Puyi (The Last Emperor)

Aisin Gioro Puyi was the last emperor of China. He was born on 7 February 1906 in Beijing to the second Prince Chun, the half-brother of the Guangxu Emperor.

He grew up inside the Imperial Palace in Beijing and did not know much about life outside the palace.

When the Guangxu Emperor died, Empress Dowager Cixi, on her deathbed, named Puyi as the next emperor.

He was crowned in 1908 at just three years old. His father ruled as regent until 1911, when Empress Dowager Longyu (Guangxu’s ex-wife) became regent to combat the rising revolution.

Puyi The Last Emperor

Xinhai Revolution

The Xinhai revolution started with the Wuchang Uprising. A new, modern army had been created by the Qing dynasty in Wuchang.

On 10 October 1911, the army revolted because it believed that the Qing dynasty had lost the support of the gods, known as the mandate of heaven.

They thought that the increase in natural disasters like fires and floods showed that the gods were displeased with Qing rule. Therefore, the army tried to overthrow the Imperial powers.

The revolution helped to spread ideas of turning China into a republic (a country without an emperor or monarchy, where the people vote for their ruler).

In the south, people were very keen on becoming a republic and set up their own government.

On 12 February 1912, Empress Dowager Longyu signed a law causing Puyi to give up his throne.

He was allowed to keep his title and live in the Palace, but no longer had any power or say in government.

Xinhai Revolution

Common Citizen

In 1917, a warlord put Puyi back on his throne but this only lasted 12 days as the Chinese people rebelled again.

Puyi was left to himself until 1924, when another warlord seized Beijing and stripped Puyi of his titles, making him a common citizen. Puyi was forced out of the Place.

Fearing for his life, Puyi went to Japan in exile. In 1932, the Japanese government made him ruler of Manchukuo, a Japanese-owned area in north-east China.

Puyi was constantly watched by the government and had little real power. He spent his days signing laws and making formal visits to Japan.

In 1945, at the end of World War Two, Puyi was captured by the Soviet Union and held in a prison camp.

He was eventually given to the Chinese communist government and put in a camp where he was re-educated about communist life; Puyi was considered reformed 10 years later and released in 1960.

Puyi became a regular citizen of the People’s Republic of China in 1960. He worked as a gardener and a book editor for the rest of his life. He died in 1967.



  • Puyi was named emperor at three years old in 1908.
  • The Xinhai revolution started as people believed the gods disliked the Qing dynasty.
  • The revolution started with the Wuchang Uprising when the army revolted.
  • Puyi gave up his throne aged six on 12 February 1912.
  • Puyi got his throne back for 12 days but then he was thrown out of the palace.
  • Japan made Puyi emperor of Manchuko in north east China for 13 years.
  • Puyi was captured by the Soviet Union in 1945 and imprisoned.
  • Puyi was then given to Communist China to be re-educated.
  • Puyi lived as a peasant and worked as a gardener and editor.


  • What is a republic?
    A country which has no monarch and everyone in power is chosen by the people.
  • What was the mandate of heaven?
    The government lost the support of the gods so natural disasters happened.
  • How was Puyi forced to give up the throne?
    Empress Dowager Longyu signed a law to force him to abdicate.
  • Why did Japan help Puyi?
    Japan wanted a figurehead to sign their laws in Manchuko.
  • What happened to Puyi after 1960?
    He became a regular Chinese citizen and worked as a gardener and editor.