Emperor Taizong of Tang China was born as Li Shimin on 23 January 599 in Wugong, during the Sui Dynasty.
His father, Li Yuan, was an army general under the current emperor, Yang, so they had a lot of wealth and power. Li Shimin had three brothers and a sister.
Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty was a tyrant. He killed people needlessly, disrespected his parents, stole the throne and was corrupt. He was a poor leader.
Li Yuan and Li Shimin planned to overthrow Yang. Li Shimin lead a rebel army to take the Chinese capital and Yang was killed by one of his advisors. Li Yuan then took the throne and became the first emperor of the Tang dynasty.
After the collapse of the Sui dynasty, Li Shimin became general of his father’s army. His eldest brother was crown prince and set to inherit the title of emperor.
Li Shimin was very successful in the battles he led, and he united all of China again after the revolt.
However, his brothers considered him a rival and were worried that he would be made emperor.
Li Shimin’s brothers tried to get rid of him. They tried to kill him, poison him, knock him off a horse, and shame him into exile.
However, Li Shimin was aware of these plots and eventually killed two of his brothers. He was made the new crown prince and became Emperor Taizong two months later, in 626.
Emperor Taizong was considered a very good leader. He tried to help the people as much as possible.
To do this, Taizong reformed government by creating four main departments that oversaw different things and all reported to him.
He listened to his advisors and asked for honesty on his laws – most emperors had people killed for being honest and critical!
Taizong created a law to equally distribute land between everyone and it gave every family in China enough land to make a living from – approximately 15 acres for each family which was taken from nobles.
Some families combined their land, so they could farm more effectively. He also changed taxes so that they were fair to everyone and were based on how much they earned.Taizong also went on many crusades to conquer new lands.
He grew China into central Asia and so China became the biggest single country in the world. This gave China more trade routes, brining wealth and peace.
In 643, Taizong’s son, Li You, tried to rebel and overthrown Taizong. This was unsuccessful but also drew out another three plots of rebellion from Taizong’s family.
He survived all of them and continued as emperor until his death in 649, aged 51.