Facts about Cold Palace in Forbidden City

Suppose you have read fiction or serious books or watched some TV series or documentaries about the royal family in ancient China. In that case, you must be familiar with the phrase “Cold Palace”, or “Lenggong.” But what exactly was it? And where was it located in Forbidden City?

Well, first, there was no specific building called Cold Palace in Forbidden City. This phrase describes where the emperor confined his concubines or sons who had made serious mistakes, usually the palace they used to live in (it was extremely rare to execute a royal family member in ancient China). The gate would be locked, the number of maids and eunuchs would be reduced to the minimum, and the meals would be barely edible. The roof might leak during rainy days, and the room would be as cold as hell during winter. They were simply deserted there and waited to die.

In other words, any place that jailed the concubines and sons who angered the emperor could be called the Cold Palace. According to the official history of the Ming and Qing dynasties, several remote buildings had been used as the Cold Palace.

For example, the Concubine Wang (1656 -1611) was confined in remote Jingyang Gong (Palace of Great Brilliance) and could not meet her son for a decade. The Concubine Li (1605 – 1637) was dispelled to the Qianxi Palace, and no one served her any food for half a month. The Concubine Zhen (1876 – 1900) also lived in the Cold Palace for a few years before jumping into a well and killing herself.

However, there was also a slim chance that the emperor regrated his decision several days, months, or years later or found that the concubines or princes were wronged. Then they would step out of the cold palace and regain their honors and treatment, which also happened many times in history.

Other facts about the Forbidden City

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