Oil painting by Hubert Vos (1905)
Foochow arsenal
Foochow arsenal
An early portrait of the Consort Dowager Kangci, foster mother of the Xianfeng Emperor. She hosted the selection of the Xianfeng Emperor's consorts in 1851, in which Cixi participated as a potential candidate.
Feng Guifen, coiner of the phrase
Commissioner Lin Zexu
The Pavilion of Beautiful Scenery, where Cixi gave birth to the Tongzhi Emperor
Photo of a 27-year-old Prince Gong.
Portrait of Empress Dowager Ci'an (co-regent with Cixi), with whom Cixi staged the Xinyou Coup.
Front gate of the Zongli Yamen, the de facto foreign affairs ministry.
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Nanjing Jinling Arsenal (金陵造局), built by Li Hongzhang in 1865.
Photograph of Princess Rongshou (center seated), Prince Gong's daughter. As a way to show gratitude to the prince, Cixi adopted his daughter and elevated her to a first rank princess (the highest rank for imperial princesses).
The Fuzhou Arsenal in Mawei District, Fuzhou, Fujian.
Ceremonial headdress likely worn by Cixi. The small phoenixes emerging from the surface represent the empress. The Walters Art Museum
Chinese warship Yangwu, built at the Fuzhou Arsenal in 1872.
Portrait of Empress Xiaozheyi, also known as the Jiashun Empress and "Lady Arute", who had the approval of Empress Dowager Ci'an but never Cixi's. It is widely speculated that the Empress was pregnant with the Tongzhi Emperor's child and that Cixi orchestrated the empress's demise.
Builder of the Fuzhou Arsenal, Prosper Giquel
Portrait of the Tongzhi Emperor doing his coursework. Cixi's high expectations of him may have contributed to his strong distaste for learning.
"Chinese Gordon"
Empress Dowager Cixi (front middle) poses with her court attendants and the Guangxu Emperor's empress (second from left), who was also her niece
Chinese Qing officers with a Montigny mitrailleuse.
Empress Dowager Cixi holds hands with the fourth daughter of Prince Qing (to her left) and chief palace eunuch Li Lianying (to her right). The lady standing in the background is Consort Jin (later Dowager Consort Duankang).
Premier Li Hongzhang with former President Ulysses S. Grant, 1879
Consort Zhen, the Guangxu Emperor's most beloved consort, was initially liked, but eventually hated by Cixi.
Chinese fortifications, Sino-Vietnamese border
Empress Dowager Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor holding court, drawing by Katharine Carl
Gun transportation at Shanghai Jiangnan Arsenal (上海江南製造兵工廠).
Empress Dowager Cixi and women of the American legation. Holding her hand is Sarah Conger, the wife of U.S. Ambassador Edwin H. Conger.
Zuo Zongtang, 1875
Empress Dowager Cixi, by Katharine Carl, 1904, commissioned by the Empress Dowager Cixi for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair) and later given to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, transferred to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art collections and later the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.
Minister of Transport Sheng Xuanhuai
Entrance to the burial chamber in Cixi's tomb
Memorial tower of the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi
Photograph of Cixi
Katharine Carl oil portrait painted for exhibit at St. Louis World's Fair of 1904
The plaque hanging above Cixi is inscribed with her title in full
The Empress Dowager was a devoted Buddhist and seized every opportunity to dress up as Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), the goddess of mercy. This photograph shows her sitting on a barge on Zhonghai. The white smoke forms the character for longevity, and on top of the smoke was her Buddhist name "Guangrenzi" (literally Universal Benevolence).

Although Cixi refused to adopt Western models of government, she supported technological and military reforms and the Self-Strengthening Movement.

- Empress Dowager Cixi

When it was first developed by Empress Dowager Cixi, the Beiyang Fleet was said to be the strongest navy in East Asia.

- Self-Strengthening Movement
Oil painting by Hubert Vos (1905)

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Qing dynasty

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Manchu-led conquest dynasty and the last imperial dynasty of China.

Manchu-led conquest dynasty and the last imperial dynasty of China.

The Qing dynasty in 1890. Territory under its control shown in dark green; territory claimed but uncontrolled shown in light green.
The Qing dynasty in 1890. Territory under its control shown in dark green; territory claimed but uncontrolled shown in light green.
Italian 1682 map showing the "Kingdom of the Nüzhen" or the "Jin Tartars"
Manchu cavalry charging Ming infantry battle of Sarhu in 1619
Sura han ni chiha (Coins of Tiancong Khan) in Manchu alphabet
Dorgon (1612–1650)
Qing Empire in 1636
The Qing conquest of the Ming and expansion of the empire
The Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662–1722)
Emperor with Manchu army in Khalkha 1688
Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Chengde, Qianlong reign; built on the model of Potala Palace, Lhasa
Campaign against the Dzungars in the Qing conquest of Xinjiang 1755–1758
Lord Macartney saluting the Qianlong Emperor
Commerce on the water, Prosperous Suzhou by Xu Yang, 1759
British Steamship destroying Chinese war junks (E. Duncan) (1843)
View of the Canton River, showing the Thirteen Factories in the background, 1850–1855
Government forces defeating Taiping armies
Yixin, Prince Gong
Empress Dowager Cixi (Oil painting by Hubert Vos c. 1905))
Britain, Germany, Russia, France, and Japan dividing China
Foreign armies in the Forbidden City 1900
Yuan Shikai
Qing China in 1911
Zaifeng, Prince Chun
A pitched battle between the imperial and revolutionary armies in 1911
A postage stamp from Yantai (Chefoo) in the Qing dynasty
A Qing dynasty mandarin
The emperor of China from The Universal Traveller
2000–cash Da-Qing Baochao banknote from 1859
The Eighteen Provinces of China proper in 1875
Qing China in 1832
The Qing dynasty in ca. 1820, with provinces in yellow, military governorates and protectorates in light yellow, tributary states in orange
Brush container symbol of elegant gentry culture
Chen Clan Ancestral Hall (陈家祠) built in 1894
Patriarchal family
Placard (right to left) in Manchu, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian Yonghe Lamasery, Beijing
Silver coin: 1 yuan/dollar Xuantong 3rd year - 1911 Chopmark
Xián Fēng Tōng Bǎo (咸豐通寶) 1850–1861 Qing dynasty copper (brass) cash coin
Puankhequa (1714–1788). Chinese merchant and member of a Cohong family.
Pine, Plum and Cranes, 1759, by Shen Quan (1682–1760).
A Daoguang period Peking glass vase. Colored in "Imperial Yellow", due to its association with the Qing.
Jade book of the Qianlong period on display at the British Museum
Landscape by Wang Gai, 1694
The Eighteen Provinces of China proper in 1875

The Tongzhi Restoration of the 1860s brought vigorous reforms and the introduction of foreign military technology in the Self-Strengthening Movement.

The ambitious Hundred Days' Reform of 1898 proposed fundamental change, but the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), who had been the dominant voice in the national government for more than three decades, turned it back in a coup.

First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements

First Sino-Japanese War

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Conflict between the Qing dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan primarily over influence in Joseon Korea.

Conflict between the Qing dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan primarily over influence in Joseon Korea.

First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements
Caricature about the dispute between China, Japan and Russia over Korea, published in the first edition of Tôbaé, 1887
Woodblock print depicting the flight of the Japanese legation in 1882
Kim Ok-gyun photographed in Nagasaki in 1882. His assassination in China would contribute to tensions leading to the First Sino-Japanese War.
Itō Sukeyuki, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet
The French-built Matsushima, flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Sino-Japanese conflict
Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese War
Empress Dowager Cixi built the Chinese navy in 1888.
, the flagship of the Beiyang Fleet
Depiction of the sinking of the Kow-shing and the rescue of some of its crew by the French gunboat Le Lion, from the French periodical Le Petit Journal (1894)
Korean soldiers and Chinese captives
Japanese soldiers of the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan, 1895
The Battle of the Yalu River
An illustration by Utagawa Kokunimasa of Japanese soldiers beheading 38 Chinese POWs as a warning to others
Revisionist depiction of Chinese delegation, led by Admiral Ding Ruchang and their foreign advisors, boarding the Japanese vessel to negotiate the surrender with Admiral Itō Sukeyuki after the Battle of Weihaiwei. In reality, Ding had committed suicide after his defeat, and never surrendered.
Japan–China peace treaty, 17 April 1895
Satirical drawing in the magazine Punch (29 September 1894), showing the victory of "small" Japan over "large" China
Convention of retrocession of the Liaodong Peninsula, 8 November 1895
Western Powers tried to divide their interests and influence in China in the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War.

The war demonstrated the failure of the Qing dynasty's attempts to modernize its military and fend off threats to its sovereignty, especially when compared with Japan's successful Meiji Restoration.

When it was first developed by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1888, the Beiyang Fleet was said to be the strongest navy in East Asia.

Li Hongzhang in 1896

Li Hongzhang

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Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late Qing dynasty.

Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late Qing dynasty.

Li Hongzhang in 1896
Li Hongzhang with Lord Salisbury and Lord Curzon
Photographic portrait of Li Hongzhang by Baoji Studio, Shanghai. Date unknown.
Woodcut of Li Hongzhang with Otto von Bismarck in Friedrichsruh in 1896.
A painting of Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang in U. S. Government engraved portrait
Hongzhang by Guth in Vanity Fair, 13 August 1896
Hongzhang's arrival at Vancouver in 1896, in the British library
Li photographed with former American president Ulysses S. Grant, 1879, by Liang Shitai

He was given the concurrent appointments as Viceroy of Zhili Province and Beiyang Trade Minister (北洋通商大臣) to oversee various issues in Zhili, Shandong and Fengtian provinces, including trade, tariffs, diplomacy, coastal defence, and modernisation.

On the death of the Tongzhi Emperor in 1875, Li introduced a large army into the capital and effected a coup which placed the Guangxu Emperor on the throne under the regency of the Empress Dowagers Ci'an and Cixi.

Ensign of Beiyang Fleet

Beiyang Fleet

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One of the four modernized Chinese navies in the late Qing dynasty.

One of the four modernized Chinese navies in the late Qing dynasty.

Ensign of Beiyang Fleet
Flag of the Admiral of the Beiyang Fleet
The Beiyang fleet at anchor in Weihaiwei
Flag of Provincial Commander-in-Chief of Beiyang Fleet
Flag of Fleet Commander of the Beiyang Fleet
Dingyuan (定遠)
Zhenyuan (鎮遠)
Jingyuan (靖遠)
Jingyuan (經遠)
Lai Yuan (來遠)
Chaoyong (超勇)

Among the four, the Beiyang Fleet was particularly sponsored by Li Hongzhang, one of the most trusted vassals of Empress Dowager Cixi and the principal patron of the "self-strengthening movement" in northern China in his capacity as the Viceroy of Zhili and the Minister of Beiyang Commerce (北洋通商大臣).

Hundred Days' Reform

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Failed 103-day national, cultural, political, and educational reform movement that occurred from 11 June to 22 September 1898 during the late Qing dynasty.

Failed 103-day national, cultural, political, and educational reform movement that occurred from 11 June to 22 September 1898 during the late Qing dynasty.

Following the issuing of the reformative edicts, a coup d'état ("The Coup of 1898", Wuxu Coup) was perpetrated by powerful conservative opponents led by Empress Dowager Cixi.

China embarked on an effort to modernize, the Self-Strengthening Movement, following its defeat in the First (1839–1842) and Second (1856–1860) Opium Wars.

Prince Gong

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Imperial prince of the Aisin Gioro clan and an important statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China.

Imperial prince of the Aisin Gioro clan and an important statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China.

Photo of a 39- or 40-year-old Prince Gong, taken by John Thompson in 1872 at the prince's residence.
Empress Xiaojingcheng and Prince Gong
Gulun Princess Rongshou (centre, seated)
Prince Gong Mansion

Following the death of the Xianfeng Emperor, Prince Gong launched the Xinyou Coup in 1861 with the aid of the Empress Dowagers Ci'an and Cixi and seized power from a group of eight regents appointed by the Xianfeng Emperor on his deathbed to assist his young son and successor, the Tongzhi Emperor.

As the longstanding leader of the Zongli Yamen, which he established in 1861, Prince Gong was responsible for spearheading various reforms in the early stages of the Self-Strengthening Movement, a series of measures and policy changes implemented by the Qing government with the aim of modernising China.