An Qingxu - As Emperor

As Emperor

It was said that An Qingxu was weak in personality and did not speak well. As a result, Yan Zhuang advised him not to meet officials frequently, and he entrusted most of affairs of state to Yan and created Yan the Prince of Fengyi. He tried to ingratiate his generals by promoting their positions. Meanwhile, with the major general Shi Siming sieging the Tang general Li Guangbi at Taiyuan, An Qingxu ordered Shi to return to his base of Fanyang and leave the general Cai Xide (蔡希德) at Taiyuan to watch Li Guangbi's actions. He also sent the general Yin Ziqi (尹子奇) to attack the city of Suiyang, then under the defense by the Tang generals Zhang Xun and Xu Yuan (許遠), intending to first capture Suiyang and then send Yin south to capture Tang territory south of the Huai River. (Yin, however, was locked into a siege of Suiyang that would last until winter 757, stopping any possibility of Yan advance south.) To show favor to Shi, he created Shi the Prince of Guichuan and made him the military governor (jiedushi) of Fanyang Circuit; instead, Shi, hoarding the supplies that An Lushan had previously shipped to Fanyang, began to disobey An Qingxu's orders, and An Qingxu could not keep him in check. When the Tang general Guo Ziyi attacked Tong Pass, intending to recapture Chang'an, however, An was able to send forces to repel Guo's attack.

However, the Tang prince Li Chu the Prince of Guangping (the son of Li Heng, who by this point had taken imperial title as Emperor Suzong), with aid from Huige, was able to recapture Chang'an in summer 757. Tang forces under Li Chu and Huige forces then advanced east, toward Luoyang. In winter 757, An put together his forces and sent them, under Yan Zhuang's command, to defend Shan Commandery (陝郡, roughly modern Sanmenxia, Henan). When Yan forces engaged Tang forces, however, they saw that Huige forces were on Tang's side, and, in fear, they collapsed. Yan Zhuang and Zhang Tongru (張通儒) fled back to Luoyang to inform An, and An, after executing some 30 Tang generals who had been captured, abandoned Luoyang and fled north, to Yecheng, which he converted to Ancheng Municipality.

At the time that An arrived at Yecheng, he had only 1,000 infantry soldiers and 300 cavalry soldiers. Soon, however, Yan generals Ashina Chengqing (阿史那承慶), Cai Xide, Tian Chengsi, and Wu Lingxun (武令珣), who had been attacking other Tang cities, headed to Yecheng and coalesced there, allowing An to have over 60,000 soldiers under his disposal and thus regaining some measure of strength. Meanwhile, apprehensive of Shi, he sent Ashina and An Shouzhong (安守忠) to Fanyang to order Shi to contribute troops, but was intending to have Ashina and An Shouzhong to take over Shi's command if possible. Instead, Shi arrested Ashina and An Shouzhong and submitted to Tang. Many other cities previously under Yan control also submitted to Tang, and An Qingxu's territory shrank to just Yecheng and the surrounding area. It was said that An Qingxu became cruel and paranoid in light of the military losses, and that if generals submitted to Tang, he would slaughter their families if they were Han and their tribes if they were non-Han. Meanwhile, believing accusations that Zhang made against Cai, he killed Cai, which further led to dissension among his soldiers, particularly since he then put Cui Qianyou (崔乾祐) in command of his army, and the soldiers resented Cui for his harshness.

By winter 758, the Tang generals Guo Ziyi, Lu Jiong (魯炅), Li Huan (李奐), Xu Shuji (許叔冀), Li Siye, Ji Guangchen (季廣琛), Cui Guangyuan (崔光遠), Dong Qin (董秦), Li Guangbi, and Wang Sili (王思禮), were gathering at Yecheng and putting it under siege. An Qingxu tried to fight out of the siege, but was defeated by Tang forces, and his brother An Qinghe (安慶和) was killed. Meanwhile, with Shi recently having again rebelled against Tang, An sent the general Xue Song to Fanyang to seek aid from Shi, offering the throne to him. Shi thus advanced south toward Yecheng. Meanwhile, Tang forces, under the command of nine generals (with Li Siye having died during the siege), were uncoordinated. On April 7 759, Shi engaged Tang forces—and, when a storm suddenly arrived, both armies panicked; Shi's forces fled north, and Tang forces fled south, lifting the siege on Yecheng. An Qingxu's forces gathered the food and supplies abandoned by Tang forces, and An thereafter considered, with Sun Xiaozhe (孫孝哲) and Cui the possibility of refusing Shi, who gathered his troops and again approached Yecheng, admittance. Shi himself was not communicating with An, but was feasting his soldiers and watching Yecheng. Zhang and Gao Shang (高尚) requested permission to meet Shi, and An agreed; Shi gave them gifts and let them return to Yecheng. An, unsure what to do, again offered the throne to Shi, which Shi declined. Shi, instead, suggested to him that perhaps they could both be emperors of independent, allied states. An, pleased, exited Yecheng and met with Shi to swear to the alliance.

When An met Shi, he kneeled down to thank Shi for his help, stating:

I did not have the abilities to uphold the empire; I lost the two capitals and was put under siege. I did not know that Your Royal Highness would, on account of the Taishang Huang, arrive from far to save me from death. I have no way to repay your kindness.

Shi suddenly changed his expression and rebuked An:

Losing the two capitals is nothing worthy to be mentioned. You were a son, and you killed your father and usurped his throne. Heaven, earth, and the gods cannot tolerate you. I am attacking the bandits on behalf of the Taishang Huang, and I will not listen to your flattery.

Shi then executed An Qingxu, his four brothers, Gao, Sun, and Cui. He took over An's territory and troops and soon claimed for himself the title of emperor of Yan.

Read more about this topic:  An Qingxu

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