China’s Forbidden City

Step into the Forbidden City – a Chinese palace in the heart of Beijing. Here, Chinese rulers governed medieval China and dictated the empire’s future. But what is its history, who built it and why was it forbidden?

The history of the Forbidden City begins with a bloody coup in early 15th century. A prince named Zhu di manages to overthrow the earlier leadership and takes power under the title of Emperor Yongle. Now under new management, he declares China’s new capital to be Beijing and orders the construction of a giant palace complex. Instilled by ‘cosmic order’, this new palace was to become the very center of the Ming Dynasty – and a sanctuary for the emperor himself.

Evenutally Emperor Yongle and the Ming Dynasty broke down into a collapse during the 17th century. Yet the Forbidden Palace still stood as a beacon of power in the following ages. Built with breathtaking architecture and intimately tied with Chinese history, even today today the Forbidden City is open for all to visit and see these historical imprints.

Throughout this documentary we’ll journey through the Forbidden City’s history and focus on two pivotal moments.

The first historical point centers around the very height of the Ming Dynasty. We’ll take a look at how Emperor Yongle came to power, the Forbidden palace construction, and how he administrated the empire through the use of eunochs.

The following historical point focuses on “The Reign of the Concubine” which showcases Cixi, the fabled Dowager Empress of the late 19th century. Starting as a simple concubine, she eventually became the mightiest woman at court, a masterful manipulator of the Forbidden City’s power structures.

She was the ruthless “dragon lady” that subjected the last regents of the Dragon Throne to becoming her marionettes. The emperor’s widow Cixi was one of the most powerful women in Chinese history. She came to the Forbidden City as a young concubine in 1850, soon winning the favour of the Chinese emperor and becoming the empire’s most important woman. Cixi lead China’s destiny for almost fifty years, and was yet unable to stop the tides of change that would bring down the great Chinese Empire

China’s Forbidden City
  • Info
  • Release date2008
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Christian Twente