Quick Facts about Emperor Zhongzong
- Emperor Zhongzong was born in 656 CE.
- His name at birth was Li Zhe.
- He was a son of the Tang dynasty emperor, Gaozong.
- His mother was Emperor Gaozong’s second wife, Empress Wu Zetian.
- After his father died in 683 CE, Li Zhe became the fourth emperor of the Tang dynasty.
- Zhongzong means “Moderate Ancestor”.
Emperor Zhongzong’s Two Reigns
Emperor Zhongzong held two reigns in the Tang dynasty. The first was for six weeks in 684 CE and the second from 705 – 710 CE. His wife, Empress Wei, dominated his first reign. She appointed family members to high official posts.
Emperor Zhongzong’s mother, dowager empress, Wu Zetian, charged him with treason and had him removed as emperor. Zhongzong went into seclusion for the next twenty-one years. His brother, Emperor Ruizong, and his mother, dowager empress, Wu Zetian, ruled China.
In 705 CE, Empress Wu Zetian abdicated the throne and Emperor Zhongzong resumed his rule over China.
His wife, Empress Wei continued to impart her influence on Zhongzong’s government. She presided over government and court matters, gave members of her family government posts, seized land, and bought and sold children as slaves.
Buddhism continued to hold its place at court, but under Emperor Zhongzong’s reign, becoming a monk was not self-sacrifice but rather a position to be bought. If you wanted to become a monk, it cost a payment of 30,000 cash. If you wanted a position at court, it was no longer your scholarship that got you there, but rather, 300,000 cash.
Emperor Zhongzong’s Family and Death
Emperor Zhongzong’s wife was Empress Wei. He had at least four children.
Emperor Zhongzong died in 710 CE from possible poisoning by his wife.
His brother, Emperor Ruizong, succeeded him (twice) as the emperor of the Tang dynasty.
His tomb is in Dingling, Fuping county, Shaanxi.