21 July 2011
New Series: los ancianos malos (the evil fogies)
In the photograph above, Her Imperial Highness the Empress Dowager Cixi of Qing China ('The Old Bhuda") may have appeared regal and magnanimous. She was anything but that. During her fourty-year (de facto) reign over Qing China, she initiated a coup against her son's regents and killed three of them. She poisoned her late husband's principal wife, the Empress Ci'an. She starved her daughter-in-law (Lady Alute, nominal empress to the Tongzhi emperor) to death; she imprisoned her newphew, the Guangxu Emperor, and in 1908, poisoned him with arsenic as she herself lay dying. A decade earlier, Cixi drowned Guangxu's Pearl Concubine (Lady Zhen) in a palace well just as she and the imperial household were about to flee Beijing before the arrival of Western imperialist forces.
And these atrocities were just the maneuvering within the palace walls. Her incompetent rule led to the demise of countless millions through starvation, rebellions and foreign invasions. The Qing Empire finally collapsed in 1912 when the boy emperor, Aixinjuelo Puyi, was forced to abdicate by Chinese republican forces.