Empress Dowager Cixi began her ascent to rule when she was only 16, during a time where female names were too insignificant to be recorded; she was known as ‘the woman of the Nala family’. She was taken in as a concubine by the Xianfeng Emperor in 1852, during a routine selection.
Cixi went down in history to some as a ruthless killer; a woman who was selfish, strict and cunning. Traits which, had they been describing a man, would not be given a second thought. Cixi was, however, a clever woman with an array of talents and who ruled the Qing Dynasty when her husband died.
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Princess Pingyang was decidedly more fearsome than her name might suggest. She led an army that helped to establish one of China’s greatest dynasties, and as her father said, ‘she was no ordinary woman’.
Born in 600 AD, Pingyang was the daughter of Li Yuan. Li was born a peasant and had risen through the ranks of the army to become a military commander. The Emperor at the time was the second leader of the Sui Dynasty and was known as Yangdi. Yangdi was not a popular ruler. The people of China saw him as a villain and grew increasingly unhappy with his rule, the things he spend money on and the rising taxes. The whispers of rebellion began to stir as more and more people grew opposed to him.
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