Tan Gaozu Li Yuan
Tan Gaozu Li Yuan
Sui General. The Sui Dynasty (589-618) was falling apart under Emperor Yang (Sui Yang Di), who ruled from 604 to 617. During the first decade of the seventh century many Chinese staged rebellions against the dynasty. Tan Gaozu Li Yuan, a military governor of Taiyuan under the Sui in northern China, was sent by Emperor Yang in 617 to fight and control a peasant rebellion that had arisen in the province.
Founding the Dynasty. Under the persuasion of his son, Li Shimin, Li Yuan instead took this opportunity to challenge the rule of the emperor. He traveled throughout the country to raise troops. Soon after this recruitment trip, Li Yuan and thirty thousand soldiers headed for Chang’an, the capital of the Sui dynasty. They crossed the Yellow River and arrived at Guan Zhong, where their army was increased by two hundred thousand people who were involved in the peasant rebellions. In Chang’an, Li Yuan’s daughter gathered ten thousand more soldiers—called “the army of women”—to help fight with her father. In the end Li Yuan’s army won the struggle and Chang’an was conquered, thereby affording him the right to become the new emperor.
Emperor. After the assassination of Emperor Yang’s son in 618, Li Yuan declared an official end to the Sui dynasty and installed himself as emperor, thus beginning the Tang dynasty (618-907). One of his first acts was to abolish laws declared by the Sui dynasty. He ruled until 626, when his son forced his abdication from the throne. After eight years of fighting under his rule, the country was reunified. The Tang was a dynasty of economic wealth, cultural growth, and military expansion. The posthumous title Tang Gaozu (High Progenitor) was added to Li Yuan’s name after his death in acknowledgment of his contribution to the dynasty.
Woodbridge Bingham, The Founding of the T’ang Dynasty: The Fall of Sui and Rise of T’ang, a Preliminary Survey (Baltimore: Waverly, 1941).
Witold Rodzinski, A History of China, 2 volumes (Oxford &, New York: Pergamon, 1979, 1983).
Pan Yihong, Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan: Sui-Tang China and Its Neighbors (Bellingham: Center for East Asian Studies, Western Washington University, 1997).