Empress Xiaoyichun

Empress Xiaoyichun (23 October 1727 – 28 February 1775), of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Weigiya clan, was a consort of the Qianlong Emperor.

Empress Xiaoyichun
Empress XiaoYi.PNG
Born(1727-10-23)23 October 1727
(雍正五年 九月 九日)
Died28 February 1775(1775-02-28) (aged 47)
(乾隆四十年 正月 二十九日)
Forbidden City
Yu Mausoleum, Eastern Qing tombs
(before 1775)
IssuePrincess Hejing of the First Rank
Princess Heke of the Second Rank
Jiaqing Emperor
17th son
Yonglin, Prince Qingxi of the First Rank
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaoyi Gongshun Kangyu Ciren Duanke Minzhe Yitian Yusheng Chun
HouseWei, later Weigiya (魏佳; by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
FatherWei Qingtai
MotherLady Yanggiya
Empress Xiaoyichun
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese孝儀純皇后
Simplified Chinese孝仪纯皇后
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡥᡳᠶᠣᠣᡧᡠᠩᡤᠠ
Romanizationhiyoošungga yongsonggo yongkiyaha hūwangheo


Family backgroundEdit

Empress Xiaoyichun's personal name was not recorded in history. She was a Han Chinese Booi Aha of the Borderd Yellow Banner by birth.

  • Father: Qingtai (清泰), served as a fifth rank literary official (內管領) in the Imperial Household Department, and held the title of a third class duke (三等公)
  • Mother: Lady Yanggiya
  • Two brothers
  • Paternal grandfather: Jiuling (九齡)

Yongzheng eraEdit

Lady Wei was born on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month in the fifth year of the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, which translates to 23 October 1727 in the Gregorian calendar.

Qianlong eraEdit

It is not known when Lady Wei entered the Forbidden City as a maid. She likely served Empress Dowager Chongqing, and when the Qianlong Emperor became attracted to her, she was sent to Empress Xiaoxianchun to learn the etiquette of the palace before marrying him as a concubine. This is based on a quote by the Qianlong Emperor:

"In the past, Consort Ling served Empress Fuca. Now after she died, she still stayed with the Empress like before."

She is likely to have become a Lady-In-Waiting at the age of thirteen (meaning she could have married the Emperor in 1740 or 1741), but this cannot be proven. In 1745, she was granted the title "Noble Lady". She was elevated on 9 December 1745 to "Concubine Ling", meaning "clever and pleasant". On 20 May 1749 she was promoted to the position of "Consort Ling", and although at this point she still had no children, the Qianlong Emperor adored her, describing her as gentle and beautiful. She gave birth on 10 August 1756 to the emperor's seventh daughter, Princess Hejing of the First Rank. She was twenty-nine years old at the birth. On 31 August 1757 to his 14th son, Yonglu, who would die prematurely on 3 May 1760, and on 17 August 1758 to his ninth daughter, Princess Heke of the Second Rank. After Consort Ling began having children, she was favored exclusively.

On 3 February 1760, Consort Ling was elevated to "Noble Consort Ling". She gave birth on 13 November 1760 to the emperor's 15th son, Yongyan, and on 13 January 1763 to his 16th son, who would die prematurely on 6 May 1765. In 1765, while on a tour to Hangzhou, Empress Nara fell out of favor and was send back to the Forbidden City to be confined. The official reason for the Empress's downfall was given by Qianlong ten years after the facts, when the matter was brought up by an official who was severely punished. The story of the Empress cutting off her hair to curse the Emperor and Empress Dowager is therefore unreliable. Whatever happened, when they returned to the Forbidden City the Emperor stripped the Empress of her titles and on 28 July he elevated Noble Consort Ling to "Imperial Noble Consort". On 17 June 1766, she gave birth to the emperor's 17th son, Yonglin.

Empress Nara died on 19 August 1766 and he did not designate any of his consorts as the new Empress. However, Imperial Noble Consort Ling, who held the highest rank among all of the Qianlong Emperor's consorts, was placed in charge of the imperial harem. Like her master, she was thrifty in managing the palace funds and guided the Confucian rituals. She also accompanied the Qianlong Emperor on his excursions to Mount Tai, Jehol and the areas south of the Yangtze River. In the thirty-eight year of the Qianlong Era, the Emperor decided to secretly select an heir. Seven of his sons were living at the time, but he decided to choose Yongyan as the Emperor. Yongyan was not outstanding, but he was hardworking and humble.

Later, Imperial Noble Consort Ling became ill. In February 1775 her daughter, Princess Hejing died, and this unfortunate news worsened her condition. On 28 February 1775, she succumbed to her illness at the age of 47. On 12 March 1775, she was posthumously granted the title "Imperial Noble Consort Lingyi", and on 19 November, she was interred in the Yu Mausoleum of the Eastern Qing tombs after a grand funeral far more regal than that of an Imperial Noble Consort. She was buried on the right side of the Emperor's burial place, while Empress Xiaoxianchun was buried on the left side. After the Yu Mausoleum grave robbery occurred in 1928, it was revealed that her remains were well-preserved during inspection.

Possible Poisoning

When an Imperial Consort of the Qing Dynasty, their cause of death was typically recorded. Empress Xiaoyichun's cause of death, however, was not recorded. When her tomb was robbed in 1928, her body was found and her bones were not corroded after 153 years of being buried. This has caused many to say that she was poisoned by cinnabars or mercury, so that her remains could be well-preserved. There is a legend that the Qianlong Emperor poisoned her because as he was getting older and closer to death, he was afraid that if he died then the Imperial Noble Consort would become regent over Yongyan. This argument, however, has little evidence and is likely a mere rumor.

Another rumor is that Empress Xiaoyichun took cinnabars regularly to help her sleep better. The accumulated toxins would cause her death. The most likely cause of death was a normal illness, however, and none of the other theories have much evidence backing them up.

Jiaqing eraEdit

On 9 February 1796, the Qianlong Emperor abdicated and became a Retired Emperor. Yongyan was enthroned as the Jiaqing Emperor. At the same time, the Qianlong Emperor announced his successor, he posthumously elevated Imperial Noble Consort Lingyi to "Empress Xiaoyi". After the Qianlong Emperor died on 7 February 1799, the Jiaqing Emperor honoured his mother with the posthumous title "Empress Xiaoyichun".


  • During the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796):
    • Noble Lady Wei (魏貴人; from 1745), sixth rank consort
    • Imperial Concubine Ling (令嬪; from 9 December 1745),[1] fifth rank consort
    • Consort Ling (令妃; from 20 May 1749),[2] fourth rank consort
    • Noble Consort Ling (令貴妃; from 3 February 1760),[3] third rank consort
    • Imperial Noble Consort (皇貴妃; from 28 July 1765),[4] second rank consort
    • 𝘐𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘕𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘺𝘪 (令懿皇貴妃; from 12 March 1775),[5]
    • 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘟𝘪𝘢𝘰𝘺𝘪 (孝儀皇后; from 15 October 1795),[6]
  • During the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796–1820):
    • 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘟𝘪𝘢𝘰𝘺𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘯 (孝儀純皇后; from 1799),


  • As Consort Ling:
    • Princess Hejing of the First Rank (固倫和靜公主; 10 August 1756 – 9 February 1775), the Qianlong Emperor's seventh daughter (Consort Ling was 29 at the birth)
      • Married Lhawang Dorji (拉旺多爾濟; 1754–1816) of the Khalkha Borjigit clan in August/September 1770
    • Yonglu (永璐; 31 August 1757 – 3 May 1760), the Qianlong Emperor's 14th son (Consort Ling was 30 at the birth)
    • Princess Heke of the Second Rank (和碩和恪公主; 17 August 1758 – 14 December 1780), the Qianlong Emperor's ninth daughter (Consort Ling was 31 at the birth)
      • Married Jalantai (札蘭泰; d. 1788) of the Manchu Uya clan in August/September 1772
    • Miscarriage at eight months (13 November 1759)
  • As Noble Consort Ling:
    • Yongyan (顒琰; 13 November 1760 – 2 September 1820), the Qianlong Emperor's 15th son, enthroned on 9 February 1796 as the Jiaqing Emperor (Noble Consort Ling was 33 at the birth)
    • The Qianlong Emperor's 16th son (13 January 1763 – 6 May 1765) (Noble Consort Ling was 35 at the birth)
  • As Imperial Noble Consort Ling:
    • Yonglin (永璘; 17 June 1766 – 25 April 1820), the Qianlong Emperor's 17th son, granted the title of a beile in 1789, elevated to Prince Qing of the Second Rank in 1799, elevated to Prince Qing of the First Rank in 1820, posthumously honoured as Prince Qingxi of the First Rank (Imperial Noble Consort Ling was 38 at the birth)


In fiction and popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 乾隆十年 十一月 十七日
  2. ^ 乾隆十四年 四月 五日
  3. ^ 乾隆二十四年 十二月 十七日
  4. ^ 乾隆三十年 六月 十一日
  5. ^ 乾隆四十年 二月 十一日
  6. ^ 乾隆六十年 九月 三日


  • Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998). The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 052092679X.
  • Wan, Yi; Shuqing, Wang; Yanzhen, Lu; Scott, Rosemary E. (1988). Daily Life in the Forbidden City: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912 (Illustrated ed.). Viking. ISBN 0670811645.
  • Zhao, Erxun (1928). Draft History of Qing (Qing Shi Gao) (in Chinese).
Chinese royalty
Preceded by Empress of China
(title granted posthumously)
Succeeded by