Born 624; died 705. The only empress in the history of China to rule in her own right. Reigned from 684 (690) until 705.
Wu Tse-t’ien was first the favorite and then the wife of Emperor Kao-tsung, who ruled from 649 (650) to 683. After the emperor died, Wu Tse-t’ien overthrew her sons, Chung-tsung and Jui-tsung, and proclaimed herself empress. In 690 she changed the dynastic name from “T’ang” to “Chou.” In the last year of the empress’ life, court officials forced her to renounce the throne in favor of Chung-tsung. “T’ang” again became the name of the dynasty.