Who Was Tang Taizong And What Did He Do?

In ancient times emperor Taizong was the ruler of the Tang dynasty. He was regarded as one of the best rulers of that Era and known for his religious tolerance and reforms in the government and law that brought about prosperity in china during his tenure.

The Tang dynasty ruled from 618 to 907AD. The Tang dynasty was formed when the Liu family seized power from the Sui dynasty in the year 618. Taizong, whose real name was Li-Shimin, was part and parcel of the planning and seizure of power from the collapsing Sui dynasty.

Who was Li-Shimin

Li-Shimin was born in 598 AD in Wugong county, Xianyang, China. He was the second born to Li Yuan who was the first emperor of the Tang dynasty. Li-Shimin played a major role in helping his father plot to take over power after the decline and collapse of the Sui dynasty. He grew up in a palace as his father was a general in the Sui dynasty. Li-Shimin rose to power as the second emperor of the Tang dynasty ruling from 626 AD to 649 AD.

His contribution to his father and the push he put towards his father joining the rebellion that saw falloff the Sui dynasty made him named a co-founder of the Tang dynasty. He was very strategic and his father named him Qinguogong and later Qin Wang the Duke of Qin.

As Qin Wang, he got word that his brothers plotted to take down his father Li Yuan and place soldiers in the path that the brothers took. This led to the death of his brothers and also forced LI Yuan to abdicate him and he became Taizong, the emperor of china.

Li-Shimin later got married to empress Zhangsun and sired children, one of them who would later replace him as the emperor.

Emperor Taizong of Tang’s wife

Emperor Taizong married empress Zhangsun in the year 613 AD. Empress Zhangsun, formerly empress Wendeshunshen, was born in the year 601 AD and died in the year 636 AD aged 35 years. She was the daughter of Zhangsun Shen and Lady Gao. she is the mother of Emperor Gaozong who later replace emperor Taizong in the Tang dynasty.  She was well educated and often advised Emperor Taizong on matters concerning the punishment of wrongdoers and reference to history.

Empress Zhangsun was described as humble and as a person who rarely got angry. She had so much influence on emperor Taizong that she made him remove her brother Zhangsun Wuji from the chancellor position.

Emperor Taizong of Tang Achievements

  • 617 AD – Li-Shimin helps his father plot and rebel against the Sui dynasty.

Li-Shimin pushed his father, a general in the Sui dynasty, to rebel against Emperor Yang secretly and brought an end to the corrupt Sui dynasty. He served his father well as his general and was named Duke of Qin and later Duke of Zhao in recognition of his efforts and inputs in the takeover.

  • 618 AD- Li-Shimin becomes a prince of the Tang dynasty

After the successful takeover, Li Yuan is very impressed by his son and crowns him as prince of Qin as he continues to serve as a general in the newly formed Tang dynasty.

  • 621 AD – Li-Shimin moves to administration

Due to success in the military, Li-Shimin moves to the east and sets his headquarters in Luoyang. Here he gained both military and civil control and also set up talented trustees around him.

  • 626 AD – Mutiny of Xuanwu gate

The two brothers, Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji plotted to take down their father. Li-Shimin ambushes them at the Xuanwu gate and kills them. This move is known as the Mutiny of Xuanwu Gate and Li-Shimin is termed the crown prince by emperor Gaozu.

  • 626 AD – Li-Shimin becomes Emperor Taizong of the Tang

His father yields the throne to Li-Shimin who changes his name to Emperor Taizong of Tang. This makes him the second emperor of the Tang dynasty and this event is known as the beginning of the Chinese golden ages.

  • 626 AD – Taizong brings major government reforms

Taizong appointed government officials based on merits and perfected the Sui examination system. This was one of the major moves that spearheaded the Tang dynasty’s success. He simplified bureaucracy.

  • 630 AD – Taizong defeats the Gortuks

Taizong sent the Tang army amidst a brutal winter and local rebellion to attack the Gortuks conquering them. This started adding central Asia to the Tang dynasty.

  • 634 AD – Taizong signs a peace treaty with Tibet

Taizong signed a peace treaty with Tibet and the treaty was sealed with a wedding. He gave his adopted daughter as a bride to the Tibetan king and this saw the first Tibetan embassy start in China.

  • 638 AD –Taizong meets Wu Zhao and supports the spread of Nestorian Christianity

Taizong meets wu Zhao who was a launderer and he was impressed by her intuition and knowledge of history. Wu Zhao had been working in the palace when she saw a chance to speak to Taizong when he was alone and her wit left him mesmerized. He moved her from laundry and made her a concubine when he realized that she cook also sing, danced, and play music. Her wit helped him when he needed advice. Wu Zhan would later become Empress Wu Zetian when she got married to emperor Gaozong.

In this period also, Nestorian Christianity becomes a minor religion and Taizong issued declarations protecting this religion. He had previously issued a declaration that made Nestorian Christianity acceptable.

  • 639 AD – Taizong supports the spread of Buddhism

Taizong embarked on building Buddhist temples at the site of former battles throughout the Tang dynasty. This saw a wide spread of Buddhism in the empire to date in modern-day China.

How emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty died

tang taizong tomb

Emperor Taizong died in the year 649 AD after contracting dysentery. He died in a place called Chang’an and was buried in his home province. His tomb became known as Zhao’s mausoleum.


Emperor Taizong is considered one of the best emperors of their time. He was charismatic and mindful of his people’s needs. His law-making prowess set precedence for modern-day Law in china. The Chinese enjoyed Freedom and religion for the first time during his reign. We can say that Emperor Taizong was a great and influential leader.

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