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Albert Kawasi

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Lee Yun

Lee Yun (566´╝íZ635) is the first emperor of the Tang Dynasty (íZíZíZíZíZíZ). There isn't a whole lot one can say about the founder of one of China's greatest dynasties. Unlike other founders he wasn't ambitious and certainly no one can accused him of being capable. He, however, did fathered an extraordinary son, Lee Simin (íZíZíZńŞíZŠ░íZ). This son was the driving force behind the founding of the empire.

Lee Yun was born into royalty, one with a silver spoon in his mouth. Both his father and grandfather held high ranks in the royal court. In addition, his mother was the sister of the Emperor's wife, Dugu Shi (íZíZíZíZíZíZňŞíZíZíZĘňşĄíZíZíZíZíZíZ). Thus at the age of seven he inherited his father's title of Tang Guogong (íZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZ). As a young man, he became one of Sui Yangdi's (íZíZíZíZíZČňíZíZ), the emperor, body guards. Yes, he was trusted.

In 617 (ňĄžŠąşíZíZíZńŞíZň╣íZ) he was appointed Governor of Tai Yuen (ňĄ¬ňíZíZíZíZíZň«íZ). It was there and at the urging of his son, Lee Simin, he joined the general uprise against the Sui Dynasty (íZíZíZíZíZíZ). With Taiyuen (ňĄ¬ňíZíZ) as his base, his army moved swiftly. In October of the same year they laid siege to the Sui capital, Ch'ang-an (íZíZĚňíZíZ), and captured it a month later.

At this point Lee Yun proved he wasn't exactly a bumbling fool. Quickly he established a twelve points accord with the people and repealed the harsh and unpopular laws of the Sui Dynasty (š┤íZŠ│íZíZíZíZń║íZŠóíZ´╝íZíZíZíZíZíZĄÚíZíZíZíZíZšŽíZ). Feeling the time wasn't right yet, he crowned the 13-year old Yang Yu (ń╗íZíZíZŠąíZíZíZíZ) as emperor and honoured the reigning emperor, Sui Yangdi (íZíZíZíZíZČňíZíZ) who at the time was vacationing in Southern China (Š▒íZíZíZíZ), as the Supreme Emperor (ňĄ¬ńíZíZíZíZíZ).

As expected the new emperor appointed Lee Yun as prime minister (ňĄžńíZíZíZíZíZ) and supreme commander of the army (ňĄžÚíZŻšíZíZ). The emperor also bestowed upon Lee Yun the title of Tang Huang (íZíZíZíZíZíZ). Lee Yun in turn appointed his faithful followers to key posts within the new government.

In March of the following year, 618 (ňĄžŠąşíZíZíZíZíZíZň╣íZ) Sui Yangdi was killed. However, words didn't arrived at Changon till a month later. In May Lee Yun disposed the puppet Sui emperor and ascended the dragon throne himself. From his family title Tang Guogong and the more recent Tang Huang, it was decided the new regime shall be known as Tang. The capital remained at Ch'ang-an (íZíZĚňíZíZ).

The various uprises against the Sui Dynasty remained active despite the ending of the dynasty. According to the numerous popular novels on this particular time period there were 36 rebel forces in the country. Each had its own territory. Some of them were bigger, better equipped and more powerful than Lee Yun. More than one of them had proclaimed and crowned themselves emperors. The quest was far from over.

Lee Yun bestowed the title Qin Huang (šžŽšíZíZ) on his second son, Lee Simin and appointed him minister of defence (ň░íZíZíZŞń╗Ą). Lee Simin then began the task of conquering and/or pacifying the various rebels. In a four year campaign, 618 - 622 (ŠşŽňżĚíZíZíZň╣íZ - íZíZíZň╣íZ), Lee Simin and his followers defeated the Tang Dynasty's major rivals and laid the foundation for the unification of China.

In naming the heir to the throne, Lee Yun made a fatal blunder. He went along with tradition and named his eldest son, Lee Jiancheng (íZíZíZň╗║ŠíZíZ), as crowned prince despite the fact that Lee Simin was more capable of the two. Plus it was Lee Simin and his followers who were the driving force in establishing the Dynasty. Lee Jiancheng realized the superior capability of his younger sibling. He tried his best to discredit him and his followers. To this end he formed an alliance with Lee Yuanji (íZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZ), his third brother.

Over the next five years, a struggle for power took place involved the three siblings, their followers and two of Lee Yun's most favorite concubines who sided with the crowned prince. Poison and false accusations were employed on a regular basis. Many times Lee Simin escaped death by the skin of his teeth. While this was going on, Lee Yun kept his head in the sand either because he didn't know what to do or he truly was clueless of the deadly contest.

Lee Shimin was always on the receiving end until one day in June 627AD. Lee Shimin was informed that Lee Jiancheng and Lee Yuanji planned to ambush him during his daily morning visit to the palace. Faced with a life and death situation, Lee Simin and his followers decided to strike first. Thus in the morning hours of June 4, 627 (ŠşŽňżĚń╣íZň╣íZ) a showdown took place just outside the palace gate, Xuan Wumen (íZíZíZŠşŽÚíZíZ). The combined force of Lee Jiancheng and Lee Yuanji was no match against Lee Simin's force led by battle-hardened generals. Lee Jiancheng and Lee Yuanji were killed in the ensuing battle. This is known as Xuan Wumen Zhibian (íZíZíZŠşŽÚíZíZń╣íZŔ«íZ). Subsequently Lee Yun decided to abdicate the throne and lived out his life as the honourary Supreme Emperor (ňĄ¬ńíZíZíZíZíZ).

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