Author's Preface: What's in a Source? Acknowledgements 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
Wu Zhao, Woman Emperor of China, a new entry in the Longman Library of World Biography series, is the compelling story of 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.