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Empress Xiaoquancheng
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Empress Xiaoquancheng

Empress Xiaoquancheng (24 March 1808 13 February 1840) was the third official spouse and second Empress Consort[1] of the Daoguang Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. She was the birth mother of Daoguang's successor, the Xianfeng Emperor.



Birth and family background

Empress Xiaoquancheng was born in the Manchu Niuhuru clan on the 28th day of the second lunar month in the 13th year of the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor. Her personal name is unknown. Her family was originally under the Plain Red Banner of the Eight Banners but was later moved to the Bordered Yellow Banner. Her father was Yiling ( ), a general in Suzhou and a Duke of the Third Class (see the Family section below for his full titles).

As the Daoguang Emperor's concubine

Lady Niuhuru spent her youth in Suzhou. In 1820 the Jiaqing Emperor died and was succeeded by his son, who became the Daoguang Emperor. A year later, during the selections for Daoguang's concubines, Lady Niuhuru was chosen as a potential candidate. At the age of 13, she entered the Forbidden City and was given the rank of Noble Lady Quan. She was promoted to Imperial Concubine Quan ( ) a year later. On 24 March 1823 Lady Niuhuru was further promoted to the status of Consort Quan ( ).

Two years later, on 8 April 1825, Lady Niuhuru gave birth to the Daoguang Emperor's third daughter. Daoguang was delighted and about a month later, on 30 May, Lady Niuhuru was promoted to the rank of Noble Consort Quan ( ).

In the following summer, Lady Niuhuru became pregnant a second time, and on 12 May 1826 she gave birth to the Daoguang Emperor's fourth daughter (Kurun Princess Shou'an).

On 17 July 1831 Lady Niuhuru gave birth to the Daoguang Emperor's fourth (but oldest surviving) son Yizhu, who would later become the Xianfeng Emperor.

On 16 June 1833, the Daoguang Emperor's second empress, Empress Xiaoshencheng, died, and Lady Niuhuru was placed in charge of the emperor's other concubines, performing the duty of an empress. On 28 September 1833, during the Mid Autumn Festival, Lady Niuhuru was elevated to the status of Imperial Noble Consort Quan ( ), making the most senior of all the Daoguang Emperor's concubines.

As Empress

On 18 November 1834, at the age of 26, Lady Niuhuru was instated as Empress. She was the Daoguang Emperor's third official spouse and his second Empress Consort.

On 27 December 1835 Lady Niuhuru's eldest daughter, Kurun Princess Duanshen, died at the age of 10.


Lady Niuhuru died on 13 February 1840 in the Palace of Gathering Essence in the Forbidden City. Her exact cause of death was not recorded in official historical records. Six days after her death, on 19 February 1840, she was granted the posthumous title Empress Xiaoquan ( ). Nine months later, on 20 November 1840, she was interred in the Muling Mausoleum at the Western Qing Tombs.

Legends surrounding her death

According to legend, Lady Niuhuru was discovered attempting to poison one of the Daoguang Emperor's other princes, so as to bring her own son closer to the throne. One day she invited Yixin, Prince Gong to dine with her. Fish was served but Lady Niuhuru told her son Yizhu not to eat it, so Yixin also refused to eat when he heard that. Yixin threw the fish on the floor, where it was eaten by a cat, which died soon after eating it. Yixin told his mother, Empress Xiaojingcheng, who in turn, informed Empress Dowager Gongci. Empress Dowager Gongci told the Daoguang Emperor about the incident. Lady Niuhuru committed suicide to avoid being placed on trial for the attempted murder.

Remaining Portraits of the Empress

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  • Great-grandfather: Chengde ( ), a general stationed in Tibet during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
  • Grandfather: Mukedengbu ( ), a general.
  • Father: Yiling ( ), a general stationed in Suzhou, a Second Class Guardian of Qianqing Gate ( ), and a Baron of the Second Class ( ). He was promoted to Marquis Cheng'en of the First Class ( ), and later Duke Cheng'en of the Third Class ( ).
  • Spouse: Daoguang Emperor
  • Children:
    • Kurun Princess Duanshun ( ; 8 April 1825 27 December 1835)
    • Kurun Princess Shou'an ( ; 12 May 1826 23 April 1860), married Demuchukezhabu ( ) of the Borjigit clan on 27 October 1840.
  • Yizhu (17 July 1831 22 August 1861), later became the Xianfeng Emperor.

Reports on her pregnancy in 1831 suggest that the bulk of the medical attention she received was during the last five weeks, when a physician and a midwife were in constant attendance to await the onset of labour.

Posthumous title

Empress Xiaoquancheng's full posthumous title is:

  • Empress Xiaoquancijingkuanrenduanque'anhuichengminfutiandushengcheng ( )

See also

  • Ranks of Imperial Consorts in China
  • Qing Dynasty nobility




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