Empress Wei

Empress Wei was a consort of the Chinese Tang dynasty and the second wife of Emperor Zhongzong, who ruled twice. During her husband’s second reign, she sought to emulate her mother-in-law, Wu Zetian, and seize power. Although not formally regent, she de facto controlled governmental affairs during her husband’s reign. After Emperor Zhongzong’s death, which was traditionally believed to be the result of poisoning carried out by Empress Wei and her daughter Princess Anle, she became the empress dowager and the de jure regent during the minority of Emperor Shang of Tang. However, her reign as regent lasted only seventeen days before she was overthrown and killed in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong’s nephew, Li Longji (later Emperor Xuanzong), and Princess Taiping, Emperor Zhongzong’s sister.

Empress Wei had two stints as crown princess and empress before becoming the regent. During her second tenure as empress, she held significant power, sitting behind a bead curtain and involving herself in governmental affairs. She was accused of corruption, selling offices for personal gain, and interfering in legal matters. Empress Wei’s power was so extensive that the emperor couldn’t make decisions without her approval. She was involved in partisan struggles and was said to have had affairs with officials.

Her rule faced opposition, and a conspiracy to remove her from power was hatched. Empress Wei’s family members and supporters, along with some officials, encouraged her to take the throne as Wu Zetian had done. However, Li Longji, son of Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong), and Princess Taiping led a coup against her, resulting in her death and the restoration of Emperor Ruizong’s rule. Empress Wei was posthumously reduced to the rank of a commoner and buried with honors befitting an official of the first rank rather than an empress.

Spouse: Emperor Zhongzong of Tang

Emperor Zhongzong of Tang (26 November 656 – 3 July 710), personal name Li Xian, and at other times Li Zhe or Wu Xian, was the fourth Emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 684 and again from 705 to 710. During the first period, he did not rule, and the entire power was in the hands of his mother, Empress Wu Zetian and he was overthrown on her orders after opposing his mother. In the second reign period, most of the power was in the hands of his beloved wife Empress Wei.

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