Yao and Shun among women: the truth that people set up a queen

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The Song Dynasty was a dynasty with heavy Yin Qi. For more than 300 years in the Song Dynasty, half of the 18 emperors were ruled by the Empress Dowager (imperial concubine). Empresses’ participation in politics is the most frequent in all dynasties.

But interestingly, the scholar officials in the Song Dynasty did not seem to dislike the empresses’ interference in politics.

Except for a few powerful empresses who have been stigmatized by the scholar bureaucrats, such as Liu e, the empress of song Zhenzong, who was previously written by Prince AI, and the vast majority of empresses dowagers (imperial concubines) who listen to politics behind the curtain have won a good reputation in history. The official history book “history of Song Dynasty” gives a high evaluation to the group of empresses in Song Dynasty:

“For more than 300 years in the Song Dynasty, there was no trouble for the Wang family of the Han Dynasty outside, and no trouble for the Wu and Wei of the Tang Dynasty inside. Isn’t it outstanding yet?”

The nine empress dowagers (imperial concubines) who listened to the government at the curtain were all Regents for less than one year. Only two of them were “super long standby”: one was Liu e, mentioned above, who acted as empress dowager for 11 years in the song Renzong Dynasty; The other is Gao Taotao, the empress of song Yingzong, who was regent for 9 years as empress dowager Tai of song zhezong Dynasty.

It was these two empresses who left a polarized reputation among those who listened to the Song Dynasty: Liu e was considered the worst, and the history books said that she almost became the second Wu Zetian; However, Gao Taotao has the best reputation and is known as “Yao and Shun among women” – this is the most accepted design in history. I’m afraid I can’t find a second woman with this honor after reading history books.

So here’s the problem:

Gao Taotao is praised so highly because she is really successful, or is there something hidden?



? portrait of Gao Taotao. Source: Network


Gao Taotao is the kind of person who wins at the starting line. She was born in 1032, the year before Liu e died. The big name is Gao Zhengyi, and the small name is Gao Taotao.

Contrary to Liu e’s extremely humble background, Gao Taotao was born into a noble family. His parents were both famous families of the current Dynasty.

Her great grandfather was a famous general, Gao Qiong, who had made meritorious service in the battle of Chanyuan; His grandfather was gaojixun, who was called “the divine general” by the time; His father, Gao Zunfu, was Gao Jixun’s third son.

Her maternal lineage is more prominent. Her mother is the granddaughter of Cao Bin, the first founding hero of the Song Dynasty, and the sister of Cao, the empress of Renzong of the Song Dynasty.

Let’s put it this way, Gao Taotao’s starting point is the end point of Liu e’s life.

When Emperor Zhenzong of Song Dynasty wanted to make Liu e queen, he was spitting on her face by the courtiers. Everyone ridiculed her for “having a poor family background and not being able to respect the world”. But Gao Taotao has no such trouble.

She grew up in the palace with her aunt, empress Cao, and grew up with songrenzong and zhaoshu, the adopted son of empress Cao. The two children were just the same age. Seeing that they were made for each other, songrenzong said to empress Cao, “we should marry each other someday.”

Later, song Renzong and empress Cao did marry them. At that time, there was a saying that “the son of heaven marries a daughter, and the empress marries a daughter”.



? empress Cao, Gao Taotao’s aunt. Source: film and television stills

In 1063, zhao shu succeeded to the throne as the fifth emperor of the Song Dynasty, namely song Yingzong. Gao Taotao was made queen.

Gao Taotao successively gave birth to four sons and four daughters for song Yingzong, and these are all the children of song Yingzong.

Song Yingzong was always ill. There was no record of him being a concubine in Jin Dynasty in the official history. The personal notes of the Song Dynasty mentioned that song Yingzong had “no one around”. One possible explanation is that Gao Taotao was really strong in the relationship between husband and wife, restricting song Yingzong from approaching other women.

However, Emperor Yingzong of the Song Dynasty had been in power for less than 4 years and died of illness in 1067. He and Gao Taotao’s eldest son, Zhaoxu, succeeded to the throne as the song Shenzong.

At the age of 36, empress Gao became empress dowager Gao.

Song Shenzong was a passionate young man. He was 20 years old when he succeeded to the throne. Soon, he boldly adopted Wang Anshi and carried out reform. The reform achieved some results, but there were many obstacles. The most typical performance was that the Korean Sergeant bureaucrats began to tear apart because of their positions and standing in line.

At this time, the Empress Dowager Cao, Empress Dowager Gao Taotao, and empress Xiang were at the core of the Imperial Palace, which, by virtue of their special identities as grandmother, mother, and wife, exerted pressure on Song Shenzong to oppose the reform. Under their influence, the emperor Shenzong of the Song Dynasty was under great pressure and once complained to Wang Anshi: “from the near ministers to the later generations, they all talked about their harm. The two palaces wept and worried about the chaos in the capital, thinking that the drought was even more unpopular.”

Wang Anshi said that the objection of the harem must be the result of the instigation of Xiang Jing (the father of the queen) and Cao Yi (the younger brother of Empress Dowager Cao).

The reformists believed that the new law harmed the vested interests of the tycoons, so they tried every means to make use of their political resources and contacts in an attempt to abort the new law. The relatives were a powerful force to obstruct the political reform, and the harem became the entry point for them to exert influence.

However, from the relatives named by Wang Anshi, there are no Gao Taotao’s family members. It can be seen that although Gao Taotao stands on the political position against the reform, her private morality is indeed good, at least inhibiting her family members from engaging in political activities. This is one of the reasons why she was praised after her death.

In 1085, at the age of 38, song Shenzong died of melancholy with unfinished ambitions.

The Political Bureau of the great song dynasty stood at a fork in the road. At this critical juncture, 54 year old Gao Taotao officially started her political career.



? song Shenzong, who died melancholy with unfulfilled ambition. Source: Network


When the disease of the song Shenzong worsened, the various factions in the court began to make secret plans about who would take over as the emperor.

As several sons of song Shenzong have died early, the oldest son at present is Zhaoxu, the sixth son of the emperor, but he is only 10 years old. If Zhaoxu succeeds to the throne as the young leader, it is bound to return to the “story” of emperor Renzong’s young succession to the throne and the Regency of Empress Dowager Liu E. at this time, Gao Taotao, who was upgraded to empress dowager dowager, is undoubtedly a natural candidate to listen to politics in the imperial court.

However, Gao Taotao’s hostility to the new law forced Prime Minister Cai Zheng to seek another possibility. CAI was indeed one of the most powerful supporters of the new law after Wang Anshi left the throne. He and the reformists were worried that once Gao Taotao really opened the curtain to listen to politics, he would have to abolish the new law and cause a turning point in their personal destiny.

Cai Zhen then hoped to cite another mode of succession in the Song Dynasty to rule out the worst result. In addition to “the father died and the son succeeded”, there was also a precedent of “brother died and brother joined” in the Song Dynasty. When Emperor Shenzong of the Song Dynasty was dying, his two younger brothers, zhaohao, king of Yong, and Zhaokai, king of Cao, were both in their 30s and in their prime of life. According to precedents, they were also qualified to be emperors. Together with another minister, Xing Shu, caique plotted to elect one of them as emperor.

At the same time, when the Prime Minister Wang Yu asked about the disease, he first asked song Shenzong Zao Hitachi Zhaoxu to be the crown prince. Songshenzong could no longer speak, but nodded in agreement.

In this dispute over the throne, Gao Taotao’s attitude is particularly important: whether to establish his own son or his own grandson, the palm and back of his hand are all flesh.

However, the historical records of Gao Taotao’s initial position have been blurred. Because the first-hand historical material that recorded the dispute over the throne, the true records of zhe Zong, was revised several times after the reign of Huizong of Song Dynasty. With the transformation of the political struggle situation between the two dynasties, the opposite writing appeared.

The earliest version said that Gao Taotao wanted to “set up a younger brother (zhaohao, the younger brother of the emperor Shenzong) rather than a son (Zhaoxu, the younger son of the emperor Shenzong)”, because she had always loved her son, zhaohao, the king of Yong, and Zhao Hao also had ambitions. When the emperor Shenzong was seriously ill, he frequently went in and out of prison, and proposed that the emperor should “ask the Empress Dowager (Gao Taotao) to hang the curtain”. In this version, Cai does intend to establish the young leader Zhaoxu, while Gao Taotao and Wang Yu “seek to abolish the establishment”.

In the Southern Song Dynasty, the true records of zhe Zong was greatly revised to defend Gao Taotao. In the revised version, Empress Dowager Gao secretly asked palace people to sew yellow robes for children when song Shenzong was dying, which shows that Gao Taotao decided to make Zhao Xu emperor in compliance with the wishes of song Shenzong from the beginning.

At the same time, it is recorded that Gao Taotao ordered his two sons (that is, the two brothers of Shenzong) not to come again to inquire about the illness of song Shenzong, so as not to give birth to right and wrong. In this version, caique and Xing Shu invited Gao Taotao’s nephew to participate in the plot to abolish Zhao Xu in the name of watching flowers. After they were rejected, they made a poison move – spreading rumors and slandering Gao Taotao and Prime Minister Wang Yu, who was the real supporter of Zhao Xu’s succession.

For the parties involved in the dispute over the throne, the truth is no longer important. What matters is how to create the truth to achieve their own political goals.

Finally, four days before the death of emperor Shenzong, Gao Taotao began to listen to the government. Four days later, song Shenzong died. The Prime Minister Wang Xuan read out his last imperial edict. Zhaoxu, 10, succeeded to the throne for song zhezong.

The dispute over the throne has been settled for the time being. However, many years later, when song zhezong came into power, there was a storm in the court about who was the supporter of his succession to the throne.



? portraits of song philosophers. Source: Network


There is no sign that Gao Taotao is willing to take the initiative to seek the position of Empress Dowager Regent. According to the historical practice, the young master has to have the Empress Dowager or the Empress Dowager to help him succeed to the throne. At this time, she has the highest seniority in the harem, so she has no choice.

Liu e, the first Regent empress dowager of the dynasty, was deeply involved in handling political affairs as early as twoorthree years after her husband songzhenzong fell ill. By the time songzhenzong died of illness and songrenzong, the young leader, took the throne, Liu e had enough political experience and successfully entered the career of Regent empress dowager.

However, unlike Liu e, Gao Taotao had no political experience before he began his official Regency. In both the Yingzong Dynasty and the Shenzong Dynasty, she was a woman who kept to the way of Empress Dowager and had no interest or opportunity to participate in imperial politics.

The only political attitude revealed was that after Wang Anshi’s reform, he followed empress dowager Cao, the fashionable living aunt, to persuade song Shenzong to abolish the new law. That’s it.

When she opened the curtain to listen to politics, the choice she had to face was how to deal with the new law, the political legacy left by song Shenzong, and a group of courtiers who supported the new law. Obviously, these political heritages are contrary to her own political tendencies.

In order to get started quickly, control imperial affairs and establish her own authority, she started the path dependence mode to seek support between familiar people and things. People are “old people”. Most of the people she chose were important officials of her husband in the song Yingzong period, such as Sima Guang, Wen Yanbo, LV Gongzhu, etc; Things are also “old things”, that is, to abolish the new laws implemented since the Shenzong Dynasty and restore to the old ancestral system she was familiar with before the Shenzong Dynasty.

The most important thing is that the people and things she expected were so matched – the old ministers she knew and trusted were all opponents of the new law and advocates of the old system.

It is only a matter of time before the new law is abolished and the courtiers who support it are purged.

According to records, Gao Taotao’s first major event after his Regency was to privately send eunuchs to Luoyang to ask Sima Guang about politics, regardless of the normal political channels. Sima Guang, who lived in seclusion and wrote books in Luoyang for 15 years because of his opposition to Wang Anshi’s reform, probably never dreamed that he would return to the political core in the last year of his life and successfully fight against the new law and end his long cherished wish.

Shortly after Luoyang took office, Sima Guang joined the pilgrimage minister and further cited Lu Gongzhu, Wen Yanbo and others who opposed the reform. There was a confrontation between the reformists such as Cai Que and Zhang Dun and the Conservatives in the central court, and the two sides were in the same boat.

In order to control public opinion and crack down on the reformists, Sima Guang and others privately recommended Su Zhe, Zhu Guangting and other conservatives to Gao Taotao, requesting that he be granted the position of advisor. Later, Wang yansuo and Liu Zhi were also introduced into the imperial court to act as the imperial censor and specifically attack the reform school.

Sima Guang also suggested that Gao Taotao set up a detailed prosecution office to rehabilitate and rehabilitate the officials who opposed the new law in the song Shenzong period, restore their reputation and official positions, and reassign them to all levels of the imperial court.

The essence of political struggle is personnel arrangement. Which side has the advantage of the power of the DPRK and China will surely win in the next policy changes and the clean-up of dissidents.

After the personnel arrangement was in place, the counsellors launched a fierce attack on the reform faction. Cai Que and Zhang Dun left the capital one after another, and other officials supporting the reform were demoted from the imperial court one after another. In less than a year, the achievements of the reform of Fangtian average tax, Shiyi, Baojia, Qingmiao and exemption from military service have been completely abandoned, and the national system seems to have returned to 18 years ago overnight.

In 1086, in September of the lunar calendar, Sima Guang died of illness one year after coming out of the mountain again. The Empress Dowager Gao Taotao wailed loudly. Three years later, when Duke Lu died, Gao Taotao mourned again and said to the courtiers in tears, “unfortunately for the state, Sima Xianggong died and LV Sikong died again.” During her Regency, her authority became a tool for two conservative leaders, Sima Guang and Lu Gong, to suppress the new law. Today, the user of the tool has left, and the tool seems to have lost its direction.

In fact, after Sima Guang’s death, the Conservatives gradually split into three factions, namely the “Shuluo Shuo party struggle” in later generations. However, Gao Taotao did not have any posture of strong intervention, but allowed his party struggle environment to deteriorate until he swallowed the country like a black hole.


Gao Taotao’s private morality is actually very good. She advocates frugality and is famous for her simplicity. Although she was born into a noble family, she has compassion for the suffering of the people. She treats her relatives and her own family members with a very strict attitude and does not play favoritism.

But more often, her virtues are limited to the areas she can perceive. Once she entered the field of governing the country, she needed to weigh the advantages and disadvantages from a higher position and implement the virtue of benefiting the country and the people. She became at a loss and even became a “moral loser” in politics.

It must be admitted that the virtues of a politician are very different from those of an individual. Since the beginning of Wang Anshi’s reform, few people in the political arena of the Northern Song Dynasty have realized this. Everyone is still used to measuring the virtues of politicians with individual virtues, and as a result, they have fallen into a paranoid situation. Gao Taotao obviously does not have the thought and ability to improve the chaotic Korean situation, which has gone beyond her daily experience. She can only be carried by a group of old ministers as a flag to publicize her private morality and beautify her morality as a politician.

But in fact, the surging Regency period, which was beautified by historical records as “yuan you governing the world”, was a prelude to the Northern Song Dynasty’s collapse. The foreshadows that led to the subjugation of the Northern Song Dynasty had been buried at this time.

During gaotaotao’s Regency, three evil consequences were sown for the Northern Song Dynasty:

First, the total negation of the reform content in the Shenzong period pushed the economy of the Northern Song Dynasty to the brink of collapse;

Second, showing weakness to the Western Xia’s soil cutting not only failed to win border peace, but also stimulated his ambition to win longwangshu;

Third, the political persecution of the same party against the different parties opened the prelude to the tossing and turning of the party struggle in the late Northern Song Dynasty.

In particular, the third point is a lingering nightmare of the political situation in the late Northern Song Dynasty. The focus of the Korean political situation is no longer to study how to enrich the country and strengthen the people, but to study how to defeat opponents, which has completely evolved into a struggle between one faction and another.

There are those in the reform school who sincerely hope that the country will become better and stronger, and those who want to use the reform to climb the dragon and follow the Phoenix to seek higher promotion. Just like the Conservatives, there are also those who seek for the country but not for themselves. There are also those who maintain the vested interests of bureaucrats and nobles by repealing the new law. If Gao Taotao has the ability to know people, then the principle she should adopt in governing the country is to talk about things as they are, not people.

Unfortunately, in practice, the people in the Korean bureau have been lined up and labeled as the old and new parties, and the new law has also been abolished as a whole, regardless of good or bad. There is no room for manoeuvre.

In the movement of abolishing the new law called “Yuanyou genghua” in historical books, Gao Taotao showed his absolute dependence on conservative old ministers. As the de facto supreme ruler of the country, she failed to show an attitude beyond the party, nor did she show more intelligent machinations, but only became a tool for conservatives to completely abolish the new law and crack down on the reformists.

The history of Party strife in the song Shenzong period was repeated again during the gaotaotao Regency period, and even more so.

After being demoted from the imperial court, caique, the leader of the reform school, visited the chegai Pavilion in Anzhou (now Anlu, Hubei Province) and made a group of quatrains to express his feelings. Unexpectedly, the Conservatives seized the opportunity to misinterpret the poetry, saying that the poem implied that empress dowager Gao was Empress Wu Zetian, thus creating a “cart cover Pavilion poem case”. Gao Taotao ordered Cai Zheng to defend himself, but he did not accept his words. He also insisted that there was a CAI Zheng party in the DPRK, which extended the attack to the entire reform faction.

Gao Taotao’s practice has aroused opposition from some conservatives. Fanchunren reminded that “you can’t make ambiguous mistakes between words and kill ministers”. The word prison can’t be opened. Su Shi, who had suffered from the “Wutai poem case”, also believed that he should be lenient and not implicate others. However, Gao Taotao still used his power to create the most extensive and powerful literary prison case since the founding of the Northern Song Dynasty.

Caique later died in the exile, and the reformists were liquidated. Even fanchunren was accused of protecting caique and demoted from the imperial court.

In those years, when the “Wutai poem case” against Su Shi broke out, Gao Taotao followed empress dowager Cao to intercede with the emperor. Now, she launched a literary prison against the reform school, and finally became the most annoying look she ever had.

The “chegaiting poetry case” which was widely implicated had a worse impact than the “Wutai poetry case”. It provoked the political retaliation of the new and old parties in their subsequent struggles. In the future, when the new party came to power, it also spared no effort to crack down on the old party and set up a “monument of treacherous parties”.

From then on until the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty, the imperial Bureau was repeated fourorfive times in the old and new party disputes, and the empire fell into the black hole of power struggle.



? behind the great Song Dynasty is a black hole of party struggle. Source: Network


In the fierce power struggle, everyone ignored the existence of one person – Zhaoxu, the emperor of Song Dynasty, who was the nominal supreme ruler of the great song dynasty.

After nine years of Regency by Gao Taotao, song zhezong grew from a 10-year-old child to a 19-year-old youth. However, the military affairs were still decided by Empress Dowager Gao and several ministers, and the emperor never had a say.

All the ministers in the court, without exception, ignored the age growth of song zhezong. They used to think that the emperor was still young and warned him to obey empress dowager Gao in everything. Above the court hall, the emperor’s throne and Empress Dowager Gao’s seat are opposite to each other. According to the number of rites, ministers should face the performance of song zhezong; However, the ministers all turned their backs to song zhezong in the face of Empress Dowager Gao.

After song zhezong came into power, he once mentioned the scene of Empress Dowager Gao’s hanging the curtain to listen to politics, saying that he was small and could only see the courtiers’ hips and waist.

Sometimes, Empress Dowager Gao would ask song zhezong, why have you been silent and did not express your views?

Song zhezong replied, “my mother has punished me. What do you want me to say?”

On one occasion, Empress Dowager Gao ordered someone to take away and replace an old table that had been used by song zhezong for a long time, but song zhezong soon sent someone to bring the old table back. Empress Dowager Gao was puzzled.

Song zhezong replied, “this was used by the former Emperor.”

Empress Dowager Gao was shocked and realized that she had planted the seeds of resentment in the young emperor’s heart.

The opposition between the Empress Dowager and the young emperor is not uncommon in history. It can be called “the sequela of the hanging curtain of politics”. Once the emperor became an adult, he would turn his back on the previous government and eliminate the influence of the Regent empress dowager, such as song Renzong; The most important thing is to be ruthless and make the Empress Dowager stink, such as song zhezong.

When Gao Taotao was seriously ill, he was already aware that song zhezong was extremely dissatisfied with her. She seemed to see some ominous signs, so she specially summoned LV Dafang and fanchunren for his deathbed entrustment: “I was entrusted by the Shenzong, heard by the Imperial Hall of the official family, and tried to tell you whether I had ever given a private favor to Gao in the past nine years?”

Lu Dafang flattered and said, “your majesty and even the public are in charge of the world. How can you give private favors to outsiders?”

Until her death, Gao Taotao’s most proud thing was that she had no private virtue and did not use her power to take extra care of her family. But she did not know that this was important to the emperor who had been ignored for a long time?

Gao Taotao then told fanchunren, “your father Zhong Yan is a loyal minister. When the empress Ming Su was hanging the curtain, he had to persuade Ming Su to do everything in her mother’s way, and the distinguished guests of Ming Su had to persuade Renzong to do everything in her son’s way. You should be like that.” It means that fanchunren should learn from his father fanzhongyan. After the death of Empress Dowager Liu e, songrenzong once wanted to retaliate against Liu E. fanzhongyan persuaded songrenzong to do his son’s duty.

Finally, Gao Taotao also warned LV Dafang and fanchunren that after my death, the emperor will not put you in important position. You should take the initiative to avoid disaster.

In the last days of his life, Gao Taotao had clearly foreseen the possible actions that song zhezong might take after he took office.

In the autumn of 1093, at the age of 62, Gao Taotao died of illness, and his posthumous title was “Queen xuanrenshenglie”.

At last, song zhezong began to fight back. As for the people appointed and the policies formulated by Empress Dowager Gao during her Regency, he did not recognize them at all. He recalled Zhang Dun, Cai Bian and other reformist leaders to the imperial court, while conservative officials were successively demoted to the Lingnan area. A new reincarnation has started again with the struggle between the imperial court and the party and the transfer of power.

At this time, some people in the imperial court had already denounced empress dowager Gao as “an old traitor and good at the country”. Perhaps at the instigation of song zhezong, Zhang Dun and caibian planned to pursue empress dowager Gao and abolish her, and drew up an imperial edict. After persuading the Empress Dowager and Princess Zhu, song zhezong’s biological mother, song zhezong scolded Zhang Dun and Cai Bian, and the matter turned over.

After four years of being in power, the deceased old ministers, whom empress dowager Gao relied on, were chased down, demoted and deprived of their enfeoffments. Song zhezong also planned to dig Sima Guang and others’ graves, but he gave up after being bitterly admonished by the courtiers.

From gaotaotao’s Regency to song zhezong’s political affiliation, the whole Song Dynasty was full of resentment and retaliation, as well as the way of national governance under the control of this emotion. The state affairs were no better.



? the auspicious omens in the late Northern Song Dynasty were only illusions and illusions. Source: Network


However, despite the bad development of the state and the government, Gao Taotao ushered in a complete reversal of his personal reputation after the collapse of the Northern Song Dynasty.

From the whole process of Gao Taotao’s Regency, the power of song zhezong was completely elevated. No wonder the latter had such deep hatred for him after he took office.

According to the curtain hanging system actually adopted, Gao Taotao is also bolder than Liu E. In those days, Liu e only listened to politics in the back hall and did not accept the worship of all officials. During the reign of gaotaotao, officials needed to pay homage to empress dowager Gao before worshipping song zhezong.

However, compared with the social reform during the reign of Liu e, which established the outline system and promoted the advantages and eliminated the disadvantages, Gao Taotao’s ruling was a stubborn conservative and path dependent attitude, which exacerbated the decline of the Northern Song Dynasty.

Even though Gao Taotao had great power and little action, she was praised as “Yao and Shun among women”. In those years when she was regent, she was also whitewashed by historical books as “the imperial court was clear and bright, and China was suiding”. “Yuan you is the most important ruler of our Dynasty, and Xuan Ren is the most virtuous empress.” this has already praised Gao Taotao to heaven.

Why is there such a historical conclusion that deviates from the facts?

Fundamentally speaking, although Gao Taotao had great power during her Regency, she obviously knew better how to cooperate with the revival of patriarchal law and did not challenge the norms of a patriarchal society. Therefore, in the long conservative era of imperial power, she was easier to be affirmed by historians.

In particular, after the collapse of the Northern Song Dynasty, the political situation in the Southern Song Dynasty was basically controlled by conservatives. During the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Song Dynasty, he revised and rewritten the historical records of the Regency period of Gao Taotao, highlighting the political struggle between conservatives and Reformists represented by Gao Taotao, which was a struggle between loyal and treacherous parties. The simple theory of loyalty and treachery blurs the complex historical truth of song Shenzong and song zhezong.

Later historical books, including the official revision of the history of song in the Yuan Dynasty, were compiled in a hurry. However, taking the historical books of the Southern Song Dynasty as the base, this blurred and rewritten history has not been correctly examined.

Gao Taotao is an established saying of “Yao and Shun among women”, which was inherited by the history of Song Dynasty and passed down from generation to generation.

In fact, the so-called historical truth has been shaped and strengthened by the repeated writing of later generations. Although this historical truth may be completely opposite to historical facts, it doesn’t matter. What matters is who holds the power of historical writing. The Conservatives had ups and downs in the political struggle, but they finally occupied the right to write history. As a result, the history seen by later generations became like this: all those who supported the new law were beaten into treacherous ministers; Those who oppose the new law are molded into loyal ministers. Gao Taotao, the helmsman who opposed the new law, was the first virtuous female leader of all dynasties. This is without modesty, so we have to write.

It has always been people, not just facts, who are building history.

It is certain that Gao Taotao did not use the Conservatives, but the Conservatives used her, and used her position and reputation to bless their ideal personality and career, making it legitimate and authoritative.

As a woman in the patriarchal society in history, it doesn’t matter to them whether she has done anything. What matters is whether she is useful to them.

That’s it.


[song] Li Tao: continuation of Zizhi Tongjian editor in chief, Zhonghua Book Company, 2004

[yuan] Tuotuo: history of Song Dynasty, Zhonghua Book Company, 1985

Qi Xia: Wang Anshi reform, Hebei University Press, 2001

Fangchengfeng: political system and political culture in the late Northern Song Dynasty, Peking University Press, 2015

Liuguangfeng: Empresses of the Song Dynasty and succession to the throne, Journal of Wuhan University (Humanities), 2009, issue 4

Zhangminghua: psychological analysis of empress xuanren in the Northern Song Dynasty during the curtain dropping period, Journal of Luoyang Normal University, 2004, issue 1

[Han] piaozhiyu: Regency of Empress Dowager xuanren in the Northern Song Dynasty, essays on the study of song history, Hebei University Press, 2006

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