Sample donated: Mike Robinson
Last updated: September 19, 2019
Empress Wu, also known as Wuhou, Wu Zhao, or Wu Zetian was born in China on February 17, 624 AD to a wealthy family. She was well educated for being a young girl. Her father encouraged her to be educated. She was from concubinage before she ruled China. At the age of thirteen, she was recruited to be one of Emperor Taizong’s concubines. Empress Wu ruled during the Tang Dynasty from 690-705. She was the only female ruler in Chinese history.The Tang Dynasty lasted from 618-907.
In 638, the dynasty reunited China and they were unified. Emperor Taizong ruled from 626-649. Not only did Wu fall for Taizong, but his son Gaozong as well. When the Emperor died, Gaozong became the new Emperor.
Wu was Gaozong’s concubine and they had an affair while he was married. She gave him four sons and a daughter. Wu believed that Lady Wang, Gaozong’s wife was jealous. Wu later strangled and killed her newborn daughter and blamed it on Wang to have her framed. Wu gained power from the people but later they took the side of Lady wang. Gaozong divorced his wife and married Wu who then became empress of China. Wu had Lady Wang’s hand and feet cut off and killed her.
In 660, Wu has the role of Emperor but shedidn’t have the title. Gaozong became ill and lost his vision. Wu was his right hand man and helped him rule even though she was the one that really made all the decisions. In 666, she was the leader of a group of women for a trip to Mount Tai.
There, they performed rituals that were traditionally done by men. Wu did not think it was a problem that women were performing the rituals. She believed that women and men could and should be treated the same. When Gaozong’s son took power in 683 when he died.
He disobeyed his mother and was uncooperative. She later charged him with treason and let her second son, Ruizong, take the throne. She put him on house arrest yet he still disappointed her. Wu took over after she made him quit. Empress Wu Zeitan began her rule by changing state name, Tang, to Zhou.
The Empress made decisions that helped China grow. In 660, she created a secret police which helped determine who was and wasn’t loyal. She had scholars run the government, she treated peasants fairly, lowered taxes, made public works stronger and created a bigger agricultural system (at that time, production of agriculture was the highest it had been).
She was kind to the people who had her trust. She believed that women could do the same things as men and wanted to raise the status that women had. Under her rule, a chinese writing system was created. She wanted to change the way that people thought and wrote. She also expanded China’s borders and conquered new lands in Korea as well as Central Asia. Wu made Buddhism the state religion is China, since Confucianism didn’t allow women to rule. She got rid of the bureaucracy and created more direct communication between her and her people.
She improved the education system by hiring better teachers and developed new teaching methods. She wanted to to revive the military and reopen the Silk Road. As time went on, she became more distracted and spent most of her time with the Zhang brothers who were much younger than her, The government had had enough of her foolishness and had the brothers murdered. A year later, Wu died of poor health.