This Day in History: The Death of Puyi, China’s Last Emperor

By Tristin Zhang, October 17, 2020

1 0

In the small hours of October 17, 1967, Aisin Gioro Puyi met his maker. 

Puyi was only three years old when he was picked out by Empress Dowager Cixi to sit on the Dragon Throne. He was 7 when he abdicated as the Emperor of the Qing Empire in 1912 as a result of the Xinhai Revolution. 

At 62 years old, the former Xuantong Emperor of Great Qing died of kidney cancer in Beijing, eight years after he received amnesty as a war prisoner for serving Japan’s then puppet state of Manchukuo as its monarch from 1932 to 1945. After the Japanese surrendered to China, he was apprehended as he attempted to flee to Japan, and spent five years in a Soviet Union prison before being handed over to the Communist Party of China. 

As a PRC citizen, Puyi was given a job at a botanical garden in Beijing and married a nurse in 1962. Before his death, Puyi worked as a librarian and was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. 

puyi-2.jpg
Image via Baidu Baike

When the Cultural Revolution started in 1966, Puyi’s home was stormed by the Red Guards, but Premier Zhou Enlai put him on a protection list that kept him from greater harm.

Puyi passed away childless, although he had four wives and a concubine in total throughout his life. In his biography, From Emperor to Citizen, known in Chinese as The First Half of My Life, which was written during his jail term in Fushun, Liaoning province, Puyi related the story of his personal maids forcing his hand to have sexual intercourse with them when he lived in the Forbidden City in the early years of his adolescence. 

“A couple of times a night, almost every night, until daylight, I walked out of the room and saw the sun appear green.” This childhood trauma cast a shadow over his subsequent sex life. 

The last monarch in Chinese history, Aisin Gioro Puyi lived a tumultuous, dramatic life, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning film The Last Emperor. His remains were cremated and buried alongside the tombs of his wives and concubine, rather than that of his kingly forefathers, in Hualong Royal Tombs in Hebei. 


For more This Day in History stories, click here

[Cover image via Wikimedia Commons

more news

This Day in History: China’s First Man in Space

On this day in 2003, Yang Liwei endured a 21-and-a-half-hour flight, completing 14 orbits of the Earth

This Day in History: Weibo Launched in China

Weibo’s start came at a turbulent time as both Twitter and Fanfou were temporarily blocked in June 2009.

This Day in History: Old Shanghai’s Biggest Ever Gangster Heist

The life and crimes of Elly 'the Swiss' Wilder.

This Day in History: Bloody Saturday, Shanghai's Darkest Day

New York Times bestselling author's new book on the 1937 Japanese bombing of the city.

This Day in History: The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

A look back at the first ever Olympics to be hosted in China.

This Day in History: Founding of the Communist Party of China

The Communist Party of China turns 98 this month, founded in Shanghai in July 1921.

This Day in History: The 2007 China Stock Market Crash

On February 27, 2007 the 'Shanghai Sneeze' triggered major drops in worldwide stock markets.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at ThatsShenzhen for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shenzhen With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's PRD!

Visit the archives