Wu Zhao Paper
Wu Zhao’s rise to ultimate power was not without struggle. Born to the loyal royal official Wu Shiyue in ~624CE, Wu Zhao was privileged enough to learn music, writing, and other subjects not all women had access to. From her very beginning, Wu Zhao was ruthless in her aspirations for power. For example, to dispose of Emperor Gaozong’s wife, Empress Wang, Wu Zhao killed her own daughter by suffocating her and framed Empress Wang for the murder. In 655CE, Gaozong promoted Wu Zhao to the position of Empress in place of the now disgraced Wang. Before long the former empress and many others that stood in the way of Wu Zhao’s rise to glory were picked off one by one, securing Wu Zhao’s place at the top. Then Wu Zhao began her political career with intense effort, for her goal was to become the first female-emperor of China. Her resourcefulness and discernment meant that she was highly valued by her husband, the emperor Gaozong. Wu Zhao recommended and had accepted many new ideas regarding agriculture, tax reduction, social reforms and more effective labor practices. Within a few years of marriage, Wu Zhao took an active part in state affairs and cultivated her henchmen with enthusiasm. When the emperor suffered a crippling stroke in ~660, Empress Wu Zhao took over the administration of the court. In his book Wu Zhao: China’s Only Woman Emperor, N. Harry Rothschild writes “[a]ssailed by fever, his humors out of kilter, the young Emperor’s head swelled. His eyes lost focus and he became dizzy and disoriented. It appears Gaozong had a stroke. Unable to attend to his duties as Emperor, he called upon the person he trusted most, Wu Zhao.” Showing no mercy toward anyone who failed to conform to her wishes, Wu Zhao would have them thrown into prison or executed. Her cruelty extended to members of her family as well as those high ranking officials who had contributed much to the founding of the...
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