It is not the Emperor, but his mother, who chooses his bride; she also ranks his many concubines.
A simple concubine, one of sixty women serving the Xianfeng Emperor, rose to become the de facto ruler of the Qing dynasty. This is the story of Cixi, who, using charisma, political shrewdness, and manipulation, governed the Forbidden City through the latter half of the nineteenth century, and who, by breaking with tradition, may have heralded the end of an empire.
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