Empress Xiaojingcheng

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Empress Xiaojingcheng
《雍宫式范》静妃部分.jpg
Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure 13 August 1855 - 21 August 1855
Predecessor Empress Xiaoherui
Successor Empress Xiaozhenxian (1861-1881)
Empress Xiaoqinxian (1861-1908)
Born (1812-06-19)19 June 1812
Horqin, Mongolia
Died 21 August 1855(1855-08-21) (aged 43)
Shoukang Palace, Elegant Spring Garden, Old Summer Palace, Beijing, China
Burial Muling Mausoleum
Spouse Daoguang Emperor
Issue Yigang, Prince Shun
Yiji, Prince Hui
Gurun Princess Shou'en
Yixin, Prince Gong
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaojing Kangci Yizhao Duanhui Zhuangren Heshen Bitian Fusheng Cheng
(孝靜康慈懿昭端惠庄仁和慎弼天撫聖成皇后)
Father Hualiang'a
Empress Xiaojingcheng
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 孝靜成皇后
Simplified Chinese 孝静成皇后
Lady Borjigit
Traditional Chinese 博爾濟吉特氏
Simplified Chinese 博尔济吉特氏
Manchu name
Manchu script ᡥᡳᠶᠣᠣᡧᡠᠩᡤᠠ ᠴᡳᠪᠰᡝᠨ ᡧᠠᠩᡤᠠᠨ ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠩᡥᡝᠣ
Romanization hiyoošungga cibsen šanggan hūwangheo

Empress Xiaojingcheng (19 June 1812 – 21 August 1855) was an Imperial Noble Consort of the Daoguang Emperor of the Qing dynasty. Her personal name is unknown; she is only known as either "Lady Borjigit" or by the various titles she held at different times throughout her life. Although she never held the rank of Empress when she was living, she was posthumously honoured as an Empress in 1855 by the Xianfeng Emperor.

Birth and early life[edit]

Empress Xiaojingcheng was born in 1812 during the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor. She had Mongol ancestry and was from the Borjigit clan, the clan of Genghis Khan. Her father, Hualiang'a (花良阿), served as a yuanwailang (員外郎; second-class secretary) in the Ministry of Justice. At the time of her birth, her clan was under a Mongol banner, but in 1855 they were merged into the Manchu Plain Yellow Banner.[1]

As the Daoguang Emperor's consort[edit]

Lady Borjigit entered the Forbidden City at the beginning of the reign of the Daoguang Emperor and was given the rank of Noble Lady under the title "Noble Lady Jing" (靜貴人). On 22 November 1826, she gave birth to Yigang (奕綱), the Daoguang Emperor's second son. She was promoted to "Imperial Concubine Jing" (靜嬪) a month later in December 1826. The four-month-old Yigang died prematurely on 5 March 1827. Two months later, Lady Borjigit was promoted to "Consort Jing" (静妃). In 1829, she bore the Daoguang Emperor's third son, Yiji (奕繼), but her son died prematurely within two months after he was born. In 1830, she bore the Daoguang Emperor's sixth daughter, who is known by her title "Gulun Princess Shou'en" (壽恩固倫公主). Three years later, she gave birth to Yixin, the Daoguang Emperor's sixth son. Among her four children, only Yixin and Gulun Princess Shou'en survived into adulthood.

In December 1835, Lady Borjigit was promoted to "Noble Consort Jing" (靜貴妃). In 1840, after the death of Empress Xiaoquancheng, she was placed in charge of the Daoguang Emperor's harem and promoted to "Imperial Noble Consort Jing" (靜皇貴妃).

As Empress Dowager for eight days[edit]

Portrait of Imperial Consort Jing

When the Daoguang Emperor died in 1850, his fourth son and successor, the Xianfeng Emperor, refused to make Lady Borjigit the Empress Dowager. Instead, the Xianfeng Emperor honoured Lady Borjigit with the title "Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Kangci" (康慈皇贵太妃). Lady Borjigit and her only surviving son, Yixin (Prince Gong), were not satisfied with this arrangement. According to imperial customs, Lady Borjigit had no right to claim the position of Empress Dowager because she was neither the birth mother of the Xianfeng Emperor, nor did she hold the rank of Empress while the Daoguang Emperor was still living. Although the Xianfeng Emperor ignored her appeals to become Empress Dowager, he treated her respectfully like a stepmother.

In 1852, Lady Borjigit, as the highest ranked living consort of the previous emperor, was allowed to exercise her privilege to select potential candidates to be the Xianfeng Emperor's consorts. Among those she chose were the future Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi.

Lady Borjigit became critically ill in August 1855. Fearing that she had little time left, she conspired with her son, Yixin (Prince Gong), to create and issue a fake imperial edict in the Xianfeng Emperor's name. According to the edict, she would become Empress Dowager. The Xianfeng Emperor was extremely displeased when he learnt about it, but he did not rescind the edict because he wanted to save himself from public embarrassment.[citation needed] Lady Borjigit became Empress Dowager on 13 August 1855 and died eight days later. The Xianfeng Emperor appointed two princes, one of whom was Prince Gong, to take charge of the funeral arrangements, and announced that he would spend the mourning period in the Hall of Mental Cultivation.[2]

Post-mortem events[edit]

Two years later, Lady Borjigit was interred in the Daoguang Emperor's mausoleum for concubines in the Western Qing tombs. She was also granted the posthumous title "Empress Xiaojing" (孝靜皇后). The Xianfeng Emperor did not add the character cheng (成) – indicating her status as an Empress Consort of the Daoguang Emperor, as were Empresses Xiaomucheng, Xiaoshencheng and Xiaoquancheng – to her posthumous title because he wanted to highlight his belief that Lady Borjigit never qualified to be an Empress. He also did not give her a place in the Imperial Ancestral Temple, which meant that she would not be included in ancestral worship rites.

When the Xianfeng Emperor died on 22 August 1861, his son and successor, the Tongzhi Emperor, was still too young to rule. In the Xinyou Coup that followed, the empress dowagers Ci'an and Cixi collaborated with Yixin (Prince Gong) to overthrow and seize power from a group of eight regents appointed by the Xianfeng Emperor on his deathbed. The two empress dowagers thus became the regents for the Tongzhi Emperor, with Prince Gong assisting as Prince-Regent. On 6 May 1862, in order to secure Prince Gong's allegiance towards the Tongzhi Emperor, the two empress dowagers issued an imperial decree that added the character cheng (成) to Lady Borjigit's posthumous title. Lady Borjigit was also given a place in the Imperial Ancestral Temple and included in ancestral worship rites.

Children[edit]

Lady Borjigit gave birth to a daughter and three sons. After the death of Empress Xiaoquancheng in 1840, she was put in charge of the rest of the Daoguang Emperor's harem, as well as being responsible for the upbringing of Empress Xiaoquancheng's son, who later became the Xianfeng Emperor.

Lady Borjigit's children:

  • Yigang (奕綱; 22 November 1826 – 5 March 1827), the Daoguang Emperor's second son, posthumously honoured as Prince Shunhe of the Second Rank (順和郡王)
  • Yiji (奕繼; 2 December 1829 – 22 January 1830), the Daoguang Emperor's third son, posthumously honoured as Prince Huizhi of the Second Rank (慧質郡王)
  • Gulun Princess Shou'en (壽恩固倫公主; 20 January 1831 – 1859), the Daoguang Emperor's sixth daughter, married Jingshou (景壽; 1829–1889) in 1845
  • Yixin (奕訢; 11 January 1833 – 29 May 1898), the Daoguang Emperor's sixth son, posthumously honoured as Prince Gongzhong of the First Rank (恭忠親王)

Portraits[edit]

Living quarters[edit]

During the Qing dynasty, the emperor's consorts did not live in the same quarters within the Forbidden City. At the minimum, each consort moved at least once during her lifetime after the emperor's death, so as to make way for the consorts of the new emperor. Lady Borjigit moved at least five times during her life, and the places she lived in are as follows:

  • Palace of Eternal Harmony (永和宮), when she was Noble Consort Jing
  • Palace of Gathering Essence (鍾粹宮), between 1845 and 1850
  • Palace of Complete Happiness (咸福宮), during the first year of the Xianfeng Emperor's reign, only for a few months
  • Palace of Longevity and Good Health (壽康宮), when she was Empress Dowager

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (《清文宗实录·卷179》咸丰五年十月谕:“孝静皇后丹阐著抬入正黄旗满洲。) "丹阐" means "family" in the Manchu language. It was normal for empresses, even after death, to have their clans moved to a banner of higher rank. The Mongol banner that Empress Xiaojingcheng's clan originally belonged to was not recorded in history.
  2. ^ Wenzong Xian huangdi shilu, XF 5/7/1 (August 13, 1855), 42:896;j.51 for 1852, j. 171 for August 1855; also Zhang Naiwei, Qing gong shuwen, 408 - The Last Emperor, Evelyn S. Rawski
  • Min, Anchee (2005). Empress Orchid (Reprint ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0618562036. 
  • Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998). The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 052092679X. 
  • Seagrave, Sterling; Seagrave, Peggy (1992). Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China (Illustrated ed.). Knopf. 
  • 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. 
  • Warner, Marina (1974). The Dragon Empress: Life and Times of Tz'u-hsi, 1835-1908, Empress Dowager of China (Reprint and Illustrated ed.). Cardinal. ISBN 0351186573. 
  • Wen, Mayli (2005). "Foreword by Lulu Wang". Een vrouw op de drakentroon (in Dutch). Conserve, Uitgeverij. ISBN 9054292229. 
  • Zhao, Erxun (1928). Draft History of Qing (Qing Shi Gao) (in Chinese). 

Succession[edit]

Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaoquancheng
Empress of China
(elevated to this position posthumously)
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaozhenxian
Preceded by
Empress Dowager Gongci
Empress Dowager of China
1855
Succeeded by
Empress Dowager Ci'an