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Wu Zetian or Empress Wu, was a Chinese sovereign, who ruled officially under the name of her self-proclaimed "Zhou dynasty", from 690 to 705. She was the only female emperor of China in more than 4,000 years. She had previous imperial positions, however, under both Emperor Taizong of Tang and his son Emperor Gaozong of Tang, of the Tang dynasty of China. Wu was a concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death she married his successor and ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong's furen (variously translated as "empress", "wife", or "first consort") in 655, although having considerable political power previous to this. After Gaozong's debilitating stroke in 690, Wu Zetian ruled as effective sovereign until 705. She is the only recorded woman to rule China in her own right.

The importance to history of Wu Zetian's period of political and military leadership includes the major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond its previous territorial limits, deep into Central Asia, and the completion of the conquest of the upper Korean Peninsula.

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Wu Zetian or Empress Wu, was a Chinese sovereign, who ruled officially under the name of her self-proclaimed "Zhou dynasty", from 690 to 705. She was the only female emperor of China in more than 4,000 years. She had previous imperial positions, however, under both Emperor Taizong of Tang and his son Emperor Gaozong of Tang, of the Tang dynasty of China. Wu was a concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death she married his successor and ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong's furen (variously translated as "empress", "wife", or "first consort") in 655, although having considerable political power previous to this. After Gaozong's debilitating stroke in 690, Wu Zetian ruled as effective sovereign until 705. She is the only recorded woman to rule China in her own right.

The importance to history of Wu Zetian's period of political and military leadership includes the major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond its previous territorial limits, deep into Central Asia, and the completion of the conquest of the upper Korean Peninsula. More...

 
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