Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Li Tan

Li Tan , known by his princely title of Prince of Jianning , posthumously honored as the Prince of Qi and then Emperor Chengtian , was an imperial prince of the Tang Dynasty. He was a son of who was credited with suggesting to his father the idea of fleeing to Lingwu during the Anshi Rebellion, allowing Emperor Suzong to eventually reestablish a power base and defeat the rebellion. He was also credited with protecting his father on the way to Lingwu. However, he offended Emperor Suzong's favorite concubine and the powerful eunuch Li Fuguo by accusing them of crimes; in turn, they accused him of having designs on the life of his older brother the Prince of Guangping, causing Emperor Suzong to order him to commit suicide. After Li Chu became emperor in 762 , he posthumously honored Li Tan, first as the Prince of Qi, and then as Emperor Chengtian, to recognize him for his contributions.

During Anshi Rebellion

In 755, the general An Lushan rebelled against Emperor Xuanzong's rule, and by 756 was approaching the Tang capital Chang'an, forcing Emperor Xuanzong to flee with his family and close associates. Emperor Xuanzong intended to flee to Jiannan Circuit , but as he reached Mawei , the imperial guards escorting him, blaming An's rebellion on Emperor Xuanzong's favorite concubine Consort Yang Yuhuan and her cousin, the , Yang Guozhong, slaughtered the Yang household and forced Emperor Xuanzong to execute Consort Yang. After the incident, Emperor Xuanzong was intent on continuing to Chengdu . Li Heng did not follow Emperor Xuanzong, and initially remained at Mawei in response to the people of the region's request that he remain to fight against An. Li Heng initially stated that he wished to follow Emperor Xuanzong to Chengdu, but Li Tan convinced him to stay, saying:

Posthumous recognition

In 762, Li Chu succeeded Emperor Suzong as emperor . He posthumously honored Li Tan as the Prince of Qi. In 768, Emperor Daizong and Li Mi discussed further posthumously honoring Li Tan, and Li Mi initially suggested posthumously honoring Li Tan as a crown prince, citing the example of Emperor Xuanzong honoring his younger brothers in that manner. Emperor Daizong, believing that Li Tan's contributions far exceeded those princes, decided instead to posthumously honor Li Tan as emperor and rebury him with ceremony due an emperor. He also Lady Zhang, the daughter of his aunt Princess Xinxing, to Li Tan, honoring her as Empress Gongshun. He had Li Tan worshipped at the same temple that Emperor Suzong had dedicated to his older brother Li Cong, whom Emperor Suzong posthumously honored as an emperor as well.

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