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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Empress Wei, Consort Shang-Kuan and the political conflicts in the reign of Chung-Tsung Tang, Karen Kai-Ying

Abstract

Female intervention in government happened from time to time in Chinese history. The women involved were usually either ambitious individuals who made use of favourable opportunities to seize political power or daughters of powerful families whose marriages into the Imperial House were arranged in order to insure the power of their male relatives. In tracing the background of these women, we find that the former type often came from a non-Chinese or lower-class family while the latter type were usually Chinese and invariably had an aristocratic background. Although coming from different backgrounds these ladies shared the common characteristic that they were contented with the position they had as Empress or Empress Dowager. The further ambition of themselves ascending to the throne never occurred to them. The cases of female intervention during the Tang period were rather different from the above stereotypes. They were a succession of ambitious female members of the Imperial family who tried to follow in the footsteps of Empress Wu in order to rule the country both in name and in fact. Though none of them did succeed, their ambition and struggle was one of the major factors that influenced the political history of the first half of the eighth century.

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