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Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) (Chinese and Japanese : 皇太后; pinyin : huángtàihòu; rōmaji : Kōtaigō; Korean : 황태후 (皇太后); romaja : Hwang Tae Hu; Vietnamese : Hoàng Thái Hậu (皇太后)) is the English language translation of the title given to the mother or widow of a Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese emperor in the Chinese cultural sphere.
The title was also given occasionally to another woman of the same generation, while a woman from the previous generation was sometimes given the title of grand empress dowager (Chinese and Japanese : 太皇太后; pinyin : tàihúangtàihòu; rōmaji : Taikōtaigō; Korean : 태황태후 (太皇太后); romaja : Tae Hwang Tae Hu; Vietnamese : Thái Hoàng Thái Hậu (太皇太后)). Numerous empress dowagers held regency during the reign of underage emperors. Many of the most prominent empress dowagers also extended their control for long periods after the emperor was old enough to govern. This was a source of political turmoil according to the traditional view of Chinese history.
The title dowager empress was given to the wife of a deceased emperor of Russia or Holy Roman emperor.
For grand empresses dowager, visit grand empress dowager.
In the complex organization of the Japanese Imperial Court, the title of "empress dowager" does not automatically devolve to the principal consort of an Emperor who has died. The title "Kōtaigō" can only be bestowed or granted by the Emperor who will have acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
The following were among the individuals who were granted this imperial title:
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Eleonora Gonzaga was empress dowager from 1657–1686. 
Although never referred to as a dowager, Empress Matilda was controversially the Holy Roman Empress and continued to be referred to as "empress" long after the death of her first husband Henry V, and her subsequent remarriage. Despite having abandoned the throne of Sicily for her son Frederick II, Empress Constance widow of Henry VI retained her title as empress dowager till her death.
Dowager empresses of Russia held precedence over the empress consort. This was occasionally a source of tension. For example, when Paul I was assassinated, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg), for whom this tradition was started, often took the arm of her son Tsar Alexander I at court functions and ceremonies while his wife Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden) walked behind, which caused resentment on the part of the young empress. The same thing happened decades later when Emperor Alexander III died, and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) held precedence over Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (Alix of Hesse), which put an enormous strain on their already tense relationship. The power struggle culminated when the Dowager Empress refused to hand over certain jewels traditionally associated with the Empress Consort.[ citation needed ]
There have been four dowager empresses in Russia:
Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna was briefly and concurrently, along with her mother in-law Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, a Dowager empress. She is therefore often forgotten as an Dowager Empress.
Queen-Empress Victoria (1819–1901, r. 1837–1901) was widowed in 1861, before her accession as Queen-Empress of India. Her son, her grandson and her great-grandson all died before their wives, and their widows were known as empresses dowager in this Indian context. Had George VI, the last Emperor of India, died before the independence of India was proclaimed in 1947, his widow would have been known as the dowager empress of India. However, George VI did not die until 1952, some years after India's formal independence and the renunciation of the title Emperor of India by the British monarch (which took place formally in 1948).
The Empress of Japan is the title given to the wife of the Emperor of Japan or a female ruler in her own right. In Japanese, the empress consort is called Kōgō (皇后). The current empress consort is Empress Masako, who ascended the throne with her husband on 1 May 2019. Much like their male counterparts, female rulers who ascend the throne by their birthright are referred to as 天皇 (tennō), but can also be referred to as 女性天皇 or 女帝 (jotei). josei tennō refers only to an empress regnant of Japan, and jotei refers to an empress regnant of any countries.
Empress Dowager Liu, briefly further honored as Empress Dowager Shenggan, was an empress dowager of the Chinese Sui Dynasty. She was a concubine of Yang Zhao, who was crown prince during the reign of his father Emperor Yang, and she was the mother of Yang Tong, the last person to claim the Sui throne.
Kōkyū (後宮) is the section of a Japanese Imperial Palace called the Dairi (内裏) where the Imperial Family and court ladies lived.
Trần Thái Tông, personal name Trần Cảnh or Trần Nhật Cảnh, temple name Thái Tông, was the first emperor of the Trần dynasty, reigned Đại Việt for 33 years (1226–58), being Retired Emperor for 19 years. He reigned during the first Mongol invasion of Vietnam before eventually abdicating in favor of his son Trần Hoảng in 1258.
Lý Chiêu Hoàng, personal name Lý Phật Kim (李佛金) later renamed to Lý Thiên Hinh (李天馨), was the ninth and last sovereign of the Lý dynasty, empress of Đại Việt from 1224 to 1225. She is the only empress regnant in Vietnamese history and the second Vietnamese female monarch as Trưng Trắc is the first female monarch and the only queen regnant.
Empress Dowager Eishō was the consort of Emperor Kōmei of Japan. She is also known under the technically incorrect name Empress Eishō.
Trần Anh Tông, personal name Trần Thuyên (陳烇), courtesy name Nhật Sủy (日煃) or Nhật Sáng (日㷃/日𤊞), was the fourth emperor of the Trần dynasty, reigning over Dai Viet from 1293 to 1314. After ceding the throne to his son Trần Minh Tông, Anh Tông held the title Retired Emperor for six years. As the first Trần emperor who ruled in total peace with respect to foreign affairs, Anh Tông was known for his successful reign of Đại Việt, which brought a long period of peace and prosperity over the country. He also had several military victories over the kingdoms of Champa and Laos.
Trần Thừa was the head of the Trần clan and a high-ranking mandarin during the reign of Lý Huệ Tông and Lý Chiêu Hoàng. After the overthrow of the Lý dynasty by Trần Thủ Độ, Trần Thừa's second son Trần Cảnh was enthroned as Trần Thái Tông, the first emperor of the Trần dynasty. Being the Emperor's father, Trần Thừa was honoured by the title Retired Emperor and given the temple name Trần Thái Tổ after his death. He was thus the first retired emperor of the Trần dynasty and the only one who had not held the throne.
Prince Yên Sinh Trần Liễu (1211–1251) was the elder brother of the Trần Thái Tông, the first emperor of Trần Dynasty. Initially, Trần Liễu was honoured by his younger brother with the title King Hiển but he was downgraded to Prince Yên Sinh after the short-lived revolt in fury of losing his pregnant wife, Princess Thuận Thiên, to the Emperor under the pressure of Imperial Regent Trần Thủ Độ. Besides this event, Trần Liễu was well known in the history of Vietnam for being the father of Trần Hưng Đạo, commander-in-chief of the Đại Việt army during the second and third war of resistance against the Mongol invasion.
National Matriarch Linh Từ Trần Thị Dung (?–1259) was the last empress and the last empress mother of the Lý dynasty. She was entitled by the Emperor Lý Huệ Tông as Empress Consort of the Lý dynasty from 1216 to 1225 before becoming Empress Mother of the Lý dynasty when her daughter Lý Phật Kim was enthroned as Lý Chiêu Hoàng in 1225. After Trần Thủ Độ, Trần Thị Dung's cousin, successfully overthrew the Lý dynasty and founded the Trần dynasty, Trần Thị Dung was downgraded to Princess Thiên Cực while her brother Trần Thừa's son became Trần Thái Tông, first emperor of the Trần dynasty. Before Lý Chiêu Hoàng, Trần Thị Dung had another daughter who eventually also became Empress Consort of the Trần dynasty, Empress Thuận Thiên.
Empress Thuận Thiên (1216–1248) was the second empress of Trần dynasty, she succeeded her younger sister Empress Chiêu Thánh in 1237 by an arrangement of Trần Thủ Độ in which Prince Hoài Trần Liễu was forced to give up his 3-month pregnant wife Princess Thuận Thiên to the Emperor Trần Thái Tông. Thuận Thiên was born in the royal family of the Lý dynasty as the first child of the Emperor Lý Huệ Tông and Lady Thuận Trinh Trần Thị Dung with whom she witnessed the turbulent time of the Late Lý and Early Trần Dynasty. She was mother of four princes including the second emperor of the Trần Dynasty Trần Thánh Tông and grand chancellor Prince Chiêu Minh Trần Quang Khải.
Empress Xiao'an, of the Chen clan, was a Chinese empress consort of the Ming dynasty. She was the second wife of the Longqing Emperor.
Empress Xiaogongzhang, of the Sun clan, was a Chinese empress consort of the Ming dynasty, married to the fifth Ming emperor, the Xuande Emperor. She was mother of Zhu Qizhen, Emperor Yingzong.
Empress Mother Thượng Dương was a regent of the Lý dynasty during the minority of her stepson in 1072–1073.
Empress Dowager Xiaoding, of the Li clan, was the mother of the Wanli Emperor. She was the nominal Regent of China during the minority of her son from 1572 to 1582. She became known in history under her posthumous name, Xiaoding.
Ngô Thị Ngọc Dao posthumous name Quang-thục Trinh-huệ Khiêm-tiết Hòa-xung Nhơn-thánh Dowager Empress (光淑禎惠謙節和沖仁聖皇太后), was a queen consort of Later Lê dynasty and mother of the Vietnamese emperor Lê Thánh Tông.
Dowager Empress Gia Từ of Lê clan was the consort of Trần dynasty.
Empress Xiaosu, of the Zhou clan, was the concubine of Emperor Yingzong of Ming and the mother of the Chenghua Emperor.
Empress Zhaosheng or Empress Dowager Zhaosheng may refer to: