Lai Junchen - Background

Background

It is not known when Lai Junchen was born, but it is known that he was from Wannian County (萬年), one of the two counties making up the Tang Dynasty capital Chang'an. His father was one Lai Cao (來操) -- who was said to have won Lai Junchen's mother, then the wife of his friend Cai Ben (蔡本), after winning in gambling with Cai. Lai Junchen was said to be a thug who did not work, who was investigated for thievery while he was at He Prefecture (和州, roughly modern Chaohu, Anhui) and who then made false accusations against others to the prefect, Li Xu (李續) the Prince of Dongping, a cousin of then-reigning Emperor Ruizong. Li Xu had him caned 100 times and thrown out.

In 689, in the aftermath of rebellions against Emperor Ruizong's mother and regent Empress Dowager Wu (later known as Wu Zetian) by Emperor Ruizong's uncle Li Zhen the Prince of Yue and Li Chong the Prince of Langye, Li Xu, along with many other imperial Li clan members, was executed by Empress Dowager Wu. Lai again made a secret report, this time directly to Empress Dowager Wu, who encouraged such reports from anyone. When she met with him, he claimed that what he was reporting earlier dealt with Li Zhen's and Li Chong's rebellions, and that Li Xu had improperly suppressed them. Empress Dowager Wu believed him and thought he was faithful to her, and therefore made him a secret police official, rising to the rank of deputy imperial censor (御史中丞, Yushi Zhongcheng).

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