Goguryeo-Sui Wars

Goguryeo-Sui Wars

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The Goguryeo–Sui Wars were a series of campaigns launched by the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 of 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...

 against the Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 of Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 between 598
598
Year 598 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 598 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.- British Isles :* Battle of Catraeth at Catterick,...

 and 614
614
Year 614 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 614 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 :* The Palace of Diocletian is damaged by the...

. It resulted in the defeat of Sui and contributed to the eventual downfall of the dynasty in 618
618
Year 618 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 618 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.- Asia :* The Sui Dynasty ends and the Tang Dynasty...

.

Background


The Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 united 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...

 in 589, defeating the Chen Dynasty
Chen Dynasty
The Chen Dynasty , also known as the Southern Chen Dynasty, was the fourth and last of the Southern dynasties in China, eventually destroyed by the Sui Dynasty....

 and ending the division of the continent that spanned almost 300 years. After the unification of China, Sui asserted its position as the overlord of all of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and most countries submitted themselves. However, in Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

, Pyeongwon and his successor Yeongyang insisted on maintaining an equal relationship with the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

.

Wendi of Sui was displeased with the challenge from Goguryeo, which continued small scale raiding into Sui's northern border. Wendi sent diplomatic papers in 596 after Sui envoys spotted Goguryeo diplomats in the yurt
Yurt
A yurt is a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises a crown or compression wheel usually steam bent, supported by roof ribs which are bent down at the end where they meet the lattice wall...

 of the Eastern Turk Khanate
Khanate
Khanate, or Chanat, is a Turco-Mongol-originated word used to describe a political entity ruled by a Khan. In modern Turkish, the word used is kağanlık, and in modern Azeri of the republic of Azerbaijan, xanlıq. In Mongolian the word khanlig is used, as in "Khereidiin Khanlig" meaning the Khanate...

, demanding Goguryeo cancel any military alliance with the Turks, stop the annual raiding of Sui border regions, and acknowledge Sui as their overlord. Though Yeongyang appeared to comply with the ultimatum, in the following year, 597, he launched a joint preemptive invasion with the Malgal against Chinese outposts along the border in present-day Hebei
Hebei
' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

 province.

First War of 598


Wendi ordered his fifth and youngest son, Yang Liang
Yang Liang
Yang Liang -- courtesy name Dezhang , alternative name Jie , nickname Yiqian -- was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty. He was a son of Emperor Wen and his wife Empress Dugu Qieluo, who, during his father's reign, controlled the region north of the Yellow River...

 (assisted by the co-prime minister Gao Jiong
Gao Jiong
Gāo Jiǒng Gāo Jiǒng Gāo Jiǒng (d. August 27, 607 courtesy name Zhaoxuan (昭玄), alternative name Min (敏), known during the Northern Zhou period by the Xianbei name Dugu Jiong (独孤颎/獨孤熲), was a key official and general of the Chinese Sui Dynasty...

), and Admiral Zhou Luohou (周羅睺), to conquer Goguryeo with an army and navy totaling 300,000.

Yang Liang's army faced the early rainy season when it reached Goguryeo. The unseasonably heavy rain made the army's progress almost impossible and hampered the transport of provisions. Constant attacks by Goguryeo forces and illness inflicted heavy casualties. Coming to the conclusion that the army could not achieve the objective on its own, Yang decided to combine with Zhou's naval fleet and proceed.

Zhou's navy also came across their own challenges, contending with rough seas, losing many ships despite staying close to the coastline. Whenever they anchored, Goguryeo detachments were present to attack the Sui sailors. The fleet engaged in a battle against a Goguryeo fleet totaling 50,000 led by Admiral Gang Isik, presumably on the present Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

. Already weakened by ambushes and nature's onslaught, the Sui fleet suffered a devastating loss.

The Sui forces were all defeated, both at land and sea. Historical texts record that about 90% of the Sui troops perished. Goguryeo casualties are thought to be almost nonexistent compared to those of Sui. Yang faced no option but retreat. This war was the only major defeat for Wendi, who died in 604
604
Year 604 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 604 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.- Byzantine Empire :* The Sassanids destroy the...

.

Preparations


Yangdi, when he won the throne in 604, built 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...

 connecting the north and south of China. The south, economic base of China, and the north, political base of China, were connected by the canal, allowing transportation of troops for the massive military campaign.

After the construction of the canal, Yangdi ordered the enlisting of soldiers in 611. He instructed them to gather in present-day 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...

. The force gathered by year's end was one of the greatest in civilization according to the Book of Sui
Book of Sui
The Book of Sui was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty, and it ranks among the official Twenty-Four Histories of imperial China. It was compiled by a team of historians led by the Tang Dynasty official Wei Zheng and was completed in 636.-External links:* of the Book of Sui,...

. An estimated 1,133,800 combat troops were mobilized. The support troops, responsible for logistics and transportation of resources, are believed to have dwarfed even that number. The total strength of the army is in dispute, with estimates ranging from 3 million to more than 5 million, no doubt a highly exaggerated number due to the fact that no deployment of such a large number of soldiers had ever occurred anywhere on the planet until the 17th century (not counting the Second Persian invasion of Greece
Second Persian invasion of Greece
The second Persian invasion of Greece occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars, as King Xerxes I of Persia sought to conquer all of Greece. The invasion was a direct, if delayed, response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece at the Battle of Marathon which ended Darius I's attempts...

, which the number of troops were also debated). The army began to depart in early 612, and due to its size, it took 40 days for all of them to depart. The long line of soldiers stretched for about 400 kilometres (248.5 mi).

Campaign in Manchuria


Yeongyang gave up the buffer zone that he had acquired after the war of 598
598
Year 598 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 598 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.- British Isles :* Battle of Catraeth at Catterick,...

, as that the area was not suitable to face such a vast army. The Goguryeo troops retreated behind what is now known as the Liao River
Liao River
The Liao River is the principal river in northeast China . The province of Liaoning and the Liaodong Peninsula derive their names from the river....

. A fortunate event for the Koreans was that the river melted much sooner than usual. By the time Yangdi arrived, the ice had all melted. Undaunted, Yangdi ordered the construction of three bridges across the river. The bridges however, were too short to reach the opposite bank in another fortunate turn of events for the Korean defenders, and Goguryeo's ambush successfully held off the first assault. After the extension of the bridges however, the Sui forces succeeded in crossing the river, and the army surrounded the fortresses of Goguryeo.

Yangdi ordered his generals before the campaigns not to make individual decisions regarding the movement of troops, but to report to him to receive instruction. This order hampered Sui strategy throughout the campaign. During the strategically important campaign against Yodong fortress, the general commanding the siege had to send a messenger to the emperor for the approval of the surrender. By the time the messenger returned, Goguryeo's troops were again ready to defend the fortress. Exploiting this flaw in the Sui system, Yodong and other citadels of Goguryeo continued to hold on. By June, five months after the start of the campaign, not a single fortress had fallen to Sui. Yangdi felt that a fundamental change in strategy was needed to seize control of northern Korea.

Campaign against Pyongyang


The new strategy was to keep the fortresses of Goguryeo in Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 at bay, while sending a contingent of army and navy to take Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, Goguryeo's capital. An army contingent, with a strength of 305,000, and a naval fleet of some 200,000 were dispatched.

Naval Assault


The navy reached the bay of the Daedong River before the army. Seeing that the Sui army had not arrived yet, Yeongyang sent a small host to engage the Sui navy in battle. After a short engagement, feigning defeat, Goguryeo troops retreated into the city. The Sui naval commander, Lai Huni, considering this was a chance to add to his merit, led a host of some 100,000 to lay assault against Pyeongyang.

When the Sui soldiers reached the outer citadel, however, they found the wall empty and the gate open. Upon entering the citadel, they found the valuables and weapons laid out in the open. Being cautious, Lai Huni didn't allow looting. While passing through a large Buddhist temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

, Goguryeo troops ambushed Sui troops, but it failed and survivors retreated yet again. Lai, considering the ambush in the temple a decisive move of Goguryeo that failed, allowed the looting of the outer citadel.

While the looting of the citadel was at its peak, special contingent of Goguryeo troops, consisting of thousands of troops, ambushed the Sui troops. Confused and disoriented, Lai didn't offer resistance, but ran to the fleet at the sea, his legion reduced to mere thousands. Disheartened by his failure, Lai changed his plan to wait for army contingent against Pyeongyang and combine to lay siege on the city.

Sui Army's Campaign


The army contingent, led by generals Yu Zhongwen and Yuwen Shu
Yuwen Shu
Yuwen Shu , courtesy name Botong , formally Duke Gong of Xu , was an official and general of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty...

, had their own problems. While the supply could be transported safely within China, once it reached Goguryeo territory, there was a danger of ambush by Goguryeo forces. Yangdi solved the problem by instructing each soldiers to carry food for himself, which greatly increased each soldier's burden. Many resorted to discarding the food. By the time it had reached Yalu River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

, the army's shortage of provisions was acute.

Yeongyang decided to assess the strength of the Sui army by ordering his Commander Field Marshal Eulji Mundeok
Eulji Mundeok
Eulji Mundeok was a noted military leader of early 7th century Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Often numbered among the greatest heroes in Korean military history, he defended Goguryeo against the Sui Chinese...

 to fake a surrender and peace negotiation terms with the Sui generals. Generals Wu and Yuwen had their own secret order from Yangdi to seize Yeongyang or Eulji if they should fall into their hands. However, the generals' advisers, notably the Assistant Director of the Right of the Department of State Affairs, Liu Shilong (劉士龍), convinced them it would be unwise to arrest negotiators from the opposing camp. They ultimately let Eulji return to Goguryeo and Yu Zhongwen later regretted his decision, attempting to lure Eulji back. He sent a message that he wished to discuss things further but Eulji, aware of Wu's intentions, did not comply.

The two generals argued about the next course of action, with Yu Zhongwen arguing strongly that Eulji should be pursued. They did agree that the Goguryeo capital should be captured. Accordingly, the Sui troops began the advancing south towards Pyeongyang. Eulji maneuvered the Goguryeo troops so that they engaged the Sui army seven times a day, each time faking defeat and retreat. The strategy would draw the Sui army deeper south with the perception of victory. The Sui army eventually advanced to about 20 km from Pyeongyang. Yu Zhongwen later recognized that his advancing troops were suffering from exhaustion, and that fortifications of Pyeongyang made for an impossible campaign.

Yu reached a dilemma and could not decide on advancing or retreat. Eulji sent him for the occasion a poem:
Your divine plans have plumbed the heavens; Your subtle reckoning has spanned the earth. You win every battle, your military merit is great. Why then not be content and stop the war?
When no response came, Eulji sent a representative. The plan now was to offer Emperor Yeongyang to Yangdi escort to submission if the Sui army would withdraw. Seizing this opportunity to retreat, Yu withdrew his troops towards Sui.

The Battle of Salsu River


When Sui army had reached Salsu
Battle of Salsu
The Battle of Salsu was an enormous battle that occurred in the year AD 612, during the second Goguryeo-Sui War, between the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo and the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Goguryeo cavalry forces, pursuing the Sui army, attacked and defeated it at the Salsu River.In 612 the Sui Emperor...

 (thought to be present-day Chongchon River), the water was shallow. Eulji had already cut off the flow of water with a dam. When Sui army had half crossed the river, Eulji opened the dam, drowning many thousands of Sui soldiers. Goguryeo charged the remaining Sui army. The historical text records that Sui soldiers had to run almost 200 kilometers that day to escape death. The Battle of Salsu contributed to the massive overall casualty figure for Sui during the campaign. Emperor Yang crossed the Liao River to attack Goguryeo, initially, with 305,000 men. Only 2,700 returned.

Third War of 613


Yangdi invaded Liaodong again the following year (613
613
Year 613 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 613 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 :* Clotaire II reunites the Frankish kingdoms...

), but was again obliged to retreat without success. While Yangdi was away, Yang Xuangan
Yang Xuangan
Yang Xuangan was an official of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty. He was the son of the powerful official Yang Su, and, as he knew that Emperor Yang was apprehensive of his father, was never quite secure. In 613, when Emperor Yang was attacking Goguryeo, he rebelled near the eastern capital...

, the son of Yangdi's prime minister Yang Su
Yang Su
Yang Su , courtesy name Chudao , formally Duke Jingwu of Chu , was a powerful general during Sui Dynasty whose authority eventually became nearly as supreme as the emperor's...

, fomented rebellion against Yangdi. Fearing attack from two fronts, Yangdi was forced to retreat and use his army to put down Yang Xuangan's rebellion.

Fourth War of 614


After crushing the revolt, Yangdi invaded Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 again in 614. Though he managed to breach Goguryeo's first line of defence without capturing the frontier fortress, he could not advance far beyond Liao River due to Goguryeo's constant ambushes and obstruction to his supply lines. Yeongyang, seeing a chance to end these exhausting wars, offered peace and returned Yang Xuangan's associate Husi Zheng (斛斯政), who had fled to Goguryeo after Yang Xuangan's rebellion, to Sui. Perceiving the little success in Goguryeo and the increasing internal discontent in China, Yangdi accepted Yeongyang's offer of peace and withdrew Sui troops from Goguryeo's territory.

Aftermath


Yangdi's continuous campaigns against Goguryeo resulted in the deaths of millions of people in Sui. The discontent against the regime rose, and after the last campaign, revolts erupted across China. Yangdi moved the capital to the south in Yangzhou
Yangzhou
Yangzhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the southwest, Huai'an to the north, Yancheng to the northeast, Taizhou to the east, and Zhenjiang across...

, but the revolts were too widespread.

The losses that Sui suffered, both in terms of lives and resources and consequently the trust the people had in the Sui state, contributed to the fall of the Sui Dynasty. Peasants, farmers, soldiers, aristocrats, and landlords rose up against the emperor along with many of the dynasty's military officers. In fact, Yuwen Shu's
Yuwen Shu
Yuwen Shu , courtesy name Botong , formally Duke Gong of Xu , was an official and general of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty...

 son, Yuwen Huaji
Yuwen Huaji
Yuwen Huaji was a general of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty who, in 618, led a coup against Emperor Yang of Sui, killing him. He subsequently declared Emperor Yang's nephew Yang Hao led Emperor Yang's elite Xiaoguo Army north, but was then repeatedly defeated by Li Mi, Li Shentong , and...

 became a powerful Sui general who led a successful coup against Yangdi and personally murdered him.

See also



  • Military history of Goguryeo
    Military history of Goguryeo
    The Military history of Goguryeo involved wars with other Korean kingdoms; Baekje and Silla, several Chinese dynasties, and Yamato Japan. Goguryeo finally fell to a Silla-Tang alliance in 668 from exhaustion and internal strife.-Goguryeo-Baekje Wars:...

  • List of China-related topics
  • List of Korea-related topics
  • History of China
    History of China
    Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

  • History of Korea
    History of Korea
    The Korean Peninsula was inhabited from the Lower Paleolithic about 400,000-500,000 years ago. Archeological evidence indicates that the presence of modern humans in northeast Asia dates to 39,000 years ago. The earliest known Korean pottery dates to around 8000 BC, and the Neolithic period began...