Emperor Ruizong of Tang

Emperor Ruizong of Tang, also known as Li Dan, was the fifth and ninth emperor of the Tang dynasty. During his first reign, from 684 to 690, he was a figurehead controlled by his mother, Empress Dowager Wu, and the Tang dynasty existed in name only while she ruled as a quasi-emperor. Empress Dowager Wu later seized the throne herself and founded the Zhou dynasty. After her death, Emperor Ruizong regained power but was still influenced by his domineering sister, Princess Taiping. He eventually abdicated in favor of his brother, Emperor Xuanzong, but retained significant power as Taishang Huang (retired emperor) under Princess Taiping’s advice.

Throughout his reigns, Emperor Ruizong faced power struggles and political intrigue between various factions, particularly between Princess Taiping and Emperor Xuanzong. Princess Taiping held immense influence, while Emperor Ruizong often acted as a figurehead, with most decisions made by his mother or sister.

Emperor Ruizong’s reign was marked by instability, with several rebellions and factional infighting. He tried to reverse some of the actions taken by his predecessor, Emperor Zhongzong, and honor those who had lost their lives during previous reigns. Despite his efforts, he struggled to assert his own authority, and the true power lay with those who surrounded him.

In his later years, Emperor Ruizong faced a coup attempt orchestrated by Princess Taiping and her allies, but it was foiled by Emperor Xuanzong, who took full control of the empire. Princess Taiping was executed, and Emperor Ruizong’s power was further diminished.

Emperor Ruizong’s reign was one of political turmoil and factionalism, and his legacy is largely overshadowed by the influence of Empress Dowager Wu and Princess Taiping. He died in 716, and his rule remains an intriguing chapter in the history of the Tang dynasty.

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