Wu Zetian 690-705

The only Chinese woman to found her own dynasty°–Zhou (690-705), Wu was also known by her self-chosen name Wu Zhao. She entered the palace as a concubine of Emperor Taizong (r. 627-650), but was later favoured by Gaozong (r. 650-684). When the latter suffered a stroke in 660, she became the power behind the throne, a situation which continued during the reigns of her two sons until she decided to take over the throne herself. A strong and able ruler, she was nevertheless forced to restore Tang rule when she was over eighty and ailing. Her collection Chuigong ji [Benevolent governance] is no longer extant; some four dozen poems and over sixty essays by her are collected in Quan Tang shi and Quan Tang wen.