武则天 (Wŭ Zétiān) was the only woman in China’s history to take the title of 皇帝 (huángdì), or emperor.
Starting as just another imperial concubine in Xī’ān, Wŭ Zétiān single-handedly interrupted the newly established Tang Dynasty, creating her own dynasty, her own written characters, introducing reforms, and effectively ruling China for 50 years.
Her reign was characterized by rising living standards, a growing population, and wars of conquest that expanded the empire.
Historical work on Wŭ Zétiān has often focused on her gender rather than her accomplishments: Several of her sons and senior public officials died under mysterious circumstances, which has led many to portray her as a power hungry witch. Recent treatments are more positive.
She is famous for insisting on designing her own tombstone –without characters on, which is unusual. The picture is painted several hundred years after she died in 705, so definitely don’t trust it.
Mean or fabulous? Legendary, regardless. Qulishi Online.