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R. Keith McMahon
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)
Empresses and Consorts from the Ming to the End of Imperial China, 1368-1911

This final component of a three-part book is a narrative history of rulers, their wives, and concubines in the Ming and Qing dynasties, the last two dynasties of Chinese imperial history. It deals with key developments in the treatment of empresses, consorts, and their families; the focus is on women as agents of power in spite of the basic principle in China that women shall not be rulers. Ming emperors chose spouses from low-ranking families, picking women based on personal qualities, not the rank and political status of their families, thus weakening the power of the families of empresses and consorts. The Qing further eroded the power of consort families by instituting palace regulations that made it impossible for imperial wives to maintain close relations with their natal families. After completing the sections on the Ming and Qing, I will revise and tie the entire book together based on the historical panorama of more than 2,000 years of imperial marriage in China.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
East Asian History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2009 – 7/31/2010