Meaning of T'AI-TSUNG in English

born 600, China died 649, China Pinyin Taizong (temple name, or miao-hao), personal name (hsing-ming) Li Shih-min Chinese ruler, the second emperor (626649) of the T'ang dynasty (618907) and second son of the dynastic founder, Kao-tsu. Traditional historians portrayed T'ai-tsung as the driving force behind his father's uprising against the doomed Sui dynasty in 617. But powerful evidence shows that his was a minor role. In the initial campaign to take the Sui capital, he and his elder brother, Li Chien-ch'eng, were both T'ang commanders. Li Shih-min distinguished himself as a general and strategist and was largely responsible for the conquest of the eastern capital of Lo-yang and the eastern plain. In 621 the emperor delegated to him control of both military and civil administration in the east, with his headquarters at Lo-yang. There he built up his own regional administration and an entourage of talented officials. While Li Shih-min consolidated his power in Lo-yang, his elder brother was implicated in an attempted coup but was absolved, poached gifted officials from Li Shih-min's administration, and made at least one attempt on his life. In 626 their relations reached a crisis point. Li Shih-min went to the capital to see off a third brother, Li Yan-chi, who was placed in command of an expedition against the Turks; his elder and younger brothers are said to have plotted to murder him. Li Shih-min, with a few followers, seized the Hsan-wu gate (the northern entrance to the emperor's palace), ambushed and killed his brothers, and then peremptorily informed the emperor. Two months later, Kao-tsu abdicated in his favour. born 939, China died 997, China Pinyin Taizong (temple name, or miao-hao), personal name (hsing-ming) Chao Huang, Chao Kuei, or Chao K'uang-i second emperor of the Sung dynasty (9601279) and brother of the first emperor, T'ai-tsu. He completed consolidation of the dynasty. When T'ai-tsu died in 976, the throne was passed to T'ai-tsung, rather than to the first emperor's infant son, presumably against the will of the first emperor. This speculation is reinforced in that, after becoming emperor, T'ai-tsung, formerly a very mild and forbearing man, treated his younger brother and his nephew with such cruelty that they committed suicide. Three years after assuming the throne, T'ai-tsung took over the two remaining independent states in South China, thereby nearly completing the empire's unification. But in foreign affairs he was less successful. When he attempted to regain former North Chinese territory between Peking and the Great Wall, he suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Khitan tribes that had occupied the area and assumed the dynastic name of Liao (9471125). Fighting continued until 1004, when T'ai-tsung's successor agreed to give up claims to that region. In civil administration T'ai-tsung paid particular attention to education, helping to develop the civil-service examination system and to further its use in determining entrance into the bureaucracy. He centralized control more thoroughly than ever before in Chinese history, concentrating great power in the emperor's hands. He followed the T'ang dynasty's prefectural system and divided China into 15 provinces, each of which was under a governor. By the end of T'ai-tsung's reign, Sung rule had become established, and the dynasty had begun its great cultural and economic achievements. Additional reading Works on T'ai-tsung's reign and his place in the T'ang dynasty include C.P. Fitzgerald, Son of Heaven: A Biography of Li Shih-Min, Founder of the Tang Dynasty (1933, reprinted 1971); The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3, Sui and T'ang China, 589906, Part I, ed. by Denis Twitchett (1979); Howard J. Wechsler, Mirror to the Son of Heaven: Wei Cheng at the Court of T'ang T'ai-tsung (1974), and Offerings of Jade and Silk: Ritual and Symbol in the Legitimation of the T'ang Dynasty (1985); and David McMullen, State and Scholars in Tang China (1988).

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