Yehenara Wanzhen

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Wanzhen
Primary Consort of Prince Chun
醇亲王福晋合影.jpg
Wanzhen is on the left side
Born (1841-09-13)13 September 1841
Died 19 June 1896(1896-06-19) (aged 54)
Spouse Yixuan
Issue Zaihan
Zaitian
Zaiguang
House Yehenara (by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
Father Huizheng
Yehenara Wanzhen
Traditional Chinese 葉赫那拉‧婉貞
Simplified Chinese 叶赫那拉‧婉贞

Wanzhen (13 September 1841 – 19 June 1896), of the Yehenara clan, was a Manchu noble lady who lived in the late Qing dynasty. She was the primary consort of Yixuan (Prince Chun), the seventh son of the Daoguang Emperor, and the biological mother of Zaitian (the Guangxu Emperor), the penultimate emperor of the Qing dynasty. She was also a younger sister of Empress Dowager Cixi, who was the de facto ruler of the Qing Empire throughout the reigns of the Tongzhi and Guangxu Emperors.

Life[edit]

Wanzhen was born in the Manchu Yehe clan, a subgroup of the Nara clan, which was under the Bordered Blue Banner. Her father, Huizheng (惠徵; 1805–1853), served as an official under the Qing government. In 1851, her eldest sister became a consort of the Xianfeng Emperor and received the title "Consort Yi". Consort Yi wanted to strengthen familial ties within the ruling Aisin Gioro clan by having an imperial prince as her brother-in-law, so she recommended Wanzhen as a spouse for Yixuan (Prince Chun), the Xianfeng Emperor's seventh brother.

After the Xianfeng Emperor's death in 1861, Consort Yi's son, Zaichun was enthroned as the Tongzhi Emperor, with his mother and stepmother, Empress Dowager Ci'an, serving as his regents throughout most of his reign. Consort Yi became known as "Empress Dowager Cixi" from then on.

In January 1875, the Tongzhi Emperor died at the age of 18. Prince Chun and Wanzhen's second son, Zaitian, was chosen by the two Empress Dowagers to be the new ruler and was enthroned as the Guangxu Emperor. Wanzhen was widowed in 1891 when Prince Chun died. Her stepson, Zaifeng, inherited his father's peerage and became the second Prince Chun. Wanzhen died about five years later in 1896 at the age of 54.

In his memoirs, Puyi, the Last Emperor and Zaifeng's son, described Wanzhen as a fairly abusive woman, who terrorised her servants, children and stepchildren alike, and noted that at least one of her sons died of malnutrition.[1] Empresss Dowager Cixi also recalled that when the Guangxu Emperor was brought to the Forbidden City in 1875 for his coronation, "he was a very sickly child, and could hardly walk, he was so thin and weak. His parents seemed to be afraid of giving him anything to eat."[2]

Family[edit]

Wanzhen bore Yixuan four sons. Only the second one survived into adulthood.

  • Zaihan (載瀚; 1 February 1865 – 9 December 1866), first son
  • Zaitian (14 August 1871 – 14 November 1908), second son, the Guangxu Emperor
  • Third son (13–14 February 1875), unnamed, died one day after he was born
  • Zaiguang (載洸; 28 November 1880 – 18 May 1884), fourth son

References[edit]

  1. ^ Puyi (1989), pp. 23-24.
  2. ^ Der Ling (1929), p. 252.