Empress Xiaoshengxian

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Empress Xiaoshengxian
Empress Dowager Chongqing at the Age of Sixty, probably by Giuseppe Castiglione and court painters in Beijing, China, Qianlong period, c. 1751 AD, ink and color on silk - Peabody Essex Museum - DSC07995.jpg
Empress dowager of Qing
Tenure8 October 1735 – 2 March 1777
PredecessorEmpress Xiaogongren
SuccessorEmpress Xiaoherui
Born(1692-01-12)12 January 1692
(康熙三十年 十一月 二十五日)
Died2 March 1777(1777-03-02) (aged 85)
(乾隆四十二年 正月 二十三日)
Changchun Xianguan, Old Summer Palace
Tai Mausoleum, Western Qing tombs
Yongzheng Emperor
(m. 1704; died 1735)
IssueQianlong Emperor
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaosheng Cixuan Kanghui Dunhe Chenghui Renmu Jingtian Guangsheng Xian
HouseNiohuru (鈕祜祿; by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
Empress Xiaoshengxian
Traditional Chinese孝聖憲皇后
Simplified Chinese孝圣宪皇后

Empress Xiaoshengxian (12 January 1692 – 2 March 1777), of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Niohuru clan, was a consort of the Yongzheng Emperor. She was 14 years his junior.


Family background[edit]

Empress Xiaoshengxian's personal name was unknown and not been recorded in history, she was born to the upper class Niuhuru clan in Peking.

  • Father: Niuhuru Yuandao (凌柱; 1664–1754), served as a fourth rank military official (四品典儀), and held the title of a first class duke (一等公)
  • Mother: Lady Tatara Meixian (1680-1765), was titled ‘Madame of Gaoming’ by Emperor Kangxi personally.
    • Paternal grandfather: Wulu (吳祿), Eidu's cousin once removed
  • Four brothers

Kangxi era[edit]

The future Empress Xiaoshengxian was born on the 25th day of the 11th lunar month in the 30th year of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, which translates to 12 January 1692 in the Gregorian calendar.

In 1704, Lady Niohuru became a secondary concubine of Yinzhen, the fourth son of the Kangxi Emperor. On 25 September 1711, she gave birth to his fourth son, Hongli.

Yongzheng era[edit]

The Kangxi Emperor died on 20 December 1722 and was succeeded by Yinzhen, who was enthroned as the Yongzheng Emperor. On 28 March 1723, Lady Niohuru was granted the title "Consort Xi". In 1730, she was elevated to "Noble Consort Xi"; when the Yongzheng Emperor's empress consort, Empress Xiaojingxian, died on 29 October 1731, Lady Niohuru was placed in charge of the emperor's harem, making her a de facto Empress.

Qianlong era[edit]

The Yongzheng Emperor died on 8 October 1735 and was succeeded by Hongli, who was enthroned as the Qianlong Emperor; as the birth mother of the reigning emperor, Lady Niohuru was honoured as (the) "Divine Mother Empress Dowager Chongqing".

The Qianlong Emperor held his mother in high regard and often consulted her for advice; some believe that she may have been behind the emperor's ill-fated selection of Lady Hoifa Nara to be his second empress consort.[1] The Qianlong Emperor often visited his mother. Lady Niohuru also always accompanied her son on his excursions to Shenyang and the Yangtze River Delta.[2] In her old age, when Lady Niohuru was no longer fit to travel, the Qianlong Emperor stopped all his trips and only resumed them after her death.

Lady Niohuru's 60th birthday was lavishly celebrated; the Qianlong Emperor ordered the roads decorated from Beijing to the Summer Palace,[3] Chinese poems were read in her honour and sacrifices were made to the gods by the emperor and the entire imperial court. In her honour, the emperor also ordered the dredging of a lake at the Garden of Clear Ripples, which he named Kunming Lake, as well as renovated buildings on the lake shore.[4]

Lady Niohuru died on 2 March 1777, she was interred in a separate tomb in the Tai Mausoleum of the Western Qing tombs.


  • During the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722):
    • Lady Niohuru (from 12 January 1692)
    • Mistress (from 1704)
  • During the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722–1735):
    • Consort Xi (熹妃; from 28 March 1723[5]), fourth rank consort
    • Noble Consort Xi (熹貴妃; from 1730), third rank consort
  • During the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796):
    • Empress Dowager Chongqing (崇慶皇太后; from 8 October 1735[6])
    • Empress Xiaoshengxian (孝聖憲皇后; from 1777)


  • As a mistress:
    • Hongli (弘曆; 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799), the Yongzheng Emperor's fifth (fourth) son, enthroned on 18 October 1735 as the Qianlong Emperor


In fiction and popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 168.
  2. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 168.
  3. ^ Ho & Bronson (2004), p. 169.
  4. ^ Rawski (1998), pp. 23-24.
  5. ^ 雍正元年 二月 二十二日
  6. ^ 雍正十三年 八月 二十三日


  • Ho, Chuimei; Bronson, Bennet (2004). Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong (Illustrated ed.). Merrell. ISBN 1858942039.
  • Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998). The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 052092679X.
  • Rawski, Evelyn S.; Rawson, Jessica (2006). China: The Three Emperors 1662-1795. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 1903973694.
  • Wan, Yi; Shuqing, Wang; Yanzhen, Lu; Scott, Rosemary E. (1988). Daily Life in the Forbidden City: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912 (Illustrated ed.). Viking. ISBN 0670811645.
  • Zhao, Erxun (1928). Draft History of Qing (Qing Shi Gao) (in Chinese).
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaojingxian
Empress of China
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaoxianchun
Preceded by
Empress Xiaogongren
Empress Dowager of China
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaoherui