Emperor Gaozong of Tang

Emperor Gaozong of Tang (21 July 628 – 27 December 683), personal name Li Zhi, was the third emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, ruling from 649 to 683; after January 665, he handed power over the empire to his second wife Empress Wu (the future Wu Zetian), and her decrees were carried out with greater force than the decrees of Emperor Gaozong’s. Emperor Gaozong was the youngest son of Emperor Taizong and Empress Zhangsun; his elder brothers were Li Chengqian and Li Tai.

Emperor Gaozong’s reign saw the primacy of Empress Wu, who became the effective power behind the Tang rule. Emperor Gaozong was aided in his rule by Empress Wu during the later years of his reign after a series of strokes left him incapacitated. Emperor Gaozong effectively after January 665 delegated all matters of state to his strong wife; After that Empress Wu acted as the power behind the emperor, “hanging the curtain and listening to politics” (Chuílián tīngzhèng 垂簾聼政). Gaozong’s personal illness, over-affection and trust of Wu and led to her wielding a great deal of power in affairs of state until the end of his reign and exert her influence on him. Empress Wu was partially in control of power since November 660 and then totally since January 665 to December 683; There was an equality of power between Gaozong and Wu, which caused them to be called “two saints” (二聖, Er Sheng, literally two emperors) both inside and outside. After Emperor Gaozong died in December 683, power fell completely and solely into the hands of Empress Wu, act as Empress Dowager-regent, “presiding over court and issuing edicts” (lin chao chengzhi 臨朝稱制); Who subsequently became the only empress regnant in Chinese history. After his death, he was interred at the Qianling Mausoleum along with Wu Zetian.

During the first part of his reign, Tang territorial gains, which started with his father Emperor Taizong, continued, including the conquest of Baekje, Goguryeo, and the Western Turkic Khaganate, but throughout the 670s, much of those gains were lost to the Tibetan Empire, Silla, Khitan, and Balhae. Further, territory previously conquered that belonged to both the Göktürks and the Western Turkic Khaganate were subjected to repeated rebellions.

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