A Series of Documentaries
Empress Dowager Chinese 慈禧太后 Tz'u-Hsi
Empress Dowager Chinese: 慈禧太后 Tz'u-Hsi, or Cixi, (29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908) of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908.
Selected by the Xianfeng Emperor as an imperial concubine in her adolescence, she climbed the ranks of Xianfeng's harem and gave birth to a son who became the Tongzhi Emperor upon Xianfeng's death. Tz'u-Hsi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed regency over her young son with the Empress Dowager Ci'an. Tz'u-Hsi then consolidated control and established near-absolute rule over the dynasty. She installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor in 1875. A conservative ruler who refused to adopt Western models of government, Tz'u-Hsi rejected reformist views on government and placed Guangxu under house arrest in later years for supporting reformers. However, she supported technological and military modernization of China's armies. After Ronglu sabotaged the Chinese army during the Boxer Rebellion against the Eight-Nation Alliance, external and internal pressures led Tz'u-Hsi to attempt institutional changes and appoint reform-minded officials. Ultimately, the Qing Dynasty collapsed a few years after her death.
Historians both in China and abroad have generally portrayed her as a despot and villain responsible for the fall of the Dynasty, while others have suggested that her opponents among the reformers succeeded in making her a scapegoat for problems beyond her control, that she stepped in to prevent disorder, that she was no more ruthless than other rulers, and that she was even an effective if reluctant reformer in the last years of her life.(Wikipedia)