Skip to main content
Select Source:

An Lu-shan

An Lu-shan

The Chinese rebel leader An Lu-shan (703-757) led a great rebellion that nearly overthrew the reigning T'ang dynasty.

An Lu-shan was probably born in Ying-chou on the northwest border of China. His father, a Sogdian, was an officer in the army of the Northern Turks; his mother was probably from a noble Turkish family. Very little is known about his childhood and early life. He eventually became a soldier and by the early 730s was a lieutenant in one of the Chinese garrisons protecting the northeastern border of China against invasion.

This was the beginning of An Lu-shan's career as a rising young officer in the regional army. He appears to have distinguished himself by personally leading raiding parties against threatening Khitan armies. Not all of his exploits were successful. Perhaps overconfident, he was severely defeated in one expedition in 737. He was disgraced, and barely avoided execution. For a short time he lost his rank and titles, but within a year these were restored. By 740 An Lu-shan was second in command in one of the important border armies. After another promotion to deputy military governor, he became governor of the military province of P'ing-lu on the northeast frontier in 742.

Now holding high rank, An Lu-shan had several opportunities to visit the capital of Ch'ang-an. His appearance was that of a rough and simple frontier soldier, though it was later said that this rude exterior hid an already ambitious and scheming man.

During the 740s An Lu-shan enjoyed even greater rank and title as as a frontier commander. He was probably favored by the chief minister because he seemed simple. He was, moreover, illiterate and therefore no threat to any scholar-official in high civil office. In fact, when he came to the court, he played the part of a clown and was said to be immensely amusing to the emperor and his ladies.

There was, however, little burlesque in the career of An Lu-shan during the next decade. In 751 he led a disastrously unsuccessful expedition against the Khitan. Fortunately for him, he still enjoyed imperial favor, and his life and career were saved. In 752 Li Lin-fu, the powerful chief minister who had been his patron, died. For the next 3 years a power struggle took place in which the participants tried to establish political power in the court and military power on the frontier. The aging emperor Hsüan-tsung (reigned 713-756) was unable to control the factions, and in the winter of 755-756 An Lu-shan, now the most powerful of the regional warlords, rose in rebellion against the dynasty. The rebels enjoyed great initial successes, capturing both T'ang capitals and forcing the Emperor to flee to the southwest. An Lushan was murdered by his own son in 757.

In 763, after much brutal fighting which devastated China, the rebellion An Lu-shan had begun was finally put down. The dynasty survived for another century and a half, but this rebellion dealt it a blow from which it never fully recovered.

Further Reading

For information on the career of An Lu-shan consult the Biography of An Lu-shan (1960), a translation by Howard S. Levy from the Old T'ang History (Chiu T'ang-shu), the standard, official history of the T'ang, complied by Liu Hsün and others, A.D. 945. E. G. Pulleyblank, The Background of the Rebellion of An Lu-shan (1955), is useful on the period preceding the rebellion. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"An Lu-shan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"An Lu-shan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lu-shan

"An Lu-shan." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved June 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lu-shan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

An Lu-shan

An Lu-shan (än lōō-shän), d.757, Chinese general of the T'ang dynasty. Of mixed Sogdian and Turkish birth, he was appointed regional commander on the northeastern frontier. In 755 he led c.200,000 troops in revolt against the T'ang central government. Emperor Hsüan-tsung fled the capital Chang'an for Sichuan, and on the way he was forced by discontented soldiers to execute his concubine Yang Kuei-fei, who was blamed for demoralizing the court and was even rumored to have had a secret affair with An Lu-shan. An Lu-shan was killed by his son in 757. The rebellion lasted until 763, when foreign troops helped restore the T'ang dynasty to power.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"An Lu-shan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"An Lu-shan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lu-shan

"An Lu-shan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lu-shan

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.