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Han and non-Han Imperial Women Readings: “ Imperial marriage in the Native Chinese and non-Han State, Han to Ming ” OR “ The Harem in Northern Wei Politics,

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Presentation on theme: "Han and non-Han Imperial Women Readings: “ Imperial marriage in the Native Chinese and non-Han State, Han to Ming ” OR “ The Harem in Northern Wei Politics,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Han and non-Han Imperial Women Readings: “ Imperial marriage in the Native Chinese and non-Han State, Han to Ming ” OR “ The Harem in Northern Wei Politics, AD: A Study of Tuoba attitudes towards the institution of empress dowager and regency governments in the Chinese dynastic system during early Northern Wei ” in Holmgren, Jennifer, Marriage, Kinship and Power in Northern China. The Northern Wei ( ): OR “ Family, Marriage and Political Power in Sixth Century China: A study of the Gao Family of the Northern Qi, c ”, in Holmgren, Jennifer, Marriage, Kinship and Power in Northern China. pp VI, OR “ Politics of the Inner Court under the Hou-chu (Last Lord of the Northern Qi, ca ” in Dien, Albert E., ed., State and society in early medieval China, pp

2 Women in Non-Han Dynasties Introduction Alien Rule in China Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Empire Building – –Empire Building through Marriage Alliances: The Northern Qi Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Succession – –Succession Problems: Northern Qi Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Marriage – –Northern Wei – –Northern Qi: Remarriages of Imperial Women – –Qing: Marriage preferences of the Imperial Family Women and Power – –Sui Dynasty – –Tang Dynasty – –Yuan – –Qing

3 Introduction For about half of recorded history, China had been ruled either in part or wholly by peoples of non-Han origin. – –Yan 燕 dynasties (Xianbei 鲜卑 ) ( ) – –Sixteen States era ( )   4 different Xiongnu 匈奴 kingdoms   4 different Qiang/Di 羌 / 氐 dynasties – –Northern Dynasties (non-Han)( )   Northern Wei 北魏   Northern Qi 北齐   Northern Zhou 北周 – –Sui (Mixed) 隋 ( ) – –Tang (Mixed) 唐 ( )

4 Introduction (2) Liao (Qidan) 辽 ( ) Xi Xia (Tanguts) 西夏 (c ) Five Dynasties Era – –Later Tang (Turk) 后唐 ( ) – –Later Jin (Turk) 后晋 ( ) – –Later Han (Turk) 后汉 ( ) Jin (Jurchen) 金 ( ) Yuan (Mongol) 元 ( ) Qing (Manchu) 请 ( )

5 Introduction (3) The people of Han origin lived within China: The people of Han origin lived within China: –The majority were farmers who lived in villages. –Some were merchants and lived in towns or cities. –A small number were the “elite” – those who were educated and had official positions. The people of non-Han origin who were able to conquer China and rule either in the north or all of China had come from the north. The people of non-Han origin who were able to conquer China and rule either in the north or all of China had come from the north. –They were originally nomads – traveled from place to place depending on the seasons so that their animals can have food. –The climate and living was harsh. –They had no written languages. –They were good fighters. 5

6 Alien Rule in China Conquests by non-Chinese nomadic groups can be divided into: – –The nomads who conquered China as a whole, or – –The nomads who took only North China, leaving the South under national rule. All nomadic empires before the Mongols (Yuan) were only able to conquer the north. Only the Mongols (Yuan) and the Manchus (Qing) – descended of the Jurchens -- were able to conquer all of China.

7 Alien Rule in China (2) Alien dynasties tried to control through multi-racial rule – different regulations for different ethnic groups. Example: – –Qing dynasty was identified as the ruler of five peoples – Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese. – –These five languages were accepted as the official languages. All the non-Han dynasties employed Han government services but gave high positions to their own tribal leaders. These alien dynasties may have adopted Chinese practices but Chinese civilization changed over time as they absorbed foreign elements and so the concept of “ Chineseness ” is broadened.

8 Alien Rule in China (3) Chinese historians have all seen these non-Han rulers as legitimate Sons of Heaven. – –The claims of these non-Han rulers to the Mandate of Heaven was not questioned. – –Their quality was judged from a practical point of view with little regard to the ethnic factor. – –The ethnic identities were not highlighted nor are they hidden. Chinese historians felt that political survival was more important than questions of ethnicity. – –While the Chinese accepted alien rule, there was still power struggles between the Chinese and the tribal leaders and racial hatred was a problem for the emperor who had to balance these groups.

9 Alien Rule in China (6) The successful non-Han emperor tried to rule his multi-cultural people differently -- being sensitive to their tribal traditions. As the emperor felt more secure he usually preferred to adopt the Chinese system of government as it allowed him to: – –Centralize power – –Control succession, and – –Gain the acceptance of the majority of his subjects who are Chinese. This, most often, would lead to rebellion of the tribal leaders who see the erosion of their powers.

10 Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Empire Building Han – –Rebellions:   Han and Ming – –Usurpations:   Xin during the Han   Jin 晋 during the Three Kingdoms Period   Southern Dynasties – –Conquests:   Ten Kingdoms Non-Han: –Conquests:  Sixteen Kingdoms Period  Northern Wei  Five Dynasties  Yuan  Qing –Marriage Alliances

11 Empire Building through Marriage Alliances: The Northern Qi Gao Huan’s first wife, Lou, gave him the initial money to get started. Lady Erzhu gave him claim to the Erzhu forces and territories. Lady Li gave him some access to the Chinese official class. Lady Cheng gave him contacts with clans who had held important posts during ED Ling’s rule. Lady Feng gave him access to the Feng clan which had dominated the Northern Wei rule for many years. Lady Yu gave knowledge of the rites for ceremonial occasions. Lady Mu gave him access to the Northern Wei elites. The princess of Rouran allied him with her people.

12 Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Succession Chinese model is lineal succession. Primogeniture – the eldest son of the empress or if she has no son then the eldest son would succeed. The senior widow and her relatives managed the court during the rule of an underage emperor. The maternal relatives achieved power and controlled the court for several reigns. The non-Han model was election of best candidate for the leadership. Leaders were selected on the basis of maturity, military power and competence, regents ruled for a short time between the death of one ruler and the election of the next. Consort families participated in government as heads of tribal units. Fraternal succession was preferred as it would mean that mature leaders are in charge.

13 Succession Problems: Northern Qi Gao Huan had at least 15 sons; six were the offspring of the main consort, Empress Dowager Lou. After his death, in 547, his eldest son, Gao Cheng (Wenxiangdi: r ) controlled the puppet Eastern Wei regime. Gao Cheng was able to hold the loyalty of most of the Eastern Wei leadership and expand the domains of the empire. Gao Cheng was probably assassinated by his brother Gao Yang (Wenxuandi: r.550-9) who arrived to take control and executed the assassins -- two of Gao Cheng ’ s advisors fled the murder scene instead of protecting Gao Cheng and these very two became close advisors of Gao Yang.

14 Succession Problems: Northern Qi (2) In 550, Gao Yang dictated the abdication of the last Eastern Wei emperor and formally ascended the throne as the first Northern Qi emperor. Gao Yang executed two of the older and more influential half- brothers. Prior to his death in 559, Gao Yang asked his next eldest brother, the future Xiaozhao (r ), not to kill Gao Yang ’ s son and heir should Xiaozhao decide to seize the throne. When Gao Yang died, his son, Feidi ascended the throne but the grandmother, Grand Empress Dowager Lou preferred that her next eldest son, Xiaozhao, ascend the throne rather than her grandson.

15 Succession Problems: Northern Qi (3) Feidi, reigned for less than one year before he was deposed by his grandmother. Emperor Xiaozhao promised his mother that he would not murder the young deposed Feidi; however, ill omens were interpreted as indicating that the deposed emperor would re-ascend the throne so Xiaozhao had him strangled in 560. In late 560 Xiaozhao made his son Bainian his heir and it upset his brother, Gao Zhan, who had expected to succeed him. In 561, Xiaozhao was critically injured after falling from a horse and asked his brother Gao Zhan to spare the life of his son and consort but on ascending the throne as Wuchengdi (r ), Gao Zhan ordered the death of Bainian.

16 Succession Problems : Northern Qi (4) From late 563 through mid 565 Wuchengdi engaged in a series of institutional reforms designed to get resources for the imperial center, strengthen border defenses and finally, stabilize the succession. He retired in 565 making his son the emperor but retained power in his own hands as the Retired Emperor. He hoped that it would be more difficult to topple his son. After Wuchengdi died, Houzhu reigned until the sudden collapse of the dynasty in 576, a full 7 years. With the exception of Gao Cheng who had inherited power from his father, Gao Huan, at the beginning of the dynasty, Houzhu ’ s succession was the only successful primogenital succession in the history of the dynasty.

17 Contrasting Han and Non-Han Practices: Marriage The Chinese practiced serial monogamy with concubinage. Women were given a dowry which was inherited by her children after her death. Family property was divided after the death of the senior patriarch. The senior widow and her relatives managed the court during the rule of an underage emperor. Power at the Chinese court moved between three official forces: the emperor, the senior widow, and members of the bureaucracy. When the maternal relatives occupied senior positions in the bureaucracy, members of the bureaucracy had less power. The non-Han marriage was: –A polygynous arrangement whereby all wives or a group of senior wives had equal status,. –A widow can be taken in by another male in the family through the levirate — marriage to a brother, uncle, nephew, or son of the late husband. –Cross generational marriages were practiced. –Intermarriage with the paternal line was permitted after a given number of generations. –Women were integrated into the husband ’ s family so that they sometimes received a personal share of the husband ’ s inheritance apart from that given to the male offspring. –Since a woman was integrated into the husband ’ s family, it was difficult for her relatives to achieve power. –Once the non-Han ruled China they began to have a problem of women becoming powerful.

18 Northern Qi: Remarriages of the Imperial Women The nomadic custom of levirate was practiced and wives of one ruler would be passed to his successor: – –One of Gao Huan ’ s wives had two husbands before she married him. – –At least two of his wives remarried after his death. – –50% of the wives and concubines of Northern Qi rulers with biographies who lived long enough to remarry did so. – –75% of women with biographies as empresses remarried. – –1/3 of the women who remarried became wives of the incoming ruler -- usually a brother of the late husband. – –13% of the concubines remarried a Gao family member.

19 Women and Power: Northern Wei Women and Power: Northern Wei Marriage Policy Marriage Policy was used by the Northern Wei to prevent women and their families from achieving power. – –The Tuoba 拓拔, a clan of Xianbei 鮮卑 ethnicity, adopted the Chinese principle of primogeniture but not succession by a son of the empress. – –Almost all empresses came from the royal families of recently conquered non-Chinese states – the naming of an empress was used to capture the loyalty of recently conquered peoples. – –These women did not have influential relatives at court and were preferred as their families posed no threat to the authority of the Tuoba elite — ruler ’ s male agnates. Appointment of an empress was considered politically dangerous and not necessary and so often no empress was named.

20 Women and Power: Women and Power: Northern Wei Separation of Wife ’ s Biological and Political Roles To further prevent maternal relatives from taking power, the Tuoba tried to separate the wife ’ s biological function of producing an heir from her political role. – –Mothers of eldest sons were never named empress in their lifetimes and might be made to commit suicide after the son was named heir to the throne. – –Eldest sons were taken from their natural mothers and assigned to the care of a concubine with few influential relatives at court. – –Mothers of the heirs were often ordered to commit suicide. – –Women were chosen as empresses on the basis of their previous lack of children and their low social status. – –Empresses were named on an irregular basis and were childless. – –They did not act as titular or foster mothers to eldest sons.

21 Women and Power: Women and Power: Northern Wei The Power of Foster Mothers The Northern Wei was unable to prevent women and their allies from becoming powerful despite the law on suicide of the mothers of the heir and ensuring that the sons were brought up by foster mothers. The foster mothers, became powerful through their influence on the emperor that they had brought up. Examples: – –As Gaozong’s foster mother, Lady Chang arranged for him to marry another captive woman from the Northern Yan, Lady Feng, who would later become empress rule twice as regent. – –The naming of consort from the Feng family may have been Lady Chang’s strategies to maintain her privileged position in the harem and to protect the interests of Northern Yan.

22 Women and Power: Women and Power: Northern Wei: The Power of Foster Mothers Empress Dowager Feng Wentong ( CE), from the Northern Yan, was the wife of Gaozong who ruled the Northern Wei as regent for both her foster son and her foster grandson (r ). – –Her brother was her only close relative and she was able to share the traditional positions for relatives at court between him and members of the Chang clan. – –She kept the emperor’s maternal relatives from power. – –The sinicization of the Northern Wei was carried out under her guidance. – –She filled the key positions in her grandson’s harem with her brother’s daughters and brought his sons into the palace as his companions. – –The nephews were later married to Tuoba princesses. – –Even after Feng’s death in 490 her grandson was unable to escape her influence:   His harem was filled with her nieces.   His ministers had been chosen by her.   His eldest son had been brought up by her.

23 Women and Power: Northern Zhou The Establishment of the Sui Empress Yang Lihua 楊麗華 ( ) was the principal empress of Emperor Xuandi (r ) of the Northern Zhou ( ). Empress Yang Lihua 楊麗華 ( ) was the principal empress of Emperor Xuandi (r ) of the Northern Zhou ( ). She had married when she was 12 and her husband was 14. She had married when she was 12 and her husband was 14. The daughter of the powerful Yang Jian 楊堅 (r ) was the principal empress of The daughter of the powerful Yang Jian 楊堅 (r ) was the principal empress of Xuandi had five empresses. Xuandi had five empresses. –The fifth Empress was already married and the husband’s family was insulted and rebelled but the rebellion was crushed. He then wanted to name this woman as the principal Empress but to do so he would have to eliminate her powerful family which then successfully rebelled after Xuandi’s death in 580. He then wanted to name this woman as the principal Empress but to do so he would have to eliminate her powerful family which then successfully rebelled after Xuandi’s death in 580. Yang Jian then established the Sui dynasty ( Yang Jian then established the Sui dynasty ( ) and went on to unite all of China under the rule of a family of mixed ethnicity. 23

24 24 Women and Power: Sui Dynasty Empress Wenxian Empress Wenxian (b ), wife of the founding emperor, was from a powerful and long sinicized Xiongnu clan which had inter- married with the great families of Northern Wei for centuries; she was a literate and cultivated woman with strong political instincts. Empress Wenxian (b ), wife of the founding emperor, was from a powerful and long sinicized Xiongnu clan which had inter- married with the great families of Northern Wei for centuries; she was a literate and cultivated woman with strong political instincts. The Emperor and the Empress were very close and the palace attendants called them “ the two sage-emperors ”. The Emperor and the Empress were very close and the palace attendants called them “ the two sage-emperors ”. She would ride with him in the carriage to the audience hall and wait in side room. She would ride with him in the carriage to the audience hall and wait in side room. Her eunuchs would be inside the hall observing and reporting. Her eunuchs would be inside the hall observing and reporting. When his policy decisions seemed to be mistaken she would admonish him and when the audience was over they would go back together to their palace quarters. When his policy decisions seemed to be mistaken she would admonish him and when the audience was over they would go back together to their palace quarters.

25 25 Women and Power: Sui Dynasty Empress Wenxian (2) When she was about 50 years of age, her husband was attracted by the charms of a young woman and she secretly killed the girl. When she was about 50 years of age, her husband was attracted by the charms of a young woman and she secretly killed the girl. As she became older, she became more jealous and started prying into the lives and sexual habits of everyone including her sons. As she became older, she became more jealous and started prying into the lives and sexual habits of everyone including her sons. When the heir’s principal consort suddenly died she became very suspicious as the heir was infatuated with his favorite concubine. When the heir’s principal consort suddenly died she became very suspicious as the heir was infatuated with his favorite concubine. The second son, Yang Guang, saw an opportunity to plot his brother ’ s downfall and to become the heir. The second son, Yang Guang, saw an opportunity to plot his brother ’ s downfall and to become the heir. He and his supporters made up evidence to mislead the suspicious empress and so the heir was deposed and he was named heir. He and his supporters made up evidence to mislead the suspicious empress and so the heir was deposed and he was named heir. After her death, the emperor lost interest in government and handed over the management of state affairs to Yang Guang. After her death, the emperor lost interest in government and handed over the management of state affairs to Yang Guang. Yang Guang became Emperor Yangdi 隋煬帝 ( ). Yang Guang became Emperor Yangdi 隋煬帝 ( ).

26 26 : Tang Dynasty The Usurpation of Empress Wu Women and Power: Tang Dynasty The Usurpation of Empress Wu The most famous powerful woman in Chinese history was Wu Zetian, the only woman who ruled as emperor of China for 15 years (r ). The most famous powerful woman in Chinese history was Wu Zetian, the only woman who ruled as emperor of China for 15 years (r ). She had helped her husband administer the empire as he was ill. She had helped her husband administer the empire as he was ill. She increasingly assumed more power and got rid of her two of her sons then became the regent for her third son. She increasingly assumed more power and got rid of her two of her sons then became the regent for her third son. A few months later, she exiled him and became regent for the fourth son, Ruizong 睿宗 (r ; ). A few months later, she exiled him and became regent for the fourth son, Ruizong 睿宗 (r ; ). In 690, she made Ruizong abdicate and she proclaimed herself emperor of a new dynasty, the Zhou dynasty ( ). In 690, she made Ruizong abdicate and she proclaimed herself emperor of a new dynasty, the Zhou dynasty ( ). When she was 80 years old, she finally recalled her third son, Zhongzong (r ). When she was 80 years old, she finally recalled her third son, Zhongzong (r ).

27 : Women and Power: Tang Dynasty: Yang Guifei and the An Lushan Rebellion Emperor Xuanzong fell in love with Yang ( ) who was married to his son, Li Mao ( 李瑁 ). The Emperor arranged for her to become a Daoist nun inside the palace and gave the daughter of the general Wei Zhaoxun ( 韋昭訓 ) to Li Mao as his new wife and princess. He officially made Yang an imperial consort -- with the newly created highest rank of Noble Consort Guifei. – –Statue in Sian

28 : Women and Power: Tang Dynasty: Yang Guifei and the An Lushan Rebellion (2) When the important military commander, jiedushi, An Lushan arrived at the capital to meet Emperor Xuanzong, Emperor Xuanzong had An honor Yang as mother with free access into the palace and it was rumored that he and Yang were having an affair. An Lushan was later provoked into rebelling when his staff members in the capital were arrested and executed. When An and his forces were marching to the capital (756) the Emperor, Consort Yang, her family, and his immediate clan members, headed toward Chengdu. When the soldiers complained that they were not being fed, they surrounded the Emperor’s pavilion, and urged that Yang be put to death as they felt that it was her family that caused this trouble. The Emperor was forced to have Yang taken to a Buddhist shrine and strangled.

29 2015/4/24 29 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Marriage Patterns Manchu marriages with Mongol nobles increased as the Qing armies expanded into central Asia in the late 17C and early 18C. Manchu marriages with Mongol nobles increased as the Qing armies expanded into central Asia in the late 17C and early 18C. –25% of empresses, 16% of princes’ wives, and 55% of princesses’ spouses were Mongol. Empresses and principal wives of princes and husbands of princesses came from a small number of favored houses. Empresses and principal wives of princes and husbands of princesses came from a small number of favored houses. –Of the 641 Manchu clans, only 31 were favored with marriage.  The number of empresses and concubines, important enough to have biographies, ranged from Kangxi with 40 to Guangxu with only 3 – Kangxi lived a long life and Guangxu did not.

30 2015/4/24 30 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Marriage Patterns (2) For political purposes, the early Manchu emperors took wives descended from the descendants of Genghis Khan, so that their descendants would also be seen as legitimate heirs of the Mongolian Yuan dynasty. For political purposes, the early Manchu emperors took wives descended from the descendants of Genghis Khan, so that their descendants would also be seen as legitimate heirs of the Mongolian Yuan dynasty. –The imperial family only married with banner families. –All Manchu, not only the imperial family, were forbidden to marry Han Chinese who were not in the Eight Banners.  Any who disobeyed this rule would be punished and their offsprings expelled from the lineage.  Han Chinese, not in the banners, could be taken in as concubines.

31 2015/4/24 31 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty: Recruitment of Palace Women Recruitment of women into the palace was done every three years through drafting of daughters of officials in the banners. Recruitment of women into the palace was done every three years through drafting of daughters of officials in the banners. –Except for certain individuals, every girl, between the ages of 13 to 14 sui. had to appear in Beijing for consideration before her marriage. –After 1653, young girls between had to be presented to the palace in Beijing before they could be betrothed.  Those who caught the emperor’s eye would be selected for the harem.  Some were be chosen to be wives for the princes, others served in the palace for a five-year term. Palace maids selected through a separate draft could be promoted into the harem – 16% became imperial consorts. Palace maids selected through a separate draft could be promoted into the harem – 16% became imperial consorts.

32 2015/4/24 32 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Imperial Women The influence of imperial women was feared by the Manchu. The influence of imperial women was feared by the Manchu. –In the struggle for power, Nurhaci’s senior widow, Abahai, was forced to commit suicide and was buried with her husband. –Huang Taiji might have been acceptable as his mother had died by the time he became the leader of the Manchu and there would be no strong maternal influence during his rule. –The mother of Yongzhen emperor was separated from her son soon after his birth, so Yongzhen was raised by another imperial woman (d.1689) who was of noble ancestry and whose only daughter had died.  Yongzhen was very close to his foster mother.

33 2015/4/24 33 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Imperial Women (2) To prevent palace women and their families from power, palace regulations made it almost impossible for an imperial consort to remain close to her natal kin. To prevent palace women and their families from power, palace regulations made it almost impossible for an imperial consort to remain close to her natal kin. –Visits home were rare and demanded that her parents and grandparents kneel before her. –Imperial permission was needed for meetings with parents – when a woman was pregnant or when her parents were elderly. –Special permission was needed for them to send servants to their family homes as messengers. –They were forbidden to give or receive gifts from family members. Motherhood usually brought promotion to the woman but the title of Empress Dowager was usually conferred upon her by her son should he become emperor. Motherhood usually brought promotion to the woman but the title of Empress Dowager was usually conferred upon her by her son should he become emperor.

34 2015/4/24 34 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Imperial Women (3) The women who survived the power struggles became very influential: The women who survived the power struggles became very influential: –After the death of Huang Taiji (1643), the mother of the infant (Fulin: Shunzi), who was descended from Genghis khan became very important. –She allied herself with prominent Manchu nobles who were not imperial kinsmen but had been active in the conquest. –She brought up her grandson, the future Kangxi emperor, and helped him get rid of the regent, Oboi, and rule in his own right. –Her political role during her son’s infancy and the regency of her grandson could be compared with that of Empress Dowager Cixi who dominated the last 50 years of the dynasty.

35 2015/4/24 35 Women and Power: Qing Dynasty Imperial Women (4) Two regents, Cian ( ) and Cixi ( ), dominated the final years of the Qing and ruled together after the death of Emperor Xianfeng together with the emperor’s half-brothers. Two regents, Cian ( ) and Cixi ( ), dominated the final years of the Qing and ruled together after the death of Emperor Xianfeng together with the emperor’s half-brothers. –Cian was the daughter of a Duke and was the empress of Xianfeng emperor (r ). –She became a regent as she was the former empress. –She had been named empress at the age of 16. –She had no sons and so the 6 year-old son of a concubine (Cixi) succeeded to the throne as Emperor Tongzhi ( ). –Cixci, Xianfeng’s concubine, became regent as she was the biological mother of empeor Tongzhi.  As Empress Dowager, Cixi was de facto ruler during the last years of the Qing dynasty.

36 Women and Power Discussion Question: Discussion Question: –Were non-Han women able to achieve the same level of political power as Han women? 36

37 Women in the Chinese Military Reading: Young, Helen Praeger, Choosing Revolution: Chinese Women on the Long March, “Introduction” and “Conclusion”.


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