Dowager Empress Cixi was essentially the last Chinese empress. Her reign lasted until her death and was marked by excess, scandal and political intrigue.
As the mother of the Emperor’s only son, she gained power after the emperor’s death- she became the dowager empress and chief advisor to her son, who was very young when he was crowned. She murdered political rivals, built luxurious palaces and temples for herself and even imprisoned her nephew in her summer palace (pictured) for over 20 years. Her adopted son was the last emperor of China and the movie The Last Emperor was based on his life.