|9th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty|
|Reign||9 March 1850 – 22 August 1861|
|Coronation||9 March 1850|
17 July 1831|
Old Summer Palace, Beijing
|Died||22 August 1861
Chengde Mountain Resort, Chengde
|Burial||Eastern Qing Tombs, Zunhua|
|Issue||Gulun Princess Rongshou (Adoptive)
Gulun Princess Rong'an
Zaichun, Tongzhi Emperor
one other unnamed son
Zaitian, Guangxu Emperor (Adoptive)
The Xianfeng Emperor (simplified Chinese: 咸丰帝; traditional Chinese: 咸豐帝; pinyin: Xiánfēng Dì; Wade–Giles: Hsien-feng Ti; 17 July 1831 – 22 August 1861), personal name I-ju (or Yizhu), was the ninth Emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the seventh Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1850 to 1861.
Family and early life
Yizhu was born in 1831 at the Old Summer Palace, eight kilometres northwest of Beijing. He was from the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan, and was the fourth son of the Daoguang Emperor. His mother was the Noble Consort Quan, of the Manchu Niohuru clan, who was made Empress in 1834, and is known posthumously as Empress Xiaoquancheng. Yizhu was reputed to have an ability in literature and administration which surpassed most of his brothers, which impressed his father, who therefore decided to make him his successor.
Yizhu succeeded the throne in 1850, at age 19, and was a relatively young emperor. He inherited a dynasty that faced not only internal but also foreign challenges. Yizhu's reign title, Xianfeng, which means "Universal Prosperity", did not reflect the situation. In 1850, the first of a series of popular rebellions began that would nearly destroy the Qing dynasty. The Taiping Rebellion began in December 1850, when Hong Xiuquan, a Hakka leader of a syncretic Christian sect, defeated local forces sent to disperse his followers. Hong then proclaimed the establishment of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and the rebellion spread to several provinces with amazing speed. The following year, the Nian Rebellion started in North China. Unlike the Christian-influenced Taiping rebels, the Nian movement lacked a clear political program, but they became a serious threat to the Qing capital, Beijing, with the mobility of their cavalry-based armies. The Qing imperial forces suffered repeated defeats at the hands of both rebel movements.
Rebellions and wars
In 1853, the Taiping rebels captured Nanjing and for a while it seemed that Beijing would fall next; but the Taiping northern expedition was defeated and the situation stabilized. The Xianfeng Emperor dispatched several prominent mandarins, such as Zeng Guofan and the Mongol general Sengge Rinchen, to crush the rebellions, but they only obtained limited success. The biggest revolt of the Miao people against Chinese rule in history started in 1854, and ravaged the region until finally put down in 1873. In 1856, an attempt to regain Nanjing was defeated and the Panthay Rebellion broke out in Yunnan.
Meanwhile, an initially minor incident on the coasts triggered the Second Opium War. Anglo-French forces, after inciting a few battles (not all victories for them) on the coast near Tianjin, attempted "negotiation" with the Qing government. The Xianfeng Emperor, under the influence of his Noble Consort Yi (later Empress Dowager Cixi), believed in Chinese superiority and would not agree to any colonial demands. He delegated Prince Gong for several negotiations but relations broke down completely when a British diplomat, Sir Harry Parkes, was arrested during negotiations on 18 September.
The Anglo-French invasion clashed with Sengge Rinchen's Mongol cavalry on 18 September near Zhangjiawan before proceeding toward the outskirts of Beijing for a decisive battle in Tongzhou District, Beijing. On 21 September, at the Battle of Eight-Mile Bridge, Sengge Rinchen's 10,000 troops, including his elite Mongol cavalry, were completely annihilated after several doomed frontal charges against the concentrated firepower of the Anglo-French forces, which entered Beijing on 6 October.
During the Xianfeng Emperor's reign, China lost part of Manchuria to the Russian Empire. In 1858, according to the Treaty of Aigun, the territory between Stanovoy Mountains and Amur River was ceded to Russia, and in 1860, according to the Treaty of Beijing, the same thing happened also to the area east of Ussuri River. After that treaty, the Russians founded the city of Vladivostok in the area they had annexed.
While negotiations with the European powers were being held, the Xianfeng Emperor and his imperial entourage fled to Jehol province in the name of conducting the annual imperial hunting expedition. As his health worsened, the emperor's ability to govern also deteriorated, and competing ideologies in court led to the formation of two distinct factions — one led by the senior official Sushun and the princes Zaiyuan and Duanhua, and the other led by Noble Consort Yi, who was supported by the general Ronglu and the Bannermen of the Yehenara clan.
The Xianfeng Emperor died on 22 August 1861, from a short life of overindulgence, at the Chengde Mountain Resort, 230 kilometres northeast of Beijing. His successor was his surviving six-year-old son, Zaichun. A day before his death, the Xianfeng Emperor had summoned Sushun and his supporters to his bedside and gave them an imperial edict that dictated the power structure during his son's minority. The edict appointed eight men – Zaiyuan, Duanhua, Jingshou, Sushun, Muyin, Kuangyuan, Du Han and Jiao Youying – as an eight-member regency council to aid Zaichun, who was later enthroned as the Tongzhi Emperor. By tradition, after the death of an emperor, the emperor's body was to be accompanied to the capital by the regents. Noble Consort Yi and Empress Consort Zhen, who were now known as Empress Dowagers Cixi and Ci'an travelled ahead to Beijing and planned a coup with Prince Gong that ousted the eight regents. Empress Dowager Cixi then effectively ruled China over the subsequent 47 years as a regent.
The Xianfeng Emperor's reign saw the continued decline of the Qing dynasty. Rebellions in the country, which began the first year of his reign, would not be quelled until well into the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor and resulted in millions of deaths. The Xianfeng Emperor also had to deal with the British and French and their ever-growing appetite to expand trade further into China. The Xianfeng Emperor, like his father, the Daoguang Emperor, understood very little about Europeans and their mindset. He viewed non-Chinese as inferior and regarded the Europeans' repeated requests for the establishment of diplomatic relations as an offence. When the Europeans introduced the long-held concept of an exchanged consular relationship, the Xianfeng Emperor quickly rebuffed the idea. At the time of his death, he had not met with any foreign dignitary.
Despite his tumultuous decade of reign, the Xianfeng Emperor was commonly seen as the last Qing emperor to have held paramount authority, ruling in his own right. His son and subsequent successors' rule were overseen by regents, a trend witnessed until the fall of the Qing dynasty.
|Title / Posthumous title||Name||Born||Died||Father||Notes|
|1831||1850||Futai (富泰) of the Sakda clan||Married Yizhu in 1847 and became his primary consort;
Died before Yizhu became Emperor;
Posthumously honoured as an Empress
|12 August 1837||8 April 1881||Muyang'a (穆楊阿) of the Niohuru clan||Became Imperial Concubine Zhen (貞嬪) in 1852;
Promoted to Noble Consort Zhen (貞貴妃) one month later and instated as Empress five months after that;
Honoured as "Mother Empress, Empress Dowager" (母后皇太后) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Better known as Empress Dowager Ci'an (慈安太后)
|29 November 1835||15 November 1908||Huizheng (惠徵; 1805–1853) of the Yehenara clan||Became Noble Lady Lan (蘭貴人) in 1852;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Yi (懿嬪) in 1854;
Promoted to Consort Yi (懿妃) in 1856;
Promoted to Noble Consort Yi (懿貴妃) in 1857;
Honoured as "Holy Mother, Empress Dowager" (聖母皇太后) in 1861 by her son, the Tongzhi Emperor;
Better known as Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后)
|Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing
|1837||1890||Qinghai (慶海) of the Tatara clan||Became Noble Lady Li (麗貴人) in 1852;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Li (麗嬪) in 1854;
Promoted to Consort Li (麗妃) in 1855;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Li (皇考麗皇貴妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Honoured as Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Li (皇考麗皇貴太妃) by the Guangxu Emperor
|Imperial Noble Consort Duanke
|1844||1910||Yuxiang (裕祥) of the Tunggiya clan||Became Imperial Concubine Qi (祺嬪) in 1858;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Qi (皇考祺妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort Qi (皇考祺貴妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor;
Promoted to Grand Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Qi (皇祖祺皇貴太妃) by the Xuantong Emperor
|Noble Consort Wen
|1835||1890||Chengyi (誠意) of the Xugiya clan||Became a changzai in 1853;
Promoted to Noble Lady Wen (玫貴人) later;
Demoted to changzai in 1855;
Demoted to Female Attendant later but restored as a changzai eight days later;
Promoted to Noble Lady again later;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Wen (玫嬪) in 1858;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Wen (皇考玫妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort Wen (皇考玫貴妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|Noble Consort Wan
|unknown||1894||Kuizhao (奎照; d. 1843) of the Suochuoluo clan||Became Changzai Wan (婉常在) in 1852;
Promoted to Noble Lady Wan (婉貴人) later;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Wan (婉嬪) in 1855;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Wan (皇考婉妃) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Noble Consort Wan (皇考婉貴妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|1841||1895||Quanwen (全文) of the Yehenara clan||Started out as a palace maid;
Promoted to Noble Lady Lu (璷貴人) in 1855;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Lu (皇考璷嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Lu (皇考璷妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|unknown||1877||Changshun (常順) of the Chahala clan||Started out as a palace maid;
Promoted to Noble Lady Xi (禧貴人) in 1859;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Xi (皇考禧嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Xi (皇考禧妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|1846||1905||Wang Qingyuan (王清遠)||Started out as a palace maid;
Promoted to Noble Lady Ji (吉貴人) in 1858;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Xi (皇考吉嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Xi (皇考吉妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|1840||1885||unknown||Started out as a palace maid;
Promoted to Noble Lady Ji (慶貴人) in 1859;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Xi (皇考慶嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor;
Promoted to Dowager Consort Xi (皇考慶妃) in 1874 by the Guangxu Emperor
|Imperial Concubine Yun
|unknown||1853||unknown||Started out as a concubine of Yizhu;
Became Noble Lady Yun (雲貴人) in 1852;
Promoted to Imperial Concubine Yun in 1853
|Imperial Concubine Rong
|unknown||unknown||unknown||Became Changzai Rong (容常在) in 1853;
Promoted to Noble Lady Rong (容貴人) later;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Rong (皇考容嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
|Imperial Concubine Shu
|unknown||unknown||unknown||Started out as Noble Lady Shu (璹貴人);
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Shu (皇考璹嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
|Imperial Concubine Yu
|unknown||5 January 1863||Guixiang (桂祥) of the Yehenara clan||Became Noble Lady Yu (玉貴人) in 1853;
Promoted to Dowager Imperial Concubine Yu (皇考玉嬪) in 1861 by the Tongzhi Emperor
|unknown||1856||unknown||Became Imperial Concubine Ying (英嬪) in 1852;
Demoted to Noble Lady Yi (伊貴人) in 1853;
Demoted to Changzai Yi (伊常在) in 1855 and later to Daying Yi (伊答應);
Restored as Changzai Ping (玶常在) in 1856
|unknown||unknown||unknown||unknown||Started out as Noble Lady Chun (春貴人);
Demoted to Changzai Ming (明常在) in 1853;
Demoted to Daying Ming (明答應) in 1855;
Restored as Changzai Chun (瑃常在) in 1856
|#||Title / Posthumous title||Name||Born||Died||Mother||Notes|
|27 April 1856||12 January 1875||Empress Xiaoqinxian||Enthroned on 11 November 1861|
|2||Prince Min of the Second Rank
|unnamed||1858||1858||Noble Consort Wen||Died in infancy;
Posthumously honoured as "Prince Min of the Second Rank"
|Title / Posthumous title||Born||Died||Mother||Spouse||Notes|
|Gulun Princess Rong'an
|7 May 1855||28 February 1875||Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing||Fuzhen (d. 1909) of the Gūwalgiya clan, married in 1873|
- Adopted children
|Title / Posthumous title||Name||Born||Died||Father||Notes|
|14 August 1871||14 November 1908||Yixuan, the Xianfeng Emperor's seventh brother||Born after the Xianfeng Emperor died, but was symbolically adopted as the Xianfeng Emperor's son in early 1875 to succeed the Tongzhi Emperor;
Enthroned on 25 February 1875
|Gulun Princess Rongshou
|unknown||28 February 1854||1924||Yixin, the Xianfeng Emperor's sixth brother||Symbolically adopted as the Xianfeng Emperor's daughter in the early 1860s;
Raised by Empress Dowager Cixi
|Ancestors of the Xianfeng Emperor|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xianfeng Emperor.|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- 连载：正说清朝十二帝 SINA Archived June 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四．列傳一．后妃傳.
Sources and literature
- Daily Life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen ISBN 0-670-81164-5".
- Qing dynasty Wenzong’s veritable records (清文宗实录).
- Royal archives of the Qing dynasty (清宫档案).
- Qing imperial genealogy(清皇室四谱).
- webpagina: http://www.royalark.net/China/manchu14.htm,[permanent dead link] gaat over de stamboom van de Aisin Gioro stam.
- Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四．列傳一．后妃傳．
Books about Empress Dowager Cixi:
- Sterling Seagraves "Dragon Lady" ISBN 0-679-73369-8
- Maria Warners "The Dragon Empress: Life and Times of Tz'u-Hsi, 1835 – 1908, Empress of China". ISBN 0-689-70714-2
- Anchee Min "Empress Orchid" ISBN 978-0-618-06887-6
Xianfeng EmperorBorn: 17 July 1831 Died: 22 August 1861
The Daoguang Emperor
|Emperor of China
The Tongzhi Emperor