From what I have read, the two sons were deathly afraid of their mother. It was understandable when the rumors had it that she was responsible for the death of their two elder brothers. Both of her two elder sons had much stronger personalities and openly criticized her close association with her rumored lovers and her involvement in politics. The speculations placed the reasons for her elder sons' exile and death at the foot of their oppositions of her behaviors. Therefore, the two younger sons tried to behave as weak as possible so that they would not get exiled or killed. At one time, Wu was sending a messenger to ZhongZong's exiled place, and he thought Wu was sending the order to kill him. The whole family was holding each other and crying until the massager told him Wu did not send any order of execution.
Wu Zetian was very close to her daughter princess Taiping. Princess Taiping supposed to prescreen Wu's lovers for her. I am not sure why you get the impression that princess Taiping was much closer to her brothers and her father's lineage. I have not read in any places that princess Taiping spoke up for the rest of the royal families when Wu Zhetian was killing them with various excuses. On the contrary, she was very close to her Wu cousins and had a few of them as her lovers.
As for children taking after their motherís surname, that idea was not radical at all. Since ancient time (Qin and pre-Qin era), there were cases where men married into a women's family and the children took up mothers' last name. It was not impossible. Princess Taiping could follow that route. She didn't need to change her name to Wu, and her children could take on her last name. Taiping and her husband could sacrifice to Wu Zetian according to the same tradition (it was a little grey since she had brothers, but, hey, it wasn't that far fetched.) She could definitely make it into the law. If she was a capable enough person, she could have manipulated the court officials into letting her do it. Her mother did many of those manipulations.
However, I think Taiping was not really a capable person and Wu Zetian knew it. Taiping was not a good person by all accounts, and I am not taking into account of her sex life at all. She was both in favor of her parents and in power for many years, and there was no record at all of any positive contribution from her -- no words nor deeds. In addition, Zhongzong was weak, but he was harmless to the people. Princess Taiping was very bad to the people. When she built her palace, she took properties from the surrounding commoners by force. When she went on streets, she caused chaos and damages to people and properties. Basically, Wu Zetian knew Taiping would be a lousy ruler. I think that would be the most important reason why she did not name Taiping as her heir. In addition, princess Taiping probably did not have the necessary skills in the tricky political arena of trying to be an empress, and Wu Zetian knew it. If Wu made Taiping to be the Crown Princess, Taiping would eventually get killed. From what I read, Taiping was Wu Zetian's favorite child. I remembered Wu Zetian had commented, "Taiping took after me the most." Therefore, I believe it was to protect Taiping that Wu Zetian did not name her as an heir.
Zunjing de Fireball,
Thank you so much for your responses; it is a great pleasure to meet you! You have not only given me some new information, but also open my eyes to some different viewpoints! With this, I shall ask some more questions and add more comments.
Of course, Tang Zhongzong and Tang Ruizong were deadly afraid of their mother. Even if there were no rumors that she was involved in the deaths of their two elder brothers, her ferocious nature and lack of femininity would have least likely brought mother and sons closer together. Yes, Wu Zetianís two older sons were pretty competent princes; hence, it was too bad neither of them made it to the throne since they would have made fine Emperors. However, I donít think Zhongzong and Ruizong behaved as weak as possible to escape their motherís suspicions since I believe they were plain weak by nature. Genetically speaking, I donít see how a strong woman like Wu Zetian can produce those two very weak sons. Perhaps I did not think of the factor of taking after their father, the very incompetent Tang Gaozong?
Honestly, I have not read too many sources regarding Princess Taiping. In fact, I have failed to find a real biography on her in Vietnamese or English. Hence, all I know about Taiping would be some mentions of her from articles on her parents and brothers. Therefore, I would really appreciate any information you can give about this princess.
I initially thought Wu Zetian and Princess Taiping were very close to each other; however, some modern sources I have read stated otherwise since the relationship between them was only a little less intense than of Wu Zetian and her sonsí because of the power struggles between the Li and Wu families, of which the mother and daughter each represented.
Well, of course, Taiping did not speak up for the Li family when her mother was trying to kill them since she, like her brothers, were afraid to do anything against their motherís wishes even though she was probably the favorite. However, some sources did indicate that Taiping did loosely collaborate with Di Renjie by repeatedly questioning her mother about how nephews would not have ritual offerings for their aunt. Thus, she indirectly lobbied the way for her 3rd brother to be reinstated as the Crown Prince.
Oh no, I have never read any accounts about Taiping being very close to her Wu cousins and having a few of them as her lovers. In fact, I have only read about Taiping and Wu Sansi being heavily engaged in fierce political battles for influences over the court. The court probably could not survive a day without them aggressively attacking each other with words.
Hmm, I have always thought the idea of children taking after their motherís surname was considered as taboo in ancient China since it was a male dominated society. Zhongzong and Ruizong did take after their motherís surname for a while, but there was certainly no ďnatural feelingĒ to it.
Regardless, Wu Zetian passed the throne back to her 3rd son, knowing that he would definitely revert to the Tang Dynasty after succeeding her. She also did not seem to have contemplated greatly over how to preserve her dynasty. So, I surmise her bloodline was still more important than her kingdom.
I always knew Taiping did not have very many good qualities; however, I had no idea she did many negative things to the commoners. Based on what you are saying, I completely agree that she would make a terrible Emperor.
I find it ironic that Wu Zetian would say ďTaiping took after me the mostĒ since Taiping had many negative qualities, would not it be the same as Wu Zetian admitting she also had some major flaws?
This brings me to another question. If Taiping was not of a decent character, then why was she beloved by her parents and favored by her brothers? Was it mostly because she was the youngest of her siblings? This part does not make sense to me.
By the way, I am, by no means, claiming that all the materials I have read were accurate since all the sources I have read were translated from Chinese. That is why I am just here to learn.