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The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
towards the mid-point of the dynasty (from 755 to 763), with an attempt to replace it with the Yan dynasty. The rebellion was originally led by
An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the and is primarily known for instigating the . An Lushan was of n and origin,Yang, Zhijiu, "An Lushan". ' (Chinese History Edition), 1 ...
, a
general officer A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines. In some usages the term "general officer" refers to a rank above colo ...
of the Tang military system. The event involved military activity and direct deaths from battle, but also significant associated population loss from famine, and population dislocations. The event is also known, especially in
Chinese historiography Chinese historiography is the study of the techniques and sources used by historians to develop the recorded history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty ...
, either as the An–Shi Rebellion or as the An–Shi Disturbances (). The use of the term ''luàn'' indicates the huge amount of social disturbance and population loss eventually involved, way beyond the initial consequences of the rebellion. Traditionally,
Chinese family names Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-2 ...
have begun with the family name first. In this case the family name of the initial rebel leader is An. The term ''Ān-Shǐ'' is used to recognize that the rebellion continued after An Lushan's death, with the leadership then transitioning to the Shi family, although at first An Lushan's son
An Qingxu An Qingxu (安慶緒) (died 10 April 759), né An Renzhi (安仁執), was a son of An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the and is primarily known for instigating ...
claimed succession. However,
Shi Siming Shi Siming () (19th day of the 1st month, 703? – 18 April 761), or Shi Sugan (), was a general of the History of China, Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lushan ...
, who had been close to An Lushan, became successor, and then Shi's son
Shi Chaoyi Shi Chaoyi (史朝義) (died before 17 February 763Volume 222 of ''Zizhi Tongjian ''Zizhi Tongjian'' () is a pioneering reference work A reference work is a work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Infor ...
. Tianbao Rebellion (天寶之乱) began in the 14th year of the latter's
era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...
. The rebellion's overt phase began on 16 December 755, when An Lushan mobilized his army and marched to
Fanyang Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, ca ...
, and ended when his Yan dynasty fell on 17 February 763 (although the effects lasted past this). The rebellion spanned the reigns of three Tang emperors against the rival Yan Dynasty before it was finally quashed. Besides the Tang dynasty loyalists, others involved were anti-Tang forces, especially those in An Lushan's base area in
Hebei Hebei (; alternately Hopeh) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, f ...
and
Sogdia Sogdia () ( Sogdian: soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekis ...
n forces or influences, among others. The rebellion and subsequent disorder resulted in a major loss of life and large-scale destruction. It significantly weakened the Tang dynasty and led to the loss of the
Western Regions The Western Regions or Xiyu (Hsi-yu; ) was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass Yumen Pass (), or Jade Gate or Pass of the Ja ...
. The Tang dynasty hired 4,000 mercenaries from
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...

Abbasid
territories and the
Uyghur Khaganate The Uyghur Khaganate (or Uyghur Empire or Uighur Khaganate, self defined as Toquz-Oghuz country; otk, 𐱃𐰆𐰴𐰕:𐰆𐰍𐰕:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Toquz Oγuz budun, Tang-era names, with modern Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often a ...

Uyghur Khaganate
intervened for the Tang dynasty against An Lushan. The Uyghur Khaganate exchanged princesses in marriage with Tang dynasty China in 756 to seal the alliance against An Lushan. The Uyghur Khagan
Bayanchur Khan)''Heavenborn State Founding Wise Qaghan'', birth_name=Yàolúogě Mòyánchùo (藥羅葛磨延啜)Bayanchur Qaghan (b. 713 - d.759) — was second qaghan of Uyghur Khaganate. His Tang dynasty invested title was Yingwu Weiyuan Pijia Qaghan () or sim ...
had his daughter Uyghur Princess Pijia (毗伽公主) married to Tang dynasty Chinese Prince Li Chengcai ( 李承采), Prince of Dunhuang (敦煌王), son of Li Shouli, Prince of Bin. while the Tang dynasty Chinese princess Ninguo married Uyghur Khagan Bayanchur.


Background


Political

Beginning in 742,
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
entered a 13-year period of major political turmoil, with the regional empires generally suffering "a major rebellion, revolution, or dynastic change."Beckwith, 140 In this year the
Second Turkic Khaganate , conventional_long_name = Second Turkic Khaganate , image_coat = Tamga of Ashina.png , symbol_type = Tamga of Ashina tribe , government_type = Hereditary monarchy , image_map = Map of Second Turkic Khaganate.png , image_map_alt = Loca ...
of the eastern
Eurasian Steppe The Eurasian Steppe, also simply called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characteri ...
was overthrown and then replaced by
Sogdia Sogdia () ( Sogdian: soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekis ...
n-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 The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
. In 747, the
Abbasids The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office governing a territory under I ...

Abbasids
began their rebellion against the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under ...
in
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
,
Khurasan Khorāsān ( pal, Xwarāsān; fa, خراسان, , ''Wuchang''), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region which formed the northeast province of Greater Iran. The name signifies "the Land of the Sun" or "the Eastern Province". ...
, resulting in the proclamation of a new Abbasid
Caliph A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' ...
in about 750.Beckwith, 143 This rebellion also seems to have been organized by merchants and persons identifying themselves as merchants. The 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, or Go Seonji, (died January 24, 756) was a Tang dynasty general of Goguryeo 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 Western Re ...
in the
Battle of Talas The Battle of Talas or Battle of Artlakh (; ar, معركة نهر طلاس, translit=maerakat nahr talas, Nastaliq: ) was a military engagement between the Abbasid, Abbasid Caliphate along with its ally, the Tibetan Empire, against the Chinese ...

Battle of Talas
in the modern
Fergana Valley The Fergana Valley in Central Asia spreads across eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...
, with the Abbasid victory attributable to the defection of the
Karluk Turks The Karluks (also Qarluqs, Qarluks, Karluqs, otk, 𐰴𐰺𐰞𐰸, Qarluq, fa, خَلُّخ, ''Khallokh'', ar, قارلوق, ''Qarluq'') were a prominent nomadic A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a c ...
in the midst of the battle. However, the Arabs did not proceed any further after the battle, and the Tang retained their Central Asian territories until the An Lushan rebellion. Further, southern expansion of the Tang was limited by the ineffective, and even disastrous, campaigns against the
Kingdom of Nanzhao Nanzhao, also spelled Nanchao or Nan Chao (literally 'Southern Zhao'), was a dynastic kingdom that flourished in what is now southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate mega-regions within China China ...

Kingdom of Nanzhao
. However, the concurrent Tang campaign against the
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
was proceeding more successfully, with the campaign to capture the Tibetans' Central Asian territories appearing nearly successful. With the assassination of the Tibetan emperor
Me Agtsom Me most often refers to: * Me (pronoun), the first-person singular pronoun, referring to the speaker Me, M.E. or ME may also refer to: Computing * .me, the top-level Internet domain for Montenegro * Me (computer science), a keyword in some prog ...
in 755 in the midst of a major rebellion within the Tibetan polity, final Tang victory over the Tibetan Empire seemed all but assured. However, back in the increasingly financially challenged Chinese heartland, the Sogdian-Turkic General An Lushan had worked himself into a position of trust with the Tang emperor Xuanzong and his consort
Yang Guifei Yang Yuhuan (; 26 June, 719 – 15 July 756Volume 218 of ''Zizhi Tongjian'' recorded that Yang was killed on the ''bingshen'' day of the 6th month of the 1st year of the Zhide era of Tang Suzong's reign. This date corresponds to 15 Jul 756 on t ...
.


General An Lushan

An Lushan was a general of uncertain birth origins, but thought to have been adopted by a Sogdian father and mother of the
Ashina tribe The Ashina (; Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese language, Chinese recorded in the ''Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed ...
. Eventually he managed to become a favorite of the reigning emperor of China. His success in this regard is shown, for example, by the luxurious house
Emperor XuanzongXuanzong (Hsuan-tsung in Wade–Giles) may refer to the following Chinese emperors: * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (reigned 713-756) * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (9th century) (reigned 846-859) * Emperor Xuanzong of Jin (reigned 1213-1224) * Emperor Xuanz ...
built for him in 751, in the capital
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
. The house was furnished with luxuries such 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 (following the suggestion of Xuanzong's favorite concubine
Yang Guifei Yang Yuhuan (; 26 June, 719 – 15 July 756Volume 218 of ''Zizhi Tongjian'' recorded that Yang was killed on the ''bingshen'' day of the 6th month of the 1st year of the Zhide era of Tang Suzong's reign. This date corresponds to 15 Jul 756 on t ...
and with the agreement of Chancellor
Li Linfu Li Linfu () (died January 3, 753), nickname Genu (), formally the Duke of Jin (), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an in ...
) to be
Jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in China which was established in the Tang dynasty, Tang dynasty and abolished in the Yuan dynasty, Yuan dynasty. The post of ''jiedushi'' has been translated as "milit ...
(节度使, regional military commanders) of three garrisons in the north— Pinglu,
Fanyang Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, ca ...
and Hedong. In effect, An was given control over the entire area north of the lower reaches of the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
, including garrisons about 164,000 strong. He took advantage of various circumstances, such as popular discontent with an extravagant Tang court, the synchronous Sogdian-involved
Abbasid Revolution The Abbasid Revolution, also called the Movement of the Men of the Black Raiment, was the overthrow of the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE), the second of the four major Caliphates in early History of Islam, Islamic history, by the third, the A ...
against the
Umayyad Dynasty The Umayyad dynasty ( ar, بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ, Banū Umayya, Sons of Umayya) or Umayyads (), were the ruling family of the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate, caliphate between 661 and 750 and later of Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain between 756 and 1031 ...

Umayyad Dynasty
,Beckwith, 146 and eventually the absence of strong troops guarding the palace coupled with a string of natural disasters. An Lushan was very influential in the Tang court, his close relationship with Emperor Xuanzong led to him being adopted by the imperial concubine Yang Guifei. The positions of power of Yang clan members (the family of the preceding
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

Sui dynasty
into which the Tang emperor had married) were important in this situation, especially complicated by the position of Yang Guifei’s relative
Yang Guozhong Yang Guozhong () (died July 15, 756Volume 218 of ''Zizhi Tongjian The ''Zizhi Tongjian'' () is a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084 AD during the Song dynasty in the form of a chronicle. In 1065 AD, Emperor Y ...
in the Tang governmental administration.


Course of the rebellion

The An Lushan Rebellion signaled a period of disorder spanning the reigns of three Tang dynasty emperors, beginning during the final (''Tianbao'' era) period of the reign of Xuanzong (8 September 712 to 12 August 756), continuing through the reign of Suzong (12 August 756 to 16 May 762) and ending during the reign of Daizong (18 May 762 to 23 May 779), as well as spanning the four imperial claimants of the failed Da Yan dynasty.


Revolt and capture of Luoyang

At the end of 755 An Lushan revolted. On 16 December, his army surged down from
Fanyang Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, ca ...
(near modern
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
). Along the way, An Lushan treated surrendered local Tang officials with respect. As a result, more and more of them joined his ranks. He moved rapidly along the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
and captured the "Eastern Capital" city of
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
on 18 January 756, defeating the poorly supplied General
Feng Changqing Feng Changqing ( (died January 24, 756) was a general of the Chinese 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 ...
. There, on 5 February, 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 Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
and then to attempt to continue into southern China to complete his conquest.


Battle of Yongqiu

However, the
Battle of Yongqiu The Battle of Yongqiu (雍丘之戰, pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often us ...
, 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 or Qixian () is a county of Kaifeng Kaifeng () is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, China. It is one of the Historical capitals of China, Eight Ancient Capitals of China, having been the capital seven times in hi ...
, in
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
) and (later) the nearby Suiyang District from the Tang defenders led by
Zhang Xun Zhang Xun (; September 16, 1854 – September 11, 1923), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cu ...
. This prevented the Yan forces from 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 (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 (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
(modern
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
), by loyal troops placed in nearly impregnable defensive positions in the intervening high mountain passes of Tongguan. Unfortunately for Chang'an, the two generals in charge of the troops at Tong Pass,
Gao Xianzhi Gao Xianzhi, or Go Seonji, (died January 24, 756) was a Tang dynasty general of Goguryeo 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 Western Re ...
and Feng Changqing, were executed due to a court intrigue involving the powerful eunuch Bian Lingcheng. Yang Guozhong, with grossly inept military judgment, then ordered the replacement General
Geshu HanGeshu Han () (died December 1, 757), formally Prince Wumin of Xiping (), was a general of Tang dynasty, Tang China who was of Turgesh extraction. He became a powerful general late in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and in 756 became responsibl ...
, who was in charge of the troops in the passes, together with reinforcement troops, to attack An's army on open ground. On 7 July, the Tang forces were defeated. The road to the capital now lay open.


Flight of the emperor

With rebel forces clearly an imminent threat to the imperial seat of Chang'an, and with conflicting advice from his advisers, Tang emperor Xuanzong determined to flee to the relative sanctuary of
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
with its natural protection of mountain ranges so the Tang forces could reorganize and regroup. He brought along 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 The Qinling () or Qin Mountains, formerly known as the Nanshan ("Southern Mountains"), are a major east-west mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mounta ...
. However, the geographical features of the terrain were not the only hardships on the journey: there was a matter that first had to be settled, involving the relationship between Xuanzong and the Yang family, especially the emperor's beloved
Yang Guifei Yang Yuhuan (; 26 June, 719 – 15 July 756Volume 218 of ''Zizhi Tongjian'' recorded that Yang was killed on the ''bingshen'' day of the 6th month of the 1st year of the Zhide era of Tang Suzong's reign. This date corresponds to 15 Jul 756 on t ...
. So, before progressing more than a few kilometers along the way, an incident occurred at Mawei Inn, in today's
Xingping Xingping () is a city located in the center part of Shaanxi Shaanxi (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest C ...
in
Xianyang Xianyang () is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level muni ...

Xianyang
,
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
. Xuanzong's bodyguard troops were hungry and tired, and very angry with Yang Guozhong for exposing the whole country to danger. They demanded the death of the much-hated Yang Guozhong, and then of his cousin and imperial favorite, Yang Guifei. Soon the angry soldiers killed Yang Guozhong, Yang Xuan (his son), Lady Han and Lady Qin (Yang Guifei's sisters). With the army on the verge of mutiny, the Emperor had no choice but to agree, ordering the strangling of Lady Yang. The incident made Xuanzong fear for his own safety, so he fled to Chengdu at once. However, people stopped his horse, not wanting him to go away. So he made the crown prince, Li Heng, stay to hold the fort. Instead, Li Heng fled in the other direction to Lingzhou (today called
Lingwu Lingwu (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s=本经, t= ...
, in
Ningxia Ningxia (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Ninghsia), officially the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR), is a landlocked Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region in the Northwest China, northwest of the China, Pe ...

Ningxia
province). Later, on 12 August, after reaching Sichuan, Xuanzong abdicated (becoming ''
Taishang Huang In Chinese history, a Taishang Huang or Taishang Huangdi is an honorific and institution of retired emperorship. The former emperor had, at least in name, abdicated in favor of someone else. Although technically no longer the reigning sovereign, ...
''), in favor of the crown prince, who had already been proclaimed emperor.


Fall of Chang'an

In July 756 An Lushan and his rebel forces captured
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
, an event that had a devastating effect upon this thriving metropolis. Before the revolt, estimates put the population within the city walls at from 800,000–1,000,000. Including small cities in the vicinity forming 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 the city was captured and looted by the rebel forces and the remaining population put in jeopardy.


A new emperor

The third son of Xuanzong, Li Heng, was proclaimed
Emperor Suzong Emperor Suzong of Tang (''yihai'' day, 711 – 16 May 762; r. 756 – 762), 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 th ...
at Lingzhou (modern-day
Lingwu Lingwu (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s=本经, t= ...
), although another group of local officials and Confucian literati tried to promote a different prince, Li Lin, the Prince of Yong, at Jinling (modern-day
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
). One of Suzong's first acts as emperor was to appoint the generals
Guo Ziyi Guo Ziyi (Kuo Tzu-i; Traditional Chinese: 郭子儀, Simplified Chinese: 郭子仪, Hanyu Pinyin: Guō Zǐyí, Wade-Giles: Kuo1 Tzu3-i2) (697 – July 9, 781), posthumously Prince Zhōngwǔ of Fényáng (), was the Tang dynasty general who ended t ...

Guo Ziyi
and
Li Guangbi Li Guangbi (李光弼) (708 – August 15, 764), formally Prince Wumu of Linhuai (臨淮武穆王), was a general of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is ...
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 The Uyghur Khaganate (or Uyghur Empire or Uighur Khaganate, self defined as Toquz-Oghuz country; otk, 𐱃𐰆𐰴𐰕:𐰆𐰍𐰕:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Toquz Oγuz budun, Tang-era names, with modern Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often a ...

Uyghur Khaganate
(ancestors of the modern-day
Uyghurs The Uyghurs ( or ; ; ; zh, s=, t=, p=Wéiwú'ěr, IPA: ), alternatively spelled Uighurs, Uyghers, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central Asi ...
, but then located in
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
), who were ruled by
Bayanchur Khan)''Heavenborn State Founding Wise Qaghan'', birth_name=Yàolúogě Mòyánchùo (藥羅葛磨延啜)Bayanchur Qaghan (b. 713 - d.759) — was second qaghan of Uyghur Khaganate. His Tang dynasty invested title was Yingwu Weiyuan Pijia Qaghan () or sim ...
until his death in the summer of 759. Four thousand Arab mercenaries were sent by the Abbasid caliph
al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَل ...

al-Mansur
to join the Tang in 756, staying in China after the war. With Uyghur assistance, the Tang Imperial forces recaptured both Chang'an and Luoyang in late 757. However, they failed to capture or subdue the rebel troops, who fled to the rebel heartland in the northeast. Uyghur Khaganate diplomats clashed against Arab Abbasid diplomats over who would enter the diplomatic hall in Chang'an first in 758.


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 effectively blocked the Yan forces from attacking the extensive areas south of the
Yangzi River along the Yangtze River. in Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', w ...
, which remained relatively untouched by the An–Shi disturbances.


Implosion of Yan Dynasty and end of the rebellion

The Tang imperial forces were helped by the newly formed dynasty's internal fighting. On 29 January 757, An Lushan was betrayed and killed by his son,
An Qingxu An Qingxu (安慶緒) (died 10 April 759), né An Renzhi (安仁執), was a son of An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the and is primarily known for instigating ...
, (An Lushan's violent paranoia posed too much of a threat to his entourage). The rebel
An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the and is primarily known for instigating the . An Lushan was of n and origin,Yang, Zhijiu, "An Lushan". ' (Chinese History Edition), 1 ...
had a Khitan eunuch named Li Zhu'er (李豬兒) (Li Chu-erh) who was working for An Lushan when he was a teenager but An Lushan used a sword to sever his genitals as he almost died after losing multiple pints of blood. An Lushan revived him after smearing ashes on his injury. Li Zhu'er was An Lushan's eunuch after this and highly used and trusted by him. Li Zhu'er and another 2 men helped carry the obese An Lushan when he was taking off or wearing his clothes. Li Zhu'er helped cloth and take of his clothes at the Huaqing (Hua-ch'ing) steam baths granted by Emperor Xuanzang. Li Zhuer was approached by people who wanted to assassinate An Lushan after An Lushan became paranoid and blind, stricken with skin disease and started flogging and murdering his subordinates. An Lushan was hacked to death in his stomach and abdomen by Li Zhuer and another conspirator, Yan Zhuang (Yen Chuang) (嚴莊) who was beaten by An before. An Lushan screamed "this is a thief of my own household" as he desperately shook his curtains since he could not find his sword to defend himself. An Lushan's intestines came out of his body as he was hacked to death by Li Zhuer and Yan Zhuang. A horse was once crushed to death under An Lushan's sheer weight due to his fatness. On 10 April 759, An Qingxu was killed by General
Shi Siming Shi Siming () (19th day of the 1st month, 703? – 18 April 761), or Shi Sugan (), was a general of the History of China, Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lushan ...
, An Lushan's loyal follower and childhood friend. Soon after, Shi recaptured Luoyang. However, on 18 April 761, Shi Siming was killed by ''his'' son,
Shi Chaoyi Shi Chaoyi (史朝義) (died before 17 February 763Volume 222 of ''Zizhi Tongjian ''Zizhi Tongjian'' () is a pioneering reference work A reference work is a work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Infor ...
, who promptly proclaimed himself emperor, even though he failed to get widespread support from the other Yan generals. By 762, Emperor Suzong had become seriously ill; and the combined forces of the Tang and their Huige allies were led by his eldest son. This son, first named Li Chu, was renamed Li Yu in 758, after being named crown prince. On 18 May 762, on the death of his father, he became
Emperor Daizong of Tang Emperor Daizong of Tang (9 January 727 According to Daizong's biography in the ''Old Book of Tang The ''Old Book of Tang'', or simply the ''Book of Tang'', is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, a ...
. In the period before his final victory over the rebels, he was confronted with several threats; for example, in 758, the port of
Canton Canton may refer to: Administrative division terminology * Canton (administrative division), territorial/administrative division in some countries, notably Switzerland * Township (Canada), known as ''canton'' in Canadian French Arts and entert ...

Canton
was pillaged by sea-borne Arabs and Persians, probably pirates based out of
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
. But, by this time it was clear that the new Yan Dynasty would not last and Yan officers and soldiers began to defect to the Tang side. Then, in the winter of 762, the eastern capital Luoyang was retaken by Tang forces for the second time. Yan Emperor Shi Chaoyi attempted to flee, but was intercepted early in 763. Shi Chaoyi chose suicide over capture, dying on 17 February 763, ending the eight-year-long rebellion. The
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
general Gao Juren of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
descent ordered a mass slaughter of West Asian (Central Asian)
Sogdians :''This Wikipedia:Category, category lists articles related to historical Iranian peoples'' Iranian peoples, Historical History of Iranian peoples, Peoples Historical ethnic groups of Europe, Iranian Historical ethnic groups of Asia, Iranian Histor ...
in
Jicheng (Beijing) Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, ca ...
and lances were used to impale their children when he defeated An Lushan's rebels. The end of the rebellion was a long process of rebuilding and recovery. Due to the Imperial Court's weakened condition, other disturbances flared up. The
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
under Trisong Detsän, taking advantage of the Tang's weakness, had reconquered much of its Central Asian territories, and proceeding to capture Chang'an on 18 November 763 before withdrawing back to the borders of its empire.


Legacy


Death toll

Censuses taken in the half-century before the rebellion show a gradual increase in population, with the last census undertaken before the rebellion, in 755, recording a population of 52,919,309 in 8,914,709 taxpaying households. However, a census taken in 764, the year following the end of the rebellion, recorded only 16,900,000 in 2,900,000 households. Later censuses count only households, but by 855 this figure had risen to only 4,955,151 households, little over half the number recorded in 755. The difference in the census figures amounts to 36 million people, two-thirds of the population of the empire, though scholars have attributed this to factors including a breakdown in taxation and census gathering. The figure of 36 million was used in Steven Pinker's book ''The Better Angels of Our Nature'', where it is presented as proportionally the largest List of wars and disasters by death toll, atrocity in history with the loss of a sixth of the world's population at that time, though Pinker stated that the figure was controversial. Matthew White (historian), Matthew White, from whom Pinker had taken the figure of 36 million, later revised his figure down to 13 million (based on a different calculation from the census results) in his book ''The Great Big Book of Horrible Things''. White's revised figure is repeated by cultural historians such as Johan Norberg. Historians such as Charles Patrick Fitzgerald argue that claims of massive depopulation are incompatible with contemporary accounts of the war, which was fought intermittently over three or four provinces. They point out that the numbers recorded on the postwar registers reflect not only population loss, but also a breakdown of accuracy of the census system as well as the removal from the census figures of various classes of untaxed persons, such as those in religious orders, foreigners and merchants. In addition, several of the northern provinces, with approximately a quarter of the empire's population, were no longer subject to the imperial revenue system. For these reasons, census numbers for the post-rebellion Tang are considered unreliable. The An Lushan Rebellion was one of several wars in northern China along with the Uprising of the Five Barbarians, Huang Chao Rebellion, the wars of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms and Jin–Song Wars which caused a mass migration of Han Chinese from northern China to southern China called 衣冠南渡(yì guān nán dù). These mass migrations led to southern China's population growth, economic, agricultural and cultural development as it stayed peaceful unlike the north.


Weakening of Tang

The rebellion of An Lushan and its aftermath greatly weakened the centralized bureaucracy of the Tang dynasty, especially in regards to its perimeters. Virtually autonomous provinces and ad hoc financial organizations arose, reducing the influence of the regular bureaucracy in
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
. 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 a sort of puppet, set to do the bidding of the Fanzhen, strongest garrison. Furthermore, the Tang government also lost most of its control over the
Western Regions The Western Regions or Xiyu (Hsi-yu; ) was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass Yumen Pass (), or Jade Gate or Pass of the Ja ...
, 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. The old taxation system of Zu Yong Diao no longer functioned after the rebellion. 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, a political and cultural recovery eventually did occur within Tang China several decades after the rebellion, until about 820, the year of the death of Emperor Xianzong of Tang. Much of the rebuilding and recovery occurred in the Jiangnan region in the south, which had escaped the events of the rebellion relatively unscathed and remained more firmly under Tang control. However, due in part to the jiedushi, warlord system, the Tang Empire by 907 devolved into what is known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.


Cultural influence

Sogdia Sogdia () ( Sogdian: soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekis ...
n merchants continued as active traders in China following the defeat of the rebellion, but many of them were compelled to hide their ethnic identity. A prominent case was An Chongzhang, Minister of War and Duke of Liang, who in 756 requested of Emperor Suzong to allow him to change his name to Li Baoyu, due to his shame in sharing An (surname), the same surname with the rebel leader.Howard, Michael C., ''Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies, the Role of Cross Border Trade and Travel'', McFarland & Company, 2012, p. 135. This change of surnames was enacted retroactively for all of his family members, so that his ancestors would also be bestowed the Li (surname), surname Li. The events involved in the An Lushan Rebellion had an immense cultural influence both in China and beyond. Many poets of the time wrote about their lives and emotions, which were deeply impacted by war and rebellion, but few poets wrote outwardly about the rebellion. In fact, only eighteen of around one hundred poems produced between the years of 755 and 763 discussed the rebellion. Although the majority of poems written at the time simply do not mention the rebellion, a few poets attempted to write openly about their experiences living during the rebellion. Some examples of this include: * The great poet Li Bai#Biography, Li Bai (also known as "Li Bo" or "Li Po", who lived about 701–762) avoided the rebels, but at the cost of getting involved on the wrong side of a power struggle between the princes of the royal family. He was convicted of involvement with rebellion and sentenced to exile, although he was later reprieved. His surviving poems reflect the golden days before the An Lushan rebellion, his lengthy and deliberately protracted journey toward exile (and then return as in his poe

"Departing from Baidi in the Morning"), together with his hardships, wandering and disillusionment as the Tang re-consolidated control after the rebellion. He died in 762, before the final defeat of the rebel forces a year later. * Li Bai's colleague Du Fu (712–770) 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. Living until 770, his subsequent poetry is a primary source of information about the massive upheavals of the period. * Wang Changling (698–756?), was another Tang official and renowned poet who died in the rebellion, in about 756. * Wang Wei (Tang dynasty), Wang Wei (approximately 699–759) 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. Dying before the end of the rebellion, somewhere between 759 and 761, Wang Wei lived his last years in retirement at his country home in Lantian, secluded in the hills. *Wei Yingwu (737–792) of ''Three Hundred Tang Poems'' fame is credited with writing the poem "At Chuzhou on the Western Stream", apparently written in response to the seemingly helmless ship of state of the times.Wu, 162 Later poets, such as Bai Juyi (772-846) 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 royal progress to Sichuan). These artistic themes were also a major source of inspiration in Japan, in regards to the ''Tale of Genji'', partially inspired by the story of Yang Guifei.


See also

* An Sishun *
Fanyang Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, ca ...
* Fubing system *
Jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in China which was established in the Tang dynasty, Tang dynasty and abolished in the Yuan dynasty, Yuan dynasty. The post of ''jiedushi'' has been translated as "milit ...
* Three Fanzhen of Hebei


References


Specific citations


Further reading

* Christopher I. Beckwith, Beckwith, Christopher I. (2009): ''Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present''. Princeton: Princeton University Press. . * Bender, Lucas Rambo. "Other Poetry on the An Lushan Rebellion: Notes on Time and Transcendence in Tang Verse." ''Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies'' 79.1 (2019): 1-48
Online
* Davis, A. R. Editor and Introduction,(1970), ''The Penguin Book of Chinese Verse''. (Baltimore: Penguin Books). * Cotterell, Yong Yap and Arthur Cotterell (1975). ''The Early Civilization of China''. New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons * John K. Fairbank, Fairbank, John King (1992), ''China: A New History''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press. * * Edwin G. Pulleyblank, E. G. Pulleyblank, ''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 John Curtis Perry, Perry & Smith, ''Essays on T'ang Society'', Leiden: E. J. Brill (1976). * Kenneth Rexroth, Rexroth, Kenneth (1970). ''Love and the Turning Year, Love and the Turning Year: One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese''. New York: New Directions. * * Denis Twitchett (ed.), ''The Cambridge History of China'', Volume 3, ''Sui and T'ang China'', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1979). . * *Wu, John C. H. (1972). The Four Seasons of Tang Poetry. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E.Tuttle.


External links


Tang (618–907)
Chinese Graphic Arts Net

Chinaknowledge.org *
The An Lushan rebellion
by In Our Time (BBC Radio 4) {{Authority control Wars involving the Tang dynasty 8th century in China Civil wars involving the states and peoples of Asia Rebellions in China Yan (An–Shi) 750s conflicts 760s conflicts 755 763 Emperor Xuanzong of Tang