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At thirteen years old, in 638, Wu Zhao entered the court of Emperor Taizong. She became one of the emperor’s favorite court members, probably because of her intelligence and wit.
After the death of Emperor Taizong his son, now Emperor Gaozong, wanted sons but his chief wife didn't have any children. However, he eventually got the sons he had always wanted after Wu became the chief wife. As a result of becoming the mother of the future emperors, she became very powerful.
During the emperor’s meetings, Wu overheard the reports. She then came up with a plan—suggesting lower taxes, giving reserved land for farmers, and letting the common folk report unfair treatment from merchants and officials—that could improve the government. Consequently, a majority of her plan was accomplished.
I can rule China better than all of those men.
Wu’s son became emperor after Gaozong died, but Wu is supposed to be the ruler of China. Because of this, she established a secret police that spied on her opponents and captured or killed them. She kept removing her sons and other people from the power that was supposed to be hers.
After rebellions broke out, Wu took the power and called herself “Holy and Divine Emperor” in 690. She founded the Zhou Dynasty and was the supreme ruler of China for fifteen years.
Wu supported Buddhism, unlike most emperors that support either Daoism or Confucianism. She supported this religion in particular because it showed the most respect for the abilities of women. Buddhism also helped Wu support her authority.
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