Taizong was so impressed at her intellectual abilities, he took her out of the laundry and made her his secretary. 3, no. Her extravagant construction projects and expensive frontier campaigns had exhausted the treasury, which led to a financial crisis. Her success in the campaigns against Korea inspired confidence in her generals and Wu's decisions on military defense or expeditions were never challenged. How to evaluate such an unprecedented figure today? When she saw she would not be able to control the court as her mother did, she killed herself and Xuanzong decreed that no member of Wu's family would be allowed to hold public office because of their ruthless scheming and underhanded politics. This institution became a political weapon in the hands of Empress Wu when she usurped the throne in 690. T.H. Encyclopedia.com. Still, this did not mean the women were not jealous of the favor the emperor showed Wu now that she had given birth to two sons in a row. Given Tang Chinas rich history of inter-regional connections and communications with its East Asian neighbors, it is not surprising that Wus sponsorship of Buddhism resulted in a flurry of scholarly exchanges, and the construction of many new pilgrimage Buddhist sites. Palace ladies of the Tang dynasty, from a contemporary wall painting in an imperial tomb in Shaanxi. empress wu primary sources. The China that Wu Zetian was born in was the Tang Dynasty (618906), a strong and unified empire after four centuries of political discord and foreign interaction. Our publication has been reviewed for educational use by Common Sense Education, Internet Scout (University of Wisconsin), Merlot (California State University), OER Commons and the School Library Journal. and turned the, Wang Mang (45 B.C.-A.D. 23) was a Chinese statesman and emperor. The World History Encyclopedia logo is a registered trademark. Still, Xuanzong continued many of Wu's policies, including keeping her reforms in taxation, agriculture, and education. This spy system served her well in giving her early warning of any plots in the making and enabled her to take care of threats to her reign before they became actual problems. After suppressing this revolt, the empress dowager began to purge her opponents at court. At age 14 she became a concubine of Emperor TaiZong of the Tang Dynasty and was given the title of CaiRren (Guardian Immortal) and a new name, Wu Mei. 04 Mar 2023. She not only created many different cultural and political policies, but she displayed what a women could do in government. Empress Dowager. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. Having been raised by her father to believe she was the equal of men, Wu saw no reason why women could not carry out the same practices and hold the same positions men could. She attracted the attention of many of the young men at court and one of these was the Prince Li Zhi, son of Taizong, who would become the next emperor, Gaozong. Nationality/Culture "Empress Wu and the Historians: A Tyrant and Saint of Classical China," in Nancy Auer Falk and Rita M. Gross, eds., Unspoken Worlds: Religious Lives of Women. Please note that some of these recommendations are listed under our old name, Ancient History Encyclopedia. In 690 C.E., Zetian forced Li Dan to abdicate the throne to her, and declared herself the founding empress of the Zhou dynasty. Empress Wu, or Wu Zhao, challenged the patriarchal system by advocating women's intellectual development and sexual freedom. Leiden: EJ Brill, 1974. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. 2023 Smithsonian Magazine Luoyang was favorably located on the last stop of the river routes from the South, which greatly reduced the cost of shipping grains from the Southeast to the imperial capital. When Empress Wu was the empress of the Tang Dynasty, she created a system of secret police to watch her opponents and killed or put anyone in . She began her life at court as a concubine of the emperor Taizong. Hong Kong: Cosmos, 1994. Vol. Her Buddhist supporters interpreted the Madamegha (Great Cloud) sutra to predict a maitreya Buddha (Buddha-to-come) in female form, presumably Wu Zetian herself, who would embody the concept of the cakravartin (wheel-turner, universal emperor, or the ideal man who is king). At these pilgrimage sites, rituals were performed which established a link between the standing Buddha and the ruler. We would much rather spend this money on producing more free history content for the world. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Each dynasty was considered a new beginning and when Wu changed the name from Tang to Zhou she was following this tradition but went further to make it clear that she was the beginning of a completely new era by calling her reign Tianzhou ('granted by heaven'). $1.99. While Confucian historians condemned her usurpation, extravagance, and scandal, Wu Zhao has been credited for providing strong leadership and ruling during an age of relative peace and prosperity. To recruit a new class of administrators through competition, the examinations that had played only a secondary role in the recruitment and promotion of civil servants in Han times (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.) Encyclopedia.com. Your Majesty may take this as 'Mount Felicity', but your subject feels there is nothing to celebrate. For Wu Zetian, the rise to power and consolidation involved manipulations, murders, and support of the intellectual and religious establishments. World History Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. The other statues (still seen in the Longmen Grottoes) were also made to elevate her status as a divine ruler who knew what was best for the people and was divinely appointed to apply whatever laws or policies she saw fit. Sima, Guang. Empresas ICA Sociedad Controladora, S.A. de C.V. Empresa Brasileira de Aeronutica S.A. (Embraer), Emporia State University: Narrative Description, https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/empress-wu-wu-zhao. Born ne Wu (first name at birth not known) in 624 in Taiyuan, Shanxi province; died in 705 in Luoyang, Henan province; daughter of a high-ranking official, Wu Shihuo, and his aristocratic wife; married Emperor Taizong (r. 626649), in 640 (died 649); married Emperor Gaozong (r. 650683), in 654; children: (second marriage) Crown Prince Li Hong; Crown Prince Li Xian; Emperor Zhongzong; Emperor Ruizong; Princess Taiping ; another daughter (died in infancy). Mutsuhito Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. The Empress Wu Zetian (690-704 CE) is the only female ruler in the history of China. Of all these female rulers, though, none has aroused so much controversy, or wielded such great power, as a monarch whose real achievements and characterremain obscured behind layers of obloquy. Empress Wu was buried in a tomb in Qian County, Shanxi Province, alongside Gaozong. Wu was forced to abdicate in favor of her exiled son Zhongzong and his wife Wei. 242289. Forte, Antonino. Web. Li Zhi was deeply in love with Wu but could not do anything about it because she belonged to his father and, besides, he was already married. ." The story of Wu's murder of her daughter and the framing of Lady Wang to gain power is the most infamous and most often repeated incident of her life but actually there is no way of knowing if it happened as the historians recorded it. It was Taizong who called her 'Mei-Niang' meaning 'beautiful girl' (one of the names commonly, and wrongly, attributed to her as her birth name). However, the date of retrieval is often important. Advertising Notice An active imagination produced pornographic novels in the 16th century focusing on her alleged sexual practices. The area around Changan could not produce the amount of food required to feed the court and garri-sons, and the transportation of grain up the Yellow River, traversing the Sanmen rapids, was exceptionally expensive. Nevertheless, court intrigues still greatly influenced the recruiting of civil servants. In her seventies, Wu showered special favor on two smooth-cheeked brothers, the Zhang brothers, former boy singers, the nature of whose private relationship with their imperial mistress has never been precisely determined. Thank you! One of the most powerful champions of Buddhism in China was the Empress Wu Zetian. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. No-one knows what secrets it holds, for like many of the tombs of the most celebrated Chinese rulers, including that of the First Emperor himself, it has never been plundered or opened by archaeologists. But is the empress unfairly maligned? There are abundant signs that Wu was viewed with deep suspicion by later generations of Chinese. The Tang empire in 700, at the end of Wus reign. The court followed Empress Wus example by creating an enormous statue of the Vairocana Buddha in gold and copper at the Todaiji monastery in Nara, Japans capital. Quin Shi Huang-Di https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/empress-wu-wu-zhao, "Empress Wu (Wu Zhao) Carved in limestone, the colossal statue is reputed to have been carved in Wus own likeness. Empress Wu Zetian (r. 683-704 CE) of the Tang Dynasty . In promoting Buddhism over Confucianism and Daoism as the favored state religion, the Empress countered strongly held Confucian beliefs against female rule. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Buddhists Support. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994, pp. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Her 50-year rule was marked by a successful foreign policy that saw only a few, victorious, wars but the considerable expansion of the influence of the Chinese state. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1989, pp. Two brothers, known as the Zhang Brothers, were her favorites and she spent most of her time in closed quarters with them. Historian Kelly Carlton writes: Wu had a petition box made, which originally contained four slots: one for men to recommend themselves as officials; one where citizens might openly and anonymously criticize court decisions; one to report the supernatural, strange omens, and secret plots, and one to file accusations and grievances. She was very beautiful and was selected by emperor Taizong (r. 626 - 649 CE) as one of his concubines when she was 14 years old. During her Tang Dynasty reign, the practice of Chinese Buddhism is known to have reached its height and influence. Wu also took back lands which had been invaded by the Goturks under the reign of Taizong and distributed them so that they were not all held by the aristocrats. Mark, E. (2016, March 17). Wu Zetian's politics can be considered as feminist initiatives to reinforce the legitimacy of women in the political arena. So queens and empresses regnant were forced to rule like men, and yet roundly criticized when they did so. Wang was the last person seen in the room and had no alibi. Even today, Wu remains infamous for the spectacularly ruthless way in which she supposedly disposed of Gaozongs first wife, the empress Wang, and a senior and more favored consort known as the Pure Concubine. Empress Wu proved to be a wise monarch, and in her reign of twenty years she continued many policies and practices of her predecessors. Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA). World History Encyclopedia. Their antagonism toward a female ruler eventually would find its way into the histories which recorded her reign and become the 'facts' which future generations would accept as truth. "The Real Judge Dee: Ti Jen-chieh and the T'ang Restoration of 705," in Asia Major. In 684 Li Jingye led a revolt of those northwestern families who had been disgraced and exiled to the Yangzi Valley. What role, if any, the undeniably ambitious concubine played in the events of the early Tang period remains a matter of controversy. Missions from Japan, Korea, and Vietnam arrived at Xi'an bearing tribute and seeking education in Buddhism and Confucianism. The Shiji Wu Zetian argued that since mothers were indispensable to the birth and nourishment of infants, the three years when the infant totally depended on the mother as caregiver should be requited with three years of mourning her death. Her mother ne Yang was of aristocratic birth with mixed Chinese and Turkic blood, the result of generations of intermarriage when five nomadic tribes overran north China and founded dynasties in the 4th to 6th centuries. Gaozong's wife, Lady Wang, and his former first concubine, Xiao Shufei, were jealous of each other but even more envious of the attention Gaozong paid to Wu. 1, Sui and T'ang, pp. To consolidate her power, in 657 Wu designated Luoyang as a second capital. Wu also learned to play music, write poetry, and speak well in public. Her reforms and policies lay the foundation for the success of Xuanzong as emperor under whose reign China became the most prosperous country in the world. Empress Wu Zetian (Empress Consort Wu, Wu Hou, Wu Mei Niang, Mei-Niang, and Wu Zhao, l. 624-705 CE, r. 690-704 CE) was the only female emperor of Imperial China. While functioning and surviving in the male-ruled and power-focused domain, she exhibited strengths traditionally attributed to men, including political ambition, long-range vision, skillful diplomacy, power drive, decisive resolve, shrewd observation, talented organization, hard work, and firm dispensal of cruelty. The three phases of the universe; These three phases were birth, existence, and destruction. They are regarded as important by historians because they show how far Wu went in trying to create a new world in China under her reign: she even wanted to change the words they used. Such killings were not uncommon among emperors before and after her. (February 22, 2023). By the fourth century CE, the Roman Empire was at the apex of its power and strength. 1, 1990, pp. Retrieved February 22, 2023 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/empress-wu-wu-zhao. Liu, Xu. Although Carlton's observation is accurate, the box also did provide Wu with a number of ideas for reform which came directly from the people, not government officials who would have profited from them, and which Wu implemented efficiently. During her reign she ordered the erection of temples in every province to explain the Dayunjingy which predicted the emergence of a female world ruler seven hundred years after the passing of the Buddha. In the last three decades, Marxist historiography on Wu Zetian in Mainland China has yielded a positive but unreliable and ideologically charged reappraisal. If it does not yield, I'll hit it with the iron hammer. Just how accurate this picture of Wu is remains a matter of debate. Chapter 2 SOURCES FOR THE LIFE AND CAREER OF WU TSE-T'IEN The chief primary sources for the life of the Empress Wu are her annals in the two dynastic histories of the T'ang, her biography in the New T'ang History, and the numerous references to her in Ssu-ma Kuang's Comprehensive Mirror.^ In some of the large official compilations of later ages, Pomacanthus imperator (emperor angelfish) See CHAETODONTIDAE. Edward Schafer, The Divine Women: Dragon Ladies and Rain Maidens in Tang Literature (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973). Wu was the daughter of Wu Jin, a commoner in Kaifeng. Throughout 15 dismal years in exile, her sons consort had talked him out of committing suicide and kept him ready to return to power. Jennifer W. Jay , Professor of History and Classics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. How did she hold on to power? Gaozong had caught a disease which affected his eyes (possibly a stroke) and needed to have reports read to him. Controversial ruler of Tang China who dominated Chinese politics for half a century, first as empress, then as empress-dowager, and finally as emperor of the Zhou Dynasty (690705) that she founded . Gaozong divorced his wife, barred her mother from the palace, and exiled Lady Xiao. No contemporary image of the empress exists. Anticipating Wu Zetian's political ambitions, 60,000 flatterersincluding Confucian officials, imperial relatives, Buddhist clergy, tribal chieftains, and commonerssupported the petition to proclaim the Zhou Dynasty with herself as the founding emperor. Anyone she suspected of disloyalty, for any reason, was banished or executed. Princess Taiping put an end to her plans when she had Wei and her family murdered and put her brother Ruizong on the throne. This is very similar to the story of the Empress Lu Zhi (l. 241-180 BCE) of the Han Dynasty who got rid of her rival Qizi in the same way (although Qizi was drowned in a pigsty and had her eyes gouged out as well). Patronage of Buddhism. She was the power behind the throne from Gaozong's death in 683 CE until she proclaimed herself openly in 690 CE and ruled as emperor of China until a year before her death in 705 CE, at the age of 81. Wu (she is always known by her surname) has every claim to be considered a great empress. She shocked the Chinese officialdom by arranging to send male grooms to the daughters and aunts of the tribal chieftains at the empire's borders, although it was customary to send female brides. Her spy network and secret police stopped rebellions before they had a chance to start and the military campaigns she sent out enlarged and secured the borders of the country. 21/11/2022. She kept Ruizong under a kind of house arrest confining him to the Inner Palace. One explanation for Wus success is that she listened. The Analects of Confucius Primary Source Activity - Google Drive - Print & Digital. We would much rather spend this money on producing more free history content for the world. ." These monumental statues, like the one carved into the mountain at Bamiyan, Afghanistan, which was destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, alerted the populous to the dominance of Buddhism. She carefully eliminated any potential enemies from the court and had Lady Wang and Lady Xiao killed after they had gone into exile. 23 Feb. 2023 . For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. The story of Wu's murder of her daughter and the framing of Lady Wang to gain power is the most infamous and most often repeated incident of her life but actually there is no way of knowing if it happened as the historians recorded it. Wu Zetian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. One of the brothers, she declared, had a face as beautiful as a lotus flower, while it is said she valued the other for his talents in the bedchamber. Lady Wu played the role of the shy, respectable emperor's wife well in public but, behind the scenes, she was the actual power. Name variations: Wu Ze-tian; Wu Chao, Wu Hou, or Wu Zhao; Wu Mei or Wu Meiliang; Wu Tse-t'ien, Wo Tsetien, or Wu Tso Tien; Wu of Hwang Ho or Huang He; Empress Wu, Lady Wu. World History Encyclopedia. The empress responded with both diplomacy and force, concluding a marriage alliance with the Turks and defeating the Qidan in battle. Privacy Statement Our publication has been reviewed for educational use by Common Sense Education, Internet Scout (University of Wisconsin), Merlot (California State University), OER Commons and the School Library Journal. Lady Wang had no children and Lady Xiao had a son and two daughters. Most historians believe Wu became intimate with the future Gaozong emperor before his fathers deatha scandalous breach of etiquette that could have cost her her head, but which in fact saved her from life in a Buddhist nunnery. Hauppauge : Nova Science Publishers, 2003; Richard Guisso, Wu Tse-Tien and the Politics of Legitimation in Tang China. She did not hold that title but she was the power behind the office and took care of imperial business even when pregnant in 665 CE with her daughter Taiping. Recent revisionist reappraisals have focused on the feminist slant of her rule and her record as an emperor rather than a woman, but no new primary sources have appeared to resolve conflicting information and gaps in her biography. Hailing from the Tang dynasty, Empress Wu made some great positive strives for the Tang dynasty, but also got caught up in scandals - a couple even involving murder! To ensure the security of her new reign she had any members of the Tang Dynasty royal family imprisoned (including the future emperor Xuanzong) and proclaimed herself an incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha, calling herself Empress Shengsen which means 'Holy Spirit'. Su, Tong. The mute and limbless concubine was then tossed into a cesspit in the palace with the swine. Some historians have viewed her as blazing the trail for the women who came after her, and indeed her daughter, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter aspired to emulate her success, but they failed and even died violently in the process. Vol. We care about our planet! Unlike most young girls in China at this time, Wu was encouraged by her father to read and write and develop the intellectual skills which were traditionally reserved for males. Her reign was peaceful and prosperous; she introduced the meritocratic system of entrance examinations for the imperial bureaucracy that survived into the 20th century, avoided wars and welcomed ambassadors from as far away as the Byzantine Empire. Vol. Even if she took full advantage, however, she must have possessed not only looks but remarkable intelligence and determination to emerge, as she did two decades later, as empress. When Gaozong died in 683 CE, Wu took control of the government as empress dowager, placing two of her sons on the throne and removing them almost as quickly. Removing the legitimate heir, she took the name of Emperor Zetian and founded the Zhou dynasty in 690, becoming the first and only female emperor in Chinese history. She was the daughter of Wu Shihuo, a chancellor of the Tang Dynasty. 1 minutes de lecture . Wu was now raised to the position of first wife of Gaozong and empress of China. She worked against the Confucian dictum that women must restrict their activities to the home and in the wildest imagination could not become emperors. Wu Zhao viewed the situation differently: she claimed the mountain was a good omen which reflected the Buddhist mountain of paradise, Sumeru. Empress Wu rose to power through ruthless tactics to move her from the emperor's concubine, to the emperor's consort, and eventually to the position of empress of China. When republishing on the web a hyperlink back to the original content source URL must be included. The Tang Dynasty also witnessed significant military, political, and social changes, as reflected in the transformation of an aristocracy into a meritocracy from the 7th to the 10th centuries. Thank you for your help! When Taizong died, Gaozong became emperor, and Wu Zetian joined a Buddhist nunnery, as required of concubines of deceased emperors. Empress Wu Zetian. Chen, Jo-shui. She maintained a stable economy and a moderate taxation for the peasantry. The poet Luo Binwangone of the Four Greats of Early Tang and best known for his Ode to the Gooselaunched a virulent attack on the empress. New Capital. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. The Confucian dynastic system of government, based on the mandate of heaven, or the claim of heaven-sanctioned military conquest and benevolent rule, was first propounded by the Zhou Dynasty in 1045 bce and perpetuated by subsequent dynasties until 1911. To entrench her biological family as the imperial house, she bestowed imperial honors to her ancestors through posthumous enthronement and constructed seven temples for imperial sacrifices. This particular minister was silenced but that did not silence the rest; they just were more careful not to speak their mind in front of her. Therefore, its best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publications requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Under Wus rule the government was expanded, and many of the new positions were filled through the examination system. Her social, economic and judicial views could hardly be termed advanced, and her politics differed from those of her predecessors chiefly in their greater pragmatism and ruthlessness. Even the terror of the 680s, in this view, was a logical response to entrenched bureaucratic opposition to Wus rule. Born: February 17, 624 Lizhou, China Died: December 16, 705 in Luoyang, China Reign: October 16, 690 to February 22, 705 Best known for: The only woman to be Emperor of China Biography: Empress Wu Zetian by Unknown [Public Domain] Growing Up Wu Zetian was born on February 17, 624 in Lizhou, China. Cookie Policy "Empress Wu Zetian." Primary Sources with DBQsCHINA 4000 - 1000 BCE Ancestral Rites and Divination . In 652 CE, Wu gave birth to a son, Li Hong, and in 653 CE had another son, Li Xian. Again, it is hard to tell what is true and what is slander being that Wu Zeitan's story is so long ago and the sources are sketchy. nurse educator role in business and finance,