Satellite Overview of Yi Kung Gong and adjacent Chang Chun Gong and surrounding area of the Palace Museum (Gugong).
Satellite Overview of Six Western Palaces and surrounding area of the Palace Museum (Gugong).
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Schematic Map depicting the area's of North-Eastern China overtaken by the Yi Ho Tuan Movement of 1900 AD (The Boxers).
Empress Dowager Zsu Hsi / Cixi's History :
After she had come to the Emperors' Court in 1852AD , Cixi managed to become the Emperor Xianfengs' foremost Concubine in the short time of only 5 Years. -Mind you , a rank not easily achieved with over a 1000 concubines present and ever-occuring infighting.-
From 1861AD through 1873 she functioned as Regent to her own son Tongzhi. He was crowned Emperor in 1873AD. Only 2 short years later Tongzhi found a mysterious death at his own Court ( according to Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi it was from smallpox), after which Cixi adopted her Nephew Guangxu in a plot to keep almost dictatorial control
over the Chinese Empire (for the Manchu Aisin-Gioro Clan) . Guangxu was then crowned Emperor and Ruler of the Dragon Throne. However ,
Guangxu and Cixi soon differed on opinions on which course to take for the Empire. Cixi , -who may have been ruthless and cunning but was certainly not known for her good government- , resented Guangxu's attempts at reform. When Guangxu became 17 and independant as Emperor, he immediatly instituted a National Political Reform Movement. Soon Cixi seized power over him and had The Emperor placed under house arrest , first at YinTai Island at NanHai, another Imperial Garden just west of the Forbidden City, later here at the Summer Palace.
It was here at the Palace of Benevolence and Longevity where Cixi and her stooge Emperor Guangxu would hold court, handle court affairs and receive diplomatic emmisaries, as vividly described and portraited in the excellent historic Chinese Film Drama "Reign behind a Curtain". After 1900 the Ching Family, however, again had to relocate, temporarily fleeing The Summer Palace to escape new invading European Forces in the Boxer Rebellion and Wars. The Summer Palace was damaged once more and severely looted. The Imperial Ching Family, Cixi and her court ended up in Xian (Shaanxi Province, N-W China), later returning to Beijing. In 1903 AD the Summer Palace was repaired of damage incurred during the "Boxer" Wars.
The Chu Xiu Gong (储秀宫) or Palace of Gathering Excellence was built in 1420 and was orinally known as the Palace of Longevity. It aquired its current name in the year 1535 A.D. and rebuilt in 1655. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it was the residence of Empress and Imperial Concubines. In the year 1852 Ci Xi was assigned her living quarters in this back-corner of the Imperial Palace in accordance with her person being created honourable person Lan, one of the many consorts of the Great Emperor.
Will living in this Palace it was that she gave birth to the Emperor Tongzhi here in 1856, leading her promotion to the high rank of "concubine Yi" being the mother of the Emperor's first born son.
In 1884 the entire palace was refurbished and redecorated for the Empress Dowager Ci Xi, while the entire six western palaces were restructured with the removing of gates of eternal spring and the gate of gathering excellence to make room for an enlargement of Palace of ternal Spring as well as the addition of the two minor halls, the Hall of Manifest Harmony and the Hall of Manifest origin.
After the extensive overhaul of the "six western palaces" the Empress-Dowager moved her residence to this palace in the 10th month of that year in celebration of her 50th birthday.
The Empress-Dowager, de facto ruler of China, would live there for 10 years afterwards.
The inscriptions on the wall at the corridor in the yard are poems praying for Empress Dowager's longevity.
This page was last updated on: June 26, 2017
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