While Southern Liang and Northern Liang had both become Later Qin vassals, they started sporadic but incessant warring with each other after their joint enemy, Later Liang, ceased existence. In 406, Tufa Rutan attacked Northern Liang but after Juqu Mengxun refused to engage him, withdrew, and he made a tribute of 3,000 horses and 30,000 horses to Yao Xing, greatly touching Yao Xing and making him believing in Tufa Rutan's loyalty, and so he commissioned Tufa Rutan with governorship of Liang Province (涼州, at that time only Guzang and its surroundings), giving him Guzang. Later that year, Tufa Rutan moved his capital from Ledu to Guzang. He also entered into an alliance with Western Liáng's duke Li Gao, aimed against Northern Liang.
While Tufa Rutan was nominally a Later Qin vassal, he did not actually wish to serve Yao Xing long, and in 407 he proposed to Qifu Chipan (who had then temporarily taken over his father Qifu Gangui's troops, since Qifu Gangui was detained at the Later Qin capital Chang'an) an alliance, but Qifu Chipan executed his messengers and delivered their heads to Yao Xing. Still, at this time, Southern Liang's power was at its apex.
At this time, though, a major defeat would cause Southern Liang's strength to begin to wane. In winter 407, the Later Qin rebel Liu Bobo, who had earlier that year broken from Later Qin and established Xia, requested to marry Tufa Rutan's daughter. Tufa Rutan refused, and in anger Liu Bobo launched a punitive raid against Southern Liang but then retreated. Tufa Rutan gave chase and, believing that he greatly outpowered Liu Bobo, was careless in his military actions. Liu Bobo led him into a canyon and then blocked the exit with ice and wagons, and then ambushed him—and the defeat was such that it was said that 60% to 70% of Southern Liang's famed officials and generals died in the battle. Tufa Rutan barely escaped capture. In fear, Tufa Rutan ordered that all of the people within 150 kilometers of Guzang be moved into the capital, which immediately led to mass panic and a rebellion by the Xiongnu chief Cheng Qi'er (成七兒). While Cheng's rebellion was defeated, Tufa Rutan's domain had been greatly wounded.
In light of Tufa Rutan's defeat, Yao Xing plotted his destruction, despite the advice of Wei Zong (韋宗), an official of his who had personal knowledge of Tufa Rutan's ability, against such action. In 408, he commissioned his son Yao Bi (姚弼) the Duke of Guangping to lead a large force with generals Lian Cheng (斂成) and Qifu Gangui to make a surprise attack on Southern Liang—tricking Tufa Rutan into initially not resisting by informing him that the army was intended to be part of a pincer movement against Xia. Only when the Later Qin forces reached Guzang's vicinity did Tufa Rutan realize what the purpose of the campaign was, and he defended the city against Yao Bi. When a rebellion inside the city itself, led by Wang Zhong (王鍾), threatened to cause the city to fall, Tufa Rutan buried some 5,000 people alive, and he then defeated Yao Bi. When Yao Xing sent Yao Xian (姚顯) the Duke of Changshan to aid Yao Bi, Tufa Rutan defeated him as well, and Yao Xian, in fear, blamed Lian for the entire campaign and apologized to Tufa Rutan, and then withdrew with Yao Bi. Tufa Rutan also sent a messenger to Chang'an to request forgiveness.
In winter 408, Tufa Rutan again declared independence, and claimed the title of Prince of Liang, in light of Later Qin's defeats at his own hands and at the hands of Liu Bobo. He created his wife Lady Zhejue princess, and his son Tufa Hutai (禿髮虎台) crown prince.
Read more about this topic: Tufa Rutan
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