Zhu Qinming (祝欽明), courtesy name Wensi (文思), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor under Emperor Zhongzong. He was a renowned Confucian scholar, but was later disgraced after Emperor Zhongzong's death for having flattered Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei.
It is not known when Zhu Qinming was born, but it is known that his family was from the Tang Dynasty capital Chang'an. His father Zhu Lin (祝綝) was himself a renowned scholar who wrote a number of works comparing the various interpretations of the Confucian classics. After one of Zhu Lin's students, Zhang Houyin (張後胤), became an important official, Zhang recommended Zhu Lin to serve as an official as well, but Zhu Lin was never promoted beyond the post of being a county magistrate.
Zhu Qinming was said to have understood the Five Classics well in his youth, and also studied the histories and the philosophies of the other schools of thought. During the reign of Emperor Gaozong, after passing the imperial examinations, he served as a low level official at the legislative bureau of government (東臺, Dongtai). Sometime between Emperor Gaozong's Yongchun era (682-683) and the Tianshou era (690-692) (by which time Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian had declared herself "emperor" of a new Zhou Dynasty, interrupting Tang), he passed additional imperial examinations and became Zhuzuo Lang (著作郎), one of the officials in charge of chronicling the acts of the emperor. In 701, he started serving on staff of Wu Zetian's son and crown prince Li Xian, a former emperor, and also served as an imperial scholar. He had the duty of assisting Li Xian in his studies.
In 705, Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup, and Li Xian was restored to the throne (as Emperor Zhongzong). On account of Zhu Qinming's service to him, he promoted Zhu to be Guozi Jijiu (國子祭酒), the principal of the imperial university, and further gave him the designation Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin (同中書門下三品), making him a chancellor de facto. He was soon made the minister of justice (刑部尚書, Xingbu Shangshu) and then the minister of rites (禮部尚書, Libu Shangshu). He was also created the Duke of Lu and given the honorific title of Yinqing Guanglu Daiful (銀青光祿大夫). The coup leaders Huan Yanfan, Cui Xuanwei, Yuan Shuji, and Jing Hui, themselves now powerful chancellors (although they would soon lose power due to the machinations of Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei and her lover and Emperor Zhongzong's trusted cousin Wu Sansi), became his students in studying the Rites of Zhou , and Zhu was well respected. He was put in charge of editing the imperial history. However, in 706, he would have a brief downfall—as he was indicted by the censor Xiao Zhizhong of having hidden a parent's death to avoid serving a mourning period, a severe breach of the Confucian requirements for filial piety—and was demoted to be the prefect of Shen Prefecture (申州, roughly modern Xinyang, Henan).
Zhu, worried that he would never again be returned to power, took to flattering Empress Wei, and was soon recalled to again be the principal of the imperial university. In 709, when Emperor Zhongzong was set to sacrifice to heaven and earth south of Chang'an, Zhu and his deputy, Guo Shanyun (郭山惲), in order to flatter Empress Wei, took an interpretation of the Rites of Zhou to mean that Empress Wei should serve as the second stage sacrificer. Emperor Zhongzong initially doubted this interpretation and requested further opinions from scholars. Two scholars from the ministry of ceremonies, Tang Shao (唐紹) and Jiang Qinxu (蔣欽緒), as well as another deputy of Zhu's, Chu Wuliang (褚無量), spoke against this interpretation and argued that such interpretation would only be reasonable in sacrifices to the imperial ancestors. Emperor Zhongzong had the chancellor Wei Juyuan rule on this matter, and Wei Juyuan ruled for Zhu's proposal, thus allowing Empress Wei to serve as the second stage sacrificer. However, with Tang's and Jiang's objection, he rejected a further proposal of Zhu's that Emperor Zhongzong's powerful daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle serve as third stage sacrificer, instead making Wei Juyuan the third stage sacrificer. During a feast in 710 after one of Empress Wei's relatives was married, Zhu volunteered to perform a dance known as Bafeng Wu (八風舞) -- during which he shook his obese body, his head, and rolled his eyes around, drawing laughter from Emperor Zhongzong but secret disgust from other officials.
In summer 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly—a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by Empress Wei and Li Guo'er. Soon, though, Empress Wei was overthrown in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and his nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi. Emperor Zhongzong's brother Li Dan the Prince of Xiang, himself a former emperor, was restored to the throne (as Emperor Ruizong). After Emperor Ruizong took the throne, the censor Ni Ruoshui (倪若水) indicted Zhu Qinming and Guo Shanyun for flattering Empress Wei and misleading Emperor Zhongzong. Emperor Ruizong demoted Zhu to be the prefect of Rao Prefecture (饒州, roughly modern Shangrao, Jiangxi). At a later point, he was recalled to be an imperial scholar at Chongwen Pavilion (崇文館), and died while serving in that role.
Wu Zetian, alternatively named Wu Zhao, Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, was the de facto ruler of China, first through her husband the Emperor Gaozong and then through her sons the Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong, from 665 to 690. She subsequently became empress regnant of the Zhou dynasty (周) of China, ruling from 690 to 705. She is notable for being the only female monarch in the history of China.
Li Jiao, courtesy name Jushan (巨山), formally the Duke of Zhao (趙公), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, 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 government was in the hands of his mother, Empress Wu Zetian and was effectively overthrown by her real power after opposing his mother. In the second period, most of the government was in the hands of his beloved wife Empress Wei.
Princess Taiping was a royal princess during the Tang dynasty and her mother Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty. She was the youngest daughter of Wu Zetian and Emperor Gaozong and was powerful during the reigns of her mother and her elder brothers Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, particularly during Emperor Ruizong's second reign, when for three years until her death, she was the real power behind the throne.
Emperor Ruizong of Tang, personal name Li Dan, also known at times during his life as Li Xulun, Li Lun, Wu Lun, and Wu Dan, was the fifth and ninth emperor of Tang Dynasty. He was the eighth son of Emperor Gaozong and the fourth son of Emperor Gaozong's second wife Empress Wu. He was wholly a figurehead during his first reign when he was controlled by his mother, and he was the titular and Puppet ruler of the Tang Empire from 684 to 690. He during his second reign after his mother's death, significant power was exercised by his sister Princess Taiping.
Zhang Jianzhi (張柬之) (625-706), courtesy name Mengjiang (孟將), formally Prince Wenzhen of Hanyang (漢陽文貞王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian and her son Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and died in exile.
Shangguan Wan'er was a concubine/imperial consort to two emperors of the Tang dynasty. Although caught up in court intrigues and executed in 710, she is famous for her talent as a poet, writer and politician. She has been described as the country's "female prime minister".
Empress Wei was an empress of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Zhongzong, who reigned twice, and during his second reign, she tried to emulate the example of her mother-in-law Wu Zetian and seize power. She was in charge of government affairs during her husband's reign. After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710—a death traditionally believed to be a poisoning she carried out together with her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle—which gave her the power to become the empress dowager and regent, but in short order was overthrown and killed in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji and Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping.
Wu Youji (武攸暨), formally Prince Zhongjian of Ding (定忠簡王), was an imperial prince of Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty and an official of Tang Dynasty. He is best known as the second husband of Wu Zetian's powerful daughter Princess Taiping.
Wei Juyuan (韋巨源), formally Duke Zhao of Shu (舒昭公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving multiple times as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her son Emperor Zhongzong, and her grandson Emperor Shang. During Emperor Zhongzong's reign, he became aligned with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei, and after Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710 and a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi killed Empress Wei, Wei Juyuan was also killed.
Wu Sansi, posthumously Prince Xuan of Liang (梁宣王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and his aunt Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, becoming an imperial prince and chancellor during the reign of Wu Zetian and subsequently, while only briefly powerful chancellor during the second reign of Wu Zetian's son and his cousin Emperor Zhongzong, becoming very powerful due to both the trust Emperor Zhongzong had in him and his affair with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei. He was killed in a rebellion by Emperor Zhongzong's son the crown prince Li Chongjun in 707.
Zhang Xi, formally the Duke of Pingyuan (平原公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as chancellor on two occasions.
Wei Anshi, formally Duke Wenzhen of Xun (郇文貞公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor several times, during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Zhu Jingze, courtesy name Shaolian, was an official of China's Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.
Tang Xiujing, formal name Tang Xuan (唐璿) but went by the courtesy name of Xiujing, formally Duke Zhong of Song (宋忠公), was an official and general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Wei Sili, courtesy name Yan'gou (延構), formally Duke Xiao of Xiaoyao (逍遙孝公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Li Duozuo, formally the Prince of Liaoyang (遼陽王), was an ethnically Mohe general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty. He is mostly known for his participation in the successful coup of 705 that overthrew Wu Zetian and returned her son Emperor Zhongzong to the throne, and the failed coup of 707 in which Emperor Zhongzong's son Li Chongjun tried to overthrow Emperor Zhongzong's wife Empress Wei.
Su Gui, courtesy name Changrong (昌容) or Tingshuo (廷碩), formally Duke Wenzhen of Xu (許文貞公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Zhongzong, Emperor Shang, and Emperor Ruizong.
Cui Riyong 崔日用 (673–722), formally Duke Zhao of Qi 齊昭公, was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, briefly serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Ruizong.
Palace of Desire, also known as Daming Gong Ci, is a Chinese television series based on the life of Princess Taiping, a daughter of China's only female emperor, Wu Zetian. Directed by Li Shaohong and Zeng Nianping, the series starred Chen Hong, Zhou Xun, Gua Ah-leh and Winston Chao in the leading roles. It was first broadcast on CCTV-8 in mainland China on 30 March 2000. The scriptwriter used extremely poetic and theatrical language for lines.