More than 3000 years have passed since the only empress of China ruled her country, Since then a lot of stories have been told about her but nobody can truly how she rose and ruled but Empress Wu reigned with an iron fist and true intent, Saving the Tang dynasty from the brink of collapsing and making it into the golden era. Making it one of the most important dynasties in China.
Born as Wu Zetian in the city of Taiyuan (then named Bingzhou) to a timber father and a daughter of the powerful Yang family. Wu grew up in welfare and unlike most women her age got to pursue her academics instead of tedious chore work, becoming well versed about many different topics such as writing, literature, music, politics and governmental affairs. This paid off when the became an imperial concubines for emperor Taizong of Tang at age 14, she had a big mouth and with her times spend in the emperors room where he has important documents pasted onto his walls so he could continue working on them at night she was able to continue her education and earning herself the rank of Secretary – Cairen ( translated to Talented).
However she wasn’t favored by the emperor Taizong and had sexual affairs with his son Li Zhi. After Taizongs death it was custom for concubines who did not bare the child of the emperor to move to a monastry to spend the rest of their lives confined as a Buddhist nun which Wu did not agree on and left the monastry, She met with Li Zhi (later Gaozong of Tang) and he was so intruiged by her beauty and wisdom that he took her back as a concubine of his own.
Wu’s rise to power didn’t only come from her wisdom but also through bribes and manipulation. Shortly after the birth of her second child with emperor Gaozhong, their young daughter was found dead, strangled in her crib, Wu quickly accused her rival, Gaozhong’s first wife Emperor Wang of being jealous and seen by the bedroom of the baby. This resulted in the emperor getting extremely angry and demoting his wife and taking Wu as his first wife.
In traditional folklore Wu was depicted as a power hungry woman, It’s said that during her rise to power she had many chancellors, generals, the emperors heirs and their families exiled, executed or forced into suicide. Leaving a long trail of deaths in her wake. After the death of Emperor Gaozhong, it’s said he was a weak emperor who often got sick and couldn’t rule his land properly, her son Li Zhe took the throne under the name Zhongzong and was forced to follow his mothers bidding in every move or decision he tried to make but his reign only lasted for six months as he disobeyed his mothers wishes and was very much under the thumb of his wife. Demoting him and making her fourth son take the throne next.
In a 655 she took the throne herself, even with the terror she struck within her people, She knew just which to appoint as general or other positions. These men were often admired by people but it wasn’t until 686 when her grandson’s and other officials and people of China started rebelling against her and in 705 a coup formed that took her of her throne, her death followed soon after.
Many movies and series have been made about the Empress but nothing really tells the true story of Empress Wu, A ruthless but also very successful Empress of the Zhou and Tang Dynasty.