Imperial Doctress is China's newest hit drama starring Cecilia Liu and Wallace Huo. Whenever a historical drama becomes popular, people often look up information to find what was in actual history. Even in China, fans are searching and discussing about the real-life female doctor and the two competing Emperors. We hope that this article will give you some background to enjoy the romantic drama in Imperial Doctress.

SPOILER ALERT: We will cover what we know from history and compare to what is presented in the romantic drama. If you prefer not to know the actual history, you can simply visit this FIRST LOOK to check out the fabulous costumes in the colorful posters and watch a trailer.

The Era: Our drama opens during the reign of Ming Dynasty's 6th Emperor, sometime before 1449. The story is based on actual historical figures and events, fused with a vivid imagination from the writer, to present a dramatic re-telling of the characters' romance and adventures.


Tan Yun Xian, the Imperial Doctress played by Cecilia Liu (aka Liu Shi Shi). She was one of 4 famous female doctors listed in China's long history. She was born in 1461 to a family headed by her grandmother who practiced medicine. Her father and uncle were both government officials. Her grandmother recognized her intelligence early on and taught her medical lessons and would eventually leave her a collection of medicinal recipes.

Many upper-class women in those days preferred not to be treated by male doctors. When the government decided to list all reputable medical practitioners, Tan was included as highly reputable, and many female members of the royal family would seek her out for treatments. When Tan was 50 years old, she published a book based on her medical practice and experiences. She lived to be 96 years old.

In the drama, Tan's family was portrayed as having renounced the practice of medicine due to incidents occurring some years ago. The smart and clever young Yun Xian secretly learned medical lessons from her grandmother.


Zhu Qi Zhen (Emperor Yingzong), played by Wallace Huo. Although the Ming dynasty was strong in his father's time, he ascended to the throne when he was only 9 years old in 1435. Because of his young age, he often was guided by poor advice that got him and the nation into trouble.

When he was 21, under the advice of his eunuch Wang Zhen, he personally led an army to battle against the Mongols in the frontier and was captured at the Battle of Tumu. His capture sent Ming China into a crisis, and a new emperor was appointed. He would eventually return and take his throne back.

In the drama, the Queen Dowager was depicted as the emperor's leading adversary. Her main objective was to consolidate and secure her own power, and she did not have personal affection for either emperor in the story because she was not their birth mother.

Also in the drama, Zhu Qi Zhen meets and falls for Tan Yun Xian. He initially didn't reveal his royal identity. Later they would endure Zhu's capture together and grow deep feelings for each other.


Zhu Qi Yu (Emperor Jingtai), played by Huang Xuan. He was Zhu Qi Zhen's younger half-brother. He ascended to the throne after his brother was captured. After becoming the emperor, he decided to replace the crown prince (his brother's son) with his own son, thus causing dissent in the government and rancor from the captured emperor. 

When his brother (Emperor Yingzong) was released by the Mongols and returned to the capital, Zhu Qi Yu kept his brother under house arrest. According to documented history, the previous emperor was confined under horrible conditions, such as his food being sent in through a small opening.

When Zhu Qi Yu fell ill in the 8th year of his reign, supporters of the previous emperor initiated a coup and resurrected Emperor Yingzong to be Ming's 8th emperor. Zhu Qi Yu died not long after the coup, but for a few days in real history, there existed two emperors in Ming China.

Zhu Qi Yu had 2 queens in real life. He demoted the first queen and promoted a royal concubine to be his new queen. There is very little in historical archive about Queen Hang, other than that she gave birth to a son. The absence of history actually can inspire a creative writer to imagine and develop an intricate romance. In the drama, this second queen was Tan Yu Xian (Cecilia Liu), who had come to the young prince's aid earlier in the story.


Although fans of China's hottest leading man want Wallace Huo to get the girl, it is speculated that his character Zhu Qi Zhen won't be reunited with his beautiful imperial doctress. Since the drama is still on air in China at this time, we can always hope, right?

Imperial Doctress is already available on DramaFever with the first 10 episodes, to be followed by 5 episodes every week. Take a look!

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Imperial Doctress

Starring Cecilia Liu and Wallace Huo

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