How China’s Last Empress Lost Everything and Died in Prison an Opium Addict
when I first saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s film The Last Emperor, I was fascinated, not only by its artistry but by the realization that the story was new to me. Not once in all my years of schooling did I recall learning anything about what happened to China’s Imperial family after the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 and or when the Communists took over in 1949.To get more news about empress wanrong, you can visit shine news official website.
The schools I attended focused on American and European history. We kids could find China on a map (How could you miss it?), but that was about it. The story might be new to many other people, too, particularly the part about the life and death of China’s last empress Wanrong.
The last woman to hold the title Empress of China was born Gobulo Wanrong (郭布羅·婉容) on November 13, 1906, in Beijing, China. Gobulo was her clan name.
Her parents were Qing imperial court Minister of Domestic Affairs Rongyuan (榮源), and Aisin-Gioro Hengxin (恒馨)who died of childbed fever just after Wanrong was born. Wanrong was raised by her stepmother Aisin-Gioro Hengxiang (恒香), a distant relative of her mother’s. (NOTE: Because of the similarity of their names, you will often see photos from the 1920s of Wanrong’s stepmother mislabeled as being of Aisin-Gioro Hengxin, who died in 1906.)
Although she never knew her birth mother, Wanrong had a happy childhood because her stepmother loved her and treated her as her own daughter. She lived with her parents and her older brother and younger half brother in Beijing’s Dongcheng District.Wanrong was also fortunate because, unlike most fathers of his day, Rongyuan believed that his daughter should be just as well-educated as his sons. He sent Wanrong to the American missionary school in Tianjin. There she learned English and to play the piano under the tutelage of Isabel Ingram, the daughter of American missionaries. Isabel was only four years older than Wanrong, and the two became great friends.
During Wanrong’s childhood, China’s ruling class was in a precarious situation. Empress Dowager Cixi chose her future husband Puyi (also born in 1906) to be Xuantong Emperor when he was two. Still, he was forced to abdicate in 1912 during the Xinhai Revolution.
Although he no longer had power over his people, officials of the Republic of China allowed Puyi and his court to retain their titles and continue to reside in the Forbidden City in much the same style as they always had. This was allowed because many people, including the head of the republic President Yuan Shikai, expected the monarchy to be reinstated. It was briefly, in December of 1915, with Yuan Shikai assuming the role of emperor. However, this move was so unpopular that he abdicated in March of 1916 and, being in ill health, died a few months later.In 1922 when Puyi was 16 years old, the Dowager Consorts decided that it was high time for him to be married. They showed him a selection of photographs of girls from families they deemed acceptable.
According to Puyi in his autobiography, the first photo that appealed to him was of Wenxiu. This caused a commotion among the Dowager Consorts because she wasn’t everyone’s favorite. One argued that Wenxiu wasn’t beautiful enough to be an empress.
Puyi agreed to marry the more comely Wanrong and retain Wenxiu as his concubine.
In the book The Last Emperor and His Five Wives, author Wang Qingxiang writes that Wanrong and Wenxiu had a strained relationship. Wenxiu moved into the palace first, and the pair exchanged less than cordial letters before Wanrong’s arrival.
As was the custom, Puyi married Wanrong and Wenxiu on the same night (in separate ceremonies), October 21, 1922. Unfortunately, the wedding night was something of a disaster for all concerned.