In the ancient world, women were not considered qualified to rule. However, two women managed to reshape this ideology. Both Empress Irene and Chinese Empress Wu Zhao had to possess certain qualities to help them take power.
The first quality a women had to possess beauty and the ability of persuasion. Both women got their power through their emperor husbands, but before they could get to that point they had to be chosen. Irene caught the attention of Emperor Leo IV with her “piety and dazzling beauty”. She obtained power after Leo IV’s death by becoming regent for her son, Constantine VI. Even after her son claimed his power she still managed to keep Wu Zhao started off as first being a concubine for, her soon husband to be, Emperor Taizong. Her “beauty and ambition” gave her the upper-hand over the other 122 concubines. She used sex as a way to control and persuade her husband into doing what she wanted.
The second quality women had to have was determination and patience. Both women had to work extra hard to maintain their power, especially since they were women. Irene had to wait for her husband’s death till she could finally obtain power, which was about 11 years. When she, at last, began ruling she brought peace and created closer relationships with other empires. Her biggest achievement was that she restored the use of images in churches, but many people disagreed with this. Military men would blame her for their defeats, and eventually this turned to mutiny. However, Irene didn’t give up and spent two years rebuilding her “power base”. Wu Zhao was close to obtaining power after her looks gave her an advantage point over other concubines of Emperor Taizong. Unfortunately, after Taizong’s death his wives and concubines were sent to a Buddhist convent where they were to live the rest of their lives. But Wu Zhao wouldn’t have this, within eighteen months she went back to the palace as a concubine for the new emperor. Three years later she began making...
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