Episode 91 – Tang 9: Reign of Terror

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With her husband dead, Empress Wu is unrivaled in Chang’an, but that situation is tenuous as she has no legal basis for that power. Her eldest (surviving) son will take up the throne as Emperor Zhongzong for… all of two months before she decides he’s got to go. Her timid, youngest son will fit her style much better as Ruizong, but when the high lords of the realm are exposed as conspiring against her, she will unleash her full fury on their ranks, employing tactics and methods that will decimate the literati class.

Time Period Covered:
683-686 CE

Major Historical Figures:
Empress Dowager Wu Zhao
Li Xian (Emperor Zhongzong) [r. 684]
Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong) [r. 684-689]
Empress Wei
Wei Xuanzhen
Li Jingye [d. 684]
Chancellor Pei Yan [d. 684]
General Cheng Wuding, “Terror of the Turks” [d. 684]
High Inquisitor Lai Junchen [d. 697]
High Inquisitor Zhou Xing [d. 691]
Monk Xue Huaiyi

Major Works Cited:
Dash, Mike. “The Demonization of Empress Wu” in The Smithsonian.www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-d…43091/?no-ist
Jiang, Chen An. Empress of China: Wu Ze Tian.
Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian.
Weschler, Howard. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3. “The Reigns of the Empress Wu, Zhongzong and Ruizong (684-712).”

Old Book of Tang.
New Book of Tang.

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