Taizong (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: The second rule of the T’ang Dynasty, Taizong brilliantly consolidated his regime through administrative reorganization and centralization, codification of laws, extension of hegemony over domestic enemies and menacing foreign powers, stabilization of commerce, and cultivation of the arts. Throughout East Asia, his regime continues to be regarded as the exemplar of civic order and military might.
Li Shih-min (T’ang T’ai Tsung was his imperial name) was born on January 23, 599, in Wo-hung County, Shensi Province, China, the second son of the first T’ang emperor, Kao Tsu. A member of the influential Tou clan, his mother was equally aristocratic, having been reared in the Northern court of an imperial uncle.
Since his father’s reign did not begin until Li Shih-min was seventeen, he was reared without special preparations. He received an upper-class Confucian education, exposing him to historical and classical learning. Buddhist beliefs, important to his family, were also passed on to him, and he persisted in observance of Buddhist rituals. His northern frontier upbringing centered upon development of the martial arts—pertinent training in view of the political rivalries, rebellions, and warfare that marked Chinese history after the imperial unity of the Han and the Ch’in dynasties shattered.
Traditional accounts of Li Shih-min stress his youthful military...
(The entire section is 2369 words.)
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Li Shimin (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Although Li’s campaigns against Koguryo failed to achieve their objectives, his defeat of the eastern Turks changed the balance of power in North and Central Asia.
Emperor Li Shimin is known mainly for his benevolent rule, although the talented commander is also famous for his military exploits. The most formidable international challenge he had to face on coming to power in 626 was the dominant presence of the eastern Turks on the northern frontier, extending from Central Asia, Mongolia, to Manchuria. In the first year of the Sino-Turkic War (629-630), Li began to attack Xueli, the qaghan (king) of the eastern Turkic khanate south of the Gobi Desert. Li’s generals Li Jing and Li Shiji, commanding an army 100,000 strong, overran Xueli’s camp. Xueli was captured and brought to the Tang capital Changan in 630.
After this historic victory, Li was crowned the “heavenly qaghan” by the leaders of various ethnic groups across Central Asia. By 640, Li had conquered the key outpost of the Western Regions, Gaochang (Turfan), and was on his way to incorporate the area into Tang China. Overcoming dissenting opinions from his chief ministers, an overconfident Li launched three military operations against the northeastern neighbor Koguryo in the Third Sino-Korean War (645-648). All failed after sustaining great losses.
(The entire section is 259 words.)