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How big was territory of Tang Dynasty? Perhaps Tan Qixiang's Map Has Misled Most Chinese

The Tang Dynasty was largest dynasty founded by Han people in ancient China, and its sphere of influence extended into desert, northeast, and western regions. Prime Minister Du Yu of Tang Dynasty described extent of Tang Dynasty in Tongdian as follows: “East to Duhufu Andong, west to Duhufu Ansi, south to Rinan County, and north to Duhufu Shanyu. The north and south are like prosperity of former Han Dynasty was not as good as in east, and there was too much in west.” But this is a very vague description, and size of territory of Tang Dynasty is still subject of heated debate. The editor believes that territory and sphere of influence should be considered separately. Territory is area that a country can administratively govern, while sphere of influence is area that its military capability can control. This article mainly deals with territory and sphere of influence of Tang Dynasty.

1. The territory and sphere of influence of Tang dynasty in southwestern region

On map of Tang Dynasty, it was originally a second-level administrative division, consisting of prefectures and counties. But we have yet to discern nature of state. The state established in hinterland is called "Zhengzhou". The state sends officials in charge of administrative jurisdiction, and state may also appoint local ethnic leaders to govern it. However, in any case, state will deal with registration of households. , administration and taxation. Another type of state established in border area is called "Jimi state". Jimi Prefecture does not have an administrative office, but local ethnic leaders have been canonized as governors to govern. The first refers to territorial scope, and second is a sphere of influence in presence of military control, and is not even a sphere of influence in absence of military control.

Tang Qixiang version of Tang Dynasty territory

The difference between Zhengzhou and Jimizhou is very easy to tell, but southwest region is special. At beginning of Tang Dynasty, after unification of mainland, all main families of Tu people in southwest and in Lingnan areas belonged to each other one after another and were canonized as governors and other positions. These Jimi prefectures belonged to Lingnan Road, Jiangnanxi Road and Jiangnan Road respectively. Jimi Prefecture in these places is very different from Jimi Prefecture in north, power of Tang Dynasty is much greater here than in north, and there is even a certain administrative interference. Therefore, southwestern region is generally in a state of free territory and spheres of influence. The control of Tang Dynasty over Jimi region in southwest, in terms of time, increased with growth of national power, and also weakened with weakening of national power; control over region is basically a state of confinement.

English version of Tang Dynasty map

There are 50 Jimi prefectures in Qianzhou Dudufu, including Cangzhou (Weng'an), Yanzhou (Guanling), Zhuangzhou (now Huishui), Chongzhou (Shiqian), Ying (Sandu), Six Moment (now Guiyang) prefectures were Zhengzhou early in Tang Dynasty, and it was not reduced to Jimi Prefecture until Tang Xuanzong period. The four prefectures of Na, Sa, Yan, and current Luzhou Dudufu prefectures were Zhengzhou in early days of Yifeng, and were transformed into Jimi Prefecture during innate period. Wei and Yi prefectures, under Maozhou Dudufu, were originally Jimi prefectures, but later became Zheng prefectures. The seven prefectures of Tu, Yan, Che, Xiang, Ran, Qiong, and Ruo were also Jimi prefectures at first, and later "the phases became positive." This reflects changes in intensity of control of Tang Dynasty in Qianzhou, Jiangnan and elsewhere. It can be said that Jimi Prefecture, which was under jurisdiction of major governors of southwest, was an unstable territory of Tang Dynasty. Here "friends and foes do not like each other" and "military forces defend themselves against each other". Tang Dynasty officials often sent officials to adjust, stating that "although Qing and others are in remote places, each of them has a tribe and belongs to a country."

Generally speaking, before Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty, these areas were generally in a state of wandering in sphere of influence and territory. Guizhou, edge of Sichuan Basin, and Lingnan region as a whole can be considered territory of Tang dynasty, while Yunnan was never part of this territory. The Jimi prefectures that first appeared in Yunnan were canonized regimes such as Quan family. Since they had not yet formed a unified kingdom, they could not compete with Tang Dynasty and could only submit. During Kaiyuan period, Nanzhao rose and unified Liuzhao area, and a major ethnic regime arose in southwest. This regime sometimes took refuge in Tang dynasty and sometimes attacked Tang dynasty. It can be said that creation of Nanzhao represented withdrawal of Tang Dynasty troops from Yunnan. During Kaiyuan period, Qianzhong Road was created, that is, to strengthen control over Qianzhou and prevent Nanzhao.

Second, Tang Dynasty's sphere of influence in northeast

The northeasternmost part of territory of Tang Dynasty was Hebei Road, which controlled only today's Hebei region. Outside of Shanhaiguan, Tang dynasty did not establish Zhengzhou, but created a large number of prefectures. The canonization of Jimifu Prefecture in northeast of Tang Dynasty during Tang Dynasty was also divided into two situations: canonization in name only, without military control, and canonization of local leaders, but with military control. The former is not considered a sphere of influence, but only politics in ancient Chinese tributary system, while latter can be considered sphere of influence of Tang Dynasty.

Tang version of mid-Tang map: Tang is not limited to northeast

The Fuyu, Khitan, Xi, Shiwei, Mohe, and Sanhan ethnic groups existed in northeast of Tang Dynasty. At beginning of Tang Dynasty, Goguryeo was strong and prosperous, so Tang Taizong and Tang Gaozong joined forces with Silla founded by Chen Han many times and together set out to conquer Goguryeo and Baekje founded by Fuyu's people. In 660, Baekje died and Tang dynasty secured its remaining ministries as establishment of Ugjin and other five capital governors; in 668, Goguryeo died, and then Tang dynasty established Andong Governor's House and Yingzhou Governor's House to control their land. However, Khitan and Xi are from same family with different names. They are located in area of ​​the Siliao River. They first surrendered to Eastern Turks. After collapse of Eastern Turks, they surrendered to Tang Dynasty. This is leader of clan.

A relatively objective early map of Tang Xuanzong

Ethnic groups of Goguryeo, Baekje, Khitan and Xi founded Duhufu and Jimi Dudufu in territory of Tang Dynasty. They were all created under military rule of Tang Dynasty, so they were sphere of influence of Tang Dynasty. Tang dynasty. After Tang Dynasty destroyed Goguryeo and Baekje, no administrative bodies were established in Northeast, and it was for this reason that Tang Dynasty's control over Northeast was very unstable. During reign of Wu Zetian, Khitan rebelled against Tang Dynasty and sent troops to attack Yingzhou many times. This event was known in history as "Yingzhou Uprising", which marked release of Khitans from control of Tang dynasty. Tang dynasty. Silla continued to squeeze power of Tang Dynasty on Korean Peninsula. In 670, Silla annexed old site of Baekje and then continued northward. The Andong Protectorate of Tang Dynasty was forced to move to Liaodong region.

Relocation of Governor Anton's mansion

In territory of Tan Qixiang, vast Heilongjiang Liehua was part of territory of middle and late Tang Dynasty. This is highly biased: during late Tang Dynasty, its forces mostly withdrew from Liaodong region, not to mention distant Heilongjiang. After Yingzhou rebellion, Mohe tribe in Goguryeo fled to Liaodong region and rejected canonization of Tang dynasty. In 697, Mohe tribe defeated Tang army at Battle of Tianmenling, and then Khitans once again blocked communication between Tang and Liaodong dynasties. According to various historical events, Tang Dynasty's military power gradually withdrew from Liaodong region during this period. In 714, Anton's protectorate moved to Yingzhou (Chaoyang) and was completely abolished by Anshi rebellion.

Bohai State and Silla: According to records of Liao Kingdom, during late Tang Dynasty, Bohai Sea occupied Liaodong

During Tang Xuanzong period, Heishui Mohe, state of Bohai (Zhengguo) and Shiwei in northeast were canonized, and they were called Governor of Heishui, Governor of Bohai, and Governor of Shiwei by name, so Tang Qixiang believed that they were all included in territory middle and late Tang dynasty. In fact, all Tang Dynasty forces withdrew from northeast, and Anton's protectorate was also moved from interior to allotted areas, and Tang Dynasty's canonization of it is only a false name. Summing up, we can say that Northeast was never part of administrative divisions of Tang dynasty, and only during reign of Tang Gaozong Liaodong and Liaoxi were included in sphere of influence of his Andong protectorate.

Third, sphere of influence and territory of Tang Dynasty in northwest

The northwestern region is dominated by nomads. On Tan Qixiang's map, all Mongolian Highlands, Western regions, Central Asia, Afghanistan, etc. are drawn in territory of Tang Dynasty. Whether this method of drawing is objective is worth studying. The editor divides this great northwestern region into several regions such as desert region (Monan and Mobey), western regions, Central Asia, and Tocharo for exploration.

The desert, now called Mongolian Highlands, is divided into Mobei and Monan, bounded by Gobi Desert and Yinshan Mountains. In beginning, Hetao area in Monan was also a nomadic area, but after a long development during Qin, Han and Northern Wei dynasties, Hetao became an agricultural area. At beginning of Tang Dynasty, Liang Shidu ruled Hetao. In 628, Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty destroyed Liang Shidu and gave his land to Guangnei Road. Therefore, Hetao in Monan region was included in territory of Tang Dynasty. In 630, Tang Dynasty destroyed Eastern Turks, created several prefectures, and declared that entire area of ​​Monan was included in Tang Dynasty's sphere of influence. In 647, Tang Taizong again destroyed Xue Yantuo and Mobei was included in sphere of influence. The scope of Xue Yantuo is "from Mohe in east, Western Turk in west, Shaka (Gobi) in south, and Julun River in north." This shows that Tang dynasty may not have known that there was Lake Baikal in Siberia.

The territory of Tang Dynasty, drawn by Gu Jiegang, light part is sphere of influence

The situation is more complicated in western regions. During reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty, he sent troops to seize state of Gaochang and other places south of Tien Shan Mountains and founded Xizhou (Turfan), Yizhou (Hami), and Tingzhou (Jimsar). governor is appointed by an official sent by central government and usually by a guardian. Therefore, part of eastern part of Western Regions is territory of Tang Dynasty, as well as stronghold of Tang Dynasty to rule all Western Regions and Central Asia. The Anxi Protectorate House founded by Tang Taizong in 640 was located in Xizhou, and later Empress Wu Zetian established Beiting Protectorate House as Tingzhou. In 648, Emperor Taizong of Tang captured southern part of Tien Shan mountains and established four military bases in Kucha, Yanqi, Khotan (Hotian) and Shula (Kashgar), known in history as "Four Cities of Anxi". . It should be noted that these strongholds are not territories, but spheres of influence, but have strong control.

Tang version of Tang western frontier

During time of Tang Gaozong, war with Western Turks entered stage of full-scale flare-up. It is recorded in history that Western Turks were destroyed in 657. In fact, Western Turks were not wiped out by Arabia until late Tang Dynasty. Western Turks have been in a state of division throughout history. In 648, Ashina Helu expressed his surrender to Tang Dynasty and his office was canonized as Governor Yaochi's mansion. But after Tang Taizong died, he openly started a war against Tang Dynasty. In 651, Ashina Helu defeated Yibi Shekui Khan and named himself "Shaboluo Khan". Subsequently, two large Western Turkic tribes fought. The Tang Dynasty took opportunity to attack Western Turks and in 657 Ashina Helu tribe was annihilated and other Turkic tribes temporarily accepted canonized rulers of Tang Dynasty. At this time, sphere of influence of Tang Dynasty reached its peak.

A relatively objective map of Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty's control over nomadic tribes in Mobei and Western regions was very weak, and even most of tribes in Western Turks were in free stage of nominal canonization into a sphere of influence, not to mention territory. During reign of Wu Zetian, both Eastern Turks and Western Turks openly took revenge on Tang Dynasty. In 682, Eastern Turks returned to country, and sphere of influence of Tang Dynasty disappeared from Mobei. Until 745, Uighur Khanate replaced Eastern Turks. Although Uyghur Khan accepted title of protectorate of Tang Dynasty, it was only in name and there was no control. In western regions, in 662, Khan of Ten Families, leader of Dulu tribe, rebelled against Tang Dynasty. Since then, area north of Tien Shan Mountains has escaped from control of Tang Dynasty.

As for inclusion of Tocharo (Afghanistan) in Tang dynasty, this is quite absurd. In 661, Arab Empire destroyed Persian Empire, and princes of Persian Empire fled to Tokhara, turned to Tang Dynasty for help, and were canonized as "Persian Governor's Mansion". On map of Tang Dynasty, compiled by Tan Qixiang, a corner of Persia was carefully marked: Mansion of Persian Governor. However, before this "captain" took office, Arabia occupied Tocharia in 664, and then Persian prince fled to Chang'an, after which "Persian king" and "Persian governor" lived in Chang'an. Therefore, Tang Dynasty's sphere of influence was already occupied by Arabia before it reached Tocharia.

Expansion of Arab Empire

Descendants of Da Yueshi "Nine families of Zhaou" lived in Central Asia at that time, and they were once under control of Western Turks. After 657, these small countries accepted canonization of Tang dynasty and became nominal capital. Thus, Tang Qixiang attracted territory of Tang Dynasty to Aral Sea region. But Tang Dynasty never stationed troops here. After Arabs destroyed Persian Empire, they sent troops to conquer "Nine surnames of Chjaowu". During Kaiyuan period, Tang army began to compete with Arabs in Shigo (Tashkent). In 750, Arab army defeated Tang army at Battle of Talas, and Arab troops began to enter western regions. . Fortunately, Tubo's later prosperity prevented further eastward expansion of Arabia.

After Anshi Uprising, Tang Dynasty troops began to withdraw from Western Regions, and Tubo occupied Hexi Corridor, cutting off communication between Western Regions and mainland. In following decades, four cities of Anxi were gradually annexed by Tubo. In 790, all four cities of Anxi fell, and Tang Dynasty forces also withdrew from western regions.

Together, territory of Tang Dynasty at its peak was about 5 million square kilometers, and if you include sphere of influence, about 10 million square kilometers. These peak data persist for a very short period of time, i.e. decades. After Anshi rebellion, Tang Dynasty's sphere of influence disappeared, and area of ​​​​the territory was about 4 million square kilometers.

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