Biography of Great Survivor P'U-Yi Part 1

About the Chinese emperor P'U-Yi, biography and history of the man who went from emperor to citizen.


His titles were auspicious-the Son of Heaven, He Who Is Above, the Enthroned One, the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, the Lord of Myriad Years, the One Who Faces South, the Celestial Emperor, the Last Emperor of Cathay, of the Middle Kingdom, of China.

In reality he was a puppet, a quintessential political puppet, never to know a day of total autonomy in his life.

In 1908 Tzu Hsi, the aging empress dowager of the Manchu dynasty, anticipating her own death and fearful that her exiled nephew, Kuang Hsu, would return to the Dragon Throne, named Aisin-Gioro P'u-Yi, her two-year-old grandnephew, emperor of China. As child-emperor, P'u-Yi led an absolutely preposterous life behind the walls of the Forbidden City. He was separated from his mother, his siblings, and other children until the age of ten. He saw his father, Prince Ch'un, who served as regent, only once every two months. He was attended by 100 physicians, 200 chefs, and 1,000 eunuchs, some of whom he had flogged for his own simple amusement. He ordered 25-course meals at will, never wore the same clothing twice, and believed the color yellow was his alone.

At age six he abdicated. Republican forces led by Sun Yat-sen, a former adviser to P'u-Yi's late uncle and predecessor, Kuang Hsu, had gathered strength in China. When Yuan Shih-k'ai, a general in the imperial army, threw his support to the republicans, the Manchu dynasty collapsed. China's royal family was spared the bloodbath that usually accompanies such revolutions because the republicans did not want to alienate the empire's Manchu populace and because Yuan Shih-k'ai, who became president of the new republic, entertained dynastic ambitions of his own and therefore wished to maintain the trappings of royalty. So P'u-Yi and his family were offered the Articles of Favorable Treatment, an extraordinary document which permitted the emperor to retain his title, his home in the Forbidden City, his bodyguards, and a sizable annuity.

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