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The Last EmperorsA Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions$
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Evelyn Rawski

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780520212893

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520212893.001.0001

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Imperial Women

Imperial Women

Chapter:
(p.127) Chapter 4 Imperial Women
Source:
The Last Emperors
Author(s):

Evelyn S. Rawski

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520212893.003.0005

Manchu attitudes toward women also contrasted with Han Chinese norms. This chapter argues that the treatment of the emperor's mother, sisters, consorts, and daughters cannot be understood without reference to non-Han models of political rule. Han Chinese regimes barred imperial agnates from governance and used affinal kinsmen as allies in the throne's struggles against the bureaucracy; the Qing strategy focused on maintenance of solidarity within the conquest elite. Marriage policy amounted to political endogamy within the conquest elite. Intermarriage with the subjugated Chinese population and their descendants was prohibited. Qing marriage policies reduced the political importance of empresses' families and incorporated consorts into the imperial lineage, forcing them to cut their relationships with their natal families. In sharp contrast to Han Chinese ruling houses, Qing empresses' dowager consistently formed regencies not with their natal kin but with their husband's brothers.

Keywords:   imperial women, emperor's relatives, conquest elite, marriage policy, Han Chinese, Qing empresses

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