Born in August 14th in 1871, Emperor Guangxu was named Aixinjueluo Zaitian, whose father was the seventh son of Emperor Daoguang. In 1874, Emperor Tongzhi died of an illness. Since he had no heir to take over the throne, the powerful and tactful Empress Dowager Cixi chose Zaitian (whose mother was a sister of Cixi), so that she could still keep her domination over the imperial power. In 1887, Emperor Guangxu held the inauguration ceremony. However, the real power was still grasped by Cixi who continued to hold court from behind a screen for another two years. Seeing from Emperor Guangxu's accession to the throne, he was bound to manipulated by his 'foster mother' Cixi.
During the reign of Emperor Guangxu, the most two remarkable events were the Sino-Japanese War and the Wu Hsu Reform in 1898. In dealing with the Sino-Japanese War, he strongly objected to compromise and for many times forced the Qing army to fight against the Japanese army. Nevertheless, he was overpowered by the weak corrupt Qing court and the Qing court underwent a fiasco in the Sino-Japanese War. After learning the painful lessons, Emperor Guangxu began to think over the renovation to adjust the court order and prevent the entire state from declining.
In 1898, along with a group of reform advocators, he promulgated the prescript called Ding Guo Shi Zhao to commence the renovation. Unfortunately, lasting for only 103 days, the vigorous reform movement was killed by the opposite parties who launched a coup against all reform parties. After that, Emperor Guangxu again lost his imperial power to the hands of Cixi and he was later house arrested by Cixi.
In 1900, the so-called Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded China. Confronting the fatal crisis, Emperor Guangxu ever decided to stay in the capital to stabilize the public mind but he was taken to Xian by Empress Dowager Cixi before the fall of Beijing. The next year when they came back from Xian, he was still kept away from the state affairs. Till 1908, he died in depression and gloom was buried in the West Qing Tombs.
All in all, although Emperor Guangxu's political life was full of tragic elements, he was regarded as progressive monarch. Being a pioneer of the capitalist renovation, his deeds broke the thought retention of the feudal autocracy and started the ideological liberation of China. Therefore, Emperor Guangxu has been creditably remembered as an enlightened emperor who first tried to adopt the western political pattern to govern China.