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In China's Valley of the Kings there stands a tall carved stone
It marks the tomb of a woman who rose from lowly concubine to become emperor of China
The only woman to dare claim that title
But China's female Emperor has gone down in history as a controversial and deeply divisive ruler
To have a woman with such power
really threatened the establishment
Not only did Wu Zetian rock the boat in some ways. She overturned it
It would have been a very dangerous thing to get in the way of Wu Zetian
Since her death 1,300 years ago wu zetian has been remembered as a callous tyrant who brought calamity to china
But now
Extraordinary new discoveries are revealing a very different picture of her reign from ancient tombstones
I've been waiting since this was excavated. I am ecstatic
to Buddhist temples
I honestly wasn't expecting that that is really exciting seeing this with your eyes is incredible experience
Lost treasures have even more fantastic than I thought it would be
Now for the first time experts are discovering how one woman managed to rule all the Imperial China
And whether Wu Zetian really was an evil dictator or one of the most misunderstood leaders in history
The only female emperor in China's 2,000 years of Imperial history was named Wu Zetian
move the celestial
She first entered court in 637 ad as a 13 year old concubine
Part of the hareem of mistresses serving emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty
Tang Taizong had more than a hundred concubines by repute. She was beautiful. She was charming. She was entertaining
She also had a real zest for life
Concubine Wu soon got herself noticed
When she entered the palace
She quickly gained favour of this emperor and her relationship of become closer and with the rise her of her influence at court
and
She proved to be politically very very skilful and she's very shrewd
When the old Emperor died Wu Zetian became at first concubine to his son Gaozong
Then in 655 he made her his Empress
But emperor gaozong was a sickly man
And gradually Wu became the real power behind the throne
Until in 690 with her husband dead Wu Zetian stepped from the shadows and declared herself Emperor
Yet China's ancient chroniclers were scathing in their accounts of her rise to power
History tells us a really dark and bleak picture about Empress Wu
One of the most brutal stories we have is that she killed her own child just to frame the previous Empress and
gain station at court
We're also told that Wu Zhao had her two
Rivals legs and arms cut off and then dip them in a vat of wine and let them slowly bleed to death
So this paints a picture of a devious
manipulating
calculating
self-serving and absolutely ruthless Virago
hell-bent on power
Even after she claimed the throne we're told Wu Zetian was ruthless in her reign
This is the tomb of Wu Zetian's second son Li Xian. He was a threat to his mother
Li Xian was accused of treason and he was exiled to the most remote
corner of the Chinese Empire locked in a room and
forced to commit suicide by poisoning
So this is a mother killing her own son so that she can hold on to power
Wu Zetian led China for nearly 50 years
According to legend she was a tyrant whose reign brought disaster to the Empire
Now archaeologists run earthing new evidence the challenges this version of Wu's story
The professor Zhang Jianlin is the world's leading archaeologists to the tang era
Today the city of Xian has grown to encompass old Chang'an, Wu's capital
The population of 12 million Xian is rapidly expanding
It's also home to professor Zhang's conservation facility
Historian dr. Harry Rothschild has heard about some intriguing recent finds that date to Wu's rein. Whoa
It's amazing seeing all these Tang artifacts
I've been studying Wu Zhao, Wu Zetian for 17 years and finally here
We are at Ground Zero you can sense her everywhere here in Chang'an
The figurines show life in Wu's capital the musicians traders and nobles buried with the dead to ensure a comfortable
afterlife
but there's also something unexpected here a
first clue to what Wu's China was really like
So we're looking at an unprecedented boost for the position of women
you're talking about a female Emperor here after all and and so that
Translated directly in this sort of greater opportunity and greater freedom for women in the late 7th in early 8th century
It seems like there may be more to Wu Zetian that meets the eye
Ancient chroniclers denigrated her reign
But many recent tomb discoveries like the women in men's clothing hinted a rather different story
Professor Tonia Eckfeld is an expert on Tang era tombs
She's on her way to see one of the most amazing archaeological finds in all Chinese history
It's amazing it's even more fantastic than I thought it would be
This is the fabled Phoenix crown of ancient China a
long-lost treasure from the Tang era
written about in ancient texts, but never seen
until now
This priceless headdress is held under lock and key and can only be viewed by special appointment
Tonia believes that is a vital clue to the truth about Wu Zetian's China
There's an enormous amount to investigate in this piece
Looking closely the metal work is filigree, and there's a lot of granulation
Granulation consists of tiny little beads of gold
The whole crown is like a peacock displaying its tail
There are very very fine flowers made of mother-of-pearl and pearl. There are even fine bunches of grapes made of Chinese glass
So really what we see here is something
cosmopolitan and something rich
something fashionable full of
luxury items not only in the making of it, but also in the imagery involved
Professors Jung's team found the Phoenix crown in a grave that was already in exceptional find, a tomb that had never been raided
Inside was a skeleton and on the skull the beehive hairstyle
studded with jewels
The skeleton was of a young woman named Li Chui a minor descendant of the Tang royal family
For 18 months the team carefully picked out every single jewel and stone
Slowly piecing together the headdress to reveal its true glory
But when they used x-ray chromatography to discover where the different jewels and stones came from they were in for a surprise
The headdress has carnelian from Uzbekistan
2,900 miles to the west of Chang'an, garnet from India 3,000 miles southwest
Amber from Iran 4,000 miles away and ivory from Sri Lanka
4500 miles from Wu's capital
The crown gives us clues about Wu Zetian's society. Life was rich. There's a lot of luxury
It was a real high point in the arts
What we can see here is the embodiment of all of the wealth and all of the treasure that the Tang court could attract
Li Chui wasn't even a princess if she was buried wearing this priceless headdress
Clear evidence of the extraordinary wealth of China at the time
Her tomb holds one final secret
She was buried with the Jade silkworm in her hand
Another clue that reveals Wu's ambitions to make her China the wealthiest empire in the world
In seventh century China a woman named Wu Zetian rose from lonely concubine to Empress
With her husband, the Emperor's sick. She ruled the Empire in all but name
Ancient chroniclers dismissed her reign as a time of calamity
But today's experts think the truth may be very different
In a tomb 50 miles northwest of wu's capital city, Chang'an
Tonia Eckfeld is investigating murals that provide strong evidence of Wu's influence and power
Here we can see a mural of foreign ambassadors coming to court
Ambassadors came from far and wide in this mural we can see a Mongolian a Korean and a townshend monk
perhaps from Rome or Syria
There's a man from Xinjian from Greece and from Persia
It's interesting because we can see that the The Ambassadors are in
quite subservient positions their hands are clasped before them and
Seem quite in awe of the situation
The mural suggests that Wu Zetian was a respected international leader of her time
I think Wu Zetian was a consummate politician
she saw advantage in the use of
diplomacy rather than warfare and led the society that was quite open and open to foreigners
Many foreigners at high level beat a path to her door
Recent research suggests that there were 25,000 foreigners living in Wu's Chang'an
Many were traders and more than anything, they were after one Chinese product.
Since the 4th millennium BC China had produced the finest quality silk
By Wu's era the demand for Chinese silk had made it as valuable as gold
The ancient trade routes of the Silk Road began in Chang'an spreading east and west linking China to other nations
But by the mid 7th century bandits and robbers threatened to stop trade in its tracks
new discoveries reveal Wu Zetian's master strain
She built military outposts far into Central Asia securing safe passage all along the Silk routes
Harry Rothschild has come to the very start of the Silk Road in Chang'an to find the latest archaeological evidence of trade in Wu's capital
This is incredible. We've been allowed to come right down here into the Western market
We're standing right on the edge of the canal
looking right across into this square where you had all of these stalls arrayed where rows of iron mongers and butchers and
tanner's and
silversmiths, goldsmith's, calligraphy brush salesmen would be arrayed where you could find anything under the Sun
If you get down closely here you can see
Ruts that have been left in in the earth
From the carts that went over this bridge you really feel the ambience of the Western market
In Wu Zetian's Chang'an, the east and west markets marked the start of the silk road
In the West market goods from lands to the west of Chang'an were bought and sold
Silk Road trade not only made Wu's Empire wealthy it brought so many
foreigners to China that her capital became one of the first truly
cosmopolitan cities in the world. People from all across the world traveled to China and many chose to stay
And this multicultural influence can still be felt in present day Xi'an
We are walking along the Huimin street the Chinese Muslims street on the very heart of old
Tang China and it is bustling it is vibrant. It is full of energy
As you see by the milling bustle going on behind me now
I think these are sugared figs or dried figs here
these came from along the Silk Road from from Persia
So this is a kind of wheat kernel candy
and he's pulling this taffy then afterwards they'll take the taffy and they'll
Roll it out with pumpkin seeds or with sesame seeds and then turn it into this hard candy
The sesame came from Persia and the Middle East along the Silk Road
So this is this is sort of the fruit of something that was trafficked thirteen hundred years ago during Wu Zetian's time
It is good. I think in terms of the
multiculturalism the vibrance the bustle the energy just the constant commercial buzz
You have a great sense of what was going on during the time
By 662 with her husband the Emperor ill Empress Wu Zetian was an effective control of the whole Chinese Empire
Trade had brought wealth and luxury
Evident from the valuable artifacts that have been found and Wu wanted to flaunt this to the rest of the world
To do this she planned the expansion of the Imperial Palace on a scale never seen before
When archaeologists first uncovered the foundations they were amazed by what they found
This is one of the huge gated entrances rebuilt to scale on those very foundations
This is Danfeng Gate the southern gate of Daming palace
Just looking up at it it conjures a sense of awe
For me
It's a statement
It provides a sense of Imperial grandeur
It makes any one sort of standing before the gate feel a sense of their own smallness and insignificance
Wu Zetian's Daming Palace was the largest in the world
Completed in just three years the scale of the complex outshone anything anyone had ever seen
Look at the size of Daming Palace
This is twice as big as old pompeii
It's five times bigger than the Forbidden City of the Ming and Qing Dynasty Emperor's it's twenty-two times the size of the Acropolis
The scope the grand juror. It's it's absolutely staggering.
You can read about it
but you don't really appreciate that magnitude until you step out on this balcony and you look out at this vista
There are archery grounds. There are polo grounds, cockfighting arenas,
places for drama troops to practice and that's just the beginning. There are three or four more palaces beyond that
Emissaries coming from foreign countries would come in with their jaws dropping with just a sort of starry-eyed
wonder and they would feel like they were looking at a celestial world a paradise on earth.
I do think that was about imposing her power with the majesty and size of Daming Palace
But Harry thinks this place is unusual in more than just its extreme size
Chang'an when it was first designed was the model of perfect Imperial symmetry
The old Imperial Palace was in the north central position within the Tang capital Chang'an. This new Daming Palace
was outside of the city walls altogether. It's very unusual to build a palace
outside of this usual model of imperial symmetry
there's one good reason for 12 years Wu Zhao had
languished in the old imperial palace. For her,
this was a chance to get a new start to distance herself from her lowly and obscure past as a fifth rank talent
Here where you have this stunning new imperial grandeur
was an opportunity to sort of reinvent herself
It's becoming clear that Wu Zetian made China a global superpower
Contrary to how the legends were written she was at the center of a web of trade
wealth and political influence that stretched from Japan to the Mediterranean
In the seventh century Wu Zetian's capital city Chang'an was in a class of its own
So Chang'an during Wu Zetian's time would have been an absolutely massive city
There's supposed to be almost a million people living within the city walls and another million outside
which just outclasses anything else in the world at that time
Jonathan Dugdale from Birmingham University thinks he knows one reason for Wu Zetian's remarkable success
She would win the support of the common people through the reinvigorated religion that was sweeping China
Buddhism
Wu Zetian realized patronizing Buddhism was a great way to please the people and what better way than building new temples and pagodas
So one of the main ones she built was this one right behind this the great wild goose pagoda
The great goose pagoda was originally built in 652
As someone who studied pagodas for a long time, this is
particularly awesome
The pagoda was an important temple housing sacred Buddhist writings
But just 50 years after it was built. It was destroyed in an earthquake
Wu, who had been brought up in the Buddhist faith spending time in a nunnery,
decided to rebuild the pagoda but on a much bigger scale
Jonathan suspects that this new building was a record breaker and
that Wu surpassed herself in her desire to make her mark in her people's faith
And he thinks he can prove it.
I would really like to find out how tall this building was when Wu Zetian rebuilt it
Because it'd be really interesting if she's decided to build it significantly bigger for a reason
But first he has a problem to solve. Wu Zetian's pagoda was partially damaged by a second earthquake
The top three floors toppled
So Jonathan has to work out how high her structure would have been with the missing floors
onwards and upwards
One two Okay that's 40 steps for that one and that put us on the fourth floor now
35, 36, 37, 38
One two three...
He's found a pattern in the number of steps
Previous floors we've gone from 43 to 40 to 38 37. So for the next floor is either 37 or 36
We should make an accurate calculation
34, 35, 36, 37
This is good, we're still decreasing so this is good we might be able to do something last one
Let's do the math people
By working out the pattern and height of the steps per story
136
Jonathan calculates with the missing three floors the true height of wu's pagoda was close to a staggering 300 feet high
Which would have made it not only the tallest brick pagoda in Asia
But possibly one of the tallest buildings in the world at that time
It would have been like nothing else that anyone had seen before in the cityscape
now it still looks impressive. But in those days it would have soared above absolutely everything else in the sea
Who built this record-breaking structure as a statement targeted directly at her people
There's so many different things
she stands to gain from building a massive pagoda in such a visual space like this
The majority of the population of Chang'an at this time are Buddhists and they will see that she's supporting Buddhism. She's supporting their religion
Wu Zetian ordered the building of new Buddhist temples in every town in her empire
creating allies among the common people of China
And she didn't stop there
250 miles east of Chang'an in Henan province are the Longmen Grottoes Caves
Historian Lou Young thinks there may be key to understanding Wu's power
This is a sacred place for Buddhist. The religion and pilgrims have have been coming here for centuries
But I have been told there is a connection that link and pursue directly to their faith
Members of the elite paid vast sums to carve small caves into this sacred hillside
There are over 1,400 housing over 100,000 Buddha figures
The smallest is just an inch tall
The biggest is an imposing
57 feet high
commissioned by Wu Zetian herself and
It has a story to tell
Wow, isn't this impressive?
What a view it is gigantic
The official name of this Buddha is Vairocana, which is the radiant Buddha of a great Sun
This is basically a universal Buddha
Symbolized the the power and indominus of this religion
Wu Zetian wanted to put herself at the heart of buddhism in the eyes of her people
To do this, it's possible
she took one audacious step and ordered the statue to be carved in her own image
The legend says that this statue actually is modeled after her face
She want to make this a statement of her power
This will give her more credibility because this is the age of Buddhism and there's a massive follower of this particular religion and by
creating this temple, she basically put herself on the center stage of of not just religious action, but also the society in general
You know the seeing this with your own eyes is incredible experience
This is so impressive to me and I think she got what she wanted
The longmen grottoes and the great goose pagoda
suggests that Wu Zetian was a skillful tactician who knew how to use religion to promote her own status and keep her Empire happy
And up river from the giant buddha the series of very recent
archaeological discoveries reveal another of the secrets of her success
Wow
This is spectacular
Here in Luoyang
Professor wangju and his team have been excavating giant granaries designed for storing rice
Inscriptions enabled the team to date each granary precisely
Wu Zetian ordered rice from eastern China to be brought here by canal
stockpiled in these vast grain stores then
redistributed in times of need
During the early 7th century China suffered prolonged droughts leading to famines
But under Wu Zetian,
improvements to the rice stores design were to prove invaluable
Wow the massive scale of this granary really testify
The the power and the capability of Empress Wu's regime and and she is a very capable ruler
That the grain kept here can last for many years
So this is not just contributed to the stability of her regime but also for the future of tang dynasty as well
Archeology is revealing that Wu Zetian was an efficient administrator who ensured her people and her soldiers were always fed
But despite her successes, as a woman she could never rely on the support of the aristocratic establishment
She needed allies
So in a radical break with tradition, Wu allowed commoners to join in the administration of her government
She encouraged women to be entrepreneurs and permitted Chinese women to divorce and marry freely for the first time
But in a moment of breathtaking audacity, she even appointed a female prime minister by the name of Shangguan Wan'er
Harry has been told of evidence professor Zhang's team have found in recent excavations in the Prime Minister's tomb
Suggesting her life had a controversial final chapter
This is
Shangguan Wan'er' epitaph I've been waiting since
September of 2013 when this was excavated for a chance to actually see this in person and it's finally happening today
So I am ecstatic
This says she had 47 springs and autumns
at the time of her death
But when Zhang's team found the prime minister's tomb
It had been purposely destroyed
And this destruction is key to understanding why the bleak picture of Wu Zetian has been passed on through the centuries
This was thorough, kind of malicious and intentional destruction that had been done to the tomb
Shangguan Wan'er's tomb had been dismantled by order of emperors Ruizong, Wu Zetian's sucessor
Harry believes
there is a direct link between this destruction and the chronicles the tell of Wu's evil and incompetence
Now that I know that Shangguan Wan'er's grave was dismantled
this is part of an intentional process an intentional destruction of
vestiges of female power during the late 7th and early 8th century
The Confucian patriarchy striking back and re-establishing normative power
By 690 ad
Wu Zetian had ascended the throne to become the first female emperor ever to rule the Chinese Empire
But her opponents were determined to unseat her
She had annihilated many many of her enemies
but where there's power there are always rivals and
There's always a contest
Although there is clearly more to Wu Zetian than the ancient writers led us to believe
There's also emerge that some of the tales of her callousness were not just propaganda
Art historian, Dr. Jenny Liu has discovered new texts in the tomb of Wu's
great granddaughter princess Yongtai that suggests even blood knew no mercy
I've studied other princess' epitaph as well
And this is a passage here, which I've never seen. You have the character for anger. Okay, and
anger at the
The two
boys
and their secret medicine
So this passage tells you what happened to princess Yongtai. These are characters that are usually used for
the
miscarriage or the loss of a child
and
It is the Zhang brothers secret medicine or poison that made her miscarriage leading to her death
This refers to Wu Zetian because it's very possible that
she was the instigator of the poison that Zhang brothers were very close to her and they did her bidding and she was known to
have pitted people against each other in court and she would cause one to poison or kill the other and
She did this with officials and now it seems maybe she did it with her
relations her kin.
What was the motive? Why? Why does she want the princess dead?
She was bearing the child of two of the strongest clans in contention for the throne and
it might be possible that she did not want this child to be born no matter the gender
It would have been a very dangerous thing to get in the way of Wu Zetian
As emperor of China Wu Zetian had successfully fought off all rivals to hold on to power
But the fight had been bloody
Wu Zetian became incredibly ruthless
She had hundreds of members of the ruling family executed
The violence and reign of terror you could say was extreme
But she was not without a conscience
She was very troubled by what she'd done
With her mind turning towards her afterlife, Wu wanted forgiveness of her sins
She wrote a confession and
had it engraved onto a golden tablet and had that tablet taken to a holy place to perform a sacred ritual
So here we are on Mount Song
It's the central of the five sacred peaks of ancient China and it became a very important place in Wu Zetian's later life
In the year 700, Wu Zetian came to this mountain
She had a golden tablet made on which she inscribes her sins
Which was then cast down the mountain as a as a form of absolution
And we know precisely what that gold tablet said because nearly
1300 years later a farmer found it lying in the earth on the mountain slopes
Its description was short but its message profound
And said
The ruler Wu Zhao admires the true doubt with its long-lived immortal spirits
Her servant has been commissioned to go reverently to the pinnacle of the central peak of Mount Song and cast the golden tally that
might expiate her sinful nature
What you can tell by the fact she's throwing away this tablet in such a visible fashion is that she's really trying to demonstrate
To other people that she was repentant
It's a very visible
ceremonial thing it's it's saying I have sinned and I wish to be absolved of these sins and
And whether she actually believed that was the case or not
I think is is less important than the impression it would create to other people
The end of Wu Zetian's reign had become fraught with scheming and rebellion among the male nobility at her court
The higher she goes she becomes a tall poppy she becomes a bigger target
Jonathan has come to a remote location in the foothills of Mount Song that Wu retreated to in her last year's
It's awesome
I've wanted to come here for a long time
This is quite special
This is the Songyue pagoda it's
Important Wu Zetian's life because she's to come here to worship
It's 1,500 years old not only is it still standing, it still looks pretty good
So
Wu Zetian would have come into this probably into this very building because this is the original structure from 1500 years ago
I've never seen anything like this before. This is a phenomenal building
You can feel why Wu Zetian would want to come here
I mean Chang'an at this time is politically very difficult and she wants to come here to just escape all that
It's it's a place of safety and refuge
Throughout her life Wu' Zetian had shattered Confucian tradition
Rising from a lowly concubine to become the only female Emperor of China
She had achieved much
She made China a better place for women,
the Empire wealthy,
peaceful, her capital city
vibrant and cosmopolitan and her population fed and free to practice their religion
But the male establishment was closing in and the She Emperor was too old to fight back
When Wu Zetian's rule came to an end she was 80
In fact, she wasn't usurped
she
abdicated so
She was still maintaining her own sense of control
She lived for a few more months and she went quietly her time had come
Emperor Wu Zetian died in 705
This is Qianling the Tang dynasty mausoleum complex her final resting place
She's buried in a secret chamber
Deep inside the mountain alongside the Emperor she succeeded, her husband Gaozong
We're on the spiritual path
Walking toward Wu Zetian's tomb
It's impressive. It's daunting its powerful
The area that it covers is almost the same as the Daming Palace. So it's a huge area
The path to Wu Zetian's tomb is protected by Imperial bodyguards and sculptures to ward off evil spirits
Beside the Gateway entrance the two sets of foreign emissaries lined up to pay homage
Being here is a really awesome experience
It's so impressive. Wu Zetian may have held power for more than half a century
but in this place really her spirit and her sense of majesty and
authority and power has lived on for many centuries
Standing along Qianling is the carved steely honoring Wu Zetian's resting place
By her decree, it was left blank inviting historians to write of her achievements and
they did so
distorting her story for centuries
But having discovered more about her life, what would today's experts now carve upon the stand
I would write something along the lines of she was woman who did what she had to to stay in power
She was a great leader. She had a lot of political acumen
But most of all I'd say she was the woman that proved that in a man's world. You didn't need a man to lead it
The one word that I would put is just maverick because of the way that she went about gaining power
I'd write nothing for her entire
Idiosyncratic
unprecedented political career
Defied labels and for thirteen hundred years. She's defied historical verdict
I think that the the blankness of the steely is a perfect monument
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武則天的統治-BBC歷史紀錄片 (The Empress Who Ruled The World (Chinese History Documentary) )

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雲凊 發佈於 2019 年 9 月 15 日
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