Pu Yi was two years old when he became the emperor of more than 400 million Chinese citizens. Two years after this photo was taken, in 1912, Pu Yi was forced to abdicate. The last emperor of China ended his life as an assistant gardener at the Beijing Botanical Gardens in the 1960s.

Photograph courtesy National Geographic

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    On February 12, 1912, Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, was forced to abdicate. Pu Yi was only six years old at the time. His father had made major political decisions during Pu Yi’s four-year reign, and his adoptive mother signed his abdication papers. 
    Pu Yi’s abdication ended more than 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. The new Republic of China ushered in a new, republican style of government with elected leaders and citizen representation. The new government was not stable, however. It quickly fell to internal conflict and, later, Japanese invasion prior to World War II
    Pu Yi was imprisoned after World War II for collaborating with the Japanese. After leaving prison, he worked as a gardener and lived as a regular citizen, Henry Puyi.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abdicate Verb

    to step down from a position of authority and power.

    citizen Noun

    member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    elect Verb

    to choose by vote.

    emperor Noun

    ruler of an empire.

    Forbidden City Noun

    palace complex in Beijing, China, used by Chinese emperors.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    imperial Adjective

    having to do with an empire.

    imprison Verb

    to confine or put in a jail-like facility.

    invasion Noun

    an attack or move to take possession.

    misbehave Verb

    to act badly or without manners.

    palace Noun

    large home or mansion, often the home of a leader or dignitary.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    prior Adjective

    before or ahead of.

    reign Verb

    to rule as a monarch.

    representation Noun

    action taken on behalf of another person, group of people, or organization.

    republic Noun

    system of government where power rests in citizens who vote and representatives who stand for those citizens. The United States is a republic.

    stable Adjective

    steady and reliable.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)