598 - 649
Life of Li-Shimin, Emperor Taizong of China.
626 - 649
Woodblock printing process develops under reign of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.
Taizong defeats the Goturks.
Taizong signs peace treaty between Tibet and China.
Taizong meets Wu Zhao, the future empress Wu Zetian.
Wu Zhao becomes concubine of Emperor Taizong.
640 - 649
Taizong's military campaigns in the Tarim Basin which is annexed to China.
The Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty, which lasted nearly 300 years from 1618 to 1907, was China’s longest and second largest empire. It shared many similarities with the Han Dynasty, including the area of land, capital cities, population and even trading with other nations. The Tang Dynasty began right after the Sui Dynasty collapsed. The powerful Li family seized power as the Sui Dynasty began to decline and emperors from the family held power throughout the period of the Tang. Throughout much of this era, China was the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world.
When was Tang Dynasty timeline?
Read full answer here. Regarding this, when did the Tang dynasty start and end?
Tang Dynasty. Viewing the Chinese history record, you will find the Tang Dynasty was the most glistening historic period in China's history. Founded in 618 and ending in 907, the state, under the ruling of the Tang Emperors, became the most powerful and prosperous country in the world.
- Tang Dynasty.
- Li Yuan establishes the Tang dynasty.
- The Mutiny of Xuanwu Gate destabilizes Emperor Gaozu's rule.(July 2, 626)
- Li Shimin becomes Emperor Taizong of Tang.(September 626)
- Taizong sponsors the spread of Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism.
- Islam is introduced in China.
- The Tang control the Turkish frontier.
Considering this, when was the rise of the Tang Dynasty?
The Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) is regularly cited as the greatest imperial dynasty in ancient Chinese history. It was a golden age of reform and cultural advancement, which lay the groundwork for policies which are still observed in China today. The second emperor, Taizong (598-649 CE, r.
How did the Tang Dynasty fall?
In 907 the Tang dynasty was ended when Zhu deposed the Emperor Ai and took the throne for himself (known posthumously as Emperor Taizu of Later Liang). He established the Later Liang, which inaugurated the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. A year later Zhu had the deposed Emperor Ai poisoned to death.
Li Shimin - Emperor Taizong of Tang
Born in 598 in Wugong County in the current Shaanxi Province, Li Shimin was the second son of Li Yuan, then the chief officer of Taiyuan City. As a young boy, he has extraordinary courage and keen insight. In 615 when Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) was besieged by the Tujue's army, Li volunteered to lead a rescue operation thus making quite a name for himself at the age of sixteen. In 517, seeing that the Sui regime was near collapse, he encouraged and assisted his father in plotting the establishment of a new dynasty. After the war started in Jinyang by Li Yuan, he and his elder brother Li Jiancheng fought abreast with the Sui army. Not long afterwards, Li's army conquered the capital Chang'an (currently Xi'an). Then, Li Yuan proclaimed himself to be King of Tang. Meanwhile, Li was installed as Qinguogong (a vassal to his father). Later when Li Yuan founded the Tang Dynasty and was crowned as Emperor Gaozu, Li Shimin was given the title of Qin Wang (Duke of Qin) while Li Jiancheng as entitled as Prince.
As Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin's military talents were brought to fruition. Successively, he defeated the Tujue in the north and captured Tuguhun and Gaochangguo in the west. This made Tang the dominant power in eastern Asia and Emperor Taizong subsequently took the title of &lsquoHeavenly Khan'. In 638, he defeated Tufan leader Sontzen Gampo's army, but later allowed Princess Wencheng to marry Gampo. In dealing with state affairs however, Li Shimin learned hard lessons about the reasons of the Sui's downfall. One example was the war he launched against Gaoli in his later years that proved to be a waste of money and manpower. But Li was also smart and modest enough to invite criticism from his advisers. A loyal chancellor named Wei Zheng actually pointed our more than 200 mistakes made over time by the emperor who ultimately corrected all of them. The emperor proved to be eventually thrifty and cared a great deal about his people. Additonally, he gave equal treatment to ethnic minorities. He appointed many of them as high officials in his court. As a politician, he enhanced the former political systems, cuach and Jun Tian System (Land Equalization System) Keju Educational System and the Three Departments and Six Ministries System. Trying to rule the country by law, he also promulgated Da Tang Lv (state law of Tang) which had a profound influence in Chinese history.
|Colorful Mural of Tang Dynasty, |
Li Shimin also had highly developed literary taste. He composed many poems and was an accomplished calligrapher. In order to teach his offspring and memorialize his imperial experience, he wrote a book called Di Fan (model of an emperor). Another important book called Zhen Guan Zheng Yao catalogued all of his administrative experience and became a reference book for monarchs and leaders in many other countries. During Emperor Taizong's twenty years' reign, the national economy became prosperous, society was reasonably stable and people lived in peaceful harmony. This is why his reign is remembered as Zhen Guan and as the foundation for the later glorious period of the Tang Dynasty.
As he grew older, Li Shimin has difficulty selecting his successor. At first he chose his eldest son Li Chengqian as Prince. Later, he put his fourth son Li Tai into an important position which made Li Chengqian suspicious. The latter launched a coup and attempted to kill Li Tai. The plot failed and Li Chengqian was demoted to plebeian status. For fear that the tragedy of Xuanwu Gate might be replayed, Li Shimin then demoted Li Tai and chose his ninth son Li Zhi as Prince. He later would become Emperor Gaozong.
In 649, Emperor Taizong contracted dysentery and soon after died at Hanfeng Palace in Chang'an. Later he was buried in northeast Liquan County in Shaanxi Province. His tomb is called Zhao Ling (Zhao Mausoleum).
Emperor Taizong of Tang
Emperor Taizong, also known as Li Shimin, was the second emperor of China's Tang Dynasty. He is known as an active patron of Buddhism and of the arts, and for establishing the Tang Law Code, which would have a profound influence upon all later Chinese dynasties, as well as upon legal structures throughout East Asia. The Japanese Taika Reforms of 645, for example, were based closely upon the Tang Code.
Taizong secured his succession to the throne by outright killing his eldest brother, and having one of his officers kill the next in line. In 624, he forced his father, Emperor Gaozu of Tang, to abdicate, and two years later, took the throne himself. Despite these terrible violations of filial piety, for which he is said to have been put on trial by King Yama, Lord of Hell, Taizong is generally regarded as an upright and virtuous emperor. Indeed, he is among the most prominent emperors in Chinese history. The legend of his trial ends with him being characterized as a Sage King, and his actions justified by the logic that a great Sage King will do anything to ensure the prosperity and security of the kingdom.
Taizong initially banned travel beyond the empire's borders, and the famous traveler Xuanzang (hero of Journey to the West) had to sneak out of the country on his famous journey to India however, upon his return, he was warmly welcomed by Emperor Taizong.
The Tang Law Code formulated during Taizong's reign is the earliest fully extant Chinese law code. It consisted chiefly of lists of crimes and the appropriate punishments, and was frequently revised. However, despite these revisions, the basic forms, and legal or ethical logic, of the Code continued to have profound impacts throughout East Asia. The Code established many of the basic frameworks of administrative and judicial bureaucracy which would be adopted or adapted by later dynasties and foreign regimes, as well as the categorization of crimes, and the division of Chinese society into elites, commoners, and the "mean" (inferior) class.
Taizong attempted to avoid the succession disputes that brought himself to power, and so officially named his eldest son his heir quite early in his reign. That son, however, grew up to be rather problematic, insisting on living a heavily Turkic lifestyle and refusing to speak Chinese, as well as engaging in certain activities his father found disagreeable. When it was discovered that this eldest son plotted to kill his younger brother, the eldest son was executed, and the younger brother made heir.
When Taizong died in 649, he was buried with the original copy of Wang Xizhi's Orchid Pavilion Preface, which continues to survive today in later copies, and which is the most famous and celebrated of all works of Chinese calligraphy. As the crown prince was seen to be overly infatuated with nomadic ("barbarian") culture, even going so far as to live in a yurt, and as the next in line after him was seen as being too involved in political intrigues to be trusted, Taizong was then succeeded by his son, who became Emperor Gaozong of Tang. To him, Taizong left a Plan for the Emperor (Difan) to help guide Gaozong in successful, effective, and virtuous rule. Ώ]
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Taizong, Wade-Giles romanization T’ai-tsung, personal name (xingming) Zhao Jiong, original name Zhao Kuangyi, or Zhao Guangyi, (born 939, China—died 997, China), temple name (miaohao) of the second emperor of the Song dynasty (960–1279) and brother of the first emperor, Taizu. He completed consolidation of the dynasty. When the Taizu emperor died in 976, the throne was passed to Taizong rather than to the first emperor’s infant son, presumably against the will of the first emperor. This speculation is reinforced in that, after becoming emperor, Taizong, formerly a mild and forbearing man, treated his younger brother and his nephew with such cruelty that they committed suicide.
Three years after assuming the throne, the Taizong emperor took over the two remaining independent states in South China, thereby nearly completing the empire’s unification. But in foreign affairs he was less successful. When he attempted to regain former North Chinese territory between Beijing and the Great Wall, he suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Khitan (Chinese: Qidan) tribes that had occupied the area and assumed the dynastic name of Liao (907–1125). Fighting continued until 1004, when Taizong’s successor agreed to give up claims to that region.
In civil administration Taizong paid particular attention to education, helping to develop the civil-service examination system and to further its use in determining entrance into the bureaucracy. He centralized control more thoroughly than ever before in Chinese history, concentrating great power in the emperor’s hands. He followed the Tang dynasty’s prefectural system and divided China into 15 provinces, each of which was under a governor. By the end of Taizong’s reign, Song rule had become established, and the dynasty had begun its great cultural and economic achievements.
Silk Road Extended through to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the South
|Silk Dress in Tang Dynasty|
Timeline of Chinese History, Art, and Culture
The earliest known pottery in the world is about twenty thousand years old and was excavated from a site in present-day Jiangxi Province. This means that ceramics predate even the development of agriculture in China.
Silk is made from the fibers of the silkworm cocoon, and domestication of silkworms began in China around 2700 BCE. Silk became one of the most important commodities of the Silk Road, the network of trade routes that emerged in the second century BCE and extended from China to Rome.
Chinese civilization made great advances as it emerged from the Neolithic period and entered the Bronze Age. One factor in this change was the ability to locate and extract natural deposits of copper and tin for making bronze. Foundries capable of heating the ores to high enough temperatures for mixing and casting metal were established in northern areas of China around 1800 BCE.
The Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, is characterized by the beginning of a settled human lifestyle. People learned to cultivate plants and domesticate animals for food, rather than relying solely on hunting and gathering. Pottery and jade carving emerged as important crafts in this period.
Oracle-bone script, the earliest known form of systematic Chinese writing, dates from the fourteenth to eleventh centuries BCE. The sharp beginning and end of each stroke relate to the script's origins in carving divination texts on tortoiseshells and on the flat bones of certain animals. These ancient texts were used primarily in predicting future events on behalf of the ruler.
Lady Hao, or Fu Hao, was a royal consort at the Shang court. Hers was the only tomb of that period that remained untouched by looters, its contents to be uncovered by archaeologists in the twentieth century. The wealth of objects excavated from her Yinxu burial site have helped scholars better understand the Shang dynasty, and demonstrate the elite status to which Fu Hao ascended as a woman in Bronze Age China.
The Shang dynasty is the earliest dynasty in Chinese history that is verified through written and archaeological evidence. It is clear from archaeological findings that the Shang rulers established a stable social order. Like many other societies, they did so through religion and shared ritual practices.
The Spring and Autumn period is the first of two periods comprising the Eastern Zhou dynasty, the second being the turbulent Warring States period. Named for the classic text The Spring and Autumn Annals, this period was a time of great flourishing for Chinese philosophy. It was the time of both Confucius and Laozi, among other influential thinkers.
Laozi was an extraordinary thinker who flourished during the sixth century BCE. He is considered the founder of Daoism, a complex system of beliefs advocating that all people follow the Dao, or the "Way"—the natural path of the universe. Some modern scholars suggest Laozi may be a legendary, rather than historical, figure.
Confucius developed a system of thought known as Confucianisum, one of the most important cultural forces in all of Chinese history. Born in the state of Lu during a period of political unrest, he stressed the importance of good government, the correct placement of a person in the family and social structure, and the role of proper rites.
Han Fei was a philosopher who lived during China's Warring States period. He is the figure most associated with a school of thought called Legalism, which became influential in the later Qin dynasty. Han Fei believed human behavior should be regulated by obedience to strict standards enforced by a system of rewards and punishments.
Qin Shihuangdi unified China and became the first emperor of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE. As emperor he standardized weights and measures, coinage, and the writing system. Qin Shihuangdi was a severe leader intolerant of any threats to his rule and known for burning books and burying alive hundreds of scholars during his reign. He is also famous for the terracotta warriors buried in his tomb in present-day Xi'an.
Liu Bang was a leader in the rebellion against the Qin dynasty and became the first emperor of the Han dynasty in 202 BCE. He was subsequently known as Emperor Gaozu of Han.
The Zhou people conquered the Shang around 1050 BCE and established their own dynasty. The Zhou shared many cultural similarities with the Shang. They performed similar religious rituals, used bronze vessels, and practiced divination. The Zhou dynasty is divided into two periods: the Western Zhou (1050–771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou (771–221 BCE).
During the Qin dynasty, Qin Shihuangdi ordered the Great Wall be constructed to protect his empire from invasion by the Xiongnu people. However, the Great Wall as it exists today was not completed until the Ming dynasty.
At the end of a time of political division known as the Warring States period, the state of Qin conquered all other states and established the Qin dynasty. It was China's first unified state whose power was centralized instead of spread among different kingdoms in the north and south. Although it lasted only about fifteen years, the Qin dynasty greatly influenced the next two thousand years of Chinese history.
Sima Qian was an imperial official of the Han dynasty. He is best known for composing Records of the Grand Historian, a comprehensive history of China begun by his father Sima Tan and one of the most influential Chinese classical texts.
The Silk Road was an ancient network of land and sea trade routes established during the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) that existed until the middle of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). These trade routes stretched from China across Asia to the Near East, the Mediterranean, and East Africa.
Ban Zhao was a female scholar during the Han dynasty. In addition to her work as a historian, Ban Zhao authored the influential Confucian text Lessons for Women.
By 100 CE, missionaries had taken the Buddha’s teachings from his birthplace in South Asia to China.
The first Chinese dictionary, Shuowen Jiezi, was published around 100 CE.
Paper was invented in China during the Han dynasty.
The Han dynasty reuinified China after the civil war following the death of Qin Shihuangdi in 210 BCE. It is divided into two periods: the Former (or Western) Han and the Later (or Eastern) Han. The Han dynasty was a pivotal period in the history of China, when many foundations were laid for enduring aspects of Chinese society.
Tao Yuanming was a poet and recluse who lived during China's Period of Division. Also known by the name of Tao Qian, he is one of the most celebrated writers in Chinese literary history. Among his best-known works is the famous story "Peach Blossom Spring."
Toward the end of the fifth century, the art critic Xie He (active 479–502) proposed the so-called Six Principles as the essential criteria for judging the quality of Chinese painting, and the aesthetic values and concerns he enunciated in his essay exerted a profound influence on later generations.
Emperor Wendi was the first emperor of the Sui dynasty (581–618). Though it lasted only a short time, the dynasty Wendi established was significant in its reunification of China after the long Period of Division, thus paving the way for the great Tang dynasty.
Li Yuan was the founding emperor of the Tang dynasty, inaugurating a golden age in Chinese history. He is also known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang.
The imperial examination had its roots in the Sui dynasty (581–618) and was firmly established during the Tang (618–907). This highly competitve civil service exam emphasized knowledge of the Confucian classics, and was significant for instituting merit-based award of official positions. It remained an important pillar of the Chinese imperial system until it was abolished in 1905 as that system neared its end.
The Period of Division refers to the four hundred years after the fall of the Han dynasty. Despite its political and social instability, this era witnessed a flourishing of culture, ideas, and art comparable to that of the European Renaissance. Constant cultural exchanges between China and the West and relative political stability at the end of the period paved the way for the arrival of the glorious Tang dynasty.
Empress Wu, also known as Wu Zhao or Wu Zetian, was among the most powerful women in Chinese history. A concubine of Emperor Taizong and later wife of Emperor Gaozong, she effectively ruled the Tang dynasty during the reign of the ailing Gaozong (reigned 649–683) and after his death, before establishing her own short-lived Zhou dynasty.
Emperor Xuanzong was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty. His reign ended after the onset of the An Lushan Rebellion led by one of his own generals.
Du Fu is considered by many as the greatest Chinese poet along with his contemporary Li Bai, also known as Li Bo. Du Fu lived during the Tang dynasty and is emblematic of the golden age of poetry to which Chinese culture ascended at that period.
The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising led by General An Lushan (703–757), who attempted to overthrow the Tang dynasty's Emperor Xuanzong and declare himself emperor. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the An Lushan Rebellion had long-lasting effects on the Tang, which was irreversibly weakened by the conflict.
Woodblock printing emerged in China in the ninth century during the Tang dynasty.
Gunpowder explosives were first used in China around the tenth century.
The Tang dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history. Known for its strong military power, successful diplomatic relationships, economic prosperity, and cosmopolitan culture, Tang China was one of the greatest empires in the medieval world. During the Tang dynasty, China expanded its territory and secured peace and safety on overland trade routes—the Silk Road—that reached as far as Rome.
Su Dongpo, also known as Su Shi, was a scholar-official, writer, and artist who lived during the Northern Song dynasty. A renowned poet, painter, and calligrapher, he is the figure most associated with the flourishing literati culture of that period.
The Northern Song dynasty started to disintegrate after a failed reform program—proposed in 1076 by the chief councilor, Wang Anshi—pitted conservative bureaucrats against proponents of reform. The Jurchen Jin in the north turned against the weakened court and entered the Song capital of Bianliang in 1127. Prince Kang of the Song dynasty retreated south and restored the Song in Lin'an (modern Hangzhou), establishing the Southern Song dynasty.
Zhu Xi was an influential philosopher who lived during the Southern Song dynasty. He is the figure most associated with a school of thought called Neo-Confucianism, which emerged as a Confucian response to Daoist and Buddhist discourses of the time.
Khubilai Khan was the leader of the Mongol Empire from 1260 until his death in 1294. When Khubilai Khan defeated the Southern Song and proclaimed the Yuan dynasty in 1279, China was reunited under foreign domination as part of a larger Mongol Empire.
Marco Polo (1254–1324) was an Italian explorer who spent nearly two decades in China during the Yuan dynasty. Though some scholars doubt the veracity of Marco Polo's claims, accounts of his travels were significant in offering Europeans a window into Chinese civilization, which the explorer held in high esteem.
Following a period of political upheaval and division, the Song dynasty was a time of stability that allowed for economic, cultural, and artistic flourishing. It was characterized by a move away from nobility as the basis of official rank and toward a system of meritocracy based on the civil service examination. The Song dynasty was divided into two periods: the Northern Song (960–1126) and the Southern Song (1127–1279).
Zhu Yuanzhang was a rebel leader from the south of China who pushed the Yuan court out of China proper in 1368. He proclaimed the Ming dynasty and declared himself emperor after leading the revolt to defeat the Yuan.
Established by Khubilai Khan's Mongol Empire, the Yuan dynasty was the first foreign dynasty in Chinese history to rule all of China. While Mongol officials dominated the court, many Chinese scholar-officials withdrew from public life to pursue artistic cultivation, especially landscape painting.
Starting in 1405, Zheng He embarked on a series of seven naval expeditions of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, and went as far as the east coast of Africa. However, under the pressure of the Confucian-dominated court that restricted overseas relations and trade, maritime activities and shipbuilding were scaled back after the last of these voyages was completed in 1433.
During the Ming dynasty, the Yongle Emperor ordered construction of the palace compound now known as the Forbidden City in Beijing. Construction was completed in 1420.
Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) was a Jesuit missionary from Italy who arrived in China in the late sixteenth century. In 1601, Emperor Wanli invited him to serve at the Ming court, where Ricci shared his knowledge of Western science and mapmaking, as well as fostering cross-cultural engagement through the writing and translation of several important texts.
China returned to native Chinese rulership with the establishment of the Ming dynasty. The Ming dynasty generated significant accomplishments, including refurbishment of the Great Wall, major naval expeditions, maritime trade, a monetized economy, the development of the novel, expansion of printing, and production of exceptional porcelain, paintings, lacquer, and textiles. The last century of the dynasty was marked by border troubles, fewer crops due to a devastating cold wave, fiscal instability, and corruption at court.
Emperor Taizong of Tang Timeline - History
Emperor Gaozu of Tang (566-635) was the founder and first emperor of this great dynasty. He was born Li Yuan, and given the courtesy name of Shude. He took the name Gaozu, meaning High Founder or Progenitor, upon establishing the Tang Dynasty in 618.
Li Yuan (Gaozu) was born to father Li Bing, Duke Ren of Tang, and mother Duchess Dugu. Li Yuan inherited the title Duke of Tang when his father died in 572. When Northern Wei fell to the Sui dynasty in 582, Li Yuan retained this title, as he was nephew to the founding emperor’s wife.
In the early years of the Sui dynasty Li Yuan was a governor under first Emperor Wen, and later Emperor Yang (Li Yuan’s first cousin). During a period of upheaval in 613 Li Tuan became a military general in charge of operations in the region west of Tong Pass.
He declined to return when Emperor Yang recalled him that same year. During this time Li Yuan gained much military experience and support.
In 615 Li Yuan was in charge military operations in the Hedong area. In 616 he became a governor based in the vital city of Taiyuan. Here he continued to gather power and support. He also developed peaceful relations with the Gokturks, nomadic peoples dominating the important Silk Road trade.
Around this time the rule of the Sui dynasty was crumbling. Li Yuan began to plot a rebellion at the urging of his second son, Li Shimin. He strengthened his troops claiming it necessary due to threats from the Eastern Tujue. He disguised his efforts as a campaign to make Yang You, Emperor Yang’s grandson the emperor. With the help of several of his sons and daughters, Li Yuag was able to capture the capitol of Chang’an and established Yang You as Emperor Gong of Sui in late 617. Although many cities continued to recognize Emperor Yang, Li Yuan and his armies continued gradually defeating them.
The Tang Dynasty
Early in 618, Emperor Yang was killed by his general. Li Yuan convinced Emperor Gong to relinquish power. Li Yuan established the Tang Dynasty and became Emperor Gaozu on June 18th, 618. He was emperor during the first eight years of the Tang Dynasty. His sons were given royal titles and positions, including Li Shimin, named the Prince of Qin.
Emperor Gaozu worked to conquer other regions, thus unifying china under rule of the new Tang Dynasty. He restored many policies of the original Sui Emperor Wen, reversing several changes implemented by Emperor Wang. He also relaxed the harsh laws of the region and worked to promote trade.
Emperor Gaozu faced several military challenges early in the Tang Dynasty, the first of which came from Xue Ju, the leader of a neighboring small dynasty. Xue Ju fell ill and died early in the battle, and forces led by Li Shimin soon defeated his predecessor. Several more attempted uprisings were defeated by armies under Li Shimin, resulting in the incorporation of new regions into the Tang Dynasty.
In 1920, the Tang armies under Li Shimin began to invade the Zheng state. Wang, leader of Zheng, created an alliance with Dou, leader of the Xia state. Despite near victory of these combined forces, they were defeated by Tang forces in 1921. Zhenge territory and, briefly, Xia territory were incorporated into the Tang Dynasty. That same year Liang and Wu were defeated, and these regions also became part of the rapidly growing Tang Dynasty.
As the Tang Dynasty was beginning to thrive, rivalry was forming amongst Emperor Gaozu’s sons. Li Shimin had the best military records, and his forces led to defeat of the Tang Dynasty’s key rivals. This led him to have a superior military reputation, as well as the favor of his father, who considered naming Li Shimin crown prince. Meanwhile, Li Jiancheng made his own significant, if less impressive, contributions. Another son, Li Yuanji, supported Li Jiancheng and assisted in petitioning Emperor Gaozu to make him the crown prince instead.
In 622 Li Jiancheng led the battle against Liu Heita – the only remaining serious threat to the Tang Dynasty. The following year Liu was captured by one of his own officials. He was turned over to Li Jiancheng who executed him. Shortly thereafter, victory was declared. The goal of uniting China was nearly complete. By 624 however, Li Jianchenge began to bulk up his armies against Emperor Gaozu’s wishes and ignored his rulings. When the emperor learned of this, he put Li Jiancheng under arrest and promised to make Li Shimin crown prince. However, as soon as Li Shimin had left the city on a mission, supporters of Li Jiancheng, including Li Yuanji, successfully petitioned on his behalf. Emperor Gaozu released him and allowed him to remain crown prince.
End of Reign as Emperor
Throughout the reign of Emperor Gaozu economic and cultural development within the Tang Dynasty flourished – as did military power. The only remaining threat was frequent challenges from the Eastern Tujue, near the capitol city, Chang’an. However, by 626 the bitter rivalry between his sons was beginning to overshadow foreign threats.
When Li Shimin fell ill after eating at Li Jiancheng’s palace, both he and the emperor thought it was an assassination attempt. Both sons had loyal officials supporting their case with the Emperor while encouraging them to attack the other first.
The climax of the rivalry came when Emperor was set to send Li Shimin to lead the battle against yet another invasion by the Eastern Tujue. Li Jiancheng convinced the emperor to send Li Yuchi instead. Concerned by the idea that Li Jiancheng’s biggest supporter had a large army in his command, Li Shimin told his father that both Li Jiancheng and Li Yuchi were committing adultery, having relations with their father’s concubines. When Emperor Gaozu summoned the accused pair to return to the capitol, Li Shimin arranged an ambush to kill both of them on their way into the city.
After this brutal attack, Emperor Gaozu established Li Shimin as the crown prince. Only two months later, he released the throne making Li Shimin (who became Emperor Taizong) the Emperor of Tang.
Once retired, Emperor Gaozu had little control or influence on the policies of Tang. Despite relinquishing the throne in 626, he did not leave the main Taiji Palace until 629. At that time he moved to Hongyi Palace, and Emperor Taizong moved into the Taiji Palace. The following year Emperor Gaozu led the celebration when Emperor Taizong accomplished the long sought after victory over the Eastern Tujue. Emperor Gaozu fell ill in 634 and died in 635.
Emperor Taizong of Tang Timeline - History
Historians regard the Tang Dynasty as a high point in Chinese civilization. From its establishment by Li Yuan in AD618 to its downfall in 907, the Tang dynasty, which lasted for 289 years, was a golden age of cosmopolitan culture and it was also the most prosperous dynasty in the history of feudal China.
Chinese culture was at its most sophisticated peak. With the reopening and regaining of importance of the Silk Road in 639, trade was encouraged and new economic and trading ties with different regions were established. The influx of traders brought about an unprecedented "internationalization" of Chinese Society because traders and travelers alike brought new ideas, religions, food, music and artistic traditions into China. Buddhism flourished and Islam was introduced. Li Bai and Du Fu, the greatest poets in China's literal history lived produced their most famous works during the Tang dynasty.
(left - right) Tang Taizong and Tang Xuanzong
The Tang dynasty can be divided into the early period, which was a golden age and the late period, which was one of decline with the An Shi rebellion as its turning point. The golden age consisted of the reigns of Emperor Taizong(AD 627 - 649) and Emperor Xuanzong (AD712 - 755) the Taizong Era was known as the Flourishing Age and was the world leader in politics, economy and culture. The Xuanzong era was known as the Golden Age and it was a peaceful period. However, in the late years of Emperor Xuanzong's reign, the An Shi rebellion threw the Tang Empire into turmoil and it marked the start of its decline.
AD 626: The Xuan Wu Gate Incident
After Li Yuan (Emperor Gaozu) unified the whole of China, there was a political dispute within the imperial family between Prince Li Jiancheng and Li Shimin (who later became Tang Taizong, one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history) about who should become the heir to the throne.
Li Jiancheng was the eldest and Li Shimin was the second eldest. According to the hereditary system, the eldest son was the rightful heir, hence he would be made Crown Prince. However, among Li Yuan's sons, Li Shimin's contributions were the biggest as he defeated four of Tang's most powerful competitors - the Emperor of Qin Xue Rengao , the Dingyang Khan Liu Wuzhou, the Prince of Xia Dou Jiande and the Emperor of Zheng Wang Shicong. Li Jiancheng was completely overshadowed by his younger brother.
As the years passed, Li Shimin made even more significant contributions and that incurred the jealousy of his brothers Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji (Li Jiancheng and Li Shimin's younger brother) who wanted to eliminate him.
In the summer of AD626, the General Ashina Yushe of Eastern Tujue entered Tang territory and put Wucheng under siege. Under normal circumstances, Li Shimin would be sent to meet the Easter Tujue forces but at Li Jiacheng's recommendation, Emperor Gaozu sent Li Yuanji instead and the troops under Li Shimin were transferred to him. Fearful that Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji would take the chance to go against him, Li Shimin decided to act by submitting a secret accusation to his father in the night, accusing his brothers of having affairs with his father's concubines and making plans to kill him. Emperor Gaozu then decided to summon his sons to his palace the next morning.
Xuan Wu Gate in Present day China
The next morning, Li Shimin and his brother-in-law Zhangsun Wuji went to Emperor Gaozu's palace early and secretly took command at the north gate of the palace - the infamous Xuan Wu gate. Sensing that something was amiss when they arrived, Li Jiacheng and Li Yuanji began to head back. When Li Shimin alone started chasing after them, Li Yuanji fired arrows at him and a fight erupted in front of the Xuan Wu gate, which was the most important gate to the palace.
In the end, Li Shimin killed Li Jiancheng. Then, he told his father that both his brothers had committed treason and he had executed them. Two months later, Emperor Gaozu passed the throne to Li Shimin, who ascended the throne as Emperor Taizong, becoming one of the greatest emperors that China has ever had.
AD 756 - 763: An Shi Rebellion
The An Shi Rebellion was started by rebel An Lushan and Shi Siming, spanning the reign of three Tang emperors, starting at the reign of Xuanzong and ending at the reign of Dai Zong and was instrumental in the decline of the Tang dynasty.
Although Emperor Xuanzong was credited with bringing China to the pinnacle of culture and power during the Tang Dynasty, he was preoccupied most of the time with everything (the artistic endeavors, his favorite concubine Yang Guifei) but the state affairs. Thus, he placed too much trust in incompetent ministers such as Li Linfu and Yang Guozhong and rebel An Lushan.
An Lushan was given control over the northern area of the lower reaches of the Yellow River by Emperor Xuanzong. With so much land and power under his control, he planned a revolt, taking advantage of the absence of strong troops guarding the palace and of the discontentment with the extravagant lifestyle employed by the court despite a string of natural disasters.
As An Lushan forces continued into the capital Chang'An, Emperor Xuanzong fled to Sichuan with his household. On the way, Xuanzong's bodyguard troops demanded the death of Yang Guifei, whom they viewed as the cause of the emperor's disinterest with state affairs, which was partly allowed the rebellion to take place. Left with no other choice, he ordered his beloved concubine's death. After reaching Sichuan, feeling guilty and saddened by the death of Yang Guifei, Xuanzong abdicated in favor of the Crown Prince.
Led by Emperor Suzong, the imperial forces were aided by internal conflict in the newly formed dynasty headed by An Lushan, who was killed by his son An Qingxu shortly after his ascent to the throne. An Qingxu was then killed by General Shi Siming who recaptured Luoyang soon after. However, Shi Siming was then killed by his son Shi Chaoyi. As it became clearer that the new dynasty would soon topple over, defects to the Tang army began. Shi Chaoyi committed suicide and this ended the rebellion.
Sadly, the rebellion greatly devastated the political and economical climate as well as the intellectual culture of the Tang dynasty. Many intellects had their careers interrupted, leaving them with time to ponder the causes of the unrest. Concluding that a lack of moral seriousness in intellectual culture had been the cause, they started to lose faith in themselves. More importantly, the Tang dynasty was unable to return to its glory days under Taizong and Xuanzong, existing in name only for the next hundred years.
AD 835: The Event of Dew
In the late Tang dynasty, the eunuchs controlled the court and they were so powerful that emperors were abolished as they please. While Emperor Wen Zong was on the throne, some officials devised a plan to get rid of the eunuchs. They announced that there was a pomegranate tree that was covered by dew in the palace and invited all the eunuchs to see that sight. Meanwhile, a group of soldiers hid near the tree so as to kill the eunuchs when they are near. Unfortunately, the soldiers were discovered as one eunuch approached the tree. The emperor was then held hostage. All the officials who participated in the Event of Dew were executed and the emperor was placed under house arrest until he died of depression.
AD 845: Wu Zong Great Anti Buddhist Persecution
The Great Anti Buddhist Persecution was an effort to appropriate war funds by stripping Buddhism of its financial wealth. During this period, all Buddhist clergy had their properties confiscated and were forced into lay life or hiding. Foreign influences were also driven out of China and followers of other religions such as Christianity and Islam were prosecuted. This tragedy lasted for 20 months before the next emperor, Emperor Xuanzong put forth a policy of tolerance in 846.