Liu Wenjing - Participation in Li Yuan's Rebellion

Participation in Li Yuan's Rebellion

When the general Li Yuan the Duke of Tang was put in charge of Taiyuan (i.e., Jinyang) in 616, Liu saw that Li Yuan had great ambitions and therefore befriended him, but was even more impressed with Li Yuan's son Li Shimin, privately comparing Li Shimin to Emperor Gao of Han and Cao Cao when talking with Pei. In 617, when Li Mi rose in open rebellion near the eastern capital Luoyang, claiming the title of Duke of Wei, Liu, who was related to Li Mi by marriage, was briefly arrested and jailed on Emperor Yang's orders. When Li Shimin visited him in jail, he pointed out to Li Shimin the disturbed state that Sui was in and encouraged him to consider rebellion. Li Shimin agreed and began to plan for rebellion, but was initially hesitant to inform Li Yuan. As Li Yuan trusted Pei greatly, Liu devised the plot of having his associate Gao Binlian (高斌廉) gamble with Pei and intentionally lose to him, gradually endearing himself to Pei, and then inform him of the plot. Liu also personally persuaded Pei, pointing out to him that Pei, who had earlier permitted Li Yuan to have sexual relations with ladies in waiting at the Jinyang Palace, was violating serious regulations, and that in any case, Emperor Yang was already suspicious of Li Yuan because there had been prophecies that the next emperor would be named Li. Pei agreed, and he persuaded Li Yuan of the wisdom of rebelling. Li Yuan then had Liu forge an edict from Emperor Yang stating that all men in the surrounding commanderies from age 20 to 50 were all to be conscripted for a campaign against Goguryeo -- against which Emperor Yang had earlier launched three largely disastrous campaigns -- to arouse the despair of the people in the commanderies.

As Li Yuan prepared rebellion in spring 617, his deputies Wang Wei (王威) and Gao Junya (高君雅) began to be suspicious of him. Liu devised a plot where he entered the hall where Li Yuan, Wang, and Gao were sitting with his associate Liu Zhenghui (劉政會) and had Liu Zhenghui falsely accuse Wang and Gao of collaborating with Eastern Tujue. Li Yuan, feigning surprise, had Wang and Gao arrested. When Eastern Tujue soon attacked, the people believed the accusation that Wang and Gao were collaborating with Eastern Tujue, and Li Yuan used this excuse to execute them.

Li Yuan declared rebellion in fall 617, and Liu Wenjing suggested that he, who was still ostensibly claiming to be loyal to Sui but wanting to support Emperor Yang's grandson Yang You the Prince of Dai, then at Chang'an, as emperor, should change his banners from the regular Sui banners to distance himself from Emperor Yang, while seeking an alliance with Eastern Tujue for support. Li Yuan agreed, and sent Liu to Eastern Tujue to meet with the Shibi Khan Ashina Duojishi. When Ashina Duojishi asked him what Li Yuan's intention was, Liu responded:

The emperor deposed his proper heir and gave the throne to this current emperor, and this led to the current troubles. The Duke of Tang is an honored relative of the imperial clan, and he did not dare to sit by watching for the state to fail, and therefore he rose in righteousness, wanting to depose the improper emperor. He is willing to enter the capital with the soldiers of you, Great Khan. If you do so, the people and the land will belong to the Duke of Tang, but the money, silk, gold, and treasures will be yours, Great Khan.

Ashina Duojishi was pleased, and while he was not wholeheartedly willing to support Li Yuan, he nevertheless sent his general Kangqiaoli (康鞘利) with 2,000 men to accompany Liu back south, as Li Yuan had already marched south toward Chang'an, and he also gave Li Yuan 1,000 horses. Li Yuan, who wanted Tujue horses more than Tujue soldiers, was pleased and praised Liu for his skills at diplomacy. Subsequently, after Li Yuan decided to bypass Hedong (河東, in modern Yuncheng, Shanxi) and directly cross the Yellow River and attack Chang'an, he sent Liu with his son Li Jiancheng to Tong Pass to defend against an attack from Qutu Tong (屈突通), the Sui general defending Hedong. Qutu did indeed attack to try to prevent Li Yuan's advance, and while Liu initially suffered losses against Qutu's subordinate Sang Xianhe (桑顯和), he was ultimately able to defeat Sang and further capture Qutu. Once Li Yuan captured Chang'an in winter 617 and declared Yang You emperor (as Emperor Gong) but retained power as regent, Liu was created the Duke of Lu.

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