Emperor Taizong of Liao
|Reign||December 11, 927 – May 15, 947|
|Tianxian (天顯): 927—938
Datong (大同): 947
|Xiaowu Huiwen Emperor (孝武惠文皇帝)|
|Born||November 25, 902|
|Died||May 15, 947 (aged 44)|
The Emperor Taizong of Liao (Chinese: 辽太宗; pinyin: Liáo Tàizōng) (November 25, 902 – May 15, 947), born as Yelü Deguang (Chinese: 耶律德光; pinyin: Yēlǜ Déguāng), was the second emperor of the Khitan Empire (December 11, 927 – May 15, 947).
Succession to the Throne
He was the second son of Abaoji, founder of the Khitan Empire which became the Liao Dynasty. Though his father named his elder brother, Prince Bei, as his heir apparent in 916, upon his death, the Empress Dowager Yingtian favored Deguang because she felt he better embodied the ideals of the steppe. In addition to being the favorite of his mother, he was also favored by the Khitan nobility. Yēlǜ Déguāng was crowned as emperor following the death of his father in 926.
The newly crowned Emperor Taizong allowed his elder brother to retain his title of Prince of Dongdan, which was created from the recently conquered kingdom of Balhae (known as Bohai in Chinese). However, just to be on the safe side, Taizong maintained surveillance over his elder brother. Prince Bei slipped into China in 930, but as late as 934, he continued sending intelligence reports to his younger brother despite the welcome he received by Emperor Mingzong of the Later Tang Dynasty.
Expansion into Northern China
Emperor Taizong used the intelligence sent by his brother to take advantage of the crumbling Later Tang Dynasty. When Shi Jingtang revolted against the Later Tang, Taizong sent Liao aid. The resulting Later Jin Dynasty was no more than a puppet state of the Liao. Through this action, Taizong was successful in gaining strategic territory that his father coveted, the Sixteen Prefectures and along with them, control of the passes that controlled admittance into China Proper.
Emperor Taizong led another invasion into China in 945 when the Later Jin began to show independence from its Khitan masters. On this first engagement, Taizong barely escaped with his life. However, further pressure the following year led to the collapse of the Later Jin. The Khitan pressed their advantage, and even occupied the Later Jin capital. While much of northern China was occupied by the Khitan, Muzong had second thoughts once facing the challenges of governing a large sedentary population. Khitan forces were forced to pillage, a tactic common among steppe peoples used to intimidate a sedentary enemy. In April, 947, Taizong abandoned the capital and set to return to the Sixteen Prefectures. He fell ill and died on May 18 during the course of this return journey.
Raising his Nephew
Taizong raised Prince Bei's son as his own. Taizong’s nephew became the very model of a Khitan prince under Taizong’s tutelage. Taizong was also ambitious like his father, and wanted to expand Khitan's territory. After the defection of a Later Jin general, Taizong was able to conquer the Later Jin Dynasty in 947 after fighting a hard and bloody campaign. It was at this time that Taizong changed the dynasty name to Liao. Taizong died in China on this expedition, during which he was accompanied by his nephew.
Taizong reformed the political structures of the Liao dynasty. He set up North and South ministries, dealing with the tribes and the Han respectively. However, there were still many flaws in the government and army structure.
- Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 49–52, 64–67. ISBN 0-674-01212-7.
Emperor Taizong of Liao
House of Yelü (915–1125)Born: 902 Died: 947
|Emperor of the Liao Dynasty