China's Forbidden City

It was the inner sanctum and pulsating heart of the Chinese Empire. Today it is modern China’s greatest tourist attraction: Beijing’s Forbidden City.

This program focuses on the magical site and on two major turning points. The first part, “The Center of the World,” transports us to the reign of Emperor Yongle in the 15th century, the most cosmopolitan period of the Ming Dynasty. Having usurped the throne, Yongle had to rely on his court eunuchs to administer the Empire. Though robbed of their manhood, they rose to occupy the highest posts. This fascinating look at the imperial eunuchs is followed by “The Reign of the Concubine,” which showcases Cixi, the fabled Dowager Empress of the late 19th century. A simple concubine, she became the mightiest woman at court, a masterful manipulator of the Forbidden City’s power structures.

1. The Centre of the World
2. The Reign of the Concubine