The Hall of Jade Ripples: Where Emperor Guangxu Was Under House Arrested.2016-03-16 10:05:08Share:
In 1750, the Hall of Jade Ripples was built along the bank of Kunming Lake behind the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity by Qing Emperor Qianlong. Emperor Qianlong used to spend his leisure hours with his ministers and friends in this courtyard.
In the late Qing dynasty, it was Emperor Guangxu’s private living quarters. In 1898, some bourgeois reformists, represented by Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao , Tan Sitong , Yan fu and some other scholars, launched the movement for the modernization of china. With the support of Emperor Guangxu they tried to carry out a new policy in China, but Empress Dowager Cixi, who had political and military power in her hand, was strongly against the reform movement. But after the failure of the reform movement in 1898, Emperor Guangxu was under house arrest here.
Emperor Guangxu was the nephew of Empress Dowager Cixi. When Emperor Tongzhi, the only son of Empress Dowager Cixi, died in 1875, he was chosen by Cixi to ascend the throne at the age of four, with Empress Dowager Cixi sitting behind the screen controlling the state affairs. In 1898, at the age of 28, Emperor Guangxu met with the reformists and he decided to support them.
Under the orders of Empress Dowager Cixi to confine Emperor Guangxu to house arrest, the two annex chambers, which had back doors to the hall of benevolence and longevity and to the lake respectively were sealed by brick walls. The brick walls reached to the ceiling, lengthwise across the chamber, to prevent Emperor Guangxu, who was closely watched, from escaping.
It was here, just like a prison, Emperor Guangxu was under house arrest for ten years. He died in 1908, at the age of 38.
On September 16, 1898, Emperor Guangxu called in Yuan Shikai, an army commander who had control over the imperial regiment, for a secret audience in this hall, and instructed him to help the reformists and kill Ronglu,a diehard follower of Empress Dowager Cixi. However, Yuan Shikai put on a double face to the emperor. On the one hand, he expressed that to kill Ronglu would be as easy as killing a dog, while on the other hand he betrayed the emperor by reporting the news to Empress Dowager Cixi. The dowager became infuriated at the news, and she staged a coup. After that, she put Emperor Guangxu under house arrest here in the summer and in Yingtai of Zhongnanhai (somewhere near the Forbidden City) in winter.
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