Erdet Wenxiu – The Imperial Consort who divorced the Emperor (Part four)




Erdet Wenxiu
(public domain)

Read part three here.

Erdet Wenxiu (formally known as Imperial Consort Shu) had successfully divorced Puyi, the last Emperor of China. She was no longer a royal but a commoner. Did Erdet Wenxiu finally receive the happiness that she so desperately yearned for? This article explores her life after the royal divorce. It also examines whether Erdet Wenxiu ever regretted her decision to divorce the Emperor.

After the royal divorce, Erdet Wenxiu moved back to her mother’s house in Beijing to become an ordinary citizen.[1] Her mother had passed away, and she felt lonely.[2] She hired four servants using Emperor Puyi’s alimony.[3] However, the money soon ran out because of the housing and lawyer fees. Therefore, she had to get rid of her servants.[4] To make a sustainable income, she became a schoolteacher at a rich private school under the name of Yu Fuyang.[5]

At the school, Erdet Wenxiu taught Chinese and painting.[6] Wenxiu was very happy with her job and was passionate about the subjects she was teaching.[7] She was well-loved by her students because she always smiled.[8] However, her whereabouts were leaked to the public. Many journalists and the general public crowded around the school to catch a glimpse of the Emperor’s former wife.[9] This was the first time that they had ever seen a member of the royal family.[10] Due to her former imperial status, Erdet Wenxiu was forced to resign from the school.[11]

Erdet Wenxiu began to grow destitute and could not afford to live in the house that Emperor Puyi had once gifted to her mother.[12] She moved into a small courtyard that was owned by a widow.[13] She had a few marriage proposals, but she rejected them.[14] Erdet Wenxiu continuously struggled in poverty. She moved bricks, pasted paper boxes, and was even forced to sell cigarettes on the street.[15] She eventually worked as a proofreader for a printing factory.[16]

In 1947, Erdet Wenxiu met her second husband, Liu Zhendong, who was once a major in the Kuomintang Army.[17] When she met him, he was the owner of a car dealership.[18] Through the introduction of a friend, Liu Zhendong met Erdet Wenxiu under her incognito name Yu Fuyang.[19] He was forty years old and had never married. Liu Zhendong liked her immediately because of her passion for books.[20] She was also very proficient in English, which he thought was an unusual talent for a factory girl.[21] He thought she may have been a scholar before and asked about her background. However, Erdet Wenxiu decided to change the topic.[22] Liu Zhendong realized that she did not want to talk about her past, so he never asked her again.[23] He began to pursue her.[24] Erdet Wenxiu was initially hesitant, but she eventually agreed to their courtship.[25]

Erdet Wenxiu loved Liu Zhendong so much that she decided to break the Emperor’s order of never remarrying.[26] In late 1947, Erdet Wenxiu and Liu Zhendong married. They had a grand wedding at a fancy restaurant.[27] Due to political turmoil in 1948, Liu Zhendong became bankrupt.[28] After the founding of New China, he was interrogated by the new government because of his background as a Kuomintang soldier.[29] When the interrogation was over, the government assigned him as a sanitation worker in the Xicheng District of Beijing.[30] The couple struggled with poverty and lived in a dilapidated house.[31] Erdet Wenxiu began to have health problems, but they were so poor that they could not afford her treatment.[32]

On 17 September 1953, Erdet Wenxiu passed away due to a myocardial infarction.[33] She was forty-four years old. She finally revealed her true identity to her husband on her deathbed.[34] Liu Zhendong was stunned.[35] He always believed that she was once a scholar.[36] He could never have imagined that she was the Emperor’s Imperial Consort![37] After her death, Liu Zhendong could not afford to buy a good coffin.[38]  Therefore, he handcrafted one for her.[39] He then held a funeral for her, and many of their neighbours attended.[40] Liu Zhendong buried Erdet Wenxiu in the Tucheng Public Cemetery outside of Andingmen.[41] However, he did not have the money to provide a tombstone.[42] Thus, the grave of the last Imperial Consort who lived in the Forbidden City remains unmarked.[43]

Liu Zhendong spent his remaining years mourning his wife.[44] He never remarried. He would sit in front of his house and recalled his marriage with Erdet Wenxiu to his neighbours.[45] He told his neighbours on his deathbed that he had the good fortune of marrying the Emperor’s Consort.[46] He said that this could never have happened in any other lifetime in China’s Imperial history.[47] He also said that since he married Wenxiu, he did not have any regrets in his life.[48]

Erdet Wenxiu was Emperor Puyi’s second wife and the last Imperial Consort to live in the Forbidden City. She was often abused and neglected by Emperor Puyi. Erdet Wenxiu showed her courage and intelligence by divorcing him. Emperor Puyi tried everything he could to stop it, but she ultimately succeeded. Afterwards, she constantly suffered because of poverty. Yet, she did not regret her decision.[49] She finally gained a husband who loved and cherished her.[50] She was happier with him than with the Emperor.[51] Erdet Wenxiu was a champion of women’s rights in the Republic of China.[52] Because of her bold move to divorce the Emperor, many women in unhappy marriages were encouraged to divorce their husbands.[53] It is no wonder that Erdet Wenxiu has won the admiration of many people in China, including Emperor Puyi.

Sources:

6Park.News. (August 24, 2021). “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://6park.news/en/he-married-a-female-factory-worker-i-felt-that-my-wife-was-unusual-and-only-discovered-that-she-was-the-emperor-of-the-qing-dynasty-after-6-years-life-sanli-news-network-setn-com.html.

DayDayNews. (May 28, 2020). “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/entertainment/amp/587669.html.

DaydayNews. (October 16, 2019) . “The last imperial concubine Wenxiu, after divorcing Puyi, only had 50,000 living expenses, how did he lead a life?”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/amp/184872.html.

iMedia. (n.d.). “Wenxiu: The only woman who dared to divorce Puyi, married a cleaner for the second time, and only revealed her identity before her death”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://min.news/en/history/bca7d16d5cdbf0ca0bde5dff4b470cd3.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s, true love.”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/70e066a3621c09f05ef91d206cacb0ee.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “Savings are constantly being wiped out, and after many hard work, Wenxiu has never treated her well after her divorce.” Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/0133681922a8a3d97797d65606e3264a.html.

laitimes. (May 18, 2022). “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://www.laitimes.com/en/article/3o64m_44v4g.html.

The World of Chinese. (March 30,2022) “Romance and Rebellion in Republican China”. Retrieved on 25 September 2022 from https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2022/03/romance-and-rebellion-in-republican-china/.

Wang, Q. (2014). The Last Emperor and His Five Wives. (Translated by Jiaquan Han et al.). Beijing, China: China Intercontinental Press.


[1] Wang, 2014

[2] Wang, 2014”

[3] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[4] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[5] Wang, 2014

[6] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[7] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[8] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[9] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[10] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[11] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[12] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[13] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[14] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[15] DayDayNews, 16 October 2019, “The last imperial concubine Wenxiu, after divorcing Puyi, only had 50,000 living expenses, how did he lead a life?”

[16] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[17] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[18] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[19] iMedia, n.d., “Wenxiu: The only woman who dared to divorce Puyi, married a cleaner for the second time, and only revealed her identity before her death”

[20] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[21] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[22] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[23] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[24] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[25] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[26] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[27] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[28] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[29] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[30] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[31] laitimes, 18 May 2022, “The last imperial concubine Wen Xiu, why did she have to divorce Bo Yi? Is it really because Bo Yi has a hidden disease?”

[32] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[33] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love.”

[34] iMedia, n.d., “Wenxiu: The only woman who dared to divorce Puyi, married a cleaner for the second time, and only revealed her identity before her death”

[35] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[36] 6Park.News, 24 August 2021, “He married a female factory worker! I felt that my wife was unusual and only discovered that she was the Emperor of the Qing dynasty after 6 years”

[37] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[38] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[39] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[40] iMedia, n.d., “Wenxiu: The only woman who dared to divorce Puyi, married a cleaner for the second time, and only revealed her identity before her death”

[41] iNews, n.d., “Savings are constantly being wiped out, and after many hard work, Wenxiu has never treated her well after her divorce.”

[42] iNews, n.d., “Savings are constantly being wiped out, and after many hard work, Wenxiu has never treated her well after her divorce.”

[43] iNews, n.d., “Savings are constantly being wiped out, and after many hard work, Wenxiu has never treated her well after her divorce.”

[44] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[45] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[46] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[47] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[48] iNews, n.d., “After the last imperial concubine and Puyi divorced, they married the coachman. After their death, the husband recalled: got the imperial concubine’s true love”

[49] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[50] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[51] DayDayNews, 28 May 2020, “The emperor’s concubine Wenxiu in the late Qing Dynasty: Divorced and remarried a Henan guy, the last words of the husband before his death are too realistic!”

[52] The World of Chinese, 30 March 2022, “Romance and Rebellion in Republican China”

[53] The World of Chinese, 30 March 2022, “Romance and Rebellion in Republican China”






About Lauralee Jacks 132 Articles
I am a third grade elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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