Hi, I'm Christina Hartman and today we're profiling Dowager Empress Cixi, a commanding and controversial figure in China for almost 50 years.Cixi was born in Beijing on November 29, 1835. Although she was one of the Chinese emperor's many concubines, in 1856 Cixi bore him his only surviving son. After the emperor died in 1861, their son, Tongzhi, ascended the throne. But it was really Cixi who ruled.Cixi was a shrewd and brilliant strategist. She led palace coups, bargained with enemies, and executed anyone who got in her way. Imperial China would experience a war with Japan, the Second Opium War, and the Boxer Rebellion. But, through it all, Cixi remained the country's de facto ruler.In addition to her political power, Cixi was known for her love of beautiful things, extravagant banquets, and opulent attire.The Dowager Empress Cixi died on November 15, 1908 at the age of 72. Three years later, the last imperial dynasty ended — overthrown in the Chinese Revolution.Thanks for watching our profile of Dowager Empress Cixi. For more information, go to About.com.
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