Wu Zetian Perpetual Footprint on China Essay

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Over a span of several decades, Wu Zetian inalterably changed life in China for woman as well the clergy and the poor. By doing so, she left a perpetual footprint on China’s long history that transcends the mere fact that she was the first woman to rule the “Red Dragon”. Wu Zetian was originally known as Wu Chao, born in 625 in Taiyuan in northern China. She adopted Wu Zetian when she seized the Chinese throne in 660. “Wu Zetian was a beautiful young woman…” (Knight 372). Empress Wu ultimately assumed the title of emperor for herself in 690, becoming perhaps the first “dragon lady” and the lone woman to act thus in Chinese imperial history. During her reign, she proved herself the equal of any male emperor in terms of ruthlessness,…show more content…
She has previously become the empress dowager (the widow of the emperor with the power over all of his property), then the regent (the substitute for the emperor). However, after the emperor Gaozong suffered a stroke in 660, Wu seized the real power within China. Wu’s slyness resulted in the exile of members of the royal family that were heirs to the throne and in at least in one case, to be poisoned (Li Hong). She also had made sure that her late husband Gaozong’s provision in his will that she ascend to the throne became a reality when her third son appointed her Heir Apparent. She ruled the dynasty on behalf of Gaozong and her son for about three decades. In 684, Wu’s son, Li Zhe, ascended to the Imperial throne, assuming the name Zhongzong. When it became apparent that Zhongzong would be under greater influence of his wife Wei than his mother, Wu had him exiled after reducing his title to Prince of Luling. She then had her youngest son Li Dan made emperor Ruizong whereupon she became both the substantive and actual ruler. In 690, Empress Wu assumed the title of emperor for herself –the lone woman to act as emperor in Chinese imperial history – thereby finally facilitating the great improvement in China that Wu’s legacy left for women, the Buddhist clergy and the classes less fortunate than the aristocracy. Despite her despotism in ascending to

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