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According to the Chinese royal linage, Wu Zetian belongs to the Tang dynasty. But she is also considered as the founder of her self-proclaimed “Zou Dynasty”. The history of Wu Zetian is important in Chinese for several reasons. First, she was the first female ruler in the history of Medieval China. Indeed, in a rigidly patriarchic Chinese society, the presence of a woman at the highest rank of power and influence in the country’s political system is not only challenging but also the reversion of the traditional Chinese patriarchic conventions and moral values. Secondly, Wu Zetian’s period experienced a rapid expansion of the Chinese Empire deep into Central Asia along an enormous economic boom (Paludan 99). But in the west, the Empire reached the Korean Peninsula. Thirdly, it was the empress’s administrative skill and military prowess which had been able to unite the warring territories of China under the national flag of the Zhou Dynasty. Within the country, she was successful not only in achieving supreme influence over the highly fragmentized political structures, but also in bringing socioeconomic reforms which resulted in the growth of an affluent middle class in the Chinese society (Fairbank 82). Historians often claim that the source of Wu Zetian’s political power and influence over the country was, more or less, the popular support of this affluent middle class people who rather worked as a deterrent to the rise of mass protest in any territory of China. During Wu Zetian’s period, the country also experienced the spread of Taoism as the state religion, mass education and the flourish of Imperial literature which rather depicted the common people from all walks of the Chinese society. Wu Zetian’s Importance in Chinese History Wu Zetian’s role as an empress played a crucial role in Chinese history. She may be ruthless and cruel; but she greatly contributed to the bureaucratic governmental structure of the state. She brought about a number of political and administrative innovations in the government. During her reign, she had been able to expand the Empire up to the Central Asian countries, while it reached the Korean Peninsula in the east. Due to her political and administrative prowess, she could include a large number of educated and meritorious commoners into her administration through the “Civil Service Examination” system (Cotterell & Cotterell 144). She understood that popular support is a great role-player in the stability of a state. So she significantly focused her efforts to earn public support. She started a convention to sponsor religious authorities in order to get their support for her rule. Moreover, she started the conventions of “juntian” and “equal field system” in order to ensure that farmers could contribute aptly to the country’s production (Paludan 100-103). Moreover, she used to run government-supported program to pacify the lower class people’s poverty. Despite these successes along with the innovations in governance during her reign, scholars primarily put emphasis on her political prowess as a woman who could outwit a large number of Chinese emperors in terms of political success. (Cotterell & Cotterell 54) Still she had negative qualities also. She was a ruthless killer who never hesitated to think whom she was killing. Some historians believe that she even killed her own daughter to gain power over the Royal palace.
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