Emperor Zhaozong of Tang - Reign - Flight To Fengxiang

Flight To Fengxiang

Shortly after Emperor Zhaozong's restoration, Li Maozhen showed an intent of reestablishing his relationship with the emperor by visiting Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Zhaozong. While Li Maozhen was still at Chang'an, Cui Yin made a proposal intending to eliminate the control that the eunuchs had over the Shence Armies — that he and fellow chancellor Lu Yi be put in command of the Shence Armies. This proposal was opposed by Li Jizhao, Li Jihui, and Li Yanbi, however, and as Cui cited, as a rationale, the possibility that the Shence Armies could thus counteract the warlords, Li Maozhen was also suspicious of it. Emperor Zhaozong therefore rejected the proposal, and put the eunuchs Han Quanhui and Zhang Yanhong (張彥弘), both of whom had previously served as eunuch monitors of the Fengxiang army, in command of the Shence Armies, and further wanted the retired eunuch Yan Zunmei (嚴遵美) to serve as the overseer of both Shence Armies, but Yan declined and remained in retirement. Cui, apprehensive of allowing the eunuchs to command the Shence Armies again, requested Li Maozhen to leave a corps of Fengxiang troops at Chang'an to counteract the eunuchs; Li Maozhen agreed, and left his adoptive son Li Jiyun (李繼筠) in command of the Fengxiang soldiers at Chang'an.

Despite this setback, Cui continued to try to plan to slaughter the eunuchs. The eunuchs headed by Han eventually became aware of this, and, in order to reduce Cui's power, they had the Shence Army soldiers claim that Cui was not giving them the proper winter uniforms. Emperor Zhaozong was forced to again remove Cui from his post as the director of salt and iron monopolies. Moreover, by this point they had persuaded Li Jiyun and his Fengxiang soldiers to be on their side. Cui, realizing that the eunuchs were intending to destroy him, became fearful, and wrote Zhu Quanzhong, urging him to bring troops to Chang'an to act against the eunuchs. Zhu agreed, and began mobilizing his army.

Han and the other eunuchs, hearing of Zhu's impending arrival, believed that Zhu's forces were intending to slaughter them. They, with the cooperation of Li Jiyun, Li Jihui, and Li Yanbi (but not Li Jizhao, who refused to align with them), seized Emperor Zhaozong and his household, and took them to Fengxiang's capital Fengxiang Municipality. Cui and the imperial officials largely remained at Chang'an, although some followed the emperor and the eunuchs to Fengxiang. After Zhu arrived at Chang'an to confer with Cui, he advanced to Fengxiang and put it under siege. Li Maozhen sought an alliance with Wang Jian. Wang Jian, however, tried to play both sides — outwardly aligning with Zhu, but secretly encouraging Li Maozhen to resist Zhu, while sending an army to head north to attack Li Maozhen's Shannan West Circuit.

With Fengxiang under siege, Li Maozhen's holdings in the Guanzhong region fell one by one to Zhu, while Shannan West and nearby holdings fell to Wang. Still, Fengxiang's defenses were holding, and by fall 902, Zhu, with his attacks hampered by rains and illnesses to the soldiers, was considering a withdrawal. A trap advocated by and set by Zhu's officer Gao Jichang, however, induced Li Maozhen to send his troops outside the city walls to attack Zhu's troops, where they were crushed by Zhu's troops. From this point on, Li Maozhen could not fight back against Zhu any more, and by winter 902, Fengxiang was in such a desperate shape such that the residents were resorting to cannibalism. In spring 903, Li Maozhen sued for peace with Zhu, surrendering Emperor Zhaozong and the imperial household to him while killing Han and the other leading eunuchs, as well as Li Jiyun, Li Jihui, and Li Yanbi. Zhu took the emperor back to Chang'an, where one of the first actions Zhu and Cui carried out was to slaughter the remaining eunuchs, regardless of whether they supported Han's actions. This would be the effective end of the Shence Armies.

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

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