Empress Xiaozheyi, born on July 25, 1854, belonged to the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Arute clan and became the wife and empress consort of the Tongzhi Emperor. Known for her intelligence, talent in poetry, literature, music, and art, she was chosen as empress consort in 1872 to reconcile rivals in the Qing imperial court. Her marriage faced challenges due to Empress Dowager Cixi’s dissatisfaction and the Tongzhi Emperor’s growing ill-temper. After the emperor’s death in 1875, Empress Dowager Cixi blamed Empress Xiaozheyi, reducing her food rations. The empress’s fate remains unclear, with some sources claiming she was pregnant at the time. In 1900, during the invasion of Beijing by the Eight-Nation Alliance, Empress Dowager Cixi asked Empress Xiaozheyi’s father to stay behind, and he and his family later committed suicide after the capital fell to foreigners. Empress Xiaozheyi’s posthumous title is “Empress Xiaozheyi.”
Spouse: Emperor Tongzhi
The Tongzhi Emperor (1856-1875) was the ninth emperor of the Qing dynasty, but his reign was effectively overshadowed by his mother, Empress Dowager Cixi. He ascended the throne at the age of five and died at the age of 18 from smallpox, leaving no male heir. During his reign, Qing officials pursued radical institutional reforms in the Self-Strengthening Movement, but Tongzhi himself had little influence over state affairs. After his death, Cixi installed her nephew as his successor, who became the Guangxu Emperor.