Emperor Gaozong died in 683 AD, and Wu’s third son Lixian became the emperor.
However, a month later, she had him removed from power. Then her fourth son refused to become the emperor but eventually accepted the title and became known as Emperor Tang Ruizong.
Wu believed that her sons were weak, so she continued to control the affairs of state as Empress.
Although there are rumors and gossip that Wu had many love affairs, it is obvious from her age when Emperor Gaozong died that the stories are exaggerations encouraged by her political enemies and the imaginations of future scholars of historical textbooks.
Mandarin with English Subtitles
After eight years of ruling the empire without officially being the Emperor, Wu made a shocking decision. In 690 AD, Wu changed the Tang Dynasty into the Zhou Dynasty and declared herself as Emperor.
She was sixty-seven.
Since 655 AD, after becoming Gaozong’s Empress, she ruled the Dynasty for 29 years and after he died, she ruled for 21 more years for 50 total.
While Wu ruled the Tang Dynasty, the economy, culture, social and political affairs prospered. She was also a talented military leader who reformed the army. After the reforms, without leaving her palace, she managed military conflicts with rival states and defeated them.
Under her leadership, the empire expanded and grew stronger.
Near her death in 704 AD, Wu returned the throne to her third son Lixian, who became Emperor again.
Return to Wu Zetian, China’s Female Emperor – Part 1 or continue to Part 3
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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