The Imperial Palace
Today, it is open to the public and is known as the Palace Museum.
The Palace Museum ï¼East Gateï¼, 4 æ¯å±±åè¡ Dongcheng, Beijing, China, 100
The mysteries of the Forbidden City have long fascinated people with over 500 years of imperial history hidden inside its walls. The palace was a like a city of its own, with a hierarchy that started up at the top with the Emperor, trickling its way down...
The title of Emperor was hereditary, being passed down from father to son. Most of the time, it was the eldest son of the Empress who would succeed the throne. If she did not bear any children, the emperor would choose to have a child with a concubine.
Even though the emperor reigned supreme, there have been numerous instances in which the emperor’s mother, the Empress Dowager, became a de facto leader.
Typically, emperors that came from the same family were classified into periods known as Dynasties. It was possible though for people from the lower classes, such as peasants, to found dynasties, as has happened. By overthrowing the current emperor, they could become rulers. Such events occurred in the Han and Ming dynasties.
Qianlong was a skilled poet, writing collections of arts and essays. He also sponsored the cultural arts, such as porcelain-making, bamboo carving and painting.
Qianlong stepped down from the throne after 60 years of ruling to his son, out of filial respect to his grandfather’s longest reign as emperor for 61 years.
The Empress Dowager
Empress Dowager Cixi
Cunning and charismatic, she assumed regency and installed her nephew as Emperor, contrary to the rules of succession. Cixi remains a controversial figure for her possible role in the fall of the Chinese dynasty.
There were many officials of different ranks, whom were in power and money struggles. According to rank, they would wear different clothing with various animal prints on their clothes symbolizing their status.
The officials were forbidden to enter the Forbidden City, despite their role. Only the top four ranks could enter as far as the Outer Court and speak with the emperor.
The Eunuchs composed the largest group within the palace walls, numbering 70,000. Although they lived in surroundings of luxury and beauty, they could not experience such benefits themselves. Eunuchs, too, had a hierarchy. Only a few were relied upon to be advisers and favorites of the Emperor, while the rest were treated like slaves.
There was fierce competition amongst the concubines to produce a favored son for the emperor in order to become Empress Dowager. The most famous of these concubines was Cixi, who ruthlessly clawed her way to power. There was a story that she had ordered a young concubine named Pearl to be pushed down a well to her death.
A Closing Note
The Forbidden City was a fascinating place full of drama, intrigue and stories. Power struggles, money and relationships were key elements to life within the palace. If you have the opportunity to visit Beijing, the Palace Museum is a must-visit to learn more about its rich history and the people who once lived inside it.