An Shi Rebellion

An Shi Rebellion

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The An Lushan Rebellion took place in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 from CE December 16, 755 to CE February 17, 763, beginning when general An Lushan
An Lushan
An Lushan was a general who rebelled against the Tang Dynasty in China.His name was also transcribed into Chinese as Āluòshān or Gáluòshān ,...

 declared himself emperor, establishing the rival Yan Dynasty
Yan (Anshi)
Yan , also known as the Great Yan , was a state established in 756 by the Tang Dynasty general An Lushan, after he rebelled against the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang in 755. The state was extinguished in 763, with the death of An Lushan's former subordinate, Shi Siming's son, Shi Chaoyi, who...

 in Northern China
Northern China
Northern China or North China may mean:* North China* North China Plain* Northern and southern China - rough geographic regions in China* North China * Northeast China * Northeast China Plain* Northwest China...

. This event is also known (especially in Chinese historiography) as the An-Shi Rebellion or An-Shi Disturbances , as it continued after An Lushan's death under his son An Qingxu
An Qingxu
An Qingxu , né An Renzhi , was a son of An Lushan, a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who rebelled and took imperial title of his own state of Yan. An Qingxu serves as the Prince of Jin from 756 - 757, and later killed his father and took imperial title for himself. He was eventually defeated...

 and his deputy and successor Shi Siming
Shi Siming
Shi Siming , or Shi Sugan , was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lushan's son An Qingxu as emperor of the Yan state that An Lushan established.-Background:It is not known when Shi Sugan was born,...

, or as the Tianbao Rebellion (天寶之亂), as it began in the 14th year of that era
Chinese era name
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers . Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back...

.

The rebellion spanned the reigns of three Tang emperors before it was quashed, and involved a wide range of regional powers; besides the Tang dynasty loyalists, others involved were anti-Tang Han Chinese families, especially in An Lushan's base area in Hebei, Arab, Gokturk, and Sogdian forces or influences, among others. The rebellion and subsequent disorder resulted in a huge loss of life and large-scale destruction. It significantly weakened the Tang dynasty, and led to the loss of the Western Regions
Western Regions
The Western Regions or Xiyu was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Jade Gate, most often Central Asia or sometimes more specifically the easternmost portion of it The Western Regions or Xiyu was a...

.

Political



Beginning in 742, Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 entered a thirteen-year period of major political turmoil, with the regional empires generally suffering "a major rebellion, revolution, or dynastic change." In this year, the Türk dynasty of the Eastern Steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 was overthrown and then replaced by Sogdian-influenced Uighur rulers. This was apparently the first of several revolutionary events either led by or intimately connected with the merchants and tradespeople involved with the international commerce often referred to as the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. The Abbasids began a rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphate, beginning in 747, in Merv
Merv
Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

, Khurasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

, and resulting in the proclamation of a new, Abbasid, Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

, in about 750. This rebellion also seems to have been organized by merchants and persons identifying themselves as merchants.

Western expansion of the Tang Empire was checked in 751 by the defeat of a large expeditionary force led by General Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi, or Ko Sōnji, was a Tang general of Korean descent. He was known as a great commander during his lifetime. He is most well known for taking part in multiple military expeditions to conquer the Xiyu region over the infamous Pamir Mountains, all the way to the Aral Sea and the Caspian...

 in the Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
The Battle of Talas in 751 AD was an especially notable conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control not only of the Syr Darya region, but even more...

 in the modern Fergana Valley
Fergana Valley
The Fergana Valley or Farghana Valley is a region in Central Asia spreading across eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Divided across three subdivisions of the former Soviet Union, the valley is ethnically diverse, and in the early 21st century was the scene of ethnic conflict...

, with the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 victory attributable to the defection of the Karluk
Karluk
Karluk can refer to many different things:* HMCS Karluk, a ship crushed and sunk by Arctic ice in January 1914* Karluk, Alaska, a town in the USA* Karluk River, a river on Kodiak Island in Alaska...

 Turks during the midst of the battle. Further, southern expansion of the empire was limited by the ineffective, and even disastrous, campaigns against the Kingdom of Nanzhao. However, the concurrent Tang campaign against the Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of...

 was proceeding more successfully, with the campaign to capture of the Tibetans' Central Asian territories appearing to be near to success. With the assassination of the Tibetan emperor Me Agtsom in 775 in the midst of a major rebellion within the Tibetan polity, final Tang victory over the Tibetan Empire seemed all but assured. Meanwhile, back in the increasingly financially-challenged Chinese heartland, a Sogdian-Turkic general had worked himself into a position of greatest trust with the Tang emperor, and his consort Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

.

General An Lushan



An Lushan was a general of uncertain birth origin, but thought to have been adopted by a Sogdian
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

 mother and Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 father; eventually, he managed to become a favorite of the reigning Emperor of China: his success in this regard shown, for example, by the luxurious house which Emperor Xuanzong had built for him in Chang'an, in 751, furnished with such things as gold and silver objects and a pair of ten foot long by six foot wide couches appliqued with rare and expensive sandalwood. He was appointed by Emperor Xuanzong
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 (following the suggestion of Yang Guifei and with the agreement of Li Linfu
Li Linfu
Li Linfu , nickname Genu , formally the Duke of Jin , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor for 18 years , during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong—one of the longest terms of service for a chancellor in Tang history, and the longest during Xuanzong's reign.Li...

) to be commander (節度使) of three garrisons in the north—Pinglu, Fanyang
Fanyang
Yanjing for administrative purposes was an ancient city and capital of the State of Yan in northern China. It was located in modern Beijing.- History :...

 and Hedong
Hedong
Hedong may refer to the following Chinese entities:* Hedong Commandery , ancient division of China* Hedong District ** Hedong District, Linyi, in Shandong** Hedong District, Tianjin** Hedong District, Sanya, in Hainan...

. In effect, An was given control over the entire area north of the lower reaches of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

. With such power and land in his control (including garrisons about 164,000 strong), An Lushan and his fellow conspirators planned a revolt, over a period of eight to nine years, taking advantage of various circumstances, such as the synchronous Sogdian-involved Abbasid Rebellion against the Umayyad Dynasty, and eventually including the absence of strong troops guarding the palace and of popular discontent with an extravagant Tang court coupled with a string of natural disasters. He avoided suspicion by pleasing the Emperor in as many ways as possible, even calling himself the adopted son of Xuanzong's favorite concubine, Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

. In this way, he was protected from criticism, even when her relative the Chief Minister, Yang Guozhong
Yang Guozhong
Yang Guozhong , né Yang Zhao , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor late in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong...

, demanded his dismissal.

Course of the rebellion


The rebellion spanned the reigns of three emperors, starting during the final (Tianbao era) period of the reign of Xuanzong (8 September 712 – 12 August 756), lasting through the reign of Suzong (12 August 756 – 16 May 762) and ending during the reign of Daizong (18 May 762 – 23 May 779).

Revolt and capture of Luoyang



At the end of 755, An Lushan revolted. His army surged down from Fanyang
Fanyang
Yanjing for administrative purposes was an ancient city and capital of the State of Yan in northern China. It was located in modern Beijing.- History :...

 (near modern Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

). Along the way, An Lushan treated surrendered local Tang officials with respect. As a result, more and more local officials joined his ranks. He moved rapidly along the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 and captured the "Eastern Capital" city of Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

 within the year, defeating the poorly supplied General Feng Changqing
Feng Changqing
Feng Changqing was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty. Feng was described as ugly in his appearance, and when he first met Gao Xianzhi and asked to be a guard for Gao, Gao initially rejected him, but eventually agreed to take Feng as a soldier under his command...

. There, An Lushan declared himself Emperor of the new Great Yan dynasty (大燕皇帝). His next steps would be to capture the Tang western capital of Chang'an and then to attempt to take the rest of southern China.

Battle of Yongqiu



However, the horrific Battle of Yongqiu
Battle of Yongqiu
The Battle of Yongqiu was a battle in Yongqiu in 756 AD during the An Shi Rebellion, between An Lushan and the Tang army. The Tang army, led by Zhang Xun, finally won this battle.-Background:...

, in the spring of 756, went badly for An Lushan. Although his army, under Linghu Chao, was numerous, it was unable to make further territorial gains due to the failure to wrest control of Yongqiu (modern Qi County, Kaifeng
Qi County, Kaifeng
Qi County is a county of Kaifeng, Henan, People's Republic of China, with an area of 1243 square km and a population of 1.05 million.-History:...

, in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

) and (later) the nearby Suiyang District
Suiyang District
Suiyang District is one of the two districts of the city of Shangqiu, Henan, China.-External links:*...

 from the Tang defenders led by Zhang Xun
Zhang Xun (Tang Dynasty)
thumb|200px|Zhang XunZhang Xun was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. He was known for defending Yongqiu and Suiyang during the An Shi Rebellion against the rebel armies of Yan, and thus, his supporters asserted, he blocked Yan forces from attacking and capturing the fertile Tang territory...

. This prevented the Yan forces from quickly conquering southern China, before the Tang were able to recover. The Yan army did not take control of the Suiyang District until after the Siege of Suiyang
Battle of Suiyang
The Battle of Suiyang was a battle in Suiyang during the An Shi Rebellion, between the rebel An Lushan's Yan army and the loyalist forces of the Chinese Tang army. Although the battle was ultimately won by Yan, it suffered a major loss of manpower and time...

 (January–October 757), almost two years after their initial capture of Luoyang.

Advance on Chang'an



Originally, An Lushan's forces were blocked from the main imperial (or "Western") capital at Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (modern Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

), by loyal troops placed in impregnable defensive positions in the intervening high mountain passes of Tongguan
Tongguan County
Tongguan County is a county in Weinan, Shaanxi, China. It is located in the east of the Central Plain, north of the Qin Mountains, south of Wei and Luo River, east of the Mount Hua and in between the three provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan...

. Unfortunately for Chang'an, first the generals in charge of the troops at Tong Pass the two generals Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi, or Ko Sōnji, was a Tang general of Korean descent. He was known as a great commander during his lifetime. He is most well known for taking part in multiple military expeditions to conquer the Xiyu region over the infamous Pamir Mountains, all the way to the Aral Sea and the Caspian...

 and Feng Changqing
Feng Changqing
Feng Changqing was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty. Feng was described as ugly in his appearance, and when he first met Gao Xianzhi and asked to be a guard for Gao, Gao initially rejected him, but eventually agreed to take Feng as a soldier under his command...

 were executed due to a court intrigue involving the powerful eunuch Bian Lingcheng; and then, Yang Guozhong, with grossly inept military judgment, ordered the replacement General, Geshu Han
Geshu Han
Geshu Han , formally Prince Wumin of Xiping , was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty of Tuqishi extraction. He became a powerful general late in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong and in 756 became responsible for defending Tong Pass against the rebel forces of An Lushan...

, who was then set in charge of the troops in the passes, together with reinforcement troops, to attack An's army on open ground. The Tang forces were defeated, and the road to the capital now lay open.

Flight of the emperor




With the rebel forces clearly an imminent threat to the imperial seat of Chang'an, and with conflicting advice from his advisers, Tang emperor Xuanzong
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 determined to flee to the relative sanctuary of Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

, with its natural protection of ranges of mountains, which would allow for the Tang forces to reorganize and recoup. Together with the emperor went the bulk of his court and household. The route of travel from Chang'an to Sichuan was notoriously difficult, requiring hard travel on the way through the intervening Qin Mountains.

However, the geographical features of the terrain were not the only hardships which this journey involved: there was a matter which first had to be settled, involving the relationship between Xuanzong and the Yang family, especially the emperor's beloved Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

. So, before progressing more than a few kilometers along the way, an incident occurred at Mawei Inn, in today's Xingping
Xingping
Xingping is a city and district of Xianyang, Shaanxi, China....

 in Xiangyang
Xiangyang
Xiangzhou District is a district of Xiangyang, Hubei, China. The district itself was formerly known as Xiangyang. It was a city famous for the Siege of Xiangyang by invading forces of the Mongol-founded Yuan Dynasty...

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

: Xuanzong's bodyguard troops demanded the death of the much-hated Yang Guozhong
Yang Guozhong
Yang Guozhong , né Yang Zhao , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor late in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong...

, and then of his cousin, Yang Guifei. With the army on the verge of mutiny, the Emperor had no choice but to agree, ordering the suicide of Yang Guozhong and the strangling of Lady Yang. Meanwhile, the crown prince, Li Heng, fled in the other direction to Lingzhou (today called Lingwu, in Ningxia
Ningxia
Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

 province). Later, in 756, after reaching Sichuan, Xuanzong abdicated (becoming Taishang Huang
Taishang Huang
Retired Emperor, Grand Emperor, or Emperor Emeritus is a title occasionally used throughout East Asian feudal regimes for former emperors who had abdicated voluntarily to their sons. This title appeared in the history of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam...

), in favour of the crown prince, who had already been proclaimed emperor.

Fall of Chang'an



In 756, An Lushan and his rebel forces captured Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

, an event which had a devastating effect upon this thriving metropolis. Before the revolt estimates put the population within the city walls at around 800,000–1,000,000. Including small cities in the vicinity forming the the metropolitan area, the census in 742 recorded 362,921 families with 1,960,188 persons. Much of the population fled at the approach of the rebels. Then city was captured and looted by the rebel forces and the remaining population put in jeopardy.

A new emperor



In 756, the (3rd or 4th) son of Xuanzong, Li Heng, was proclaimed Emperor Suzong
Emperor Suzong of Tang
Emperor Suzong of Tang , personal name Li Heng , né Li Sisheng , known as Li Jun from 725 to 736, known as Li Yu from 736 to 738, known briefly as Li Shao in 738, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty and the son of Emperor Xuanzong...

 at Lingwu, although another group of local officials and Confucian literati tried to promote a different prince, Li Lin, the Prince of Yong
Li Lin (prince)
Li Lin , né Li Ze , formally the Prince of Yong , was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty...

, at Jinling (modern-day Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

). One of Suzong's first acts as emperor was to appoint the generals Guo Ziyi
Guo Ziyi
Guo Ziyi , formally Prince Zhongwu of Fenyang , was a general during the Tang Dynasty who ended the An Shi Rebellion, and participated in expeditions against the peoples of Huihe and Tubo...

 and Li Guangbi
Li Guangbi
Li Guangbi , formally Prince Wumu of Linhuai , was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, of ethnic Khitan ancestry, who was instrumental in Tang's suppression of the Anshi Rebellion.- Background :...

 to deal with the rebellion. The generals, after much discussion, decided to borrow troops from an offshoot of the Turkish Tujue tribe, the Huihe, or Huige, also known as the Uyghur Khaganate (ancestors of the modern-day Uyghurs
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

, but then located in Mongolia), who were ruled by Bayanchur Khan
Bayanchur Khan
Bayanchur Khan , was an Uyghur khagan from 747 to 759 AD. His official titles were "Ay Tengrida Qut Bolmish" and "El Etmish Bilge Qaghan" . His Tang Dynasty-invested title was Yingwuweiyuanpiqiejuo Khan or Yingwu Khan in short...

 until his death in the summer of 759. Over 4,000 Arab mercenaries also joined the Tang in 756, staying in China after the war. Possibly some of these mercenaries intermarried with the Hui people
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

.

With this assistance, the Tang Imperial forces recaptured both Chang'an and Luoyang in 757. However, they failed to capture or subdue the rebel troops, who fled to the rebel heartland in the northeast.

Siege of Suiyang



In the beginning of 757, and continuing through October of that year, a protracted stalemate between the Yan and Tang forces occurred in Suiyang. This significantly blocked the Yan forces from attacking the extensive areas south of the Yangzi River, which remained relatively untouched by the An-Shi disturbances.

Implosion of Yan Dynasty and end of the rebellion


The imperial forces were helped by internal dissent in the newly formed dynasty. An Lushan was killed by his son, An Qingxu
An Qingxu
An Qingxu , né An Renzhi , was a son of An Lushan, a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who rebelled and took imperial title of his own state of Yan. An Qingxu serves as the Prince of Jin from 756 - 757, and later killed his father and took imperial title for himself. He was eventually defeated...

, in late January 757. (His father's violent paranoia posed too much of a threat to his entourage.) His son was then killed by a subordinate, general Shi Siming
Shi Siming
Shi Siming , or Shi Sugan , was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lushan's son An Qingxu as emperor of the Yan state that An Lushan established.-Background:It is not known when Shi Sugan was born,...

, An Lushan's childhood friend and follower. Shi recaptured the city of Luoyang soon after. However, in 761 Shi Siming was killed by his son, Shi Chaoyi
Shi Chaoyi
Shi Chaoyi was the final emperor of the Yan state that was established in rebellion against the Chinese Tang Dynasty. He was the oldest son of Shi Siming, and he overthrew and then killed his father in a coup in 761 and took over as emperor...

, who then promptly proclaimed himself emperor, although failing to get general support from the other Yan generals.

In 762, Emperor Suzong had become seriously ill. The combined forces of the Tang and their Huige allies were led by the eldest son of Suzong. This son was at first named Li Chu, then renamed Li Yuin, in 758, after being created crown prince; and, eventually renamed again as Emperor Daizong of Tang
Emperor Daizong of Tang
Emperor Daizong of Tang , personal name Li Yu , né Li Chu , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty....

, on 18 May 762. In the period before his final victories over the rebel forces, he was also confronted with a wide variety of threats; for example, the port of Canton
Canton
- Administrative divisions :* Canton , territorial/administrative subdivision in some countries, notably Switzerland* Township , known as canton in Canadian French- China :...

 was pillaged in 758 by sea-borne Arab and Persian forces, probably pirates based on Hainan
Hainan
Hainan is the smallest province of the People's Republic of China . Although the province comprises some two hundred islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast, of its land mass is Hainan Island , from which the province takes its name...

. However, by this time it was clear that the new Yan Dynasty would not last long, and Yan officers and soldiers began to defect to the Tang side. Finally, after the eastern capital Luoyang was taken by Tang forces for the second time, in the winter of 762. Yan Emperor Shi Chaoyi attempted to flee, but was intercepted in the spring of 763
763
Year 763 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 763 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* Ciniod succeeds Bridei V as king of the...

. Shi Chaoyi then chose suicide to avoid capture. Thus ended the eight years of the rebellion.

However, the end of the rebellion was only part of a long process of rebuilding and recovery for the Tang. In part due to the weakened condition of the Tang, other disturbances continued to evolve. The Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of...

 under Trisong Detsän, taking advantage of the Tang's weakness during the rebellion, had reconquered much of their Central Asian territories, even going so far as to take the city of Chang'an in late 763.

Death toll


There is no doubt that the rebellion resulted in a major death toll. The devastation of the population was not only a direct result of the combat casualties and civilian deaths as a direct result of warfare, but due to the widespread dislocations of the social and economic system, especially in the north and middle areas of China, mass starvation and disease also resulted in death by the millions. Another factor may have been the decreased territory of the subsequent Tang empire.

However, the number of casualties is difficult to estimate. The 754 census recorded a population of 52,880,488, while the 764 census found only about 16.9 million, a reduction of about two-thirds. The numbers recorded on the post-war registers reflect not only population loss, but also a breakdown of the census system, as well as the removal from the census figures of various classes of untaxed persons, such of those in religious orders, foreigners, and merchants. Historians such as Charles Patrick Fitzgerald
Charles Patrick Fitzgerald
Charles Patrick Fitzgerald was a British-Australian professor of East Asian studies with particular focus on China....

 further argue that a claim of 36 million deaths is incompatible with contemporary accounts of the war. However this figure has been popularised by Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker
Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author...

's book The Better Angels of Our Nature
The Better Angels of Our Nature
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is a 2011 book by Steven Pinker arguing that violence in the world, especially the western part, has declined both in the long run and in the short...

, where it is presented as proportionally the largest atrocity in history, though with a caution that "These figures, of course, can not all be taken at face value."

Weakening of Tang



The rebellion greatly weakened the centralized bureaucracy of the Tang Dynasty. Virtually autonomous provinces and ad hoc financial organizations arose, reducing the influence of the regular bureaucracy in Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

. The Tang Dynasty's desire for political stability in this turbulent period also resulted in the pardoning of many rebels. Indeed, some were even given their own garrisons to command. Political and economic control of the Northeast region became intermittent or was lost, and the emperor became only a sort of puppet, set to do the bidding of the strongest garrison
Fanzhen
Fanzhen was a governmental system involving administration through regional governors . The term fanzhen literally means "buffer town", and refers to the system of settling troops in strategic locations along the empire's border areas, which during the Tang Dynasty came under the control of...

. Furthermore, the Tang government also lost most of its control over the Western Regions
Western Regions
The Western Regions or Xiyu was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Jade Gate, most often Central Asia or sometimes more specifically the easternmost portion of it The Western Regions or Xiyu was a...

, due to troop withdrawal to central China to attempt to crush the rebellion and deal with subsequent disturbances. Continued military and economic weakness resulted in further subsequent erosions of Tang territorial control during the ensuing years, particularly in regard to the Uighur and Tibetan empires. By 790, Chinese control over the Tarim Basin area was completely lost.

The political decline was paralleled by economic decline, including large Tang governmental debt to Uighur money lenders. In addition to being politically and economically detrimental to the empire, the rebellion also affected the intellectual culture of the Tang Dynasty. Many intellectuals had their careers interrupted, giving them time to ponder the causes of the unrest. Some lost faith in themselves, concluding that a lack of moral seriousness in intellectual culture had been the cause of the rebellion. However, eventually a political and cultural recovery did occur within Tang China several decades after the rebellion, until about the year 820, the year of the death of Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang , personal name Li Chun , né Li Chun , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

. Much of the rebuilding and recovery occurred in the Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 region in the south, which had escaped the events of the rebellion relatively unscathed and remained more firmly under Tang control.

Cultural influence



The events involved with the An Lushan rebellion had and have an immense cultural influence both in China and beyond. For instance, in China itself, events were reflected through the verses of those contemporary poets who were all caught up in events of the rebellion.
  • The great poet Li Bai avoided the rebels, but at the cost of getting involved in the wrong side of a power struggle between the princes of the royal family. He was convicted of involvement with the rebellion, and sentenced to exile, although later reprieved. The golden days before the rebellion, the lengthy and deliberately protracted journey toward exile, and the post-rebellion disillusionment and hardship are reflected in his surviving poems.
  • Li Bai's colleague Du Fu
    Du Fu
    Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

     had finally attained a minor appointment in the imperial bureaucracy when the rebellion broke out. He spent the winter of 756 and the summer of 757 as a captive in rebel occupied Chang'an, but later managed to escape and join with Suzong's side, and thus avoid charges of treason. His subsequent poetry is a primary source of information about the massive upheavals of the period.
  • Wang Wei was captured by the rebels in 756 and sent to Luoyang where he was forced to serve as an official in their governmental administration, for which he was briefly imprisoned after his capture by loyalist forces.

Later poets, such as Bai Juyi (who was not born until 772) also wrote famous verses about the events of the period of the Anshi affairs. The tragic events were epitomized in the story of Xuanzong and Yang Guifei, and generations of Chinese and Japanese painters depicted various iconic scenes, such as Yang Guifei bathing or playing a musical instrument or the flight of the imperial court on the "hard road to Shu" (that is, the the royal progress to Sichuan). These artistic themes were also a major source of inspiration, in Japan, in regards to the Tale of Genji, which was largely inspired by the story of Yang Guifei.

General sources

  • E. G. Pulleyblank
    Edwin G. Pulleyblank
    Edwin George Pulleyblank FRSC is a sinologist and professor emeritus of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia...

    , The Background of the Rebellion of An Lu-Shan, London: Oxford University Press (1955).
  • E. G. Pulleyblank, "The An Lu-Shan Rebellion and the Origins of Chronic Militarism in Late T'ang China", in Perry & Smith, Essays on T'ang Society, Leiden: E. J. Brill (1976).
  • Denis Twitchett (ed.), The Cambridge History of China
    The Cambridge History of China
    The Cambridge History of China is an ongoing series of books published by Cambridge University Press covering the early and modern history of China. It has been described as "the largest and most comprehensive history of China in the English language"....

    , Volume 3, Sui and T'ang China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1979). ISBN 978-0-521-21446-9.

External links

  • Tang (618–907) "The An Lushan Rebellion had its roots in the behavior of one of the great emperors of Chinese history, Xuanzong. Until he fell in love with a young concubine named Yang Guifei, he had been a great ruler, and had brought the Tang to its height of prosperity and grandeur. But he became so infatuated with Yang that the administration of the government soon fell into decay, which was made no better by the way that Yang took advantage of her power to stuff high administrative positions with her corrupt cronies. She also took under her wing a general named An Lushan, who quickly accumulated power."
  • chinaknowledge.de "From the first years of the reign period Tianbao 天寶 "Heavenly jewels" (741-757) on, Li Linfu 李林甫 served as chancellor. After Li Linfu's death in 752, his opponent Yang Guozhong 楊國忠 became counsellor-in-chief and dominated the court until the rebellion of An Lushan. An Lushan himself, half of Turkish origin, had been installed as military commissioner of Pinglu 平盧, Fanyang 范陽 (around modern Beijing) and Hebei 河北, three regions in the northeast, where he was responsible of the military and civil administration of one of the most important economic zones in Tang China."