Tongzhi Restoration

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Nhung Tuyet Tran

Origins of Self-Strengthening and Court politics after 1861 1. Tongzhi Restoration In 1861 China had a new Emperor – Tongzhi. The reign of his predecessor, Emperor Xian Feng, had seen an almost unbroken record of disasters for China. It was under Tongzhi that the monarchy began to recover, the various revolts were put down and the policy of Self-Strengthening began. Hence this period is sometimes called the Tongzhi Restoration. 2. Empress Dowager However, Tongzhi did not have much to do with this himself. He was only five years old when he became Emperor. Somebody had to exercise power on his behalf. The power was in fact held by his mother, the Empress Dowager, Cixi, and his uncle, the Manchu noble Prince Gong. But it was already clear by 1865 that the real power was in the hands of Cixi. In 1884 Prince Gong was dismissed from the Grand Council (the advisory body to the ruler). 3. Guangxu Meanwhile, Tongzhi was growing up and in 1873 began his personal rule. Soon afterwards he fell ill and died in January 1875. He had no son at this time but his Emp
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