Wu Zhao and Cleopatra VII - Free Essay Comparing Ancient Female Rulers

Published: 2022-03-14
Wu Zhao and Cleopatra VII - Free Essay Comparing Ancient Female Rulers
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women History
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1090 words
10 min read

Compare the two (2) rulers in terms of their situation and ascent to power, their methods of rule, and their achievements and resourcefulness, noting similarities and differences. Use specific examples.

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Wu Zhao was born into a noble family of merchants and aristocrats. The artistic gifts that she learned from her dad's lessons won her a job as Emperor Taizong's secretary and while she was working at this job that she acquired skills on how to state affairs and work with official documents. This was enhanced by the fact that she was the fifth-rank concubine of the Emperor. After the death of Taizong, Wu through her cunning tactics became the second-rank concubine of Taizong's son who took control of the Empire (Lee, 2015, p.16). Wu was not comfortable in her second rank; she wanted to become the Empress. Since the then empress, Wang loved to spend time with Wu's children; Wu killed her daughter after Empress Wang had spent some time playing with the baby. Wu was appointed as the next empress after Wang was put to death. Using her intelligence and manipulating skills, Wu intimidated Gaozong, and she was able to control the empire with the Emperor as a puppet. With this power, she got rid of her political enemies. Wu continued to rule the empire after she became responsible for the state of affairs once the emperor became blind (Lee, 2015, p.16).

Cleopatra VII, on the other hand, was born in a royal family. She was also intelligent that she disseminated through the eight languages that she spoke. Besides, she was charming but not as pretty as Wu. Her father just like Wu was her most excellent teacher in the great religious performances at his court. Cleopatra became heirs of the throne together with his brothers after their father died. Cleopatra, however, refused to accept his brother's supremacy and led the empire as the only ruler. Her brother was not only a decade younger than Cleopatra but was not as prepared as Cleopatra. He had not seen his father's humiliation from the Roman and how Ptolemy XII later acquired the throne. Ptolemy XIII was not thus made for power like his sister.

Their Methods Of Rule, And Their Achievements And Resourcefulness

Once she became the empress, Wu appointed some informants who would update her on the political climate in the empire. She also hired officials to ruthlessly deal with anyone who attempted to oppose to ensure her plans faced no difficulty in implementing.

Wu Zhaong also came up with economic policies that improved the living standards of the peasants. Policies such as reduction of taxes, construction of irrigation systems also brought peace to the empire (Lee, 2015, p.16). Also, she was able to maintain Chinas sovereignty and conquer other empires hence Tang became a more extensive empire. While in power, Empress Wu also promoted Buddhism through building temples where people would learn about the religion (Lee, 2015, p.17). Through her love of art and literature, Wu Zhaong encouraged poets such as Li Bai and Du Fu to promote their mastery of poetry. Lastly, Wu boosted women's rights through programs such as supporting scholars to publish biographies of women who performed best in the empire.

Cleopatra's leadership tends to be selfish. She focused only on the empress position of power instead of working together with his brothers to meet the welfare of her subjects. She was identified as the first person in the Ptolemy dynasty to speak the Egyptian language besides comprehending eight languages (Burstein, 2007, p. 37). Moreover, Cleopatra managed to overthrow and kill his brother Ptolemy XIII who had scared her off to exile. Furthermore, she built a Caesareum using Roman and Greek designs to remind the Alexandrians of Caesar's loyalty to her regime (Burstein, 2007, p. 45).

Consider What Your Study Suggests About The Cultures Over Which They Ruled, Identifying Any Similarities And Differences Between The Cultures

The Chinese culture was more accommodative of women leadership compared to that of the Romans. Women rulers among the Romans were few compared to the Chinese who managed to have only Wu as the only Chinese empress who served for a notable period. Comparing Wu and Cleopatra, the failure of Cleopatra can be attributed to her selfishness and inability to handle the famine and plagues that frequented Alexandria hence she lost confidence among her people. Wu on the other hand, though ruthless managed to meet the welfare of her subjects through the economic developments and women's rights. She, therefore, became a favorite among her people, unlike Cleopatra.

The Chinese and the Roman cultures portray greed for power. Cleopatra and Wu went to the extent of being inhuman to gain control. Wu not killed her daughter but also arranged the death of his brothers and her co-wife. Cleopatra, on the other hand, killed his brother since he had betrayed him. They also used sex to manipulate the powerful men so that they could take over from them as soon as they passed away or left. Sexual immorality seems to have taken a footprint in both cultures as incest and Levirate marriage seem to be an issue in the two cultures.

From This Comparison, Suggest Lessons About Different Types Of Useful Leadership By A Female In The World Of Modern Business And Modern Politics.

A female leader in the modern day business and politics can adopt some of the great leadership qualities from the two women. Female pioneers who have to step up in the male-dominated society can evaluate their leadership style with that of Wu (Tappin & Marinovic, 2017, para.4). Wu was always opportunistic and was never comfortable no matter how much she achieved. This also is an excellent lesson for the feminine leaders who work in the 'women are equal to men' context. Applying skills used by Wu will see them prosper both in business and in politics. Cleopatra shows when women do not completely break free from the manipulation of men, men will take advantage of them and expand their dominance. Ladies who fall prey to sex manipulation by some men so that they can get opportunities weakens the female predominance in leadership. As Wu promoted the rights of women, modern-day ladies should also support fellow women to rise in setting up businesses and getting political opportunities.


Burstein, S. M. (2007). The reign of Cleopatra (2nd ed.). London: Greenwood Press.

Lee, Y. T. (2015). Wu Zhao Ruler of Tang Dynasty China. Biographies and Personal Stories, Part II, 20(2), 14-18.

Tappin, S., & Marinovic, A. (2017, February 3). The four types of female leadership. Retrieved from http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/the-four-types-of-female-leadership

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