who was the first female emperor of china?

History of China more than 3,000 years ago.In the long history of china, There were over 500 emperors of China. The words of an emperor were considered sacred and were to be obeyed immediately.Only one woman has ever sat on China’s throne as Emperor in her own right.

who was the first female emperor of china?

Who was the first woman emperor of China?That woman was Wu Zetian (624-705) of the Tang dynasty.And to get there, she left behind a trail of bodies that even Cersei Lannister might have nodded at in respect.

What did Wu Zetian do for China?

Wu Zetian

1.The first achievement was Wu Zhao’s policy of recruiting officials. The basic criteria of selection of officialdom shifted from personal integrity or conduct to a greater emphasis on candidates’ education levels and intellectual capabilities. By implementing this change, Wu broadened eligibility for the bureaucracy by placing more emphasis on recruiting talented and educated aristocrats, scholars, and military leaders than limiting high officials to a few powerful aristocratic clans. This may have been the reason she avoided any mutiny that threatened her regime. In 693, Wu wrote the two-volume Rules for Officials and made it part of the examination curriculum, replacing the old Daoist classic, Daode Jing. She even initiated the personal examination of candidates by the ruler because she believed this system could best serve her objective of effective Imperial management. The civil service examination was not new in Tang China, but Wu’s reforms would serve as a foundation for later dynasties developing an even stronger examination system.

2.The second achievement was Wu’s policy of maintaining China’s Imperial sovereignty, expanding Tang territories through conquering several regions, and exercising a dominant cultural influence over Japan and Korea. Despite armed clashes with neighboring Tibet, Wu, through a combination of military force and diplomacy, managed this, as well as other foreign threats to Imperial China.

3.The third achievement was Wu’s policy of economic development. Agriculture caught the attention of Wu, who ordered the compilation of farming textbooks, construction of irrigation systems, reduction of taxes, and other agrarian reform measures. In 695, for example, Wu offered the entire empire a tax-free year. Despite this, her tax office still benefited from trade opportunities through the Silk Roads between China, Central Asia, and the West. Her economic policies apparently improved the life of peasants, moving them toward prosperity and peace. Some historians argue that Wu lived in extravagance in later years because of showy Buddhist monasteries built to satisfy her private needs. However, in the eyes of the common people, she may have been an incredibly popular ruler. Evidence from a stele in Sichuan Province shows that, in time of flood or drought, people pray at a temple in the name of “Celestial Empress.” She is still honored today by an annual agricultural festival there, especially on her birthday.

4.The fourth achievement was Wu’s patronage of Buddhism. As a child, Wu was introduced to Buddhism by her parents, and, as noted earlier, she was briefly a Buddhist nun. After she gained power, Wu helped spread and consolidate Buddhism and supported the religion by erecting temples so priests could explain Buddhist texts. She thought highly of Huayan Buddhism, which regarded Vairocana Buddha as the center of the world, very similar to Wu’s desire to become the holy emperor. Wu’s Buddhist sect also encouraged its followers to regard their earthly ruler as the representative of Vairocana Buddha, a belief that Wu probably regarded quite favorably as Empress. Wu assumed herself a reborn Buddha and a descendent of the ancient Zhou kings. In 692, she issued an edict forbidding the butchery of pigs. In the eyes of Chinese Buddhists, Wu may have been a popular ruler. Her patronage of Buddhism paved the way for its spread during the reign of Emperor Ruizong, when voluminous Buddhist texts were translated, edited, and published.

5.The fifth achievement was Wu’s promotion of literature and art. She was a poetess and artist. Little is written in English concerning the artistic life of Wu, for scholars have put much weight on her ambitious political life. In Wu’s childhood, she had the opportunity to learn history, literature, poetry, and music. During her reign, she formed a group, “Scholars of the Northern Gate,” for the promotion of the associates’ literary pursuits. Both Emperor Gaozong and Wu were fond of literature and poems, and helped create a culture of literary pursuits that flourished in Tang China. Some prominent Tang poets such as Li Bai (701–762) and Du Fu (712–770) appeared after the death of Wu. Even many Tang courtesans were great singers and poetesses.

6.The final achievement was Wu’s support of women’s rights. She began a series of campaigns to uplift the position of women. She advised scholars to write and edit biographies of exemplary women to assist in the attainment of her political objectives. Wu asserted that the ideal ruler was one who ruled as a mother does over her children. Wu also extended the mourning period for a deceased mother to equal that of a deceased father and raised the position of her mother’s clan by offering her relatives high official posts. She may have thought that princesses were conducive to reconciling diplomatic conflicts, since she formed marriage alliances to aid her expansionist foreign policy.

Who is Wu Zetian husband?

Taizong of Tang

At age fourteen, she was taken to be an imperial concubine (lesser wife) of Emperor Taizong of Tang. It was there that she became a type of secretary. This opportunity allowed her to continue to pursue her education. She was given the title of cairen, title for one of the consorts with the fifth rank in Tang’s nine-rank system for imperial officials, nobles, and consorts. When she was summoned to the palace, her mother, the Lady Yang, wept bitterly when saying farewell to her, but she responded, “How do you know that it is not my fortune to meet the Son of Heaven?” Lady Yang reportedly then understood her ambitions, and therefore stopped crying.

Consort Wu, however, did not appear to be much favoured by Emperor Taizong, although it appeared that she did have sexual relations with him at one point.

When the Emperor Taizong died in 649, his youngest son, Li Zhi (whose mother was main wife Wende), succeeded him as Emperor Gaozong of Tang. Li and Wu had had an affair when Taizong was still alive.

Gaozong of Tang

Thus, according to the custom by which consorts of deceased emperors who had not produced children were permanently confined to a monastic institution after the emperor’s death, Wu was consigned to Ganye Temple, with the expectation that she would serve as a Buddhist nun there for the remainder of her life. Wu was to defy expectations, however, and left the convent for an alternative life. After Taizong’s death Li Zhi came to visit her and, finding her more beautiful, intelligent, and intriguing than before, decided to bring her back as his own concubine.

By the early 650 Consort Wu was a concubine of Emperor Gaozong, and she had the title Zhaoyi , which was the highest ranking of the nine concubines of the second rank. Wu progressively gained immeasurable influence over the governance of the empire throughout Emperor Gaozong’s reign, overtime coming to control most major decisions made. She was regarded as ruthless in her endeavors to grab power, and was believed by traditional historians even to have killed her own children. This was later proven false, as these rumors seem to have surfaced 400 years after her death, likely due to the belief in ancient China that a woman wasn’t suited to hold the power of the emperor.

Did Wu Zetian kill her son?

At the time, Emperor Gaozong’s wife, Empress Wang, worried that Gaozong was too enamored with Consort Xiao, a concubine with whom he had three children. She thought that the newly-arrived Wu might distract her husband from Consort Xiao.

Wang’s plan backfired: Wu outstripped both of them and became the emperor’s new favorite. Wu, recognizing opportunity when she saw it, knew she had to get rid of her two main romantic rivals if she wanted to keep moving up the palace’s ranks.

This is where her reputation as one of history’s worst mothers gets its legs.

Wu Zetian gave birth to a daughter, but the child died in infancy. Historians now agree that she most likely strangled the child herself in order to frame Empress Wang for the crime.

Wu Zetian persevered and had no problem sacrificing her own children if it meant she would become China’s supreme ruler.

The collateral damage, beyond Wu’s dead infant, included Li-Hong, Wu’s eldest son and China’s crown prince, who died suddenly after being poisoned, almost certainly at Wu’s hand. Next, Wu badgered his successor — her second son — with so many accusations of crimes, including treason and murder, that he was eventually deposed and exiled.

After Emperor Gaozong died, Empress Wu remained in control of the throne, but she still wasn’t satisfied. She forced her youngest son, who replaced his exiled brother, to abdicate the throne, destroying now her fourth child and proclaiming herself Emperor Zetian.

wu zetian how did she die?

Wordless stele

In autumn of 704, there began to be accusations of corruption levied against Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, as well as their brothers Zhang Changqi, Zhang Changyi, and Zhang Tongxiu . Zhang Tongxiu and Zhang Changyi were demoted, but even though the officials Li Chengjia and Huan Yanfan advocated that Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong be removed as well, Wu Zetian, taking the suggestion of the chancellor Yang Zaisi, did not remove them. Subsequently, charges of corruption against Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong were renewed by the chancellor Wei Anshi.

By spring 705, Wu Zetian was seriously ill again. Zhang Jianzhi, Jing Hui, and Yuan Shuji, planned a coup to kill the Zhang brothers. They convinced the generals Li Duozuo, Li Dan (note different character than the former emperor), and Yang Yuanyan and another chancellor, Yao Yuanzhi, to be involved. With agreement from Li Xian as well, they acted on 20 February,killing Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, and then they had Changsheng Hall , where Wu Zetian was residing, surrounded. They then reported to her that the Zhang brothers had been executed for treason, and they then forced her to yield the throne to Li Xian. On 21 February, an edict was issued in her name that made Li Xian regent, and on 22 February, an edict was issued in her name passing the throne to Li Xian. On 23 February, Li Xian formally retook the throne, and the next day, Wu Zetian, under heavy guard, was moved to the subsidiary palace, Shangyang Palace , but was nevertheless honoured with the title of Empress Regnant Zetian Dasheng .On 3 March, the Tang dynasty was restored, ending the Zhou

Interesting facts about Wu Zetian

Because Confucianism didn’t allow women to rule, Wu elevated the religion of Buddhism as the state religion in China.
Three of Wu’s sons ruled as emperor at some point.
Some scholars believe that Wu killed her own daughter in order to frame the Empress Wang.
Her birth name was Wu Zhao. Emperor Taizong gave her the nickname “Mei”, which means “pretty.”


My name is Yelang, I love my country. I love Chinese history, Chinese culture and Chinese food, I want to share my story to friends all over the world. Truly, without any political bias, let you know my motherland. For this reason, I have traveled all over China's 20 + provinces and visited more than 100 + cities. At the same time, I read a lot of books and articles, and let you know through the website of sonofchina. At the same time, I hope to get to know friends all over the world and know different countries in the world through sonofchina.So, if you have any questions, please let me know.

This Post Has 2 Comments

Leave a Reply