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Preface List of Illustrations Prologue: After Wu Zetian Royal Courts, Polygamy, and the Women’s Quarters The Polyandrous Empress From the Song to the Qing, the Last One Thousand Years Women Rulers in Other Parts of Eurasia, Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries Part 1: The Song, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties, 960–1368Chapter 1: The Song Dynasty No Calamitous Women Trends in Masculinity and Femininity in the Song The Six Bureaus of the Women’s Service Organization and the Titles of Consorts The Northern Song, 960–1127The Legend of Lady Huarui, Who Tried to Poison Taizu A Different Way of Recording Wives The Rise of Empress Dowager Liu, Former Entertainer The Curtained Divide A Hidden Mother An Empress Deposed for Fighting with a Consort An Heir Apparent Who Tried to Run Away and an Empress-regent Who Refused to Step Down Great Empress Dowager Gao, “a Yao and Shun among Women”In Twenty Years of Marriage, the Emperor and Empress Never Had a Fight A Deposed Empress Becomes a Heroine during the Fall of the Northern Song Emperor Huizong, Prolific Polygamist and Patron of the Arts Empress Zheng Accompanies the Emperor into Captivity, Gaozong’s Mother Returns A Celestial Consort and a Courtesan Lover The Southern Song, 1127–1279Connoisseurs and Collectors of Art, Empress Wu and Honored Consort Liu Wearing Clothing for Years at a Time The Atrocities of Empress Li An Actress Becomes Empress Empress Xie Dissuades the Emperor from Moving the Capital Thirty Women in One Night Conclusion: The Role of the Empress in the Song Chapter 2: The Jin and Yuan Dynasties, 1115–1368The Jin Dynasty, 1115–1234Hailing, Stealer of Wives His Stepmother Criticizes His Plan to Conquer the Song“He Became Poisoned with Lust and Infatuation”Asking a Woman to Kill Her Husband How Could Anyone Give Greater Pleasure?Having Sex to Music His Male Favorites, a Eunuch and a Storyteller A Ming Dynasty Story about Hailing and his Wanton Women She Killed Herself Rather Than Submit The Heir Apparent Marries a Smart Female Student An Heir Apparent Whipped by His Mother A Homily on Womanly Virtue The Yuan Dynasty, 1271–1368The Exaltation of Widow Chastity Female Self-sacrifice Mothers Promoting Their Sons Sorghaghtani, Khubilai’s Mother Chabi and the Wives of Khubilai Khan Powerful Women in Later Reigns The Korean Empress Promotes Her Son against His Father The Yuan Transition Part 2: The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644Chapter 3: From Founder to 1505No Woman Regents Zhu Yuanzhang, from the Bottom of Society Zhu’s Ancestral Injunctions The Ranking and Organization of Ming Palace Women Eunuchs in the Ming Empress Ma, Who Wore Much Laundered Clothing Modifying Ritual Tradition to Mourn a Favorite Empress Xu’s Household Instructions and Executions in the Inner Palace Empress Zhang, Unofficial Regent Deposing His Sonless Empress The Investiture of Empress Sun A Makeshift Regency An Empress Deposed and Re-enthroned An Interim Empress A Nursemaid Becomes a Favorite Concubine Birth Mother versus Sonless Empress Honored Consort Wan A Chance Mother and a Secret Son Discovering His Dead Father’s Sex Manual Chapter 4: Three Intemperate Rulers, 1506–1572An Emperor Who Liked to Roam No More Keeping Track of Visitations Men Who “Slept and Rose with the Emperor”Stolen Women and Muslim Dancers An Emperor Whose Palace Women Tried to Kill Him The Emperor’s Mother Demands Respect Deposed Empress Chen’s Jealousy and Miscarriage The Emperor Reflects on His Libido Strangled by His Consorts Recruiting Virgins for Immortality“Do Not Pursue Desires without End.”The Debate about How to Mourn His Mother The Empress Criticizes His Indulgence in Music and Women Chapter 5: The Last Ming Emperors, 1573–1644A Stern Mother and a Meddling Consort“You Were Also Born of a Palace Maid!”The Empress, the Favorite, and the Mother of the Heir Apparent“Consort Zheng Takes Good Care of Me”The Princess’s Husband Suffers a Beating The Man with a Club The Emperor and His Eunuchs A Eunuch and a Wet Nurse“The Calamity of Wu Zetian Is Again Before Us”The Eunuch Dictator Wet Nurse and Lifelong Companion The Selection of Empress Zhang Plotting against the Empress Fictional Stories about Wei Zhongxian Ordering His Empress to Commit Suicide The Frugal Last Empress and a Consort Who Redesigned Palace Lamps The Last Days of the Ming Palace Conclusion: Giving Reign to Imperial Will Part 3: The Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911Chapter 6: The Founding of the Qing, 1636–1722The Manchu Social System and the Imperial Family The Banner System, Succession, and Marriage Practices Ranking and Recruitment of Wives Bondservants, the Imperial Household Department, and Eunuchs Two grief-stricken emperors Hong Taiji Marries the Wives of His Enemy Bumbutai, Consort-mother and Dowager The Emperor Grieves for a Consort Fifty-four Wives, Fifty-six Children, and No Chaos in the Lateral Courts Advice to His Sons: “Do Not Stand under a Tree When There is Lightening”Overlapping Favorites and a Preference for Han Women Giving the Ladies a Fright Death and Burial Chapter 7: From Yongzheng to Xianfeng (1722–1861)Diligent Emperor or Evil Usurper The Prince Drinks Deer Blood and Begets His Successor Killed by a Swordswoman, or by “Cinnabar Drugs”No Female Favorites, But a Male One A Wife Who Made Him a Flint Pouch The Empress Who Shaved Her Head The Turkic Muslim Consort His Male Favorite The Last Emperors before the Dowager, 1796–1861The Jiaqing Emperor’s Wives in Fiction and Television The Daoguang Emperor Demotes His Consorts The Husband of the Last Woman Ruler Chapter 8: Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908)China’s Last Woman Ruler Writing about the Empress Dowager The Dowager and Her Co-rulers The Emperor’s Incognito Outings The Death of Empress Jiashun The Dowager and Her Eunuchs The Guangxu Emperor, His Empress, and Favorite Concubine The Mystery of the Pearl Concubine’s Death Reminiscences of Those Who Served Her No Shadows on Her Face: the Dowager in Paintings, Photos, and Biographies The Dowager as Goddess“The Very Embodiment of the Eternal Feminine”“May Health Be with You, Imperial Father”Fiction and Legends about Dowager Cixi Delivered to the Emperor Naked Her Intimacy with Eunuchs Li Lianying, the “Arch Villain”The Dowager in a 1916 Novel Conclusion: The Lack of Good Sons The Neutralization of the Position of Empress The Lack of Good Sons Chapter 9: Conclusion to Part 3Defining the Woman Ruler Bedding Arrangements for the Emperor Pretending There Would Be No Woman Ruler Appendix Selected Bibliography
This volume completes Keith Mc Mahon’s acclaimed history of imperial wives and royal polygamy in China. Avoiding the stereotype of the emperor’s plural wives as mere victims or playthings, the book considers empresses and concubines as full-fledged participants in palace life, whether as mothers, wives, or go-betweens in the emperor’s relations with others in the palace. Although restrictions on women’s participation in politics increased dramatically after Empress Wu in the Tang, the author follows the strong and active women, of both high and low rank, who continued to appear. They counseled emperors, ghostwrote for them, oversaw succession when they died, and dominated them when they were weak. They influenced the emperor’s relationships with other women and enhanced their aura and that of the royal house with their acts of artistic and religious patronage. Dynastic history ended in China when the prohibition that women should not rule was defied for the final time by Dowager Cixi, the last great monarch before China’s transformation into a republic.
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