Empress Xiaoshengxian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Empress Dowager Chongqing
Empress Xiaoshengxian
Portrait of the Xiaosheng Empress Dowager.jpg
Empress dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure8 October 1735 – 2 March 1777
Predecessor Empress Dowager Renshou
Successor Empress Dowager Gongci
Born(1692-01-12)12 January 1692
(康熙三十年 十一月 二十五日)
Died2 March 1777(1777-03-02) (aged 85)
(乾隆四十二年 正月 二十三日)
Changchun Xianguan, Old Summer Palace
Tai Mausoleum, Western Qing tombs
(m. 1705; died 1735)
IssueQianlong Emperor
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaosheng Cixuan Kanghui Dunhe Chenghui Renmu Jingtian Guangsheng Xian
HouseNiohuru (鈕祜祿)
MotherTatara Meixian, Madam Gaoming
Empress Xiaoshengxian
Traditional Chinese孝聖憲皇后
Simplified Chinese孝圣宪皇后

Empress Xiaoshengxian (12 January 1692 – 2 March 1777), of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Niohuru clan, was a posthumous name bestowed to the consort of Yinzhen, the Yongzheng Emperor and mother of Hongli, the Qianlong Emperor. She was honoured as Empress Dowager Chongqing during the reign of her son and posthumously honoured as empress, although she never held the rank of empress consort during her lifetime.

When the empress seat was vacant after Empress Xiaojingxian of the Ulanara clan's death, she was placed in charge of the imperial harem as the highest ranked concubine in that time. The Qianlong Emperor held her in high regard and often consulted her for advice. She died in 1777 and outlived many of her son's consorts.


Family background[edit]

Empress Xiaoshengxian's personal name was unknown and not recorded in history. She was born to the upper class Niohuru clan in Beijing.

  • Father: Lingzhu (凌柱; 1664–1754), served as a fourth rank military official (四品典儀), and held the title of a first class duke (一等公)
    • Paternal grandfather: Wulu (吳祿), Eidu's cousin once removed
    • Paternal grandmother: Lady Qiao
  • Mother: Lady Peng
    • Maternal grandfather: Peng Wugong
  • Four brothers

Kangxi era[edit]

The future Empress Xiaoshengxian was born on the 25th day of the 11th lunar month in the 30th year of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, which translates to 12 January 1692 in the Gregorian calendar. Her family was poor and lived in Chengde city. She is said to shop in the markets for daily necessities, when she was only six or seven.[1]

In 1705, aged thirteen, when she went to the capital, just at the time, it so happened, that the ladies of the nobility were there awaiting selection to the palace. She followed them to watch the excitement, and the door guards let her in, thinking she was one of the candidates. It was only when the selection began, and the leading officials found that she was not on the list. They told Yinzhen, the fourth son of the Kangxi Emperor, who asked them to include her in the last group. She was then selected because of her regular features and tall figure. She was then sent to the prince's resident and received the title of "Gege".[1]

She was, however, not in the prince's good graces. He apart from his official wife, favoured his concubines Li, Geng, and Nian. In the summer of 1710, he suffered from a disease that made his attendants unwilling to be too close to him. She nevertheless looked after him day and night, and he recovered from the illness after two months. He was grateful to her for her loyalty,[1] and the following year on 25 September 1711, she gave birth to his fourth son, Prince Hongli.[2] Soon after the birth, she fell out of favor again.

In 1722, Prince Yinzhen, who was made Prince Yong, invited the Kangxi Emperor to his residence, Yuanmingyuan, where he met his grandson, eleven year-old Prince Hongli, and took him to his own palace to rear him, and the two lived together for six months. The Kangxi Emperor's love for Hongli was sufficient to raise her status, whom the emperor had once given an audition and praised as "a person with good fortune".[3]

Yongzheng era[edit]

The Kangxi Emperor died on 20 December 1722 and was succeeded by Yinzhen, who was enthroned as the Yongzheng Emperor. On 28 March 1723, Lady Niohuru was granted the title "Consort Xi".[4] In 1730, she was elevated to "Noble Consort Xi".[4] When the Yongzheng Emperor's empress consort, Empress Xiaojingxian, died on 29 October 1731, Noble Consort Xi was placed in charge of the emperor's harem because she was the highest rank consort in that time.

Qianlong era[edit]

The Yongzheng Emperor died on 8 October 1735 and was succeeded by Hongli, who was enthroned as the Qianlong Emperor. As the birth mother of the reigning emperor, Noble Consort Xi was honoured as (the) "Divine Mother Empress Dowager Chongqing".

The Qianlong Emperor held his mother in high regard and often consulted her for advice. Some believe that she may have been behind the emperor's ill-fated selection of Lady Nara to be his second empress consort.[5] The Qianlong Emperor often visited his mother. The Empress dowager also always accompanied her son on his excursions to Shenyang and the Yangtze River Delta.[6] In her old age, when the Empress Dowager was no longer fit to travel, the Qianlong Emperor stopped all his trips and only resumed them after her death.

The Empress dowager's 60th birthday was lavishly celebrated. The Qianlong Emperor ordered the roads decorated from Beijing to the Summer Palace,[7] Chinese poems were read in her honour and sacrifices were made to the gods by the emperor and the entire imperial court. In her honour, the emperor also ordered the dredging of a lake at the Garden of Clear Ripples, which he named Kunming Lake, as well as renovated buildings on the lake shore.[8]

Empress Dowager Chongqing died on 2 March 1777. She was interred in a separate tomb in the Tai Mausoleum of the Western Qing tombs.


  • During the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722):
    • Lady Niohuru (钮祜禄氏; from 12 January 1692)
    • Mistress (格格; from 1705), second rank lord consort
  • During the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722–1735):
    • Consort Xi (熹妃; from 28 March 1723[9]), fourth rank consort
    • Noble Consort Xi (熹貴妃; from 1730-1734), third rank consort
  • During the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796):
    • Empress Dowager Chongqing (崇慶皇太后; from 8 October 1735[10])
    • Empress Xiaoshengxian (孝聖憲皇后; from 1777)


  • As Mistress:
    • Hongli (弘曆; 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799), the Yongzheng Emperor's fifth (fourth) son, enthroned on 18 October 1735 as the Qianlong Emperor


In fiction and popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lee, Lau & Stefanowska 2015, p. 352.
  2. ^ Zhang Hongxing; Hongxing Zhang (2002). The Qianlong Emperor: Treasures from the Forbidden City. NMS. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-901663-77-8.
  3. ^ Lee, Lau & Stefanowska 2015, pp. 352–53.
  4. ^ a b Lee, Lau & Stefanowska 2015, p. 353.
  5. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 168.
  6. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 168.
  7. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 169.
  8. ^ Rawski (1998), pp. 23–24.
  9. ^ 雍正元年 二月 二十二日
  10. ^ 雍正十三年 八月 二十三日


Empress Xiaoshengxian
Chinese royalty
Preceded by Empress dowager of China
8 October 1735 – 2 March 1777
Succeeded by