YANG SU (楊素) (died August 31, 606 ), courtesy name CHUDAO
(處道), formally DUKE JINGWU OF CHU (楚景武公), was a powerful
general of the
* 1 During Northern Zhou * 2 During Emperor Wen\'s reign * 3 During Emperor Yang\'s reign * 4 Notes and references
DURING NORTHERN ZHOU
It is not known when
Yang Su was born. His grandfather Yang Xuan
(楊喧) was a mid-level official under the
Northern Wei or its branch
Western Wei . Yang Su's father Yang Fu (楊敷) served
as a general for Western Wei's successor state
Northern Zhou , but in
571, while defending Dingyang (定陽, in modern
After Yang Fu's death, Yang Su, who was considered highly talented in his youth, repeatedly sought posthumous recognition for his father from Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou . Eventually, Emperor Wu was so pestered that he ordered that Yang Su be killed—perhaps stating the order publicly to scare Yang Su so that he would relent. Instead of begging for forgiveness, however, Yang Su yelled out, "I serve a ruthless emperor, and it is proper for me to die!" Emperor Wu, impressed with Yang Su's fortitude, released him and gave Yang Fu posthumous honors, including the title of Duke of Linzhen. He made Yang Su an official in his administration, and once, when he had Yang Su draft an edict for him and was impressed by both the fast speed that Yang Su wrote the edict and the beauty of the language, he commented, "Just work hard. Honor and wealth will come to you." Yang Su responded, "I am worried that I will be forced to accept honor and wealth, as I have no desire for them." In 575, when Emperor Wu launched a major attack on Northern Qi, he granted Yang Su's request to lead the remains of Yang Fu's old army. While Emperor Wu was soon forced to abandon the campaign, Yang Su was, for his contributions, created the Viscount of Qinghe. When Emperor Wu relaunched the attack on Northern Qi in winter 576, Yang Su served under Emperor Wu's brother and major general Yuwen Xian the Prince of Qi, and during a battle, when Yuwen Xian was ambushed by forces under Northern Qi's emperor Gao Wei , it was Yang Su who fought hard to save Yuwen Xian. Thereafter, he continued to make contributions under Yuwen Xian during the campaign against Northern Qi. After Emperor Wu conquered Northern Qi in 577, he promoted Yang Su's title to Duke of Chen'an. In 578, he served under the general Wang Gui (王軌) in defeating the Chen Dynasty general Wu Mingche , and for this contribution, Emperor Wu created his brother Yang Shen (楊慎) the Marquess of Yi'an. After Emperor Wu's death later in 578 and succession by his son Emperor Xuan , Emperor Xuan conferred the title of Duke of Linzhen, which Emperor Wu had posthumously created Yang Fu, on Yang Su, transferring Yang Su's title of Duke of Cheng'an to his brother Yang Yuē (楊約). Yang Su subsequently served under the general Wei Xiaokuan in capturing the region between the Yangtze River and the Huai River from Chen.
In 580, Emperor Xuan, who had by that point become retired emperor ,
died, and Emperor Xuan's father-in-law Yang Jian seized power as
regent over Emperor Xuan's son Emperor Jing .
Yang Su became close to
Yang Jian, and Yang Jian made him the governor of the important Bian
Province (汴州, roughly modern
Henan ). However, before
Yang Su could report to Bian Province, the general
Yuchi Jiong ,
suspicious of Yang Jian's intentions, rose against him. One of Yuchi's
supporters, Yuwen Zhou (宇文冑) the governor of Ying Province
(滎州, roughly modern
DURING EMPEROR WEN\'S REIGN
In 581, Yang Jian had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, ending
Northern Zhou and establishing
In winter 588, Emperor Wen launched the attack, commissioning his
sons Yang Guang the Prince of Jin and Yang Jun , along with Yang Su,
to command the three main prongs of the attack, with Yang Guang in
overall command of the operations. Yang Su's responsibility was to
take his forces down the Yangtze and attack cities on the river. He
passed through the
Three Gorges and defeated the Chen general Qi Xin
(戚昕). He soon ran into heavy resistance by the Chen general Lü
Zhongsu (呂忠肅) and initially was repelled, but eventually was
able to defeat Lü. With Chen Shubao's cousin Chen Huiji (陳慧紀)
abandoning the region to make one last-ditch attempt to reach the Chen
Jiankang to help defend it against Yang Guang's attack, Yang
Su encountered no further resistance, and soon news that
fallen arrived, and the local provinces all surrendered to him or Yang
Jun, whom he met at Hankou (漢口, in modern
Later in 590, with Chen's former territory up in rebellions due to
the formerly Chen people's unaccustomed to the imposition of Sui laws,
Yang Su was put in command of a large army to attack the various rebel
leaders. He defeated Shen Xuanhui (沈玄懀) and Gao Zhihui
(高智慧), eventually quelling much of the former Chen territory.
Emperor Wen awarded him with many gifts. Based on Yang Su's conduct
during the campaign, the historian
Around the new year 593, Yang Su was made a co-head of the executive bureau (尚書省, Shangshu Sheng) with Gao Jiong , effectively serving as co-prime ministers, replacing Su Wei in that role. It was said that by this point, Yang Su had become very arrogant, and among the officials, he only respected Gao, Niu Hong (牛弘), and Xue Daoheng (薛道衡), looking down at and bullying the rest. It was commented by traditional historians that he was more talented and had more foresight than Gao, but that he was not as fairminded or well-behaved as Gao.
In spring 593, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to oversee the building of his vacation palace, Renshou Palace (仁壽宮, in modern Baoji , Shaanxi ). Yang Su spent much effort building it to be a luxurious palace, needing not much architectural work but landscaping of the nearby hills and valleys. Much human life was lost—numbering in the tens of thousands. The palace was completed in spring 595, and when Emperor Wen inspected it, he, by nature frugal, was initially displeased and stated, " Yang Su expended money and effort to build this palace, and he made the people hate me." Yang Su was fearful of punishment, but when Emperor Wen's wife Empress Dugu arrived, she pointed out to Emperor Wen that Yang Su knew that they had little other pleasures, and therefore built the palace in this manner. She gave Yang Su awards in both money and silk.
In 598, both Empress Dugu and Yang Su's wife Duchess Zheng were ill, and suspicions came on the official Dugu Tuo (獨孤陀) -- who was Empress Dugu's half-brother and whose wife was Yang Su's half-sister. Dugu Tuo was accused of having his servant girl Xu Ani (徐阿尼) employ cat spirits to curse Empress Dugu and Duchess Zheng, and was nearly executed, but at Empress Dugu's urging was spared and only reduced to commoner rank.
In spring 599, Yang Su was one of the major generals commissioned to attack Tujue 's Dulan Khan , Ashina Yongyulü, along with Gao Jiong and Yan Rong (燕榮). He encountered Ashina Yongyulü's subordinate khan, the Datou Khan Ashina Dianjue. Contrary to prior strategies to first protect his army before engaging, he quickly engaged Ashina Dianjue and defeated him, forcing Ashina Dianjue to flee.
Sometime around that time, Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, who generally had a loving relationship, had a major conflict—over an affair by Emperor Wen (who otherwise did not have any concubines , in contrast with nearly every other emperor in Chinese history) with Yuchi Jiong's granddaughter, who had become a servant in the palace. Empress Dugu killed Lady Yuchi, and in anger, Emperor Wen rode away from the palace. Yang Su and Gao had to track him down and persuade him back to the palace. Yang Su and Gao subsequently held a banquet for them to allow them to reconcile.
In winter 599, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su again to attack Ashina Yongyulü, but before his army could depart, Ashina Yongyulü was assassinated and replaced by Ashina Dianjue (as Bujia Khan), and so Yang Su did not launch his army. In 600, when Ashina Dianjue attacked, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su and Shi Wansui (史萬歲), along with his sons Yang Guang and Yang Liang , to resist, and Ashina Dianjue was fought off. (The historians had much to say as to Shi's success during this campaign, but not Yang Su's, suggesting that Yang Su was not involved in major engagements during this campaign.)
By 600, Emperor Wen's crown prince Yang Yong had lost the favor of Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, over his wastefulness (which displeased Emperor Wen) and having many concubines (which displeased Empress Dugu). Yang Guang, whom Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, had for some time plotted to replace Yang Yong, sent his associate Yuwen Shu to persuade Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē that, as Yang Su did not have a good relationship with Yang Yong, that if Emperor Wen died, Yang Su and his brothers would soon be in danger under Yang Yong's rule. Rather, Yuwen suggested, Yang Su should form a pact with Yang Guang and try to have Yang Guang made crown prince. Yang Su agreed, and began to discuss with Empress Dugu in earnest the possibility of replacing Yang Yong with Yang Guang. Empress Dugu was pleased, and requested Yang Su to persuade Emperor Wen as well. By fall 600, Yang Guang had Yang Yong's associate Ji Wei (姬威) falsely accuse Yang Yong of plotting treason. Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to investigate, and Yang Su intentionally misinterpreted evidence and manufactured additional evidence, causing Emperor Wen to believe that Yang Yong was indeed plotting treason. Emperor Wen deposed Yang Yong and created Yang Guang crown prince instead.
In winter 601, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to command an army, in association with Qimin Khan Ashina Rangan (who had surrendered to Sui and whom Emperor Wen had created khan), to attack Ashina Dianjue. In spring 602, Yang Su achieved a great victory, and for his victory, Yang Xuangan's post was upgraded, and another son of Yang Su, Yang Xuanzong (楊玄縱), was created the Duke of Huainan.
By 602, Yang Guang was concerned that his brother, Yang Xiu the
Prince of Shu, who as the commandant at Yi Province (益州, roughly
Also in 602, Empress Dugu died. Yang Su was in charge of the funeral arrangements, and in appreciation, Emperor Wen created yet another son of Yang Su the Duke of Yikang. Upon accusations by the official Liang Pi (梁毗) that Yang Su was becoming overly powerful and abusive, Emperor Wen began to distance himself from Yang Su, although he continued to confer honors on Yang Su. The actual authority over the executive bureau was instead exercised by Su Wei and Emperor Wen's son-in-law Liu Shu (柳述).
In summer 604, while at Renshou Palace, Emperor Wen became ill. Yang Su, Liu, and Yuan Yan (元儼) attended to him. Emperor Wen soon died, and Yang Guang, after ordering Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē to have Yang Yong killed, announced Emperor Wen's death and took the throne as Emperor Yang. (Traditional historians, while admitting a lack of direct evidence, largely believed an account that Emperor Wen's death was a murder ordered by Yang Guang, with Yang Su in cooperation. This account alleged that Yang Guang attempted to rape Emperor Wen's concubine Consort Chen (Chen Shubao's sister), and when Consort Chen reported the attempted rape to Emperor Wen, Emperor Wen tried to have Yang Guang deposed and sent Liu and Yuan to summon Yang Yong. Yang Su put Liu and Yuan under arrest, and then Yang Guang sent his associate Zhang Heng (張衡) to kill Emperor Wen.)
DURING EMPEROR YANG\'S REIGN
Upon hearing Emperor Yang's ascension, Yang Liang, then the
commandant at Bing Province (并州, roughly modern
It was said that although Yang Su had much contributions for him, Emperor Yang actually was very suspicious of Yang Su. When imperial astrologers informed Emperor Yang that the Sui region (central Hubei) would have a major funeral, Emperor Wen created Yang Su the Duke of Chu, technically a greater title—believing that the Chu and Sui regions were close enough that he could use Yang Su to deflect the ill fortune. When Yang Su grew ill in 606, Yang Guang sent the imperial physicians, along with the most precious medicines, to treat Yang Su, but closely monitored Yang Su's conditions, hoping that Yang Su would die. Yang Su himself knew of Emperor Yang's intentions, and therefore refused all treatment and did not take good care of his own body, stating to Yang Yue, "Why should I want to live?" He died in fall 606, and Emperor Yang honored him with a magnificent funeral. After Yang Xuangan rebelled in 613, all of Yang Su's sons were killed. Yang Su's tomb was destroyed, and Yang Su's body was burned by the general Wei Wensheng (衛文昇). But one daughter of his would later become a concubine of Emperor Gaozu of Tang and bear him a son named Li Yuanxiang (李元祥) and titled Prince of Jiang, while his granddaughter through his son Yang Xuanjing would become a concubine of Emperor Taizong of Tang and bear him a son name Li Fu (李福) and titled Prince of Zhao.
It was said that one of Yang Su's favorite dishes was fried rice and that he popularized the dish.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
* ^ 兩千年中西曆轉換 * ^ (in Chinese) 新華網吉林頻道·美食
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