Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang

Empress Xiaozhuangwen
Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure 1643–1662
Successor Empress Xiaohuizhang
Grand Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty
Tenure 1662–1688
Successor Empress Xiaoqinxian
Born (1613-03-28)28 March 1613
Died 27 January 1688(1688-01-27) (aged 74)
Beijing, China
Burial Zhaoling Mausoleum, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
Spouse Hong Taiji
Issue Gurun Princess Yongmu
Gurun Princess Shuhui
Gurun Princess Duanxian
Fulin, the Shunzhi Emperor
Full name
Borjigit Bumbutai
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaozhuang Renxuan Chengxian Gongyi Zhide Chunhui Yitian Qisheng Wen
House Borjigin (by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
Father Jaisang
Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Traditional Chinese 孝莊太后
Simplified Chinese 孝庄太后
Empress Xiaozhuangwen
Traditional Chinese 孝莊文皇后
Simplified Chinese 孝庄文皇后

Empress Xiaozhuangwen (Manchu: ᡥᡳᠶᠣᠣᡧᡠᠩᡤᠠ ᠠᠮᠪᠠᠯᡳᠩᡤᡡ ᡤᡝᠩᡤᡳᠶᡝᠨ ᡧᡠ ᡥᡡᠸᠠᠩᡥᡝᠣ Hiyoošungga Ambalinggū Genggiyenšu Hūwanghu; 28 March 1613 – 27 January 1688), personal name Bumbutai (Manchu: ᠪᡠᠮᠪᡠᡨᠠᡳ), better known as Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, was a consort of Hong Taiji, the second ruler of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. Born in the Mongol Borjigit clan, she was the mother of the Shunzhi Emperor and grandmother of the Kangxi Emperor. As Empress Dowager and Grand Empress Dowager during the reigns of her son and grandson respectively, she had significant influence in the Qing imperial court and was highly respected for her political wisdom and insight. Although she never held the rank of Empress during Hong Taiji's reign, she was eventually posthumously honoured as an Empress.


Portrait of Bumbutai painted sometime between 1636 and 1643, when she was still known as Consort Zhuang.
Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang

Bumbutai was a Khorchin Mongol by birth and was from the Borjigit clan, the clan of Genghis Khan. Her father, Jaisang (寨桑), was a beile of the Khorchin Mongols and a descendant of Qasar, a younger brother of Genghis Khan.

Bumbutai became a concubine of Hong Taiji, the ruler of the Later Jin dynasty, in 1625 and held the rank of a side chamber consort (側室福晉). In 1636, Hong Taiji renamed the Later Jin dynasty to "Qing dynasty" and granted titles to his consorts. Bumbutai's aunt Jerjer, who was Hong Taiji's primary consort, became Empress. Bumbutai received the title "Consort Zhuang" (莊妃) and was given Yongfu Palace (永福宫) as her residence. She bore Hong Taiji three daughters and a son between 1629 and 1638.

Hong Taiji died in 1643 and was succeeded by Fulin, then six years old. Fulin was enthroned as the Shunzhi Emperor. In 1646, Bumbutai, as the mother of the reigning emperor, was honoured with the title "Holy Mother, Empress Dowager" (聖母皇太后). Her aunt Jerjer, as the empress consort of the previous emperor, was similarly honoured as "Mother Empress, Empress Dowager" (母后皇太后). Hong Taiji's 14th brother, Dorgon, was appointed as Prince-Regent to rule on behalf of the Shunzhi Emperor until the emperor was old enough to begin personal rule. After Dorgon died in 1650, the Shunzhi Emperor posthumously stripped him of his princely title and had his dead body exhumed and mutilated. It is believed – though not supported by historical evidence – that Bumbutai secretly married Dorgon after Hong Taiji's death, since levirate marriage was common among Mongols.

Bumbutai kept a low profile during the reign of her son and had little interference in politics. The Shunzhi Emperor died in 1661 and was succeeded by his third son Xuanye, who was enthroned as the Kangxi Emperor. As the grandmother of the reigning emperor, Bumbutai was honoured as Grand Empress Dowager. Since the Kangxi Emperor was underage at the time, four regents (appointed by his father) ruled on his behalf until he was old enough to begin personal rule. During this time, Bumbutai advised her grandson to learn from the regents and took charge of his upbringing after the emperor's mother died.

When the Kangxi Emperor grew up and started personal rule in 1667, he felt threatened by the strong 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 removed from 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.[1] She died in 1688 and was interred in the Zhaoling Mausoleum in Shenyang, Liaoning.


Bumbutai bore Hong Taiji three daughters and a son.

Modern references



See also


  1. Peterson (2000), p. 328.
  2. Qing Shi Gao vol. 166.


Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaoduanwen
Empress Dowager of China
1646 – January 27, 1688
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaokangzhang
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