Emperor Gaozong of Tang - Reign - Longshuo and Linde Eras (661–666)

Longshuo and Linde Eras (661–666)

Meanwhile, just after Su Dingfang left Baekje territory to attack Goguryeo, the Buddhist monk Dochim (道琛) and the former Baekje general Buyeo Boksin rose to try to revive Baekje. They welcomed the Baekje prince Buyeo Pung back from Japan to serve as king, with Juryu (주류, 周留, in modern Seocheon County, South Chungcheong) as their headquarters. They put the Tang general Liu Renyuan (劉仁願) under siege in Sabi. Emperor Gaozong sent the general Liu Rengui, who had previously been demoted to commoner rank for offending Li Yifu, with a relief force, and Liu Rengui and Liu Renyuan were able to fight off the Baekje resistance forces' attacks, but were themselves not strong enough to quell the rebellion, and so for some time the armies were in stalemate.

Meanwhile, Su advanced on the Goguryeo capital Pyongyang and put it under siege, but was unable to capture it quickly. In spring 662, after the general Pang Xiaotai (龐孝泰) was defeated by Goguryeo forces at Sasu River (蛇水, probably Botong River) and was killed along with his 13 sons, Su ran into harsh snowstorms and withdrew.

Around the same time, after the death of the Huige chief Yaoluoge Porun (藥羅葛婆閏), who had been obedient to Tang, Yaoluoge Porun's nephew Yaoluoge Bisudu (藥羅葛比粟毒) rose in rebellion with the Tongluo (同羅) and Pugu (僕固) tribes in conjunction with other Tiele Confederation tribes. Emperor Gaozong sent the general Zheng Rentai (鄭仁泰) to attack the Tiele, but while Zheng was initially victorious, his officers became bogged down in pillaging and eventually suffered great losses after being caught in poor weather. Emperor Gaozong instead sent Qibi, who was ethnically Tiele, assisted by Jiang Ke, to Tiele to try to persuade them to surrender. Qibi was able to do so, and rebel leaders were arrested and turned over to Tang. Qibi executed them and ended the rebellion.

Meanwhile, for reasons unknown, also in 662 Emperor Gaozong sent the general Su Haizheng (蘇海政) to attack Qiuzi and ordered Ashina Mishe and Ashina Buzhen to assist him. Ashina Buzhen, who had a rivalry with Ashina Mishe, falsely informed Su that Ashina Mishe was set to rebel and would attack the Tang army, and Su responded by ambushing Ashina Mishe, killing him and his chief assistants. The Western Tujue tribes, angry over Ashina Mishe's death, largely turned away from Tang and submitted to Tufan instead, and when Ashina Buzhen died later that year, Tang influence in the region was greatly reduced.

During these years, Li Yifu had been, due to favors from Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu, exceedingly powerful, and he grew particularly corrupt. In 663, after reports of Li Yifu's corruption were made to Emperor Gaozong, Emperor Gaozong had Liu Xiangdao and Li Ji investigate, finding Li Yifu guilty. Li Yifu was removed from his post and exiled, and would never return to Chang'an.

During the years, Empress Wu had repeatedly, in her dreams, seen Empress Wang and Consort Xiao, in the states they were after their terrible deaths, and she came to believe that their spirits were after her. For that reason, Emperor Gaozong started remodeling a secondary palace, Daming Palace (大明宮), into Penglai Palace (蓬萊宮), and when Penglai Palace's main hall, Hanyuan Hall (含元殿), was completed in 663, Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu moved to the newly remodeled palace (which was itself later renamed to Hanyuan Palace). (However, Empress Wang and Consort Xiao continued to appear in her dreams even after this, and therefore, late in Emperor Gaozong's reign, he and Empress Wu were often at the eastern capital Luoyang, not at Chang'an.)

Also in 663, Tufan attacked the Tang vassal Tuyuhun. Tuyuhun's Ledou Khan Murong Nuohebo, unable to withstand the Tufan attack, took his people and fled into Tang territory to seek protection, thus ending Tuyuhun's existence as a state.

Meanwhile, also in 663, Liu Rengui and Liu Renyuan, in conjunction with Silla's King Munmu and the former Baekje crown prince Buyeo Yung, defeated Buyeo Pung and Japanese forces sent to assist him, at the Battle of Baekgang. Buyeo Pung fled to Goguryeo, ending the Baekje resistance movement. Emperor Gaozong recalled Liu Renyuan, leading Liu Rengui in charge of former Baekje territory, but in 664 sent Liu Renyuan back to Baekje and tried to recall Liu Rengui. Liu Rengui petitioned to remain to prepare for another attack on Goguryeo, and Emperor Gaozong agreed to let him remain.

By 664, Empress Wu, who felt that her power was well established, was extending her influence further in the political arena, and when the eunuch Wang Fusheng (王伏勝) reported to Emperor Gaozong that she had engaged the sorcerer Guo Xingzhen (郭行真) – an act that was strictly forbidden—Emperor Gaozong, in anger, summoned the chancellor Shangguan Yi to consult Shangguan. Shangguan suggested that he depose Empress Wu. He agreed, and had Shangguan draft an edict to that effect. However, Empress Wu had received information that that was happening, and she emerged to defend herself. Emperor Gaozong could not carry out the removal, and instead blamed Shangguan. As both Shangguan and Wang had previously served the former crown prince Li Zhong, Empress Wu had Xu Jingzong falsely accuse Shangguan, Wang, and Li Zhong of conspiring against Emperor Gaozong's life. Around the new year 665, Shangguan and Wang were executed, and Li Zhong was forced to commit suicide. From this point on, whenever Emperor Gaozong presided over imperial meetings, Empress Wu would sit behind a pearl screen behind him to hear the reports as well, and political power largely fell into her hands. She and Emperor Gaozong were thereafter referred to as the "Two Saints."

In 665, Emperor Gaozong went to Luoyang and began preparation in earnest to make sacrifices to heaven and earth at Mount Tai – a traditional ceremony for emperors that were rarely carried out in history due to the large expenses associated with them. At Empress Wu's request—as she reasoned that the sacrifice to earth also included sacrifices to past empresses (Emperor Gaozong's mother Empress Zhangsun and grandmother Duchess Dou, posthumously honored as an empress), she believed that it would be more appropriate to have females offer the sacrifices rather than male officials, as had been tradition in the past. Emperor Gaozong decreed that the male ministers would offer sacrifices first, but Empress Wu would next offer sacrifices, followed by Princess Dowager Yan, the mother of Emperor Gaozong's younger brother Li Zhen the Prince of Yue. In winter 665, Emperor Gaozong departed Luoyang and headed for Mount Tai. On the lunar new year (10 February 666), he initiated the sacrifices to heaven, which were not completed until the next day. On 12 February, sacrifices were made to earth. He gave general promotions to the imperial officials, and it was said that starting from this time, promotions of imperial officials, which were strict and slow during the reigns of Emperors Gaozu and Taizong, began to become more relaxed and often excessive. He also declared a general pardon, except for long-term exiles.

Read more about this topic:  Emperor Gaozong Of Tang, Reign

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