Empress Dowager Cixi: The Imperial Woman

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1. Introduction The life of Empress Dowager Cixi is an enigma, shrouded with mystery and rumors. Her life was not “filled with Florentine intrigues and Viennese frivolity, because the truth is melancholy...” (Seagrave 52), she was oppressed even though she held the kingdom’s power. The past hundred y2ears of history have been largely unfair to Cixi, having been labelled as a devious despot who used much of the kingdom’s money for her own self-indulgence. The Imperial Woman is often blamed for the fall of the Qing Dynasty, failing to implement successful reforms to save China from the ‘foreign devils’(Chang 89). However, what her critiques failed to realize was that the problems that China faced did not originate from Cixi and that before she…show more content…
Rumors of Christians kidnapping and eating children were very popular, and it was not long till riots broke out. The Chinese officials did nothing to help, often encouraging these bitterness and resentment. This was because “the arrival of missionaries, backed up by gunboats, introduced a new form of authority into society” (Spence 136). Despite this, Cixi had always dealt incidents with the Christians reasonably, her policy “has always been to ‘deal with them fairly’: chi-ping-ban-li. She did not believe the ‘child-eating’ rumor” (Chang 92). She arrested the rioters, protected the missionaries and put a stop to the ridiculous fabrications. This showed that Cixi was indeed trying to repair China’s relations with the foreign powers. With Cixi leading, China was able to change the foreigner’s perception of their country and build a stronger bond. Charles Denby7 wrote of Cixi’s ‘splendid reputation’ (Denby 241) among the Westerners and of her many accomplishments. He observed that their relations have improved, their relationship being ‘tranquil and satisfactory’ (Denby 245). Cixi had successfully brought China out of its own confinement by conciliating with the…show more content…
The educational reforms were meant to modernize the thinking of the new generations, with the abolition of the old examinations students were trained to think about China’s future instead of their history. Cixi also revolutionized China’s legal system, it was modeled after the Western’s legal structure while maintaining their own traditional values. In 1905, the death sentence ‘death by a thousand cuts’ was abolished as well as torture during interrogation. Cixi loathed torture and made a point to fully eradicate it. Revision of regulations on the tribute rice, and promotion of railway construction An order for drafting a commercial

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