Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Li Chongjun

Li Chongjun , formally Crown Prince Jiemin , was a crown prince of the dynasty Tang Dynasty, during the second reign of his father . He was made crown prince because the only son of his father's wife , Li Chongrun, had been killed before his father's return to the throne, but on account of his mother's low birth, he was often humiliated by Empress Wei's daughter the Princess Anle and her husband Wu Chongxun . In 707, in anger, he started a coup and killed Wu Chongxun and his father Wu Sansi the Prince of Dejing, but his subsequent attempt to arrest Empress Wei, Li Guo'er, and was thwarted, and he was killed in flight.
Meanwhile, because Li Chongjun was not born of Empress Wei, she disliked him. Further, Wu Chongxun and Li Guo'er both often humiliated Li Chongjun, sometimes even calling him "slave" on account of his mother's lower birth. Li Guo'er, Emperor Zhongzong's favorite daughter, also often suggested to Emperor Zhongzong that he depose Li Chongjun and make her crown princess. In fall 707 , Li Chongjun's anger erupted, and he, the ethnically Mohe general Li Duozuo, and his father's cousin Li Qianli the Prince of Cheng rose in rebellion, along with other generals Li Sichong , Li Chengkuang , Dugu Yizhi , and Shazha Zhongyi . They took a group of imperial guards and attacked Wu Sansi's mansion, killing him and Wu Chongxun. They then attacked the palace, seeking to arrest Empress Wei, Li Guo'er, and Emperor Zhongzong's concubine . The imperial guards at the palace defended against the attack, and Li Chongjun hesitated -- hoping to be able to converse with Emperor Zhongzong himself to plead his case. The eunuch Yang Sixu took the opportunity to counterattack and kill Li Chongjun's forward commander, Li Duozuo's son-in-law Ye Huli . Emperor Zhongzong then spoke to Li Chongjun's soldiers, urging them to desert. The soldiers thereafter turned against Li Chongjun and killed Li Duozuo, Li Chengkuang, Dugu, and Shazha; in a separate attack, Li Qianli and his son Li Xi the Prince of Tianshui were killed in battle. Li Chongjun fled with some 100 soldiers toward the Qinling Mountains, but soldiers deserted on the way, and by the time he reached Hu , he only had several soldiers with him. As they were resting under a tree, the soldiers killed him and surrendered.

Emperor Zhongzong presented Li Chongjun's head to the imperial ancestral temple , and then also presented it to the caskets of Wu Sansi and Wu Chongxun. He then hung Li Chongjun's head on the government wall. None of Li Chongjun's staff members, fearful that they would be accused of treason themselves, dared to approach Li Chongjun's body, but the secretary general of Yonghe County , Ning Jiaxu , took off his own shirt, wrapped Li Chongjun's head in it, and wept bitterly -- and as a result was demoted to be the secretary general of the distant Xingping County . After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710, Empress Wei was overthrown in a coup led by Li Chongjun's cousin the Prince of Linzi and Li Chongjun's aunt Princess Taiping, and Li Longji's father and Li Chongjun's uncle the Prince of Xiang became emperor . Emperor Ruizong restored Li Chongjun's title as crown prince, reburied him with honors due a crown prince, and gave him the posthumous name of Jiemin .

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