Leadership is a broad concept that traverses many cultures and territories. It has been variously practiced throughout human history by different individuals and political systems. To understand the concept of leadership better, and its evolution over time, it is imperative to study its application in different cultures and at different times. This paper elaborates on the leadership dynasties of two women; Tang Empress Wu Zetian and Pharaoh Cleopatra of Egypt. Wu Zetian lived between 17 February 624 and 16 December 705. Cleopatra, on the other hand, lived between 69 BC and 30 BC. Wu Zetian ruled Tang from 27 December 683 until 16 October 690. Pharaoh Cleopatra ruled Egypt 51 BC to 12 August 30 BC. Wu Zetian came into power after his husband, Emperor Zaodong, got a debilitating stroke. Cleopatra came into power after the death of Ptolemy XII.
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In their leadership capacities, the two ladies had a number of similarities in how they impacted their territories. The first obvious similarity is in the manner in which both tried to strengthen their culture’s religious and traditional beliefs. Empress Wu Zetian provided relentless support to Taoism and Buddhism in her territory (Peterson, 2016). This included the construction of numerous centers for the practice of the traditional beliefs, as well as providing support to the various leaders that spearheaded these traditions. This meant that the citizens in her territory could freely and confidently observe their traditional beliefs. Cleopatra supported the ancient Egyptian religion in a number of ways. In her first act as the leader of Egypt, she traveled to Hermonthis to install a sacred Buchis bull, an essential part, and parcel of the ancient Egyptian religion (Weigall, 2016). The second similarity between the two leaders in the fact that both came into power after the death or incapacitation of their loved ones. Wu Zetian rose to power after her husband had experienced a debilitating stroke, one he never recovered from. Cleopatra rose to power after the death of her father, Ptolemy XII. They both got an opportunity through which they could easily exert their influence because they had been in the inner circle of power and influence.
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The two rulers have a number of notable differences between them that highlight the differences between their leadership, as well as their territories. One of these differences can be seen as far as their armies were concerned. The military under Wu Zetian had two major classes, the eastern and the western. The two armies were professionally run by generals who had remarkable experience in wars (Graff, 2017). These armies employed the use of catapults and chariots in the various wars that they were engaged in. The military also employed a number of tactics such as spying and assassination to enable them to expand their territory. On the other hand, Cleopatra had an army that was composed mainly of Greek settlers. These soldiers were periodically rewarded with land and accolades that made them feel highly valued. Some of the members of the army were also hired from outside territories and remunerated accordingly. This model is in stark contrast to that of Wu Zetian’s military that was made of Chinese soldiers entirely. Another significant difference is in the manner in which the reigns of both leaders ended. Wu Zetian was forced to relinquish power to Li Xian after a long illness, which rendered her ineffective and reduced her power. Cleopatra was ousted out of power by Octavian through war.
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The two leaders are also associated with major cultural differences that defined their eras. One of these has to do with the kind of art and constructions that they made. The architectural designs and the buildings made greatly defined their reigns. The Wu Zetian era is defined by expansive buildings that were made using big wooden beams. These wooden beams provided the necessary structural strength to buildings and ensured that they could be used for government and other purposes. Most of the walls of buildings and fencing were done using rammed earth soil. Some of them were made using hard and burned clay.
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During Cleopatra’s reign in Egypt, however, most buildings were painted using the soil of different colors. The construction of pyramids during her reign also made a huge mark on her reign. The second cultural difference between the two leaders has to do with the religious and traditional beliefs of the people. The expansion of Taoism and Confucianism during the Wu Zetian era laid the foundations for the kind status the two world thoughts enjoy today in China. Confucius teachings influenced the manner in which the government was run. In Egypt, however, there was no formal religious or thought that was followed.
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There were a number of beliefs followed, including the teachings of the ancient Egyptian religion. In conclusion, it is clear that Wu Zetian and Cleopatra were strong women who discharged their duties admirably. The two leaders gave the security of their people and their territories an outstanding priority. They had well prepared and equipped armies that protected the territories and helped in conquering of others. The two leaders sought to enhance factors that brought unity in the population. They did this by promoting cultural aspects such as Confucianism, Taoism, and traditional Egyptian beliefs. There were many differences in their leadership; for example, in the manner in which constructions were done. Generally, we see a presentation of two strong women that had a vision for their people.
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