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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Stats Gate - China’s Empress Wu Zetian: the wealthiest woman to have ever lived ($16 trillion)

Stats Gate

China’s Empress Wu Zetian: the wealthiest woman to have ever lived ($16 trillion)

great wall of china

Currently, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the heiress of L’Oréal, is the wealthiest woman in the world. With an estimated net worth of US$91 billion, she ranks as the 13th richest individual globally.

Although considered a colossal fortune, it cannot compare to the wealth possessed by Empress Wu Zetian (AD624-705) of China. During her reign, China’s economy accounted for about 23% of the global GDP, making her potential assets worth over US$16 trillion today.

Comparing wealth across centuries and eras can be challenging, but considering China’s wealth during her time, it is possible to argue that Empress Wu is the wealthiest woman in history.

China’s sole female emperor was a bright and politically astute ruler. While she gained a reputation for ruthlessness in eliminating her adversaries, she successfully increased her country’s prosperity by trading tea and silk along the Silk Road. Additionally, she oversaw the extension of Imperial China into Central Asia.

Today, she remains a controversial figure for some, but is widely considered to have made a significant contribution in supporting the country’s growth at the time.

The5 richest queens of all time

  1. Empress Wu (624-705) – estimated net worth today: US$16 trillion
  2. Catherine the Great (1729-1796) – estimated net worth today: US$1.5 trillion
  3. Cleopatra VII (69BC-30BC) – estimated net worth today: US$96 billion
  4. Isabella of Castile (1451-1504) – estimated net worth today: US$5 billion
  5. Hatshepsut (1507BC-1458BC) – estimated net worth today: at least US$2 billion

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Stats Gate - China’s Empress Wu Zetian: the wealthiest woman to have ever lived ($16 trillion)
Anna Papadopoulos
Anna Papadopoulos is a senior money, wealth, and asset management reporter at CEOWORLD magazine, covering consumer issues, investing and financial communities + author of the CEOWORLD magazine newsletter, writing about money with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. You can follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn for musings on money, wealth, asset management, millionaires, and billionaires. Email her at