Empress by Shan SaA ravishing historical novel of one of Chinas most controversial historical figures: its first and only female emperor, Empress Wu, who emerged in the Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age.
In seventh–century China, during the great Tang dynasty, a young girl from the humble Wu clan entered the imperial gynaecium, which housed ten thousand concubines. Inside the Forbidden City, she witnessed seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason. Propelled by a shrewd intelligence, an extraordinary persistence, and a friendship with the imperial heir, she rose through the ranks to become the first Empress of China. On the one hand, she was a political mastermind who quelled insurrections, eased famine, and opened wide the routes of international trade. On the other, she was a passionate patron of the arts who brought Chinese civilization to unsurpassed heights of knowledge, beauty, and sophistication.
And yet, from the moment of her death to the present day, her name has been sullied, her story distorted, and her memoirs obliterated by men taking vengeance on a women who dared become Emperor. For the first time in thirteen centuries, Empress Wu flings open the gates of her Forbidden City and tells her own astonishing tale–revealing a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day.
Empress Wu Zetian
She reigned during the Tang Dynasty CE and was one of the most effective and controversial monarchs in China's history. She began her life at court as a concubine of the emperor Taizong. After his death , she married his son, Gaozong r. When Gaozong died in CE, Wu took control of the government as empress dowager, placing two of her sons on the throne and removing them almost as quickly. She was the power behind the throne from Gaozong's death in CE until she proclaimed herself openly in CE and ruled as emperor of China until a year before her death in CE, at the age of She was the daughter of Wu Shihuo, a chancellor of the Tang Dynasty.
Like so many other strong female leaders, from Catherine the Great to the Empress Dowager Cixi , China's only female emperor has been reviled in legend and history. Yet Wu Zetian was a highly intelligent and motivated lady, with a strong interest in government affairs and literature. In 7th century China , and for centuries afterward, these were considered inappropriate topics for a woman, so she has been painted as a murderer who poisoned or strangled most of her own family, a sexual deviant, and a ruthless usurper of the imperial throne. Who was Wu Zetian, really? Her birth name probably was Wu Zhao, or possibly Wu Mei. The baby's father, Wu Shihuo, was a wealthy timber merchant who would become a provincial governor under the new Tang Dynasty.