Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wang Shichong

Wang Shichong , courtesy name Xingman , was a general of the dynasty Sui Dynasty who deposed Sui's last emperor Yang Tong and briefly ruled as the emperor of a succeeding state of Zheng. He first became prominent during the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui as one of the few Sui generals having success against rebel generals, and during Yang Tong's brief reign, he was able to defeat the rebel general Li Mi and seize Li Mi's territory. After becoming emperor, however, he was unable to withstand military pressure from Tang Dynasty forces, forcing him to seek aid from Dou Jiande the Prince of Xia. After Dou was defeated and captured by the Tang general , Wang surrendered. Emperor Gaozu of Tang spared him, but the Tang official Dugu Xiude , whose father Dugu Ji had been executed by Wang, assassinated him.

Early career

Wang Shichong's ancestors were surnamed Zhi , originally from the Xiyu region and were not . After his grandfather Zhi Tuinou died early, his grandmother married a man named Wang, who also adopted his father Zhi Shou , who thereafter changed his name to Wang. Wang Shou later served as a secretary to the governor of Bian Province .

Wang Shichong himself was said to be studious in his youth, particularly concentrating on military strategies. He was also well-acquainted with laws. He apparently had contributions as a soldier and was gradually promoted. It was said that he was skillful in his application of laws and use of language, such that even when he made suggestions that did not appear to make sense logically, people were unable to refute him.

By 610, after Zhang Heng , the supervising official of 's palace at Jiangdu , fell from Emperor Yang's grace, Wang replaced him. As Emperor Yang frequently visited Jiangdu, Wang was said to be skillful at flattering the emperor as well as decorating the palace in an extravagant manner, bringing favor from the emperor. It was further said that Wang understood that Sui was soon to be in disturbance, and therefore carefully cultivated relationships with brave men. Whenever people were imprisoned, he would often find ways to free them, to gain their gratitude.

In 613, when the general Yang Xuangan rebelled near the eastern capital Luoyang, agrarian rebels south of the Yangtze River rose as well, with Liu Yuanjin as their leader. Emperor Yang initially sent the generals Tuwan Xu and Yu Juluo against Liu, but Tuwan and Yu were not able to defeat Liu conclusively. Emperor Yang executed Yu, and Tuwan died in fear. Emperor Yang instead sent Wang, and Wang defeated Liu, killing him. Wang initially promised not to kill Liu's soldiers, and they surrendered, but he slaughtered them after they surrendered. However, Emperor Yang, believing that Wang was a capable general, bestowed even greater favor on him.

In 614, the major rebel leader Meng Rang advanced south from his home commandery, Qi Commandery , advancing to Xuyi . Wang led his army against Meng and built five fences to block Meng's path, while feigning weakness. Meng, believing Wang to be an incompetent civilian, spread his forces, not only to attack Wang, but also to pillage the area. Wang, catching Meng by surprise, struck back, defeating Meng and forcing him to flee.

In 615, Emperor Yang was at Yanmen when Tujue's Shibi Khan, Ashina Duojishi, launched a surprise attack and put Yanmen under siege. Wang launched his army from Jiangdu toward Yanmen, despite the long distance, and during the journey, he often wept and was disheveled, stating his fear for the emperor's safety. After Yanmen's siege was lifted, Emperor Yang, hearing this, further believed in Wang's loyalty. In 616, Wang was promoted to the position of acting governor of Jiangdu. After the general defeated and killed the rebel general Ge Qian , Wang crushed the remainder of Ge's forces, and also those of Lu Mingyue . Emperor Yang was impressed with his success, and personally awarded him wine.

Struggle against Li Mi

In fall 617, with Luoyang under the threat of the rebel leader Li Mi the Duke of Wei, who had captured the large food storages that Emperor Yang had built near Luoyang and begun to starve the Sui defense forces at Luoyang, Emperor Yang, then at Jiangdu, sent Wang Shichong, along with several other generals, Wang Long , Wei Ji , and Wang Bian , from various locations of the empire, to aid Luoyang. They were under the command of Xue Shixiong , who was ordered to take his forces from Zhuo Commandery to Luoyang was well. However, Xue was intercepted and defeated by Dou Jiande and forced to return to Zhuo Commandery, and died there, leaving the other generals without a central commander. When Wang Shichong, Wang Bian, and Wei arrived at Luoyang, they stalemated with Li across the Luo River, and Emperor Yang put the Sui forces under Wang Shichong's command. For the next several months, he battled with Li, and while each had victories, the results were generally indecisive, although Wang's forces took the brunt of the losses. Meanwhile, he had hoped that Li and his key general Zhai Rang would eventually have a fallout and that he could use the fallout to his advantage, but in winter 617 Li assassinated Zhai without Wang's being able to take advantage.

In spring 618, after his forces were reinforced by 70,000 men sent by Emperor Yang's grandson Yang Tong the Prince of Yue, who was nominally in command at Luoyang, Wang launched a major attack on Li, but was defeated by Li, allowing Li to then crush the other Sui forces as well. In light of the victory, a number of Sui generals and rebel generals all submitted to Li, requesting Li to take imperial title, but Li declined. Wang retreated to Luoyang, and for a while did not dare to engage Li again.

Later in spring 618, Emperor Yang was killed at Jiangdu in a coup led by the general Yuwen Huaji. When the news reached Luoyang, the Sui officials at Luoyang, including Wang, declared Yang Tong emperor. Wang was made one of the heads of the examination bureau and created the Duke of Zheng. He and six other officials, Duan Da , Yuan Wendu , Huangfu Wuyi , Lu Chu , Guo Wenyi , and Zhao Changwen , formed a collective leadership and were known as the "seven nobles."

With Yuwen leading the elite Xiaoguo Army back north toward Luoyang, both the Sui officials at Luoyang and Li were apprehensive of Yuwen's plans. In summer, after Yuan and Lu advocated the plan, Yang Tong entered into a peace agreement with Li, where Li accepted Sui titles and nominally submitted to Yang Tong. Li was subsequently able to repel Yuwen's attacks, and when the news reached Luoyang, the officials were largely pleased -- but Wang was not, stating, "Why are they giving offices and titles to a bandit?" This drew suspicions from Yuan and Lu that Wang was intending to surrender the city to Yuwen. The "seven nobles" thereafter became to suspect each other.

Wang began to incite his troops by telling them that they would soon fall into Li's trap, and that if Li received the command over them , he would surely slaughter them for having resisted him. When Yuan received news that Wang was doing this, he planned to ambush Wang. However, Duan revealed the plot to Wang, and Wang started a coup himself first, killing Lu and surrounding the palace. Huangfu fled to Chang'an, the capital of Emperor Gaozu of Tang , a former Sui general who had first nominally supported Emperor Yang's grandson as emperor, but who had taken the throne himself earlier in 618 to establish Tang Dynasty. At Wang's insistence, Yang Tong surrendered Yuan, who remarked to Yang Tong, "If I die in the morning, Your Imperial Majesty will die in the evening." Yang Tong wept, but still sent Yuan to Wang, who executed Yuan. Wang then met Yang Tong and pledged his loyalty, swearing that all he intended was to save himself and save the empire. Yang Tong took Wang inside the palace to meet Yang Tong's mother , and Wang swore before her as well. Nevertheless, from this point, all power was in Wang's hands, and Yang Tong himself was powerless. Guo and Zhao were also seized and executed. However, initially Wang continued to be outwardly respectful to the young emperor, while he flattered Empress Dowager Liu by offering to be her adopted son and honoring her with the title of "Empress Dowager Shenggan" .

As Sui regent

Upon hearing of Yuan Wendu's and Lu Chu's deaths, Li Mi broke off of peaceful relations with Yang Tong's regime. However, Li had a low opinion of Wang Shichong, and therefore took few precautions against an attack from Wang. At that time, Li's army lacked clothes, while Wang's army lacked food. Again his initial judgment, Li was persuaded by his secretary Bing Yuanzhen , who could benefit from the transactions, to trade food to Wang for clothes. As a result, the people of Luoyang stopped surrendering to Li, and while Li then stopped the transactions, the damage was done. Meanwhile, Li's army was worn out and heavily damaged by wars with Yuwen Huaji's Xiaoguo Army as well. While he had earlier received the submission of Wang's family members -- including Wang's brother Wang Shiwei and sons Wang Xuanying , Wang Xuanshu , and Wang Xuanqiong -- he did not take particular use of them, but only detained them at the city of Yanshi with hopes to use them in the future to get Wang Shichong to surrender.

Wang took this opportunity to launch a major attack on Li in fall 618. He first defeated Li himself and, finding someone whose appearance was similar to Li, used him to declare that Li had been captured, further raising his army's morale. He then attacked and captured Yanshi, not only taking his family members but also the family members of many of Li's generals. He then made another assault on Li -- which Li reacted slowly to and could not counter. Bing and Dan Xiongxin surrendered to Wang. Li, after initially considering fleeing to join forces with his general -- a friend of Zhai Rang's, ultimately decided to flee west instead to Tang territory to submit to Emperor Gaozu of Tang. After Li left the region, most of Li's territory surrendered to Yang Tong's regime, as did the major rebel general Zhu Can. The major rebel leader Dou Jiande, who had claimed the title of Prince of Xia, also nominally submitted to Yang Tong.

Wang was given the honorific office of ''Taiwei'' , and he began to gather officials with good reputations onto his staff. Wang encouraged people to offer suggestions, putting three wooden signs before his headquarters, requesting for three types of people to volunteer or to provide suggestions:

# Those who were knowledgeable, who could be responsible for major projects;
# Those who had bravery or tactics, who could be successful on the battlefield;
# Those who suffered from wrong, who needed someone to listen to their petitions.

However, it was said that Wang, although he welcomed these suggestions and petitions, actuallly did not act on them, and that while he used kind words to comfort even the lowest of soldiers, he did little in actions to benefit them. In spring 619, Wang's subordinates Dugu Wudu , Dugu Wudu's cousin Dugu Ji, Yang Gongshen , Sun Shixiao , Liu Xiaoyuan , Li Jian , and Cui Xiaoren plotted to surrender Luoyang to Tang troops, but were discovered, and they were all executed.

Meanwhile, during a feast in Yang Tong's palace, Wang suffered from a severe case of food poisoning, and he believed that he was poisoned, and thereafter refused to see Yang Tong again. When Yang Tong, fearing his fate, tried to receive divine blessing by having the palace treasures given to the poor, Wang put soldiers around the palace to stop it. In late spring 619, Wang had Yang Tong create him the Prince of Zheng and grant him the nine bestowments -- both ultimate steps before taking the throne. He also had his subordinates openly discuss in public how it would be proper for him to take the throne. In summer 619, he had Duan Da and Yun Dingxing enter the palace to persuade Yang Tong to yield the throne to him, and further sent messengers to Yang Tong to say:

:''Now the empire is not peaceful and needs an older emperor to rule over it. When it is pacified, I will return the throne to you, as I had sworn before.''

He then had an edict issued in Yang Tong's name, yielding the throne to him, ending Sui and establishing a new state of Zheng.


Wang Shichong created his son Wang Xuanying crown prince and Wang Xuanshu the Prince of Han. He created 19 other relatives of his princes, and Yang Tong the former emperor the Duke of Lu. He did not have a fixed office; rather, he worked at several offices in the city, and he was in the habit of receiving personal submissions from the people to show that he was open to suggestions, but the idea backfired as too many people submitted petitions, making him unable to read them all. It was also said that he was overly talkative at imperial meetings, causing them to drag on overly long. Meanwhile, in light of his taking the throne, a number of commanderies that had submitted to Yang Tong submitted to either Tang or Xia, and Dou Jiande formally broke with Wang and took imperial style, albeit not imperial title. Further, after Wang attacked Liyang , which Xia had seized from Tang, in winter 619, and Dou retaliated by attacking Yin Prefecture , the states became enemies.

A month later, Pei Renji and his son Pei Xingyan , as well as the officials Yuwen Rutong , Yuwen Wen , and Cui Deben plotted to kill Wang and restore Yang Tong. The news leaked, and the conspirators were slaughtered, along with their families. Wang Shichong's brother Wang Shiyun the Prince of Qi persuaded Wang Shichong that in order to avoid a repeat of the plot, he needed to put Yang Tong to death. Wang Shichong agreed, and he sent his nephew Wang Renze the Prince of Tang and his servant Liang Bainian to force Yang Tong to drink poison. Yang Tong made one last plea, pointing out that Wang Shichong had previously promised to keep him alive. Liang considered requesting confirmation from Wang Shichong, but Wang Shiyun refused. Yang Tong set sacrifices for the Buddha and prayed, "May it be that I will no longer again be reborn into an imperial household." He drank poison, but initially did not die. Wang Shiyun ordered that he be strangled.

Meanwhile, Zheng and Tang had continuous battles near Luoyang and also to the west and south, with the sides trading victories. In fall 620, Tang's Emperor Gaozu commissioned his son the Prince of Qin with an army to attack Luoyang, and Wang Shichong prepared his own forces to defend and counter. Wang sought to enter into a peace agreement with Li Shimin, but Li Shimin declined, and he captured Zheng cities one by one, either by attacking them or by accepting their surrender. By winter 620, Zheng was in a desperate situation, and Wang Shichong sent messengers to Dou, seeking help from Xia forces. Dou, believing that if Tang destroyed Zheng, his own Xia state would be cornered, agreed, and sought to diplomaticallly convince Li Shimin to withdraw, but Li Shimin again refused. Meanwhile, in spring 621, Li Shimin put Luoyang under siege. Wang's forces had strong catapults and crossbows, inflicting much casualties on Tang forces, and many Tang generals wished to withdraw. Li Shimin, however, believed that Luoyang would fall soon and therefore refused. Upon hearing that Dou was approaching, he decided to advance east to take up defensive position at the key Hulao Pass in advance of Dou's arrival, leaving a relatively small Tang army, under the command of his brother Li Yuanji the Prince of Qi, at Luoyang. Wang, seeing Li Shimin's troop movement but unsure what the situation was, did not attack Li Shimin's rear .

Meanwhile, Dou, against the advice of his strategist Ling Jing and his wife , advanced to Hulao in summer 621. Li Shimin initially refused to engage him, wearing his troops out, and then counterattacked, defeating and capturing him. Li Shimin took the captured Dou and Wang's emissaries Wang Wan the Prince of Dai and Zhangsun Anshi to Luoyang to display them to Wang Shichong. Wang Shichong, after a conversation with Dou, broke down in tears. He considered fighting his way out of the siege and fleeing to Xiangyang , defended by his nephew Wang Honglie the Prince of Wei. His generals pointed out that he was dependent on Xia help, and now that Dou had been captured, there was nothing further to be done. Wang therefore exited the city and surrendered to Li Shimin. Li Shimin executed a number of his high level officials, but spared Wang himself, his family, and the rest of the officials.


Li Shimin took Wang Shichong and Dou Jiande back to the Tang capital Chang'an to present them to his father Emperor Gaozu. When Emperor Gaozu met Wang and rebuked him, Wang stated, "I should be beheaded, but the Prince of Qin had agreed to spare me." In fall 621, Emperor Gaozu spared him but demoted him to commoner rank, exiling him and his clan to modern Sichuan, while executing Dou.

Meanwhile, Wang and his family members were awaiting exile, and were detained at the barracks of the capital prefecture, Yong Prefecture . Dugu Xiude, the son of Dugu Ji, took the opportunity to enter the barracks, claiming that Emperor Gaozu wished to see Wang Shichong. Wang Shichong and his brother Wang Shiyun came out to greet Dugu, and Dugu executed them to avenge his father. Emperor Gaozu only punished Dugu by removing him from his post as the prefect of Ding Prefecture . The other members of the Wang clan were exiled, but on their way plotted rebellion, and were all executed.

Of all of the contenders to rule the empire during Sui's disintegration, Wang was one of the most reviled by traditional historians. The historian Liu Xu, the lead editor of the ''Book of Tang'', commented:

:''Wang Shichong was a wicked man who happened to encounter an incompetent ruler. He flattered the emperor and did what others could not have done in exchange for wealth and honor. To his subordinates, he used wrongful rhetoric to hide his own faults and suppress dissent. He finally usurped the throne, carried out improper acts, and killed many cruelly. He used false expressions of empathy to control his officials. His subordinates were almost all rebels or desperate men. He finally surrendered to the Prince of Qin and was quite fortunate that he was not publicly beheaded.''

Era name

* ''Kaiming'' 619-621

Personal information

* Father
** Wang Shou , né Zhi Shou , Sui Dynasty official
* Children
** Wang Xuanying , the Crown Prince
** Wang Xuanshu , the Prince of Han
** Wang Xuanqiong

Yang Gongren

Yang Gongren , formal name Yang Guan but went by the courtesy name of Gongren, formally Duke Xiao of Guan , was an official and general during the dynasties Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, at one point serving as a during Tang.


It is not known when Yang Gongren was born. He was the oldest son of Yang Xiong , a distant nephew of Sui Dynasty's founder , who was considered one of the four most powerful officials at one point early in Sui, with Gao Jiong, Yu Qingze , and Su Wei and who was created an imperial prince with various titles, eventually the title of Prince of Guan.

During Sui Dynasty

Late in the reign of Emperor Wen , Yang Gongren became the governor of Gan Province . It was said that he had a good grasp on general governance and intentionally refused to dwell on details, and that in doing so comforted the non- residents of the province. It was said that Emperor Wen told his father Yang Xiong, "Gongren governs the province well. It is not only that I selected the right person, but because you have taught him in the ways of righteousness."

Early in the reign of Emperor Wen's son , Yang Gongren was the assistant minister of civil service matters. When the general Yang Xuangan rebelled in 613, Yang Gongren was one of the generals Emperor Yang sent against Yang Xuangan, and he participated in destroying Yang Xuangan. He received great praise from both Emperor Yang and Su Wei.

However, it was said at the time that the matters of civil service were being controlled by Su, Yuwen Shu, Pei Yun , and Pei Ju, and that they were largely corrupt. Yang Gongren was considered honest and was not tolerated by Pei Yun, and therefore was instead commissioned to lead the army against agrarian rebels in the modern Hunan region. He was, however, defeated by the rebel general Zhu Can at Qiao Commandery , and forced to flee to Emperor Yang's then-location at Jiangdu .

In spring 618, the general Yuwen Huaji killed Emperor Yang in a coup and declared Emperor Yang's nephew the Prince of Qin emperor. While he killed a large number of high level officials and imperial Yang clan members, he did not kill Yang Gongren and made Yang Gongren the minister of civil service matters. After Yuwen advanced north of the elite Xiaoguo Army but was defeated by Li Mi, he headed further north, and he left Yang Gongren defending Wei . In 619, the Tang official Wei Zheng, however, persuaded another official Yuwen left at Wei, Yuan Baozang , to seize Yang Gongren and submit to Emperor Gaozu of Tang. Yuan delivered Yang Gongren to the Tang capital Chang'an. As Emperor Gaozu, while a Sui official, was a friend of Yang Gongren's, he released Yang Gongren and made him the assistant head of the examination bureau of the government and created him the Duke of Guan.

During Emperor Gaozu's reign

Emperor Gaozu soon made Yang Gongren the commandant at Liang Prefecture , because of his familiarity with the region. Yang was able to govern effectively, and it was said that tribes east of the Pamir Mountains were all nominally submitting to Tang as a result. At times, when Eastern Tujue forces attacked, he was able to repel them, but his own territory nevertheless suffered losses from Eastern Tujue raids. In winter 619, Yang was nominally given the title of ''Nayan'' -- the title for the head of the examination bureau, one considered as a post for a , but it was also explicitly stated that he did not actually take on the responsibilities of ''Nayan'', but remained at Liang Prefecture.

In 623, Emperor Gaozu recalled Yang to Chang'an to be ''Zhongshu Ling'' , the head of the legislative bureau of government, considered to be a chancellor post as well. He also was made the minister of civil service affairs. He also continued to nominally serve as the commandant at Liang Prefecture.

In 626, Emperor Gaozu's son the Prince of Qin, in an intense rivalry with his brother Li Jiancheng the Crown Prince, ambushed Li Jiancheng and another brother, Li Yuanji the Prince of Qi at and killed them, and then effectively forced Emperor Gaozu to create him crown prince. He also took effective rein of the government and reorganized it. As part of the reorganization, Yang was removed from his posts, but remained a general.

During Emperor Taizong's reign

Two months later, Emperor Gaozu yielded the throne to Li Shimin, who became emperor . He initially made Yang Gongren to be the governor of the capital prefecture Yong Prefecture , and then made him the assistant to the commandant at Yang Prefecture -- Emperor Taizong's favorite son Li Tai the Prince of Yue. In 631, he became the commandant at Luo Prefecture , an important location as the effective eastern capital. At a later point, he retired, although the year of his retirement was not clear.

It was said at this time that Yang Gongren was humble and courteous, even to people who were below him in rank, and was compared to the humble Han Dynasty chancellor Shi Qing . His clan became an honored one, as his younger brother Yang Shidao married Emperor Gaozu's daughter Princess Guiyang; his niece was wife and princess of Li Yuanji and later became a favorite concubine of Emperor Taizong; and his nephew Yang Sijing married another daughter of Emperor Gaozu, the Princess Anping.

Yang died in 639. He was given posthumous honored and buried near the tomb of Emperor Taizong's wife Empress Zhangsun, which would eventually become Emperor Taizong's tomb as well.

Yang Jun (Sui Dynasty)

Yang Jun , nickname Azhi , formally Prince Xiao of Qin , was an imperial prince of the dynasty Sui Dynasty. He was a son of and his wife Empress Dugu Qieluo, who died an untimely death due to an illness caused by poisoning by his jealous wife Princess Cui. His son was later briefly declared emperor by the general Yuwen Huaji after Yuwen killed his brother in 618.

Yang Jun was born in 571. He was the third son of Yang Jian and Dugu Qieluo, after Yang Yong and . When Yang Jian seized the throne from Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou in 581, ending Northern Zhou and establing Sui Dynasty as its Emperor Wen, he created his sons princes, and Yang Jun was created the Prince of Qin. In 582, Yang Jun, at age 11, was made the governor of Luo Province and titularly the commander of the armed forces east of the Hangu Pass. In 583, he was made the commandant at Qin Province and was in charge of the surrounding provinces. It was around this time that Yang Jun began to be a devout Buddhist and became known for his kindness, and at one point he requested permission from Emperor Wen to become a monk, a request that Emperor Wen denied.

In 586, Yang Jun became the regional executive of the provinces south of the Qinling Mountains and was stationed at Xiangyang . It was around this time that his wife Princess Cui gave birth to his first son Yang Hao. In 588, when Emperor Wen launched a major attack against rival Chen Dynasty, Yang Jun was stationed at Hankou and made the commander of the Sui forces in the middle Yangtze River region. The Chen general Zhou Luohou soon arrived to guard against Yang Jun, but Yang Jun, disliking the idea of major battle losses, chose not to engage Zhou, and they stalemated. Nevertheless, this stalemate prevented all Chen troops in the upper Yangtze region from being able to attend to the defense of the capital Jiankang, then attacked by forces under command of Yang Jun's brother Yang Guang. Soon, when news arrived that Jiankang had fallen and the Chen emperor Chen Shubao had been captured, Zhou surrendered. When Chen Shubao's brother Chen Shushen and cousin Chen Zhengli nevertheless tried to resist at Chen Shushen's post at Xiang Province , the Sui generals Xue Zhou and Liu Ren'en attacked and captured Chen Shushen, delivering him to Yang Jun, and Yang Jun executed Chen Shushen. Yang Jun submitted a report to Emperor Wen in which he stated, "It is unfortunately that I am even given the task of grinding grains, as I contributed nothing to the war effort, and am ashamed of it." Emperor Wen, however, was pleased with his humility and, when Chen Shubao and his clan were presented to Emperor Wen, they were preceded into the palace by the victorious Yang Guang and Yang Jun. Emperor Wen made Yang Jun the commandant at Yang Province , in charge of 44 provinces, most of which was formerly Chen territory. In 590, Emperor Wen swapped his assignment and Yang Guang's and made him the the commandant at Bing Province , in charge of 24 provinces.

While at Bing Province, however, Yang Jun began to live luxuriously, including building palaces beyond what was proper for an imperial prince. He also began to have many concubines, and his wife Princess Cui became jealous and could not tolerate what Yang Jun was doing. In 597, she poisoned melons that Yang Jun was eating, and he became so ill that he had to be taken back to Chang'an for treatment. It was then that his exceedingly wasteful living became known to Emperor Wen, who favored frugal lifestyles and was displeased with Yang Jun's wastefulness. In fall 597, Emperor Wen removed Yang Jun from all of his posts and returned him to his mansion only with the title of imperial prince. Soon thereafter, it was discovered that it was Princess Cui who poisoned Yang Jun, and Emperor Wen ordered a divorce between them, and then, after sending her back to her home, ordered her to commit suicide. The generals Liu Sheng and Yang Su both believed that the punishment against Yang Jun was overly severe, but Emperor Wen responded to Yang Su:

:''I am the father of just five sons, not the father of all people over the land. If I agreed with you, does that mean I have to draft a ''Penal Code for the Emperor's Sons''? Even a man as kind as the Duke of Zhou executed his brothers, the lords of Guan and Cai, for their crimes. I am nowhere as capable as the Duke of Zhou, so I can break my own laws?''

Emperor Wen therefore did not permit Yang Jun to return to service. Thereafter, Yang Jun's illness appeared to never get well, and by 600, he was extremely ill, and he sent messengers to deliver a petition to Emperor Wen, requesting forgiveness, but Emperor Wen refused. Only when Yang Jun was near death did Emperor Wen confer on him the honorific post of ''Shang Zhuguo'' , an office that, in Sui's nine-rank system, was first rank, second class, but carried no authorities of its own. Yang Jun died in summer 600, and it was said that Emperor Wen only cried slightly before stopping. He ordered the overly luxurious items that Yang Jun made to be all destroyed. When Yang Jun's staff requested that a stone monument be erected for Yang Jun, Emperor Wen responded:

:''For a person to have a good name, only several pages in a history book would be sufficient. Why would he need a monument? If his descendants could not glorify him, the monument will only be broken into pieces to be paperweight.''

Yang Jun was survived by two sons -- Yang Hao, the son of Princess Cui, and Yang Dan , born of a concubine. The imperial officials, anticipating that Emperor Wen would not favor having either of them inherit Yang Jun's title, recommended that neither be allowed -- on the basis that Yang Hao had been tainted by Princess Cui's crimes, and that Yang Dan, as the son of a concubine, should not inherit. Emperor Wen agreed, and had Yang Jun's staff serve as his mourners. Yang Jun's oldest daughter Princess Yongfeng was 11 at this time, and she mourned Yang Jun in a particularly devout manner that she was praised by historians. It was not until Yang Guang became emperor in 604 that Yang Hao was allowed to inherit the title of Prince of Qin and Yang Dan was created the Marquess of Jibei.

Yang Liang

Yang Liang -- courtesy name Dezhang , alternative name Jie , nickname Yiqian -- was an imperial prince of the dynasty Sui Dynasty. He was a son of and his wife Empress Dugu Qieluo, who, during his father's reign, controlled the region north of the Yellow River. After his father's death in 604, he rose against his brother , but was soon defeated by Emperor Yang's general Yang Su and forced to surrender. He was reduced to commoner rank and imprisoned for the rest of his life.


It is not known exactly when Yang Liang was born, but it is known that he was the youngest of the five sons of and Yang Jian's wife . As the third of his older brothers, , was born in 571 and he was already born at least by the time that Yang Jian seized the throne from Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty as its Emperor Wen in 581, he would have been born sometime between 573 and 580. In 581, after Emperor Wen took the throne, he created his sons imperial princes, and Yang Liang was created the Prince of Han.

During Emperor Wen's reign

Yang Liang did not participate in the campaign that destroyed rival Chen Dynasty in 589 and unified China , suggesting that he was not yet old enough by that point. In 592, he was made the governor of the capital province Yong Province . In 597, he was made the commandant at Bing Province , and was in charge of the 52 provinces north of the Yellow River. In 598, when Emperor Wen attacked Goguryeo, Yang Liang served as co-commander of the operation —a campaign that ended disastrously, as a drought prevented food supplies from being sent by water, and therefore the army ran out of food. As it arrived at Liao River, the border between Sui and Goguryeo, there began to be an epidemic in the army. Further, the ships commanded by the former Chen general Zhou Luohou encountered a storm and suffered great losses. The Sui forces were forced to withdraw, although Goguryeo then sued for peace.

In 599, when Sui forces attacked Tujue's Dulan Khan, Ashina Yongyulü, Yang Liang was nominally the overall commander of the operations, but did not go to the front. In summer 600, when Dulan Khan's successor Bujia Khan Ashina Dianjue , who was a rival claimant to the Tujue throne to the Sui-supported Qimin Khan Ashina Rangan, attacked Sui, Yang Liang was one of the four commanders sent by Emperor Wen to engage Bujia Khan, and they defeated him, although Yang Liang's contribution to the campaign was unclear.

Meanwhile, Emperor Wen much favored Yang Liang, but Yang Liang was becoming ambitious and troubled by the removal of his oldest brother, Yang Yong, as crown prince in 600. He therefore persuaded Emperor Wen that his headquarters at Taiyuan was the key to the defense against Tujue, so Emperor Wen permitted him to produce weapons and build up Taiyuan's defenses. Two of his trusted generals, Wang Kui and Xiao Mohe, both of whom believed that they should have been given greater responsibility by Emperor Wen, also encouraged him to eventually consider rebelling. Yang Liang was further troubled after another brother, Yang Xiu the Prince of Shu, was deposed over charges of wastefulness in 602.

Rebellion against Emperor Yang

In 604, Yang Guang became emperor after Emperor Wen's death. Emperor Yang, apprehensive of Yang Liang's intentions, did not initially announce Emperor Wen's death, and sent the general Qutu Tong to Taiyuan to, using an edict in Emperor Wen's name, summon Yang Liang to the capital Daxing. However, Yang Liang figured out the edict to be a forgery, and declared a rebellion, supported by governors of 19 provinces. However, even though Wang Kui pointed out to him that he needed to make a quick election between the strategies of attacking Daxing quickly or to try to hold his territory north of the Yellow River , Yang Liang could not decide which set of strategies to use, and therefore used a mixed approach. As his rationale for rebelling, he declared that Yang Su had committed treason.

Yang Liang made initial gains, and his forces, commanded by Pei Wen'an , quickly captured the strategically important Pu Province and were poised to cross the Yellow River to attack the capital region. For reasons unclear then, Yang Liang changed his mind and destroyed the bridge over the Yellow River, stalling his own advances, although he soon advanced south from Taiyuan himself to again make another offensive. Soon, Yang Su, loyal to Emperor Yang, advanced north and met Yang Liang's forces. Against Wang's suggestion that he should engage Yang Su quickly, Yang Liang withdrew to Qingyuan , thus losing initiative. Yang Su defeated him and captured Xiao Mohe, forcing him to retreat back to Taiyuan, where Yang Su put him under siege. Wang Kui committed suicide. Eventually, Yang Liang surrendered. Even though officials largely suggested that Yang Liang should be executed, Emperor Yang did not do so, but reduced him to commoner rank and put him under imprisonment. He died in imprisonment, and although it was unclear the year he died, it appeared to be not long after his capture. His son Yang Hao was also imprisoned, and when Emperor Yang was assassinated by the general Yuwen Huaji in 618, Yang Hao was also killed.

Yang Su

Yang Su , courtesy name Chudao , formally Duke Jingwu of Chu , was a powerful general during Sui Dynasty whose authority eventually became nearly as supreme as the emperor's. Traditional historians generally believed that he was involved in the suspected murder of in 604, at the behest of Emperor Wen's son . His son Yang Xuangan later rebelled against Emperor Yang in 613 but was defeated and killed, and Yang Su's other sons were also executed.

During Northern Zhou

It is not known when Yang Su was born. His grandfather Yang Xuan was a mid-level official during Northern Wei or its branch successor state Western Wei. Yang Su's father Yang Fu served as a general for Western Wei's successor state Northern Zhou, but in 571, while defending Dingyang , Yang Fu was defeated and captured by the Northern Qi general Duan Shao . Yang Fu refused to surrender and was kept in captivity for the rest of his life, but it is not known when he died.

After Yang Fu's death, Yang Su, who was considered highly talented in his youth, repeatedly sought posthumous recognition for his father from Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou. Eventually, Emperor Wu was so pestered that he ordered that Yang Su be killed -- perhaps stating the order publicly to scare Yang Su so that he would relent. Instead of begging for forgiveness, however, Yang Su yelled out, "I serve a ruthless emperor, and it is proper for me to die!" Emperor Wu, impressed with Yang Su's fortitude, released him and gave Yang Fu posthumous honors, including the title of Duke of Linzhen. He made Yang Su an official in his administration, and once, when he had Yang Su draft an edict for him and was impressed by both the fast speed that Yang Su wrote the edict aned the beauty of the language, he commented, "Just work hard. Honor and wealth will come to you." Yang Su responded, "I am worried that I will be forced to accept honor and wealth, as I have no desire for them." In 575, when Emperor Wu launched a major attack on Northern Qi, he granted Yang Su's request to lead the remains of Yang Fu's old army. While Emperor Wu was soon forced to abandon the campaign, Yang Su was, for his contributions, created the Viscount of Qinghe. When Emperor Wu relaunched the attack on Northern Qi in winter 576, Yang Su served under Emperor Wu's brother and major general Yuwen Xian the Prince of Qi, and during a battle, when Yuwen Xian was ambushed by forces under Northern Qi's emperor Gao Wei, it was Yang Su who fought hard to save Yuwen Xian. Thereafter, he continued to make contributions under Yuwen Xian during the campaign against Northern Qi. After Emperor Wu conquered Northern Qi in 577, he promoted Yang Su's title to Duke of Chen'an. In 578, he served under the general Wang Gui in defeating the Chen Dynasty general Wu Mingche, and for this contribution, Emperor Wu created his brother Yang Shen the Marquess of Yi'an. After Emperor Wu's death later in 578 and succession by his son , Emperor Xuan conferred the title of Duke of Linzhen, which Emperor Wu had posthumously created Yang Fu, on Yang Su, transferring Yang Su's title of Duke of Cheng'an to his brother Yang Yuē . Yang Su subsequently served under the general Wei Xiaokuan in capturing the region between the Yangtze River and the Huai River from Chen.

In 580, Emperor Xuan, who had by that point become retired emperor, died, and Emperor Xuan's father-in-law seized power as regent over Emperor Xuan's son . Yang Su became close to Yang Jian, and Yang Jian made him the governor of the important Bian Province . However, before Yang Su could report to Bian Province, the general Yuchi Jiong, suspicious of Yang Jian's intentions, rose against him. One of Yuchi's supporters, Yuwen Zhou the governor of Ying Province defended Hulao Pass against Yang Jian's forces, and Yang Jian sent Yang Su against Yuwen Zhou. Yang Su was able to defeat Yuwen Zhou, and after Yuchi had been defeated and had committed suicide, Yang Jian made Yang Su the commandant at Xu Province and promoted his title to Duke of Qinghe, transferring his title of Duke of Linzhen to his brother Yang Yuè .

During Emperor Wen's reign

In 581, Yang Jian had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty as its Emperor Wen. Yang Su continued to serve in Emperor Wen's administration. In 584, during an argument with his wife Lady Zheng, he angrily stated, "If I become emperor, you will not be empress!" Lady Zheng, in anger, reported the comment to Emperor Wen, who removed Yang Su from his post as a punishment. In 585, Emperor Wen restored him and made him the commandant at Xin Province to prepare an attack against Chen down the Yangtze River. While at Xin Province, he built large ships in anticipation of the attack.

In winter 588, Emperor Wen launched the attack, commissioning his sons the Prince of Jin and , along with Yang Su, to command the three main prongs of the attack, with Yang Guang in overall command of the operations. Yang Su's responsibility was to take his forces down the Yangtze and attack cities on the river. He passed through the Three Gorges and defeated the Chen general Qi Xin . He soon ran into heavy resistance by the Chen general Lü Zhongsu and initially was repelled, but eventually was able to defeat Lü. With Chen Shubao's cousin Chen Huiji abandoning the region to make one last ditch attempt to reach the Chen capital Jiankang to help defend it against Yang Guang's attack, Yang Su encountered no further resistance, and soon news that Jiankang had fallen arrived, and the local provinces all surrendered to him or Yang Jun, whom he met at Hankou . Emperor Wen subsequently promoted Yang Su to the greater title of Duke of Yue and transferred his title of Duke of Qinghe to his son Yang Xuanjiang , while making his heir apparent Yang Xuangan a mid-level official. He was briefly made the commandant at Jing Province , but in summer 588 was recalled to the capital to be the head of the examination bureau -- one of the most important officials in the imperial government. In 590, he was made the head of the legislative bureau .

Later in 590, with Chen's former territory up in rebellions due to the formerly Chen people's unaccustomed to the imposition of Sui laws, Yang Su was put in command of a large army to attack the various rebel leaders. He defeated Shen Xuanhui and Gao Zhihui , eventually quelling much of the former Chen territory. Emperor Wen awarded him with many gifts. Based on Yang Su's conduct during the campaign, the historian Sima Guang, in his ''Zizhi Tongjian'', commented:

:''When Yang Su commanded large armies, he showed flexibility and much tactical capability. His military discipline was harsh, and before each battle, he always sought out soldiers who had faults to execute in order to show his power -- sometimes more than a hundred, and sometimes no less than 20. As their blood flowed before him, he treated as if it were nothing, and continued to smile and talk. When it came time for battling, he would send out somewhere between 100 to 200 soldiers as a forward corps to attack first. If they were unsuccessful in penetrating the enemy lines and returned, regardless of how many survived, they would all be executed. He would then repeat the process, but with 200 to 300 soldiers. All officers and soldiers tremored with fear, and all fought with resolution to fight to the death. Therefore, he was always victorious and considered a great general. At that time, Yang Su was powerful and favored by the emperor. Whatever he suggested was not refused, and so Yang Su's followers, even if their contributions were small, would be rewarded for their contributions. The soldiers under the other generals often had their contributions denied by the civilian officials and not rewarded. Therefore, even though Yang Su was cruel, his soldiers were willing to follow him.''

Around the new year 593, Yang Su was made a co-head of the executive bureau with Gao Jiong, effectively serving as co-prime ministers, replacing Su Wei in that role. It was said that by this point, Yang Su had become very arrogant, and among the officials, he only respected Gao, Niu Hong , and Xue Daoheng , looking down at and bullying the rest. It was commented by traditional historians that he was more talented and had more foresight than Gao, but that he was not as fairminded or well-behaved as Gao.

In spring 593, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to oversee the building of his vacation palace, Renshou Palace . Yang Su spent much effort building it to be a luxurious palace, needing not much architectural work but landscaping of the nearby hills and valleys. Much human life was lost -- numbering in the tens of thousands. The palace was completed in spring 595, and when Emperor Wen inspected it, he, by nature frugal, was initially displeased and stated, "Yang Su expended money and effort to build this palace, and he made the people hate me." Yang Su was fearful of punishment, but when Emperor Wen's wife Empress Dugu Qieluo arrived, she pointed out to Emperor Wen that Yang Su knew that they had little other pleasures, and therefore built the palace in this manner. She gave Yang Su awards in both money and silk.

In 598, both Empress Dugu and Yang Su's wife Duchess Zheng were ill, and suspicions came on the official Dugu Tuo -- who was Empress Dugu's half-brother and whose wife was Yang Su's half-sister. Dugu Tuo was accused of having his servant girl Xu Ani employ cat spirits to curse Empress Dugu and Duchess Zheng, and was nearly executed, but at Empress Dugu's urging was spared and only reduced to commoner rank.

In spring 599, Yang Su was one of the major generals commissioned to attack Tujue's Dulan Khan, Ashina Yongyulü, along with Gao Jiong and Yan Rong . He encountered Ashina Yongyulü's subordinate khan, the Ashina Dianjue. Contrary to prior strategies to first protect his army before engaging, he quickly engaged Ashina Dianjue and defeated him, forcing Ashina Dianjue to flee.

Sometime around that time, Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, who generally had a loving relationship, had a major conflict -- over an affair by Emperor Wen with Yuchi Jiong's granddaughter, who had become a servant in the palace. Empress Dugu killed Lady Yuchi, and in anger, Emperor Wen rode away from the palace. Yang Su and Gao had to track him down and persuade him back to the palace. Yang Su and Gao subsequently held a banquet for them to allow them to reconcile.

In winter 599, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su again to attack Ashina Yongyulü, but before his army could depart, Ashina Yongyulü was assassinated and replaced by Ashina Dianjue , and so Yang Su did not launch his army. In 600, when Ashina Dianjue attacked, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su and Shi Wansui , along with his sons Yang Guang and Yang Liang, to resist, and Ashina Dianjue was fought off.

By 600, Emperor Wen's crown prince Yang Yong had lost the favor of Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, over his wastefulness and having many concubines . Yang Guang, whom Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, had for some time plotted to replace Yang Yong, sent his associate Yuwen Shu to persuade Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē that, as Yang Su did not have a good relationship with Yang Yong, that if Emperor Wen died, Yang Su and his brothers would soon be in danger under Yang Yong's rule. Rather, Yuwen suggested, Yang Su should form a pact with Yang Guang and try to have Yang Guang made crown prince. Yang Su agreed, and began to discuss with Empress Dugu in earnest the possibility of replacing Yang Yong with Yang Guang. Empress Dugu was pleased, and requested Yang Su to persuade Emperor Wen as well. By fall 600, Yang Guang had Yang Yong's associate Ji Wei falsely accuse Yang Yong of plotting treason. Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to investigate, and Yang Su intentionally misinterpreted evidence and manufactured additional evidence, causing Emperor Wen to believe that Yang Yong was indeed plotting treason. Emperor Wen deposed Yang Yong and created Yang Guang crown prince instead.

In winter 601, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to command an army, in association with Qimin Khan Ashina Rangan , to attack Ashina Dianjue. In spring 602, Yang Su achieved a great victory, and for his victory, Yang Xuangan's post was upgraded, and another son of Yang Su, Yang Xuanzong , was created the Duke of Huainan.

By 602, Yang Guang was concerned that his brother, the Prince of Shu, who as the commandant at Yi Province was in control of the modern Sichuan and Chongqing region, would eventually make trouble for him. He had Yang Su collect evidence of Yang Xiu's wastefulness and inappropriate behavior. Emperor Wen summoned Yang Xiu back to the capital, and had Yang Su investigate. Both Yang Guang and Yang Su manufactured additional evidence against Yang Xiu, and Yang Xiu was reduced to commoner rank and put under house arrest.

Also in 602, Empress Dugu died. Yang Su was in charge of the funeral arrangements, and in appreciation, Emperor Wen created yet another son of Yang Su the Duke of Yikang. Upon accusations by the official Liang Pi that Yang Su was becoming overly powerful and abusive, Emperor Wen began to distance himself from Yang Su, although he continued to confer honors on Yang Su. The actual authority over the executive bureau was instead exercised by Su Wei and Emperor Wen's son-in-law Liu Shu .

In summer 604, while at Renshou Palace, Emperor Wen became ill. Yang Su, Liu, and Yuan Yan attended to him. Emperor Wen soon died, and Yang Guang, after ordering Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē to have Yang Yong killed, announced Emperor Wen's death and took the throne as Emperor Yang.

During Emperor Yang's reign

Upon hearing Emperor Yang's ascension, Yang Liang, then the commandant at Bing Province and in control of the territory north of the Yellow River, rebelled -- inexplicably declaring, as his reason for rebelling, that Yang Su had committed treason. Emperor Yang sent Yang Su to attack Yang Liang, and Yang Su, after capturing Yang Liang's general Xiao Mohe, forced Yang Liang's surrender. For Yang Su's contributions, Emperor Yang gave his sons Yang Wandan , Yang Renxing , and Yang Xuanting all mid-level imperial posts and much treasure, previously owned by Yang Liang.

In spring 605, Emperor Yang began to expand Luoyang to serve as the eastern capital. Yang Su was commissioned to head the project.

It was said that although Yang Su had much contributions for him, Emperor Yang actually was very suspicious of Yang Su. When imperial astrologers informed Emperor Yang that the Sui region would have a major funeral, Emperor Wen created Yang Su the Duke of Chu, technically a greater title -- believing that the Chu and Sui regions were close enough that he could use Yang Su to deflect the ill fortune. When Yang Su grew ill in 606, Yang Guang sent the imperial physicians, along with the most precious medicines, to treat Yang Su, but closely monitored Yang Su's conditions, hoping that Yang Su would die. Yang Su himself knew of Emperor Yang's intentions, and therefore refused all treatment and did not take good care of his own body, stating to Yang Yue, "Why should I want to live?" He died in fall 606, and Emperor Yang honored him with a magnificent funeral. After Yang Xuangan rebelled in 613, all of Yang Su's sons were killed. Yang Su's tomb was destroyed, and Yang Su's body was burned by the general Wei Wensheng .

It was said that one of Yang Su's favorite dishes was fried rice and that he popularized the dish.

Yang Xuangan

Yang Xuangan was an official of the dynasty Sui Dynasty. He was the son of the powerful official Yang Su, and, as he knew that was apprehensive of his father, was never quite secure. In 613, when Emperor Yang was attacking Goguryeo, he rebelled near the eastern capital Luoyang, but was soon defeated. He ordered his brother Yang Jishan to kill him, as to not fall into Emperor Yang's hands.


It is not known when Yang Xuangan was born. He was the oldest son of Yang Su, who was already a major general at the start of Sui Dynasty in 581 but whose honors and power grew as the years went by. Yang Xuangan was considered by some to be while in his childhood, but his father believed that not to be the case, and as he grew, he was studious. Because of his father's accomplishments, Yang Xuangan was repeatedly honored by Sui's founder as well. In 589, after his father's contributions in the conquest of Chen Dynasty, which allowed Sui to unite China, Yang Xuangan was given the honorific office of ''Yitong Sansi'' . Unlike several of his brothers, Yang Xuangan was not created a ducal title, as he was his father's heir apparent and expected to eventually inherit his father's title. In 602, after Yang Su's victory over Tujue, Yang Xuangan was promoted to ''Zhuguo'' -- the same rank that his father was at, and at imperial gatherings, father and son stood in the same area. Soon thereafter, Emperor Wen demoted Yang Xuangan down to third rank, and Yang Xuangan thanked Emperor Wen appropriately, "I did not know that Your Imperial Majesty would give me this much favor -- so that I can show respect to my father in public as much as I do in private."

During Emperor Wen's reign, Yang Xuangan served as the governor of Ying Province , and was said to be an effective monitor of his subordinate officials, finding out both their good deeds and evil deeds and rewarding or punishing them appropriately. He later served as the governor of Song Province , but while still at that position, his father Yang Su died in 604. He inherited his father's highly honored title of Duke of Chu, and he left governmental service to observe a mourning period. After about a year, he became a minister in the government of Emperor Wen's successor . He was said to be arrogant but a patron of literary talents, and many talented people became his guests. He particularly trusted Li Mi, also from a noble house.

While Yang Su was alive, Emperor Yang had been deeply apprehensive of Yang Su's power and angry with Yang Su's arrogance, and after Yang Su's death, he made the comment, "If Yang Su did not die, his clan would have eventually been exterminated." Yang Xuangan heard rumors of this comment, and was apprehensive of Emperor Yang. As he saw how the imperial governance had deteriorated under Emperor Yang and believed how many officials who were prior subordinates of his father Yang Su would support him, he plotted to depose Emperor Yang and declaring Emperor Yang's nephew the Prince of Qin emperor. As he followed Emperor Yang on a campaign against Tuyuhun in 609, he saw how disorganized the Emperor's train was and considered an ambush at that point, but his uncle Yang Shen dissuaded him from the action. Later, during Emperor Yang's preparation for war against Goguryeo, Yang Xuangan volunteered to serve, and his volunteering greatly pleased Emperor Yang, who trusted him more and more and gave him input in important governmental matters.


In 613, as Emperor Yang was launching his second campaign against Goguryeo, he put Yang Xuangan in charge of ensuring food supplies at the important shipping junction of Liyang . Yang Xuangan withheld the food supply ships, and then, in summer 613, occupied Liyang and declared an uprising, initially declaring that the general Lai Hu'er had revolted and that he was attacking Lai, but soon also declaring that he was restoring the laws of the time of Emperor Wen, signifying a repudiation of Emperor Yang. He soon publicly denounced Emperor Yang of misrule and tyranny, and immediately drew popular support in the region as well as the strongest shipping laborers and sailors. He summoned Li Mi and his brother Yang Xuanting from the capital Chang'an, and his brothers Yang Xuanzong and Yang Wandan from the Goguryeo front, but Yang Wandan was captured and executed. Yang Xuangan made Li Mi his chief strategist, and Li Mi gave him three options, in the order of Li's opinion as to their feasibility:

#Li's "high strategy" involved making a surprise attack on Jicheng and Linyu , capturing those key locations to trap Emperor Yang, who then was on the Goguryeo front. Li believed that Goguryeo would then make a crippling attack on Emperor Yang, and that Emperor Yang's forces would either collapse on their own or surrender.
#Li's "middle strategy" involved making a surprise attack on Chang'an and capturing the surrounding Guanzhong region, and then holding the region and preparing for confrontation with Emperor Yang.
#Li's "low strategy" involved making a surprise attack on the eastern capital Luoyang and trying to capture it quickly and hold it as the command center. However, he warned that Tang Hui , who had initially submitted to Yang Xuangan but who had since fled back to Luoyang, might have already warned the city to firm up its defenses -- and that if Yang Xuangan put Luoyang under siege and could not capture it quickly, he would soon be trapped by converging Sui forces.

Yang Xuangan, however, believing that he needed to capture Luoyang to show that his rebellion was serious, commented that Li's "low strategy" was in fact "high strategy," and headed toward Luoyang. However, as Li had predicted, Tang had warned Emperor Yang's grandson Yang Tong the Prince of Yue and the official Fan Zigai , whom Emperor Yang left in charge of Luoyang, and Luoyang's defenses had been prepared. While Yang Xuangan and his brothers gained some victories, he could not quickly capture Luoyang. Meanwhile, many young noblemen were joining his cause. After he captured the highly regarded official Wei Fusi , he trusted Wei as well and did not only trust Li any further, but strategies that Wei submitted were not wholeheartedly in support of the rebellion. Li requested that Yang Xuangan kill Wei, but Yang Xuangan refused. Li made the comment to his relatives, "The Duke of Chu wanted to rebel, but does not know how to gain final victory. We are now like turtles stuck in urns."

At this time, Emperor Yang was sieging Liaodong , and had nearly captured it from Goguryeo forces when news of Yang Xuangan's rebellion arrived. Yang Xuangan's associate Husi Zheng surrendered to Goguryeo, and Emperor Yang retreated at night. Also around the same time, Wei Wensheng , the official Emperor Yang left in charge of Chang'an, came to Luoyang's aid with his troops, and Lai also arrived. Further, the forward forces returning from the Goguryeo front, under the command of Qutu Tong and Yuwen Shu, soon arrived as well, and while Yang Xuangan attempted to prevent them from crossing the Yellow River, attacks from Fan prevented Yang Xuangan from being able to cut Qutu and Yuwen off at the Yellow River, allowing them to cross. Yang Xuangan was soon losing battles, and under the suggestion of Li Zixiong and Li Mi, he decided to falsely declare that Yuan Hongsi , the general in command at Honghua , was joining his cause, and that he was going to meet with Yuan.

In fall 613, Yang Xuangan thus lifted the siege on Luoyang, and headed west. On the way, however, he was tempted by the people of Hongnong , who opined that Hongnong would be easily captured and could be held. Further, the governor of Hongnong Commandery, Emperor Yang's cousin Yang Zhiji the Prince of Cai, was intentionally insulting Yang Xuangan to enrage him. In anger, Yang Xuangan put Hongnong under siege, despite Li Mi's pleas that he was endangering his campaign by proceeding slowly. Yang Xuangan put Hongnong under siege for three days but could not capture it, and therefore had to continue to head west. By this point, the Sui forces commanded by Yuwen, Wei, Lai, and Qutu had caught up to him, and were dealing him defeats, and his forces collapsed. Yang Xuangan and his brother Yang Jishan fled to Jialurong on foot, and Yang Xuangan, realizing that they were about to be captured and not wanting to be captured, asked Yang Jishan to kill him. Yang Jishan did so, and then tried to commit suicide, but before he could die, he was captured and delivered to Emperor Yang, along with Yang Xuangan's head. Emperor Yang ordered that Yang Xuangan's body be cut into pieces and then ground and burned. All of Yang Xuangan's brothers were executed.

Yang Yichen (Sui Dynasty)

Yang Yichen , né Yuchi Yichen , was a general of the dynasty Sui Dynasty. During the late reign of , Yang Yichen was one of the few Sui generals having success against agrarian rebels, but in 616, Emperor Yang, suspicious of Yang Yichen's abilities, removed him from his military position, and thereafter the agrarian rebels went unchecked. Yang Yichen died soon afterwards.


Yang Yichen's father Yuchi Chong was ethnically Xianbei and a distant relative of the general Yuchi Jiong. Yuchi Chong was a general during Northern Zhou and had his defense post at . At that time, the general was the commandant at nearby Ding Province , and Yuchi Chong, believing Yang Jian to have great ambitions, befriended Yang Jian. After Yang Jian seized power as regent in 580, Yuchi Jiong, suspicious of Yang Jian's intentions, rebelled at Xiang Province . When Yuchi Chong heard this, as he was a relative of Yuchi Jiong's, he threw himself into jail and begged Yang Jian for forgiveness. Yang Jian pardoned him and ordered him to report to the capital Chang'an to serve as one of Yang Jian's assistants. After Yang Jian seized the throne from Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou in 581, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty as its Emperor Wen, he created Yuchi Chong the Duke of Qinxing. In 582, Yuchi Chong served under Daxi Zhangru in a campaign against Tujue's Khan Ashina Shetu, and while Daxi achieved victory, Yuchi died in the battle.

At the time that Yuchi Chong died, his son Yuchi Yichen was said to be still young. Emperor Wen took Yuchi Yichen into the palace and raised him there, allowing him to inherit his father's titles. After he became a teenager, he served in the palace guard corps, and when Emperor Wen saw him, he was reminded of Yuchi Chong's contributions. He therefore issued an edict giving Yuchi Yichen a moderate amount of wealth, while bestowing the imperial clan surname of Yang on him and conferring him the status of the emperor's grandnephew. Soon afterwards, Emperor Wen made him the governor of Shan Province .

Service during Emperor Wen's reign

Yang Yichen was considered to be honest and careful, with military leadership qualities, and Emperor Wen respected him. In 599, when Tujue's Bujia Khan Ashina Dianjue attacked, Yang Yichen was sent to face Tujue forces, and he repelled them. In 600, in conjunction with Shi Wansui the Duke of Taiping, he dealt Ashina Dianjue a major defeat. However, later that year, Shi was executed after false accusations by Yang Su, and Yang Yichen was not rewarded for his contributions. Sometime during Emperor Wen's late reign -- the ''Renshou'' era , Yang Yichen was promoted to be the commandant at Shuo Province .

During Emperor Yang's reign

In 604, Emperor Wen died -- a death that traditional historians, while admitting a lack of direct evidence, generally believe to be a murder ordered by his son, the Crown Prince. Yang Guang took the throne as Emperor Yang. Soon afterwards, Emperor Yang's younger brother Yang Liang the Prince of Han rose in rebellion at Bing Province . Yang Liang's general Qiao Zhongkui afterwards put Li Jing , the commandant of Dai Province , who remained loyal to Emperor Yang, under siege. Emperor Yang ordered Yang Yichen to try to lift the siege against Li, and Yang Yichen was successful in defeating Qiao. After Yang Liang was defeated and forced to surrender to Yang Su, Yang Yichen was given material rewards and made the governor of Xiang Province. In 607, Emperor Yang recalled him to be the director of imperial clan affairs, and later the director of husbandry affairs.

In 609, Yang Yichen served as a general in the largely successful campaign against Tuyuhun. In 612, he also served in Emperor Yang's first campaign against Goguryeo, commanding part of the force under Yuwen Shu the Duke of Xu that aimed to penetrate deep into Goguryeo territory, against its capital Pyongyang. While Yang Yichen was personally successful, the campaign was itself a major failure, and as a result, Yang Yichen was removed from his post. However, Emperor Yang soon restored him, and in 613, when Emperor Yang launched a second campaign against Tuyuhun, Yang Yichen again served under Yuwen in an attempt to attack Pyongyang, but when news arrived that Yang Su's son Yang Xuangan had rebelled near the eastern capital Luoyang the campaign was abandoned. Afterwards, with much of Sui territory engulfed in agrarian rebellions, Yang Yichen was sent against the rebel leader Xiang Haiming , who had claimed imperial title near Chang'an, and Yang Yichen defeated Xiang.

In 616, Emperor Yang sent Yang Yichen against another major rebel leader, Zhang Jincheng , and Yang, after lulling Zhang into a sense of security, defeated him and forced him to flee, allowing another Sui general, Yang Shanhui , to capture and execute Zhang. Yang Yichen then engaged another major rebel leader, Gao Shida , who had claimed the title of Duke of Donghai. Around the new year 617, Gao, going against the advice of his subordinate Dou Jiande, engaged Yang Yichen, and Yang Yichen defeated and killed Gao and nearly captured Dou. However, believing that Dou to not pose a further threat, he did not pursue Dou further.

Meanwhile, Emperor Yang and the prime minister Yu Shiji had become suspicious of Yang Yichen after his victories. Emperor Yang summoned Yang Yichen to his then-location at Jiangdu and, ostensibly promoting him, made him the minister of ceremonies, while disbanding his troops. Yang Yichen died soon afterwards.