Empress Xiaozhuang Wen

Empress Xiaozhuangwen of China, 1613-1688

Empress Xiaozhuangwen, born “Bumbutai,” was the Mongolian mother of the first Emperor of the Qing Empire. She had significant influence in the imperial court and was respected as an insightful and politically stabilizing figure during the difficult Con Manchu rule. Remembered for her wisdom and insight, she is a popular cultural figure in China, and the subject of many Chinese TV dramas and the historical novel Green Phoenix.

The daughter of a Mongolian prince, Bumbutai was a descendent of Genghis Khan. She became a concubine at age 12 and had three daughters and a son with Emperor Hong Taiji, becoming one of his five wives alongside her sister. She is said to have disliked living in the Imperial palace despite its luxury, and refused to hold costly celebrations, such as birthdays. She also abolished the tradition of being waited on by consorts and wives of the court. When her husband died, she married his brother, as was common in Mongolian clan culture. When her grandson succeeded her son as Emperor, Bumbutai is said to have guided him and assisted in eliminating his political rival. A proponent of peace and prosperity, she was given the title of Empress Xiaozhuangwen after her death in 1688.


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