The Manchu Emperor of China, Kuang-Hsü

The Kuang-Hsü Emperor was the tenth Emperor of the Ch'ing Dynasty, although much of his reign was subverted by the Empress Dowager. Although his reign began in 1875, he reigned free of the Empress Dowager's influence only from 1889 to 1898, at which point the Empress Dowager staged a coup and had him placed under house arrest. T'zu-hsi then issued an edict that proclaimed the Emperor's unfitness to be emperor, and she ruled the Dragon Throne in his stead.

Although he does not appear in the novel, Kuang-Hsü is mentioned here because of his place in the background of the story--a reformer who wanted to bring China into the modern age with sweeping political, legal, and social changes, and who paid the price for it, being displaced from power and spending the rest of his life a prisoner within the Forbidden City.

A side note: The emperor died in 1908, and it was widely suspected at the time that he had been poisoned. An investigation in 2008 of his corpse showed that he had indeed been poisoned with arsenic, almost certainly on the orders of the Empress Dowager.

Kuang-hsu, 10th Emperor of the Ch'in Dynasty

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Copyright 2021 Joseph Benedetto Jr.