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The Reign of the Xuantong Emperor (approx. 1909-1911)
Jiyou Year (approx. 1909)
Xuantong Reign, 1st Year
The late Guangxu Emperor receives his posthumous title, Jing (lit. “Aspiring”), and temple name, Dezong (lit. “Virtuous Ancestor”).
The late Guangxu Emperor is interred at the Western Qing Tombs. During the time of funerary rites, the Xuantong Emperor temporarily resides in a village called Lianggezhuang (which is referred to as a temporary palace, xinggong).
The late Grand Empress Dowager Cixi is buried at the Eastern Ding Tombs.
The Empress Dowager, Lady Yehe Nara, receives her honorific title Longyu (lit. “Prosperous Abundance”).
Gengxu Year (approx. 1910)
Xuantong Reign, 2nd Year
Revolutionaries, including Wang Zhaoming, make an assassination attempt on Prince Regent Zaifeng’s life. They fail and are captured and imprisoned.
Xinhai Year (approx. 1911)
Xuantong Reign, 3rd Year
Huang Xing and other revolutionaries in the Society for the Revival of China (Xingzhong hui) launch the Second Guangzhou Uprising (Huanghuagang qiyi). They attempt to capture the office of the governor-general of Guangdong and Guangxi. Many revolutionaries including Yu Peilun and Lin Juemin are killed, and the uprising fails.
The Qing imperial court orders regional railway projects, namely the Sichuan-Hankou and Guangdong-Hankou railways, to come under imperial control and proceeds to sell project construction rights to the Four Powers Consortium, which includes British, German, French, and American banks. The Railway Protection Movement begins with factions in each province.
Puyi begins his schooling. He is taught by Grand Secretary Lu Runxiang and Vice Minister Chen Baochen.
The Xinhai Revolution (also known as the 1911 Revolution) begins as the Wuchang Uprising erupts in Hubei Province.
Wu Tingfang, Zhang Jian, and Tang Wenzhi advise Prince Regent Zaifeng to support the founding of a republican government. Zaifeng hands in his official seal and returns to his feudal residence.
The Republic of China Provisional Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election determines Sun Yat-sen as the provisional president. The capital of the new republican government is established at Nanjing. The Gregorian calendar is adopted with 1912 as the first year of the Republic of China.
Superintendant Grand Minister Yuan Shikai submits a memorial to the throne noting his discussions with the republican sympathizer Wu Tingfang and voicing approval for a republican form of government. As part of the terms of negotiation, Articles for Favorable Treatment of the Great Qing Emperor after His Abdication and other conditions are stipulated for favorable treatment of the imperial clan and of the Manchurian, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Hui peoples. In the third year of his reign as the Xuantong Emperor, Puyi abdicates his throne on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month of the xinhai year of the lunar calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, this is twelfth of February 1912, the first year of the Republic of China.
The Xuantong Emperor (r. 1909-1911)
The last Emperor of the Qing dynasty is better known by his given name “Puyi” than his reign name “Xuantong”. The Xuantong Emperor (r. 1909-1911), Aisin Gioro Puyi, was born in 1906 (the thirty-second year of the Guangxu reign), on the fourteenth day of the first lunar month, in the Residence of Prince Chun which is located on the bank of Shichahai Lake. He was the son of Prince Chun (Zaifeng) and Lady Guwalgiya. At the age of four (by traditional account), Puyi was chosen by the Empress Dowager Cixi on her deathbed as the successor of the heirless Guangxu Emperor. Puyi ascended to the throne immediately following the emperor’s death. His reign was called "Xuantong".
Due to the minority of Puyi, the brief three-year-long Xuantong reign was governed under the regency of his father, Prince Chun. In order to consolidate the Manchu's elite rule, Prince Chun dismissed Yuan Shikai (1859-1916) who was of Han origin and the then Governor-general of Zhili (today’s Hebei province) as well as the Commander of Beiyang Army, He established an imperial-clan cabinet. He commissioned Sheng Xuanhuai (1844-1916) to borrow from foreign powers in an attempt to save the Qing government from financial crisis. But it did little to save the Qing empire from collapse.
Following the revolution in 1911 (Xinhai geming), the Empress Dowager Longyu, empress of the late Guangxu Emperor, signed the “Act of Abdication of the Emperor of the Great Qing” on 12 February, 1912, announcing the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor. By the “Articles of Favourable Treatment of the Emperor of the Great Qing after His Abdication” signed with the new Republic of China, Puyi was able to retain his imperial title and stay in the Forbidden City. With the imperial court and household, he led an idle life in the northern section of the Forbidden City thereafter except for a thirteen-day restoration in 1917 staged by the warlord general Zhang Xun (1854-1923). During the years of his abdication, Puyi was taught traditional Confucian courses as well as English language classes by the Scotsman Reginald Fleming Johnston (Chinese name Zhuang Shidun, 1874-1938).
In 1924，Puyi was expelled from the Forbidden City by Feng Yuxiang (1882-1948), leader of a contingent of the Zhili Warlord Clique (Zhixi junfa). The movement, known as the “Beijing Coup”, was launched at a time when the Zhili Warlord Clique was at war with the Fengtian Warlord Clique (Fengxi junfa) for supremacy. Following the expulsion, Puyi first lived in the Residence of Prince Chun - his birthpalce – in Beijing. Then he moved to Tianjin, living for eight years in the “Garden of Zhang”. During this period, Puyi was still accompanied by Qing loyalists and eunuchs who cultivated in the young man an intense hatred for the Republic government. Together they conceived the idea of restoring the Qing empire, and actively networked to prepare for it.
In 1932 he fled to Changchun where he was installed by the Japanese as the emperor of Manchukuo, considered by most historians as a puppet state of Imperial Japan. After Japan was defeated, Puyi was arrested by the Soviet Red Army and in the summer of 1950 was repatriated to China. Detained in the Fushun War Criminal Prison. he was rehabilitated with the help of the superintendents and transformed from emperor to citizen. In 1959, with a special permission issued by the Chinese government, Puyi was released and returned to Beijing. Regretting the false deeds he had done in the first half of his life, Puyi wrote the autobiography From Emperor to Citizen (Wode qian bansheng) and had it published in 1964. The book was well received. In the same year, he attended the first session of the Fourth Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and was elected as a Member.
Puyi died in Beijing in 1967. In accordance to the law of China at the time, his body was cremated. His ashes were first placed at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery alongside those of other party and state dignitaries. At the request of his widow in 1993, his ashes were transferred to the Hualong Cemetery, Western Qing Tombs, Hebei province.