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War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

In 603, when Nili Khan of western regions became independent, Turks officially divided into two parts: eastern and western. The east is called Eastern Turkic, and west is called Western Turkic. During Sui and Tang dynasties, Eastern Turks exerted enormous pressure on China. However, under onslaught of Tang Taizong Li Shimin, Eastern Turks quickly collapsed. The extermination of Eastern Turks by Tang Dynasty marked beginning of Tang Dynasty's dominance in Asia. Every time we read this period of history, we Chinese are very excited about it.

1. Battle to move capital

In a previous article, I already mentioned how Turks intervened in unification war of Tang Dynasty. By 624 AD, Tang Dynasty had basically achieved unity, and Turks were also preparing to overthrow Tang Dynasty with all their might. When they meet on narrow road, brave wins, and Tang Dynasty has no way out.

In February 624, a coup took place in "Yan" regime that joined Turks. Its commanders Jin Shu and Zhang Junli jointly rebelled and ousted King Gao Kaidao. After that, Jin Shu killed Zhang Junli and surrendered before Tang Dynasty . The Tang Dynasty immediately seized land and established office of governor of Gui (gui) and Yanzhou. If Eastern Turks do not intervene now, puppet regime tied to Turks will fall apart in a domino effect, which Xeli Khan cannot stand.

In July of that year, Zeli Khan led Yuan Junzhang, Gao Kaidao and others south to attack Shuozhou, and border was in danger. The Tang Dynasty immediately organized construction of Great Wall, but it was too late. In July, Eastern Turkic army captured Taiyuan, Longzhou, Bingzhou and other settlements and was approaching Guanzhong.

At this time, there was a voice in Tang Dynasty to move capital. Prince Li Jiancheng provoked his party members to say, “The frequent Turkic invaders in Guanzhong only appear because of government possession, and their children are in capital. If Chang'an is burned without a capital, Hu's bandits will stop themselves. “This idea is too naive, isn't it? If Chang'an is destroyed, Turks will let go of Tang dynasty. Moreover,In addition, implementation of fortification of wall and clearing of desert will cause great damage to economy of north, which will seriously shake foundation of Tang Dynasty. But Li Yuan was shocked, he actually sent officials to Han River to find a new capital.

Qin Wang Li Shimin stood up and said, “In spite of Kong Chi's ignorance, problems with China have existed since ancient times, and they are not unique to present. to city is a disgrace to future generations." Li Shimin's position is very tough, and he strongly opposes transfer of capital. Under firm opposition of Li Shimin, Li Yuan finally abandoned idea of ​​moving capital.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

Li Jiancheng

In fact, dispute between Li Shimin and Li Jiancheng is a political struggle. Li Shimin fought in south and north, and had many generals of Guanlong group to his credit, and Li Jiancheng's greatest achievement was suppression of Liu Heit, so most of his party members were in Kanto. Chang'an is old nest of Guanlong group, and Li Shimin's influence is deeply rooted here; if capital is moved, then Li Shimin's influence will also be shaken.

After that, it rained heavily in Chang'an. The story says that “It was raining in Guanzhong and there was a flood and transportation of grain was blocked and soldiers were tired of being drafted. At that time, entire defense of Chang'an relied only on Li Shimin. Soon, more than 10,000 elite cavalrymen of Jeli Khan and Tuli Khan suddenly appeared in west of Binzhou City, got up and marched.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

At a critical moment, Li Shimin also led 10,000 cavalry directly to front line to counter. Li Shimin promised Türksky that he wanted to meet Türkic Khan, but Jeli Khan ignored this. Li Shimin himself rushed to Tuli Khan and reprimanded Tuli Khan for his betrayal. Tuli Khan was originally Great Khan of Turks, and Jieli Khan (Tuli Khan's uncle) was dictator, and conflict between uncle and nephew has existed for a long time. After Li Shimin said, Tuli Khan decided to disobey Tseli Khan's restrictions and led troops to retreat. When Jieli Khan saw situation, he immediately led army to retreat north. Thus, Tang Dynasty again avoided disaster.

Second, problems before and after change of Xuanwumen

In 625, Li Yuan issued an order to comprehensively modernize national defense forces. The main policies are: (1) purchase a large number of war horses; (2) further strengthening of alliance with Western Turks and implementation of marriage; a large number of troops were transferred to north to build fortifications. Everything is ready, except for possibility. At that time, Li Yuan ordered, "Fang is a plan of attack, and can no longer be tolerated. From now on, book will be changed to keep imperial decree." , all documents of Eastern Turks will be remade into a "decree", which is command language of authorities to subordinates. It's like claiming overlord of country, which is tantamount to a direct declaration of war.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

Hearing this, Jeli Khan was furious and immediately led Turkic army south again, attacking in all directions from Liaodong to Longxi. Although Tang Dynasty stationed more troops in northern Xinjiang, it was still unable to stop Turkic army. As a last resort, Tang Dynasty sent an envoy, Ouyang Yi, to seek peace with Turks in 626. However, this Ouyang Yi is a hot-tempered person, he did not even think about negotiating, but tried to kill Xeli Han immediately after negotiations, but failed. How could Jieli Khan endure such a thing, so he launched a large-scale attack, and Tang Dynasty's border defenses almost completely collapsed.

At this time, internal conflicts broke out in Tang Dynasty. After confrontation in 624, Li Shimin's prestige grew greatly, and there was a political struggle between Li Jiancheng, Li Yuanji, and Li Shimin at court for crown prince. When Turkic army came under pressure, Li Yuan appointed Li Yuanji to lead army. However, Li Yuanji was worried that Li Shimin would stage a coup in rear, so he used shortage of troops as an excuse to ask Li Shimin to select Cheng Yaojin, Yuchi Jingde, Qin Qiong and Duan Zhi as lieutenants. Going out with him is undoubtedly an attempt to capture Li Shimin's military power. Li Shimin launched Xuanwu Gate Change, killed Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji, and forced Li Yuan to abdicate. Since then, Li Shimin has become Emperor of the Tang Dynasty.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

Battle at Xuanwu Gate

At this time, Jieli Khan and Tuli Khan led another 100,000 soldiers to south, and martial law was introduced in Chang'an. Soon Tang army defeated Turkic vanguard in Jingyang and beheaded more than a thousand people. Soon, Turkic army also approached Weishui, and Chang'an was in sight. At this time, Li Shimin was leading Xiao Yu, Feng Deiyi, Gao Shiliang, Fang Xuanling, and Fan Chi, a total of six horsemen appeared in Weishui River, and they encountered Jieli Han: “Speaking across river, responsibility is to fulfill promise,” but large Tang army was behind Li Shimin’s lines, and military appearance was neat. Jeli Khan believed that Tang Dynasty army was strong, so he hesitated to join the army for some time.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

After that, Li Shimin negotiated with Jieli Khan across Wei River. According to assumption of author of "History of Turks", Li Shimin at that time directly communicated with Tseli Khan in Turkic language. So both sides agreed to make peace, and Li Shimin and Jieli Han "punished white horse and made an alliance with Jieli on bridge, and Jieli led troops back." Later, when Li Shimin spoke about why he was so hard on Turks, he said, “The reason Turks dared to send a large army south to clear our borders was because there were civil strife in our country, and I just ascended throne. If I weaken a little, situation will collapse. Therefore, if I go out alone, show greatness of contempt, and show support of strength, Turks will not dare to attack. "

Thirdly, collapse of Eastern Turks

The invasion of Eastern Turks in 626 was last madness of Eastern Turks. After that, internal conflicts broke out among Turks, and initiative of attack passed to Tang dynasty, and end of Eastern Turks came.

When Tseli Khan returned to country, Tseli Khan offered 3,000 horses and 10,000 sheep to Tang Dynasty to show his favor to Tang Dynasty. Li Shimin refused, but allowed Tzeli Khan to return Chinese captured by Turks. Why there is such a big change in regards to Turks is mainly because Turks are in chaos. First of all, nine families of Te Le in Mobei rebelled, they founded Xueyantuo Khanate and continued to attack Turks. In 627, Tseli Khan sent an army of 100,000 to attack Xue Yantu and fought in Tien Shan mountains, where Turks suffered a crushing defeat.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

At same time, there was a snowstorm again in Turkic, and economy was hit hard. While a natural disaster occurs, nomadic empire may fall apart. The Khitan, Xi, and other ethnic groups enslaved by Eastern Turks turned to Tang dynasty.

After that, a war broke out in Türkic between Türkic Khan and Jieli Khan. Tuli Khan's army was not enough and was quickly defeated by Tseli Khan, so Tuli Khan went south to ask for help from Tang Dynasty. Tang Taizong decisively helped Tuli Khan. At same time, Ashinamomu and Jieli Khan, guarding southern Turkic border (Monan), fell directly into arms of Tang dynasty. And Yuan Junzhang, who relied on Turks in past, also went to court to plead guilty. It can be seen that Eastern Turks are about to collapse.

At this time, Tang Taizong immediately organized construction of large-scale fortifications in northern Xinjiang, recruited troops from all over country, and prepared to send troops to Turks. In 628, Jeli Khan sent envoys to Chang'an to try to trade Khitan land with Monan occupied by Liang Shidu. Tang Taizong believed that Khitan did not belong to Khitan, so he resolutely refused. Soon, Li Shimin ordered army to attack Xiazhou. Generals such as Chai Shao, Xue Wanche, Liu Hao and Liu Lan from Tang Dynasty cooperated with each other and defeated Turkic army. So far, Tang Dynasty has eliminated all separatist regimes since end of Sui Dynasty and has fully realized unification.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

By 628, Eastern Turks were terminally ill. At that time, someone suggested building a Great Wall of China, but Li Shimin felt that it was not necessary, so he asked Li Jing to become general manager of Guannei Road Marching Army and prepared to leave. In second year, Xueyantuo Khanate sent ambassadors to court asking for an alliance with Tang Dynasty to jointly attack Eastern Turks. Li Shimin readily agreed and named Xue Yanto's leader, Yi Nan, Khan.

After Xue Yantuo successfully forged an alliance with Tang Dynasty, Yinan was overjoyed and immediately established his capital at Yudujinshan, capital of former Eastern Turks. When Jeli Khan learned that Xue Yantuo had made an alliance with Tang Dynasty, he was shocked and sent envoys to make peace with Tang Dynasty. But Li Shimin refused to agree. In November 629, several armies, including Li Ji (Xu Maogong), Chai Shao, Xue Wanche, Li Daozong, and Li Xiaojie, commander-in-chief Li Jing of Tang Dynasty, launched a fierce attack on Eastern Turks. Several armies of Tang Dynasty were victorious, and Tseli Khan was repeatedly defeated.

War Between Tang Dynasty and the Eastern Turks (Part 2): Li Shimin Liuqi Challenged a Khan Worthy to Be Emperor for Centuries

Li Shimin proclaimed a policy of recruitment and surrender, and many Turkic tribes surrendered to Tang Dynasty army. In December, Tuli Khan surrendered to Tang Dynasty, Li Shimin was overjoyed and held a festive banquet in palace. In 630, Tang army defeated Tseli Khan's army at First Battle of Yinshan, Tseli Khan fled to Montenegro and sent envoys to seek peace. However, Li Jing pretended to agree, but secretly chose excellent cavalry, asked soldiers to bring food and grass for 20 days, and rushed thousands of miles to Montenegro, again defeating Tseli Khan. Xeli fled and hid in barren mountains. After arrival of Tang Dynasty army, local Sha Bolue was about to surrender to Tang army and searched for Jeli together. In end, Seli was arrested and taken to Chang'an, and Eastern Turkic Khanate officially perished.

Recommended reading

The beginning and end of war between Tang Dynasty and Eastern Turks (Part 1): Tang Dynasty united under intervention of Turks

Great power diplomacy 丨The Sui Dynasty pursued a foreign policy of "leaving strong and uniting weak", which accelerated division of Turkic peoples

It took Han Dynasty two hundred years to destroy Xiongnu. Why was she able to destroy Turks in early days of Tang Dynasty?

How did confused Turkic peoples come about? It may be formed as a result of merger of Serbs and Dinglings

The Turks claim that they are descendants of Turks. What is connection and difference between them?

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