女皇帝武则天 Wu Zetian, China's First Female Monarch
Wu Zetian, China's First Female Monarch
Wu Zetian (624-705 AD) was an outstanding stateswoman in Chinese history.
At the age of 14, she was taken into the imperial palace by Emperor Taizong as a concubine. After Emperor Taizong died, she was sent to a temple, and became a nun. Emperor Gaozong, son of Emperor Taizong, was fond of Wu Zetian when he was crown prince, and two years after he succeeded to the throne he had Wu Zetian brought back to the imperial palace. Then he demoted his consort, and made Wu Zetian the empress.
Wu Zetian soon became involved in affairs of state and palace intrigue, including getting rid of officials who opposed her. Gaozong, not being in good health, often let her handle his duties for him. At that time, Emperor Gaozong and Wu Zetian were called the "Two Saints" by the people, which meant they had two emperors.
When Emperor Gaozong died in 683, Wu Zetian administered the country as the Empress Dowager. In 690, Wu Zetian changed the name of the dynasty to Zhou, and became empress herself. She carried on the policy of developing production initiated by Emperor Taizong. She also promoted many talented people in defiance of protocol, especially members of her own clan. She was a devout Buddhist, and spent money lavishly on the construction of temples. Eventually, Wu Zetian was forced by her senior ministers to hand over power to her son, and the country returned to the control of the Tang Dynasty.