The extent of her power may be inferred from her venturing to shock Chinese sentiment by offering the annual imperial sacrifice to heaven, and by her erecting temples to her ancestors. Yet it was not until she was broken down by age and illness that any of her foes were bold enough to encounter her. She survived her deposition one year, and her banished son Chongtsong was restored to the throne.
His death threatened the position of the empress, the power behind the throne. But she proved herself fully equal to the occasion, and made herself more truly the ruler of China than before. Chongtsong, son of the late emperor, was proclaimed, but a few days ended his reign.
Chongtsong did not reign long, being poisoned by his wife, who did not reap the advantage of her crime. Several emperors succeeded without doing anything to attract notice, and then Mingti brought both his own family and the Chinese empire to the verge of ruin. Like other rulers, he began well, quoting the maxims of the "Golden Mirror" and proclaiming Confucius King of Literature.