Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang

Empress Xiaozhuangwen (Manchu: Hiyoošungga Ambalinggū Genggiyenšu Hūwanghu; 28 March 1613 – 27 January 1688), better known as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, was a concubine of the qing dynasty ruler Hong Taiji. She was the mother of Hong Taiji's successor, the Shunzhi Emperor, and grandmother of Shunzhi's successor, the Kangxi Emperor. She wielded significant influence in the Qing imperial court during the reigns of her son and grandson. Known for her wisdom and political insight, Empress Xiaozhuangwen is a respected figure in the history of the qing dynasty.


Empress Xiaozhuangwen was born of the Mongol Borjigit clan. Her father Jaisang (寨桑), a beile of the khorchin mongols, was a descendant of Hasar, a younger brother of Genghis Khan. Although her personal name was "Bumbutai" (Chinese: 布木布泰; pinyin: Bùmùbùtài), she is also referred to as "Dayu'er" (Chinese: 大玉儿; pinyin: Dàyùěr; literally "Great Jade"), although it is unclear whether it is simply a product of folktales, or is, in fact, a name used by Empress Xiaozhuangwen herself.

Bumbutai became Hong Taiji's concubine in 1625 when she was 12 years old. She bore Hong Taiji three daughters and a son, Fulin. Her aunt Jere was Hong Taiji's empress consort, and she also became an empress dowager after Hong Taiji's death.

Hong Taiji did not leave behind a will after his death in 1643, and this resulted in a struggle for succession among his brothers and eldest son, Hooge. Daišan and Dorgon, Hong Taiji's brothers, agreed that Fulin should be the successor, and they pledged to serve Fulin with absolute loyalty. Fulin ascended to the throne as the Shunzhi Emperor. Hooge was not pleased with this arrangement and argued that he should be the rightful successor because he was the eldest son. Hooge was eventually put under house arrest by Dorgon and died during his confinement.

Dorgon became regent and was in charge of making decisions for the Shunzhi Emperor because the latter was still young. The relationship between Dorgon and the Shunzhi Emperor has been a topic for discussion among historians. When Dorgon died in 1650, Shunzhi posthumously stripped him off his titles and had Dorgon's corpse mutilated. It is believed, but not historically verified, that Bumbutai married Dorgon after Hong Taiji's death, since levirate marriage was a common practice among Mongols then. This was considered to be a reason as to why Dorgon and his brother Dodo were posthumously stripped off their titles of nobility.

Bumbutai kept a low profile during the reign of her son, the Shunzhi Emperor, and had little interference in politics. Shunzhi died in 1661 and was succeeded by his son Xuanye, who became known as the Kangxi Emperor. Bumbutai advised her grandson to learn from the Four Regents (appointed by the Shunzhi Emperor before his death to aid the Kangxi Emperor). She also took charge of the Kangxi Emperor's upbringing after the death of the emperor's mother. When the Kangxi Emperor came to of age and officially took personal control of the government in 1667, he faced the threat of the growing influence of Oboi, one of the Four Regents. Two years later, Bumbutai assisted her grandson in making plans to get rid of Oboi — Oboi was lured into a trap, placed under arrest, and stripped off his power.

Throughout her life, Bumbutai disliked living in the palace despite its luxurious conditions. She also refused to hold any birthday celebrations as she felt that it would be costly.

When Bumbutai fell sick in the autumn of 1687, the Kangxi Emperor personally took care of his grandmother. Bumbutai died a year later in 1688 and was interred in the Zhaoling Mausoleum in Shenyang, Liaoning .

Personal information


Bodedalai (博地達賚), beile.


Namusai (納穆塞), beile.


Manggusi (莽古斯), beile, posthumously honoured as "Prince Fu of the First Rank" (福親王).


Jaisang (寨桑), beile, posthumously honoured as "Prince Zhong of the First Rank" (忠親王).


Lady Mou (某氏), posthumously honoured as "Consort Xian" (賢妃).


Empress Xiaoduanwen, Jaisang's full sister, Empress Consort of Hong Taiji.


Wukeshan (吳克善), older brother.

Harjol, older sister, Hong Taiji's concubine.


Hong Taiji, married in 1625.


Fulin, succeeded Hong Taiji as the Shunzhi Emperor in 1643.

Yatu, Kurun Princess Yongmu (固伦雍穆公主雅图; 1629-1678)

Atu, Kurun Princess Shuhui (固伦淑慧公主阿图; 1632-1700)

Kurun Princess Duanxian (固伦端献公主; 1633-1648)

Last update 24-04-2012

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