The Guangxu Emperor (14 August 1871 – 14 November 1908), was the tenth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper.
His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, without Empress Dowager Cixi’s influence, only from 1889 to 1898.
He initiated the Hundred Days’ Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he became powerless and was held under house arrest until his death. His regnal name, “Guangxu”, means “glorious.
In 1912, Sun Yat-sen praised the Guangxu Emperor for his educational reform package that allowed China to learn more about Western culture.
After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, historian Fan Wenlan called the Guangxu Emperor “a Manchu noble who could accept Western ideas”.
Some historians believe that the Guangxu Emperor was the first Chinese leader to implement modernizing reforms and capitalism.
Imperial power in the Qing dynasty saw its nadir under Guangxu, and he was the only Qing emperor to have been put under house arrest during his own reign.