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Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 16 December 705) was the empress regnant of the Second Zhou Dynasty of the Chinese empire from 690 AD to 705 AD. She leads the Chinese in Civilization V.


Wu Zetian No Hud (Civ5)

Wu Zetian in game

Wu Zetian speaks Mandarin Chinese (Modern Chinese), although the language she would have probably spoken would be Middle Chinese, which is no longer used today. On her diplomacy screen, she is standing in her palace. Concept art showed the entire palace court behind her.

Capital: Beijing

Unique Unit: Chu-Ko-Nu

Unique Building: Paper Maker

Unique Ability: Art of War

Voice Actress: Rachel Lei Xie

AI Traits[]

Trait Amount
Competitiveness 3 (5-1)
Wonder Competitiveness 5 (7-3)
City-State Influence Competitiveness 7 (9-5)
Boldness 7 (9-5)
Diplobalance 6 (8-4)
Hate Warmongers 5 (7-3)
Willingness to Denounce 7 (9-5)
Willingness to Declare Friendship 4 (6-2)
Loyalty 3 (5-1)
Neediness 6 (8-4)
Forgiveness 4 (6-2)
Chattiness 6 (8-4)
Meanness 7 (9-5)
Offensive Unit Production 5 (7-3)
Defensive Unit Production 7 (9-5)
Defensive Building Production 5 (7-3)
Military Training Buildings Production 4 (6-2)
Recon Unit Production 4 (6-2)
Ranged Unit Production 7 (9-5)
Mobile Unit Production 5 (7-3)
Naval Unit Production 5 (7-3)
Naval Recon Unit Production 4 (6-2)
Air Unit Production 3 (5-1)
Naval Growth 5 (7-3)
Naval Tile Improvements 5 (7-3)
Water Connections 5 (7-3)
Expansion 6 (8-4)
Growth 8 (10-6)
Tile Improvements 4 (6-2)
Infrastructure (Roads) 5 (7-3)
Production Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Gold Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Science Emphasis 8 (10-6)
Culture Emphasis 6 (8-4)
Happiness Emphasis 6 (8-4)
Great People Emphasis 6 (8-4)
Wonder Emphasis 6 (8-4)
Religion Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Diplomacy Victory 3 (5-1)
Spaceship Victory 8 (10-6)
Nuke Production 5 (7-3)
Use of Nukes 5 (7-3)
Use of Espionage 7 (9-5)
Anti-Air Production 5 (7-3)
Air Carrier Production 5 (7-3)
Land Trade Route Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Sea Trade Route Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Archaeology Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Trade Origin Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Trade Destination Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Airlift Emphasis 5 (7-3)
Likeliness to Declare War 4 (6-2)
Likeliness to be Hostile 6 (8-4)
Likeliness to be Deceptive 7 (9-5)
Likeliness to be Guarded 7 (9-5)
Likeliness to be Afraid 5 (7-3)
Likeliness to be Friendly 7 (9-5)
Likeliness to be Neutral 5 (7-3)
Ignore City-States 4 (6-2)
Friendliness to City-States 6 (8-4)
Protection of City-States 7 (9-5)
Conquest of City-States 5 (7-3)
Bullying of City-States 4 (6-2)

Personality and Behavior[]

Wu Zetian will go for a scientific victory most of the time, although on some occasions she may attempt a domination one instead.

Wu puts a priority on increasing her empire's 20xPopulation5 Population over expanding her empire. Sometimes, she may possess only one city and not found a new one until later. Because of this, Wu usually focuses mostly on Science Science.

Wu tends to have a somewhat large army consisting primarily of ranged units, with a stronger emphasis on defensive militia. She is also one of the few leaders likely to make use of espionage.

Wu is rather difficult to befriend. While she can be very friendly, she is often disloyal and is likely to be guarded. Watch out for her deceptiveness, especially when you are friends with Wu, because she may end up declaring war on you. She is not too keen on waging wars, though.

Wu will often try to protect city-states, and likes to befriend them as well.

Civilopedia entry[]


Like most civilizations, China has been male-dominated throughout much of its history. Until very recently, women were afforded few rights, and direct power was all but totally denied to them. For a woman to attain the rank of Emperor, to become the most powerful person in China, was almost unheard of. Only one person in the entirety of Chinese history was able to do so. That person was Wu Zetian, one of the most remarkable rulers - female or male - the world has ever seen.

Concubine Wu[]

At the age of 13 (in approx. 639 AD) Wu became a concubine of Emperor Taizong. She did not have any children with the Emperor, and at his death in 649 she left the palace to become a Buddhist nun, as was common for childless concubines at the time. That should have been the end of her story. However, Fate was to give her another chance at glory.

Like much of Chinese politics of the day, this gets extremely complicated. Empress Wang, the wife of the current Emperor Gaozong (son of the late Emperor Taizon), was afraid that Gaozong was becoming too infatuated with Consort Xiao. This was indeed a matter of some concern, as consorts had in the past been known to supplant empresses, who were often killed as a result. To divert her husband's attentions from Consort Xiao, the Empress had Wu - who was still young and beautiful - returned to the palace and reinstated as Consort.

This tactic was a complete success - too complete, in fact, for in a few years she had supplanted both Consort Xiao and Empress Wang in Emperor Gaozong's affections. Both ladies were killed, and she attained the rank of Empress. Some historians believe that she killed her own infant daughter and framed the Empress for the murder. While this is not proven, subsequent events have suggested that such an act was well within her scope.

Empress Consort Wu[]

As Empress Consort, Wu moved quickly to consolidate her power. Forging alliances with certain powerful officials, she had those who opposed her demoted, exiled, or killed. She was an able advisor to the Emperor, and he delegated more authority to her as time passed. By 660 AD, the Emperor began to suffer from a debilitating illness (which some said was caused from slow poisoning by Wu), and he passed much of the day-to-day management of the Empire to Wu, who was then about thirty-five years old. Wu showed herself to be an able administrator, with sharp wit and extensive knowledge of history and literature. She also showed a remarkable ability to seek out and destroy those who plotted against her as well as those who might someday pose a threat. When Emperor Gaozong died in 683, she was inarguably the most powerful person in China.

Dowager Empress Wu[]

Following Gaozong's death, Wu's son Zhongzong became Emperor. He immediately began displaying troubling signs of independence, including appointing officials to important posts without consulting with his mother. This threatened to undermine Wu's power base, and she took decisive action. Zhongzong was deposed and exiled, and Wu's youngest son, Ruizong, became Emperor. Taking no chances this time, however, Wu kept the new Emperor in virtual isolation. Having no doubt learned from the unhappy example of his older brother, the titular Emperor kept very quiet and did nothing to offend the Dowager Empress.

Emperor Wu[]

In 690 AD, Wu took the throne herself, her son Ruizong reduced in title to Crown Prince. This caused a certain amount of displeasure among traditionalists, which Wu handled in her usually efficient and brutal manner. She expanded the powers of the secret police, who answered directly to her, and hundreds were exiled, imprisoned or murdered. She held this post for some 15 years, until, at the age of 80 and seriously ill, she was deposed. She died later the same year.

Judgment of History[]

As a leader, Wu was considered to be an able administrator and shrewd judge of character. She promoted and supported able men, and in return she received their firm loyalty. Generals appointed by her conquered Korea, adding that wealthy land to the Empire. She was quick to destroy any she saw as a threat, and the early years of her reign as Emperor were bloody and repressive, even by Chinese standards. As she grew more secure in her throne, however, she reined in the secret police, and even her enemies grudgingly praised her for her competence and decisiveness.

In short, her rule was benevolent to those who were no challenge to her, and lethal to those who were. All in all, Wu Zetian remains one of the most fascinating rulers in history, and well worth further study.


Empress Wu placed great importance on the development of agriculture and commissioned many farming texts to be written. One of her methods of judging an official's competence was how well he cultivated his land.


Quotes are rendered in traditional Chinese. Quotes in brackets are rendered in simplified Chinese.

Codename Quote (English translation) Quote (Mandarin Chinese) Notes
Attacked Fool! I will disembowel you all! 蠢貨!我要把你們開膛破肚!
Chǔnhuò! Wǒ yào bǎ nǐmen kāitáng pò dù!
Declares War You won't ever be able to bother me again. Go meet Yama. 你們再也不能冒犯我了。見閻王去吧。
Nǐmen zài yě bùnéng màofàn wǒle. Jiàn yánwáng qù ba.
Yama is the King of Hell, so the second sentence could be figuratively translated as "Go to hell!"
Defeated You have proven to be a cunning and competent adversary. I congratulate you on your victory. 你已經證明了你是一個狡猾稱職的對手。我為你的勝利祝賀。
[你已经证明了 你是一个狡猾称 职的对手。我为你的胜利祝贺。]
Nǐ yǐjīng zhèngmíngliǎo nǐ shì yīgè jiǎohuá chènzhí de duìshǒu. Wǒ wèi nǐ de shènglì zhùhè.
Hate Hello Oh. It's you? 哦。是你呀?
Ó. Shì nǐ ya?
Hate Let's Hear It 01 And what else? 還有呢?
Hái yǒu ne?
Hate Let's Hear It 02 Keep talking. 繼續說。
Jìxù shuō.
Hate No 01 I cannot accept that. 不能接受。
Bùnéng jiēshòu.
Hate No 02 Sorry, say that again. 對不起,你再說一遍。
Duìbùqǐ, nǐ zàishuō yībiàn.
Hate No 03 Get out of my face! 走開!
Zǒu kāi!
Hate Yes 01 I suppose I must accept. 我想我必須同意。
Wǒ xiǎng wǒ bìxū tóngyì.
Hate Yes 02 AND 03 Ah. Very good. 啊。非常好。
A. Fēicháng hǎo.
Intro Greetings, I am Empress Wu Zetian. China desires peace and development. You leave us alone, we'll leave you alone. 你好,我是女皇帝武則天。中國追求和平以謀求自身發展。人不犯我,我不犯人。
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ shì nǚ huángdì wǔzétiān. Zhōngguó zhuīqiú hépíng yǐ móuqiú zìshēn fāzhǎn. Rén bùfàn wǒ, wǒ bù fànrén.
Neutral Hello How are you today? 今天怎麽樣?
Jīntiān zěnme yàng?
Neutral Let's Hear It 01 Continue. 繼續。
Neutral Let's Hear It 02 What? 什麽?
Neutral Let's Hear It 03 Keep going. 往下說。
Wǎng xià shuō.
Neutral No 01 Nope. 不行。
Neutral No 02 Of course not. 當然不行。
Dāngrán bùxíng.
Neutral No 03 Definitely not. 肯定不行。
Kěndìng bùxíng.
Neutral Yes 01 Of course. 當然。
Neutral Yes 02 I agree. 我同意。
Wǒ tóngyì.
Neutral Yes 03 Excellent! 好极了!
Hǎo jí le!
Peaceful N/A Wu Zetian is the only leader for whom this line was not included.
Request My friend, do you think you can accept this request? 我的朋友,你認為這個要求能接受嗎?
Wǒ de péngyǒu, nǐ rènwéi zhège yāoqiú néng jiēshòu ma?


Wu Zetian Loading Screen (Civ5)

The Blessings of Heaven be upon you. Empress Wu Zetian, most beautiful and haughty ruler of China! Oh great Empress, whose shadow causes the flowers to blossom and the rivers to flow! You are the leader of the Chinese, the oldest and the greatest civilization that humanity has ever produced. China's history stretches back into the mists of time, its people achieving many great things long before the other upstart civilizations were even conceived. China's contributions to the arts and sciences are too many and too wondrous to do justice to - the printing press, gunpowder, the works of Confucius - these are but a few of the gifts China has given to an undeserving world!

You, great Queen, who, with cunning and beauty, rose from the position of lowly concubine to that of Divine Empress - your people call out to you to lead them! Great China is once again beset on all sides by barbarians. Can you defeat all your many foes and return your country to greatness? Can you build a civilization to stand the test of time?




Wu Zetian in Civilization 5

Wu Zetian delivering her Intro line

See also[]

Civilization V Leaders [edit]
Ahmad al-Mansur BNW-onlyAlexanderAshurbanipal BNW-onlyAskiaAttila GodsKings5 clearAugustus CaesarBismarckBoudicca GodsKings5 clearCasimir III BNW-onlyCatherineDarius IDido GodsKings5 clearElizabethEnrico Dandolo BNW-onlyGajah Mada BNW-onlyGandhiGenghis Khan1Gustavus Adolphus GodsKings5 clearHaile Selassie GodsKings5 clearHarald Bluetooth1Harun al-RashidHiawathaIsabella1Kamehameha1Maria I BNW-onlyMaria Theresa GodsKings5 clearMontezumaNapoleonNebuchadnezzar II1Oda NobunagaPacal GodsKings5 clearPachacuti1Pedro II BNW-onlyPocatello BNW-onlyRamesses IIRamkhamhaengSejong1Shaka BNW-onlySuleimanTheodora GodsKings5 clearWashingtonWilliam GodsKings5 clearWu Zetian
1 Requires a DLC

GodsKings5 clear Added in the Gods & Kings expansion pack.
BNW-only Added in the Brave New World expansion pack.