, there are a lot of mausoleums for emperors and their empresses. And among them, there is a special one named Qian Mausoleum. It is special because it is the resting place of two couple monarchs. As is known to all, in ancient China, women were ranked very low on social status. They couldn't get education, not to mention about becoming the actual ruler of the country. But there was an exception. A smart lady in Tang Dynasty managed to become the only female monarch in the history of China because of her own efforts. Her name is Wu Zetian and her husband, or to be more precise, her second husband is Emperor Tang Gaozhong, the ninth son of Emperor Tang Taizhong. And the mausoleum belongs to Emperor Tang Gaozhong and Wu Zetian.
Wu Zetian was born in the year of 624A.D. She was the second daughter of Wu Shihuo, a high ranking official in Tang Dynasty. It is said that Wu Zetian was summoned to the court as a concubine of Emperor Tang Taizhong when she was only 14 years old. And she was responsible for attending the emperor when he was severely ill. And the emperor’s son, Li Zhi, who later came to the throne as Emperor Tang Gaozhong, was very concerned about his father’s health so he frequently came to see his father. He met Wu Zetian, then a concubine of his father, and was much impressed by her beauty. They fell in love.
But unfortunately, after the emperor died, his last order sent those concubines who didn’t produce a child to a nunnery. For sure, they would end their life there, without any prospects, although some were still young and beautiful like Wu Zetian. But apparently she didn’t want to end up like this. She managed to meet with Li Zhi at the nunnery, who became the new emperor after his father died. It is said that she got pregnant and was summoned to the court once again but as the new emperor’s concubine.
Portraits of Wu Zetian and her husband Emperor Tang Gaozong
Wu Zetian was quite an ambitious woman who would eliminate everything in her way. She was not happy just being a concubine and she wanted to be the empress. However, it was not an easy task as Emperor Tang Gaozhong already had a chief wife who was Empress Wang. To frame the empress, allegedly Wu Zetian killed her newly born baby girl shortly after the empress visited the little princess. The empress was deprived of her title and imprisoned. And soon Wu Zetian was titled as the new empress of the country.
However, her desire for more power never stopped. Because she was quite smart and farsighted, and could always come up with good ideas on how to govern the country, she was allowed to be engaged in most state affairs. Wu Zetian gained more and more power gradually. After the emperor died, his sons successively came to the crown but were forced to abdicate by their mother. Finally she overthrew the Tang Dynasty and founded a new dyansty named Zhou and became the first and also the last empress regnant in China.
In her life, she killed many people. But, under her rule, the society was quite prosperous. It is controversial as to whether she was right or wrong. And in front of the mausoleum, stand two steles. One of them had inscriptions engraved for Emperor Tang Gaozhong, regarding the emperor’s contributions. And the other stele had no inscription and is for Wu Zetian. Allegedly, Wu Zetian set up such a wordless stele in front of her tomb with an intention that those living behind would offer a fair comment on her.
The stele that has no inscription