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Qi Empress

Qi Empress (奇皇后; Mongolian name: Öljei Khutugh 完者忽都) (?-1369/70) was one of empresses of Toghun Temür Khan (Shun Di/Hui Zong) of the Yuan Dynasty and the mother of Ayurshiridar (Biligtü Khan[?]/Zhao Zong). She was one of the most powerful Koreans in history.

She was born to Ki Jao (奇子敖) in Haeng Prefecture (幸州), Korea. She had an elder brother named Ki Cheol (奇轍). She became a concubine of Toghun Temür and mothered Ayurshiridar. After the primary empress Danashri was overthrown in 1340 because of the rebellion by his brother Tanggisi, Toghun Temür try to install Öljei Khutugh as an empress, Bayan, who hold real power, opposed it. When Bayan was purged, she became the secondary empress in 1340 (the primary one was Bayan Khutugh of the Khunggirad[?] clan). Her son Ayurshiridar became Crown Prince in 1353. Using his Korean eunuch Bak Bukha (朴不花), she began the campaign to force the Emperor to pass the throne to Ayurshiridar. It became known to the emperor and he grew apart from her.

Her family wielded tremendous power in Goryeo. Since her brother Bayan Bukha (Ki Cheol[?]) came to threaten the position of the king, Bayan Temür (King Gongmin[?]) exterminated the Ki family by coup in 1356. In 1364 she fielded Tas Temür as the king of Goryeo and dispatched troops to Korea, but they were defeated by Goryeo army in crossing the Yalu River.

At that time the internal strife was fought between supporters and opponents of the Crown Prince. A opposition leader Bolud Temür finally occupied the capital in 1364. Ayurshiridar fled to Köke Temür, a supporter of him, but Qi Empress was imprisoned by Bolud Temür. Bolud Temür was overthrown by Köke Temür the next year. She once again try to install her son as the Khan, with the support of Köke Temür, but in vain. After Bayan Khutugh died, Öljei Khutugh was elevated to the primary empress.

The collapse of Mongol rule of China in 1368 forced her to flee to Yingchang (應昌). In 1370 Toghun Temür Khan died and Ayurshiridar ascended to the throne there. She became Empress Dowager, but soon after that went missing.



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