Empress Kōgyoku, also known as Empress Saimei, reigned twice as Empress Regnant of Japan. Before she became Empress, she was known as Takara. She was born in 594 as the daughter of Prince Chinu and Princess Kibitsu-hime.
She was married to Emperor Jomei who ruled from 629 until his death in 641. They had two sons and a daughter together. She briefly succeeded her husband as reigning Empress, and she was heavily influenced by two powerful ministers, who were assassinated in her presence in 644 at the instigation of her younger brother Kōtoku, and she abdicated in his favour the following day. When he passed away ten years later, she once again succeeded as Empress – this time under the name Saimei. This time she would not allow any influence by ministers.
She died quite suddenly on her way to leading a military expedition. She was succeeded by her son, who became Emperor Tenji.