Emperor Gaozong, the Rise of Wu Zetian, and Factional Politics in the Early Tang
This essay analyzes the key participants in the factional struggle that resulted in the enthronement of Wu Zetian as Empress in late 655 by exploring in detail the shifts of high imperial personnel during the height of the factional struggle from 652 through 655 and emphasizing the direct role of the throne in cooperation with the Tang general and courtier, Li Ji 李勣, in advancing the throne’s agenda against the Zhangsun Wuji 長孫無忌 clique. For this early period Wu Zetian is understood as a willing tool of the throne’s factional agenda. Close attention is focused on Li Ji and his earlier linkages with Gaozong, Wu Zetian, and her maternal relatives, in particular. The essay concludes with a discussion of the royal couple’s extended tour of Bingzhou 并州 in 660 and the relevance of this tour to the accelerated program of dynastic legitimation following the successful elimination of the entire Zhangsun clique by 659. The Bingzhou experience will lead the throne into unprecedented experiments in the manipulation of sacred Buddhist relics for the purpose of dynastic legitimation.
The work available here is the abstract of the article. Locate the full-text of the article using the DOI below.
Eisenberg, Andrew, "Emperor Gaozong, the Rise of Wu Zetian, and Factional Politics in the Early Tang" (2012). History Faculty Publications. 2.