or T'ai-tsung orig. Li Shiminborn 598, Chinadied 649, ChinaSecond emperor of China's Tang dynasty.In his father's campaign against the Sui dynasty, Li Shimin was responsible for the conquest of Luoyang, the eastern capital. There he built up a regional administration and an entourage of talented officials. His brothers are said to have plotted to kill him; he did away with them instead, and his father soon abdicated in his favour. He restored normal civil administration to local government and created a unified civil service. He further developed the state schools created by his father and launched the editing of the Confucian Classics. On the frontiers, he fought eastern and western Turks and began to establish sovereignty over the oasis kingdoms of Xinjiang. An invasion of the Korean Koguryŏ kingdom failed, but he won great prestige for the Tang and came to be widely revered.
* * *▪ emperor of Song dynastyWade-Giles romanization T'ai-tsung , personal name (xingming) Zhao Jiong , original name Zhao Kuangyi , or Zhao Guangyiborn 939, Chinadied 997, Chinatemple 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 (Great Wall of China), 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 (Liao dynasty) (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.▪ emperor of Tang dynastyIntroductionWade-Giles romanization T'ai-tsung , personal name (xingming) Li Shiminborn 598, Chinadied 649, Chinatemple name (miaohao) of the second emperor (reigned 626–649) of the Tang dynasty (618–907) of China.Li Shimin was the second son of the dynastic founder, the Gaozu emperor. Traditional historians have portrayed him as the driving force behind his father's uprising against the doomed Sui dynasty in 617, but powerful evidence shows that his was a minor role. In the initial campaign to take the Sui capital, he and his elder brother, Li Jiancheng, were both Tang commanders. Li Shimin distinguished himself as a general and strategist and was largely responsible for the conquest of the eastern capital of Luoyang and the eastern plain. In 621 the emperor delegated to him control of both military and civil administration in the east, with his headquarters at Luoyang. There he built up his own regional administration and an entourage of talented officials.While Li Shimin consolidated his power in Luoyang, his elder brother was implicated in an attempted coup but was absolved, poached gifted officials from Li Shimin's administration, and made at least one attempt on his life. In 626 their relations reached a crisis point. Li Shimin went to the capital to see off a third brother, Li Yuanji, who was placed in command of an expedition against the Turks; his elder and younger brothers are said to have plotted to murder him. Li Shimin, with a few followers, seized the Xuanwu gate (the northern entrance to the emperor's palace), ambushed and killed his brothers, and then peremptorily informed the emperor. Two months later, Gaozu abdicated in his favour.Taizong the emperorWith this coup began the reign of the Taizong emperor. His image would be revered for more than a millennium, not only by Chinese monarchs but by Japanese and Korean statesmen and by the rulers of China's neighbouring peoples to the north. It is not easy to separate the real Taizong from the myths that he himself encouraged and that his own historians incorporated into the dynastic record. They were presented in a vivid and idealized account of his court, the Zhenguan zhengyao, written in 708–710, as a utopian model of ideal government. It gives a picture of a powerful and decisive emperor governing with the aid of a group of talented and well-chosen chief ministers. It shows him as responsive to their outspoken exhortations and remonstrance and as empathetic toward the feelings of his people.At first, the Taizong emperor's style of government closely approached his ideal picture. He was still a very young man, a usurper who needed to heal the rifts between his own supporters at court and those who had supported his brothers. His Confucian moralist mentors were Wei Zheng, who had served a rival rebel regime and had later been an adviser to Li Jiancheng, and who took on the role as Taizong's public conscience, and Xiao Yu, a descendant of an ancient Southern ruling family. The practical architects of his policies were Du Ruhui and Fang Xuanling, who had served him since 618, and his much younger brother-in-law, Changsun Wuji, whose sister was Taizong's empress and who was Taizong's closest friend and adviser. All these men enjoyed very long tenure and gave much of the special character to Taizong's reign.Whatever Taizong's style, most of the dynasty's basic policies and institutions had been put in place by his father, the Gaozu emperor. The structure of government and the detailed law code, which were to provide models for all of East Asia, were already completed. Taizong's task was to get these institutions working effectively.The main problem was reestablishing local government after years of rebellion and civil war. It took most of Taizong's reign to restore normal civil administration and to create a unified civil service (Chinese civil service). Even so, by the end of his reign, his local administrations had succeeded in registering only about a third of those who had registered under the Sui. Although he was renowned for his comparatively frugal government, Taizong had little choice: his tax base was reduced by almost two thirds. The reduced tax base was further cut by a militia system that aimed to provide a large permanent pool of self-supporting military manpower; the soldiers were granted exemption from taxes and labour service.The Taizong emperor also had to deal with the great clans of Shandong, who considered themselves the superiors of the royal house. This he did by producing a national compendium of genealogies, ranking the royal house highest. Taizong further developed the state schools established by Gaozu and set up a national academy directorate to oversee them. Prefectural schools, including medical schools, were established throughout the country, and a systematic effort was launched to edit the texts of the Confucian canon and to provide standard commentaries for examination candidates. Official histories were also compiled.Foreign affairsWhile developing a new order at his capital, Taizong was engaged against both the eastern and the western Turks. He also began to establish sovereignty over the rich and highly cultured oasis kingdoms in what is now Xinjiang, strung out along the Silk Road to the west. An invasion of the northern Korean state of Koguryŏ in 645 ended in disaster. Yet Taizong acquired immense international prestige for the Tang.The successionDespite Taizong's original designation of his eldest son, Li Chengjian, as heir apparent, that son's unacceptable behaviour eventually resulted in his banishment and death. Taizong was forced to give the succession to his ninth son, Li Zhi (the future Gaozong emperor), who was not his preferred heir.In the latter half of his reign, Taizong became increasingly arbitrary, impatient of his ministers' criticisms, and more and more assertive. Taizong inherited from his father the basic laws, institutions, and structure of government. He continued to perfect them but made few innovations, apart from his reorganization of the military. His unique contribution was his style of government: a style that could only be effective under an emperor who could deal with his ministers as “first among equals,” exert easy personal dominance and authority, and who could deal with outspoken criticism from advisers, couched in the language of Confucianism to which he and they were unquestionably committed.Denis C. Twitchett Ed.Additional ReadingWorks on Taizong's reign and his place in the Tang dynasty include C.P. Fitzgerald, Son of Heaven: A Biography of Li Shih-Min, Founder of the T'ang Dynasty (1933, reprinted 1971); The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3, Sui and T'ang China, 589–906, part I, ed. by Denis Twitchett (1979), especially chapter 4, “T'ai-tsung (Reign 626–49) the Consolidator”; Howard J. Wechsler, Mirror to the Son of Heaven: Wei Cheng at the Court of T'ang T'ai-tsung (1974), and Offerings of Jade and Silk: Ritual and Symbol in the Legitimation of the T'ang Dynasty (1985); and David McMullen, State and Scholars in T'ang China (1988).
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