Wu Zetian (simplified Chinese: 武则天; traditional Chinese: 武則天; pinyin: Wǔ Zétiān) (17 February 624 – 16 December 705), personal name Wu Zhao (武曌), often referred to as Tian Hou (天后) during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu (武后) in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant. As de facto ruler of China first through her husband and her sons from 665 to 690, not unprecedented in Chinese history, she then broke all precedents when she founded her own dynasty in 690, the Zhou (周) (interrupting the Tang Dynasty), and ruled personally under the name Sacred and Divine Empress Regnant (聖神皇帝) and variations thereof from 690 to 705. Her rise and reign has been criticized harshly by Confucian historians but has been viewed in a different light after the 1950s.
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