 1578, after her father was hastily given an army commission to improve the family rank. The historian Ray Huang comments: "She was, from her wedding day, permanently encased in palatial pomp and comfort; yet, by cruel exigency of tradition, her marriage was only a state necessity, reducing her to an accessory to an institution, entitled to all kind of meaningless honors but to little satisfaction as a wife. She bore the emperor a daughter and lived almost as long as he did. But at no time did she in any way affect the course of his life. As the principal daughter-in-law to jen-sheng, the emperor's principal mother, she had both the privilege and the obligation of attending her in public, such as helping her from her sedan chair, a task Hsiao-tuan performed exactly as required, thus earning for herself a reputation for filial piety. Inside the palace, however, she was better remembered as a ruthless mistress who frequently ordered her chambermaids beaten, sometimes to death."
Empress Xiaoduanxian is the longest serving empress consort in China. She was the only one of the consorts of Wanli to hold the title of empress during his reign.
- Huang 1981, pp. 26–27
- Ray Huang, 1587, a year of no significance, 1981, pp. 26–27.
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