The second part of this series is built around the legendary figure of Empress Cixi, which accompanies the decline of the Qing dynasty and with it, China as an Empire. Initially, the Empress was a concubine who gave his first son to the Emperor. From the privileges resulting from this situation, she knew how to maneuver within the imperial court to stay in power, in fact, until her death in the early 20th century.
For her, the Summer Palace symbolized the splendor of the Empire when she was the effective leader, much more than the Forbidden City. She had to rebuild it twice after the looting of foreign alliances. But her political vision and influence remained insufficient to carry the Empire into modern times.
In the early 20th century, the Summer Palace became the preferred place for China’s diplomatic activities. But it is also here where the opposition was born that eventually destroyed the reforms considered during the famous «100 days of Beijing». With the revolutions that shook the Empire throughout the last hundred years, the palace no longer has a political role to play. But today, it is finally recognized as an essential part of China’s history, as much as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.