Empress Xiaoherui

Empress Xiaoherui (1776 - 23 January 1850) was the second Empress Consort of the Jiaqing Emperor of the qing dynasty.


Empress Xiaoherui was born in the Manchu Niuhuru clan. She was the daughter of Gong'ala (恭阿拉), who served as Minister of Rites during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Her brother was Duke Hoshitai.

Lady Niuhuru entered the Forbidden City in an unknown year, and was married as a secondary wife to Yongyan, the 15th son of the Qianlong Emperor. In 1793 she gave birth to a daughter. She also bore Yongyan two sons - Miankai and Mianxin. In 1796 the Qianlong Emperor abdicated and became Retired Emperor, and Yongyan succeeded him as the Jiaqing Emperor. Lady Niuhuru, as Jiaqing's secondary wife, was granted the title of Noble Consort (貴妃). When Jiaqing's first wife Empress Xiaoshurui died of illness after being Empress for only a year, Lady Niuhuru was placed in charge of the emperor's concubines and promoted to the rank of Imperial Noble Consort (皇貴妃). The Jiaqing Emperor wanted to instate Lady Niuhuru as his new Empress but had to wait until the mourning period for Empress Xiaoshurui was over. In 1799 the Retired Emperor (Qianlong Emperor) died so Lady Niuhuru's promotion to Empress was delayed until 1801.

Lady Niuhuru was in charge of the upbringing of Minning, the second son of Empress Xiaoshurui. She took care of Minning and treated him well, and they shared a close and harmonious relationship. When the Jiaqing Emperor died in 1820 before he appointed his crown prince, the decision on the succession was left to Lady Niuhuru, who had become Empress Dowager then. Lady Niuhuru proclaimed Minning as the successor to the throne before an official imperial edict was issued. She ordered her servants to deliver the message to Minning, who was away in Chengde at that time. Minning rushed back to the capital Beijing and ascended to the throne as the Daoguang Emperor. Daoguang was extremely pleased with Lady Niuhuru's decision to appoint him as the successor, claiming that she was broad-minded because she did not misuse her power to name her own sons as the successor. The Daoguang Emperor granted Lady Niuhuru the title of Empress Dowager Gongci (恭慈皇太后). Empress Dowager Gongci moved to the Forbidden City's Palace of Longevity and Health, which was traditionally a residence of the emperor's mother.

In 1853 Empress Dowager Gongci celebrated her 60th birthday. The Daoguang Emperor donned his formal court regalia for the occasion. He first went to the Hall of Central Harmony, where he read a memorial for the empress dowager to wish her well. He then mounted a cart and rode through the right Wing Gate to the left Gate of Eternal Health, where he disembarked. Carrying the memorial in his hands, Daoguang was attended by all the nobles and high ranking officials. After the emperor delivered his message and birthday gifts, the retinue jointly presented Empress Dowager Gongci with a court scepter.

On 10 April 1838 Empress Dowager Gongci and the Daoguang Emperor visited the western qing Tombs for 13 days.

Empress Dowager Gongci died in the 12th lunar month of the 29th year of the Daoguang Emperor's reign, which roughly translates to January 1850 in the Gregorian calendar. She was posthumously granted the title of Empress Xiaoherui, and was interred in a separate tomb near the Changling Mausoleum in the western qing Tombs.


Miankai, Prince Chunke of the First Rank (惇恪親王綿愷; 1795–1838), the Jiaqing Emperor's third son, married the daughter of Fuqing (福庆)

Mianxin, Prince Duanhuai of the First Rank (瑞懷親王綿忻; 1805–1828), the Jiaqing Emperor's fourth son

Daughter (1793–1795), name unknown, the Jiaqing Emperor's seventh daughter

Last update 08-05-2012

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