Emperor Gaozong

Image Source: Public Domain

About Emperor Gaozong

Reign Years:649- 683 A.D

Given Name: Li Zhi

Reign Name:Emperor Gaozong

Emperor Gaozong – Tang Dynasty

Li Zhi, most commonly known as Emperor Gaozong (other aliases: Kao-Tsung, Xingming, Miaohao), was the third emperor of the Tang dynasty in China. He ruled from 649 to 683. Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty was known for expanding the Tang Empire into Korea.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E), in Chinese history, was regarded as the high point of the Chinese civilization. Its influence and territories were mainly acquired and maintained through strong military campaigns, good governance, and culture proliferation. It was also in this imperial dynasty that a legitimate empress reigned.

In 665, Gaozong gave his powers to Empress Wu, his second wife, the future Wu Zetian. As much as Gaozong carried out many decrees during his tenure, Wu Zetian carried them with greater force.

Emperor Gaozong was one of the most popular politicians in Chinese history, not because of his legacy whilst being the emperor. It was because of the power and glory that China had seen in the Tang Dynasty while his wife, Wu Zetian, took over his reign..

Who is Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty?

Emperor Gaozong was the youngest son of Emperor Taizong, the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty. He had elder brothers named Li Chengqian and Li Tai, who each had key roles on how he was able to claim the throne.

Gaozong was made the Prince of Jin in 631 and was also made a commandant of Bing Prefecture in 633. On the other hand, his two older brothers. Li Chengqian was the Crown Prince, and Li Tai, the Prince of Wei.

His two brothers were rivals for their father’s approval. In fact, Li Chengqian tried to stage a coup to overthrow Emperor Taizong. However, this plan was discovered eventually, and the Crown Prince was exiled by Emperor Taizong.

The next Crown Prince should have been Li Tai. However, upon learning that Li Tai was intimidating Gaozong, he was also exiled by Emperor Taizong, and Gaozong was eventually made the Crown Prince.

The Weak Prince

As the Crown Prince, his father was concerned about how Gaozong was weak in character and how it would affect if he were to inherit the throne someday. To train and prepare him for the responsibilities, Gaozong shadowed his father in military campaigns and state affairs.

As Emperor Taizong succumbed to his illness, Gaozong was the one who took care of him. With his father’s death, Gaozong mourned intensely, momentarily forgetting that he was to inherit the throne.

Eventually, two days after his father’s death, young Li Zhi became Emperor Gaozong, which means “high ancestor”.

The Finest Antiques for Sale

Yuan Dynasty Plate

Gently hand-painted by ancient artisans, this antique Chinese porcelain charger plate once belonged to a member of the Yuan dynasty royalty More info

Ming Dynasty Plate

Exquisitely preserved, this rare and unique plate from the distant Ming Dynasty, the quality suggest it was used in the imperial palace. More info

Yuan Dynasty Charger Plate

Rare blue and white porcelain charger plate from the Yuan dynasty military, this rare plate feature a beautiful and complex inverted painting. More info

Gaozong in Action

Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty spent most of his reign continuing the legacy of his ancestor. But he was known specifically for reforming laws on crime and punishment, which were mostly practiced throughout China for many years.

The emperor also abided by his father’s wishes, continuing the foreign campaigns of the dynasty. He was able to conquer the Korean peninsula, thus making the country a vassal state.

On the other hand, in Gaozong’s domestic affairs, Chinese citizens were prosperous as they were not imposed such high taxes and forced labor. However, he ended up overspending on palace constructions.

The military campaigns of this era spent much time hunting down those who still support Gaozong’s brothers who attempted to take the throne. But overall, there was peace during Emperor Gaozong’s reign.

Emperor Gaozong suffered from illness during his reign. Moreover, he was also proved to be a weak ruler by history being dominated by his consort, Wu Zhao.

Early Yuan dynasty Antique Porcelain Vase Qilin with incised design.

This richly detailed Yuan Dynasty vase features a beautiful combination of shades of cobalt oxide blue with delicate carved designs. A small foot gives way to a slender lower medallion that marks the point where the body begins to grow into wide majestic rims

Buy Now!

Antique Chinese Yuan Dynasty Porcelain Vase with Phoenix Qilin Ducks and Fish

This large Yuan Dynasty porcelain vase is exquisitely painted in brilliant tones of cobalt oxide blue. The base begins with slender arches with a lotus flower motif that makes way for curled stems enclosed in two medallions, followed by two beautiful small portraits.

Buy Now!

Late Yuan Dynasty Blue and White Porcelain Vase Warrior on Horse

This late Yuan Dynasty blue and white vase has been exquisitely hand-painted with the traditional cobalt oxide used by oriental artisans. Under a flared rim is a double-line medallion with elegant curled flowers. Below, a second medallion frames beautifully detailed chrysanthemums.

Buy Now!

The Prime of Wu Zetian

Wu Zhao, a former concubine of Emperor Taizong, was rescued by Emperor Gaozong from a convent to which she should have been sent after Taizong’s death. Gaozong was in love with his father’s concubine and decided to make her his empress during his reign.
Since Gaozong suffered from illness for the rest of his reign, he left a great deal of state matters to Empress Wu. With this, China had experienced a series of reforms under the empress. Eventually, after Emperor Gaozong’s death, Wu ruled the dynasty through puppet government until she claimed the throne herself in 690.
Emperor Gaozong was buried at the Qianling Mausoleum.

The third Tang Dynasty emperor was historically viewed as a weak ruler who was inattentive to the state’s business. Though he successfully established territorial gains in his first years of emperorship, he eventually lost the majority of them in the later years.

Moreover, Emperor Gaozong was also criticized for being dominated over by Empress Wu, his wife.

Wu Zhao, who became Wu Zetian, is historically known as the only Chinese female ruler. While her reign was seen as very controversial, her legacy laid the foundations for the later success of the dynasty and the country.