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Tang Empress Wu Zetian Vs Pharaoh Hatshepsut

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Tang Empress Zetian was born in 625AD in Ch’angan China. She was born to a wealthy family, educated and taught to read. She passed away on December 16,0705AD. She effectively ruled China from 690AD-705AD. Pharaoh Hatshepsut was born 1525 BCE near Thebes, Egypt. She was born to Egyptian royalty and was born during a time where women were becoming more active in political affairs. She was educated in a multitude of areas and was taught to read and write at an early age. Pharaoh Hatshepsut died around 1482 BCE, though her final resting place is unknown as she was probably assassinated. She peacefully ruled Egypt from 1478 BCE- 1458 BCE. I chose to compare female rulers of history because we grow up being told how little power and influence women had historically. These are women who rose above their station and stood as equals. They may have had to do it in unconventional ways, but they did it.

After their rule, they were both favorable looked upon for what they accomplished. These rulers lived in very different cultures separated by many years. Tang Empress Wu Zetian lived in a time where females were merely valued for procreation and sexual gratification. She was educated by her father, who insisted she learn to read, write, and study history. That education is what elevated her status once she was a concubine. Pharaoh Hatshepsut was born in a time where women were beginning to take a more active role in the political front and educated beyond her gender expectations. She did have two brothers, but they died young. She was married to her third brother, which was not uncommon among Egyptian royalty, but he was weak as well and died soon after their union. Both women were put in a unique situation that allowed them to rule indirectly then eventually in their names. During their respective rules, both left a positive impression on their people for actively listening to their citizens and addressing issues of the commoners.

While their similarities could continue, the way they ruled were vastly different. Tang Empress Wu Zetian was well known for her ruthlessness and murderous ways. She had a lot of positive and great things attributed to her rule, but she got to her position with manipulation, murder, and treason. Concubine. She was the key strategist in the war against Korea that reduced them to practically nothing. Her husband got the credit, but it was her calling the shots from the shadows. Pharaoh Hatshepsut came directly into power after her husband died, as the next heir to the throne was an infant. She ruled by strengthening her countries already existing ties with other countries and not on conquering or murder. She spent a lot of time repairing damage from previous wars, which only further increased her popularity. Pharaoh Hatshepsut insisted on being addressed and portrayed as male even though everyone knew her gender. Her statues and monuments also depicted her as male. She is even mentioned in the Valley of the Kings. Empress Wu Zetian ruled front the shadows mostly but finally came to be the only female ruler of China to rule under her name, though brief as it was. Pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled under her name the entire time but chose to present herself as a man. I do wonder her reasoning, though it is still incredible these women’s ability to consider themselves equal in a time where the world was built against them.

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Egypt’s culture has historically been kinder to women, but not by much. The most resistance to Pharaoh Hatshepsut came from the royal line, mostly from the heir apparent after he became of age and not from the citizens. Women were able to hold political office, own property, land, and livestock. Egypt focused on intellectual advancements of its people and believed their Pharaohs to be Gods in human form. China was a little late on the women’s right resolution, though the Empress did a lot for the advancement of women in her time. China-focused mainly on farming and weapons advancements, with many rulers all reporting to one head Emperor, whom they believed to have been selected by the heavens. Both countries were in the middle of successive periods of their history and were having cultural revolutions.

In the modern world, women hold offices all the time. We have achieved equality for the most part. After researching current female world leaders, I found two that best resembled the Empress and the Pharaoh. Yingluck Shinawatra is the former Prime Minister of Thailand. Her only ties to the political world at the time are from her family, her brother to be exact. Her brother was in exile, and his political party elected Yingluck to office in 2011. Though she was selected due to some manipulation, she accomplished some great things for the people of her country, like free public Wi-Fi access, and free tablet PC’S for school-aged children. She also helped garner some peace with public relations in Cambodia. She was the first female Prime Minister. I feel like her rise to power was very similar to the Empress, and though it does not seem like things were not on the level, she did accomplish good things for the citizens of Thailand. Kamla Persad- Bissessar is the former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. She hailed from a wealthy, prominent family and went straight into the family business it seems as her early years were spent as a successful lawyer. She spent her term fighting her country’s growing murder rate, boosting pensions and fighting poverty for her people. She also took in her niece and nephew after her brother was tragically killed in an accident. She is a true believer in peace, which is why she reminds me so much of the Pharaoh. Both the Empress and the Pharaoh were incredible people for some similar and very different ways. They left lasting impressions on their people and in history.

When I started this assignment, I had not anticipated the amount that I would learn. I learned about two women who would help make the path for women in the future who were trying to stand on equal ground with the male leaders. Learning from the past helps shape the future. I also learned about our current female world leaders who, honestly, I did not know existed before this assignment. This fact alone made me evaluate the current world revolving around me. I will be paying closer attention around me for sure.

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Tang Empress Wu Zetian Vs Pharaoh Hatshepsut. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from
“Tang Empress Wu Zetian Vs Pharaoh Hatshepsut.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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