Qing Dynasty: The Empress Dowager Ci Xi (1835-1908).
Born Yehonala in a Manchu official’s family in Shanxi Province, she came to the palace in the 2nd year of Emperor Xian Feng’s reign. Four years later she bore the emperor a son and the following year was promoted to the highest concubine rank, a position next only to the empress. After the death of Xian Feng at Jehol, her son succeeded to the throne. The mother was given the title of Empress Dowager Ci Xi and, together with the childless Empress Dowager Ci An, reigned „behind the curtain” after the 1861 coup d’ etat. Empress Dowager Ci Xi ruled China for 48 years through the reigns of Tong Zhi and Guang Xu.