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This new entry in the Longman Library of World Biography series offers the compelling story of Wu Zhao - one woman’s unlikely and remarkable ascent to the apex of political power in the patriarchal society of traditional China.
Wu Zhao, Woman Emperor of China is the account of the first and only female emperor in China’s history. Set in vibrant, multi-ethnic Tang China, this biography chronicles Wu Zhao’s humble beginnings as the daughter of a provincial official, following her path to the inner palace, where she improbably rose from a fifth-ranked concubine to becoming Empress. Using clever Buddhist rhetoric, grandiose architecture, elegant court rituals, and an insidious network of “cruel officials” to cow her many opponents in court, Wu Zhao inaugurated a new dynasty in 690, the Zhou. She ruled as Emperor for fifteen years, proving eminently competent in the arts of governance, deftly balancing factions in court, staving off the encroachment of Turks and Tibetans, and fostering the state’s economic growth.
Author’s Preface: What’s in a Source?
A Note Regarding Names
Chapter 1 What’s in a Name?
Chapter 2 Historical Preconditions for the Ascent of a Female Emperor: Steppe Culture, the Silk Road and Buddhism
Chapter 3 From the Sichuan Countryside to the Inner Palace
Chapter 4 Empress Wu: A Changing of the Guard
Chapter 5 The Two Sages
Chapter 6 Celestial Empress and Grand Dowager
Chapter 7 Wu Zhao as Lover: Lady of Perfect Satisfaction
Chapter 8 Sage Mother Rising
Chapter 9 Queen of Terror
Chapter 10 Bodhisattva of Mercy
Chapter 11 Emperor of the Zhou Dynasty
Chapter 12 Octogenarian in Retreat: Succession, Factionalism and Craneriding in the Final Years
Conclusion The Vain Quest for Wu Zhao
Glossary of Characters and Terms
Notes on the Sources