As a woman Emperor, Wu Zetian ruled with an iron fist as if she were a man. However, her decisions show she was intelligent but also passionate and tender at times.
There is a collection of fifty-eight of Wu’s poems. Most of her poetry was written for temple ceremonies and some for travel.
She also wrote many books and collected art. Wu edited the Book of Agriculture, which influenced agricultural development during the Tang Dynasty.
In fact, there is evidence that Wu respected decisive men such as her Prime Minister De Renji. She often talked about Li Shimin, her first husband, with respect.
The historical record shows that she respected men who dared to speak up about issues concerning principles regardless of the risk to his life.
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After her death, her son and heir was removed as emperor due to a plot.
In 710, Wu’s grandson, Li Longji, defeated the enemy that intended to take over the dynasty and returned his father to the throne. Eventually, Longji would become Emperor Tang Xuanzong.
Under Emperor Yuanzong, the Dynasty continued to prosper.
However, when Yuanzong grew old, he neglected his duties and spent too much time with his favorite concubine. The officials became corrupt and this led to the Shi Rebellion, which his son, the next emperor, had to suppress.
Next, the eunuchs began to gain too much power. The next fourteen emperors from 756 to 907 were weak and the Tang Dynasty continued to unravel until it collapsed.
The historical evidence says Wu Zetian should have earned praise for her insights and ambition since she did a better job as Emperor than most of the men that ruled the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).
Return to Wu Zetian, China’s Female Emperor – Part 3 or start with Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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