As one of the cradles of civilisation, the area encompassing modern day China has been inhabited since the twenty-first century BC. With several dynasties ruling over the area during the last two millennia, China saw continued growth and economic superiority, with technical, literary, and medical innovations. With each dynasty came a change in rulership, however Chinese empresses, wives, and concubines could all be vital in the governance of the empire. The monarchy fell in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, ending the Qing dynasty.
You can find out more about some of the empresses of China below!
- Lü (241-180BC)
- Wu Zetian (624-705)
- Yingtian (878/879-953)
- Chengtian (953-1009)
- Zheng (1079-1130)
- Xu (1362-1407)
- Hu Shanxiang (c.1400/02-1443)
Hinsch, Bret. Women in Song and Yuan China.London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020
Lee, Lily Xiao Hong, and Sue Wiles, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang through Ming 618-644. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014
McMahon, Keith. Women Shall Not Rule: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Han to Liao. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013
McMahon, Keith. Celestial Women: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Song to Qing. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016
Raphals, Lisa. Sharing the Light: Representation of Women and Virtue in Early China. Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 1998
Wang, Robin R. ed. Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings
from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing: 2003
Xiang, Liu. Exemplary Women of Early China: The Lienü Zhuan of Liu Xiang. Translated and edited by Anne Behnke Kinney. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.