Puyi’s Journey: From Last Emperor to Humble Gardener

Puyi, the last emperor of China, had lived a life of luxury where he never had to perform basic tasks such as brushing his teeth or tying his shoelaces. At the age of 44, after being placed in a communist reeducation prison program in 1950, he finally faced these mundane chores for the first time.

Once deposed, Puyi was compelled to work as a street sweeper in Beijing. On his first day, he became lost and sought help from strangers, introducing himself as the last Emperor of the Qing dynasty and explaining that he was staying with relatives but couldn’t find his way home.

In the years leading up to his reeducation, Puyi had joined forces with the Japanese after their invasion of Manchuria, becoming the ruler of the puppet state of Manchuria. Following World War II, Puyi served a 10-year prison sentence as a war criminal. Upon his release, he found work as a gardener at the very palace where he had once reigned.

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