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WAR WITH TIBET.
in that year bound the Tibetans not to encroach beyond specified points. A proclamation was sent out on both sides to the effect that “the two nations are at peace, and there must be no plundering or oppression."
Confined on the east, the Tibetans turned towards the west to find a vent for their restless energy. The state of Poulin, or Little Tibet, seemed to offer itself an easy prey to their attack. The King of Poulin appealed to China for assistance, and Mingti forbade the Tibetans to attack him. But this interference was more than they could be expected to brook. Without paying any heed to the summons, the Sanpou invaded Poulin, deposed its king, and annexed the state to his dominions. Mingti was very indignant at the indifference shown to his request, and he was easily persuaded that the opportunity of attacking Tibet, when its garrisons on the eastern frontier had been weakened for the war against Poulin, was too favourable to be neglected. He, therefore, sent a large army to the borders of Szchuen and Shensi, and the Tibetans, surprised and outnumbered, were worsted in several encounters. For a few months Mingti indulged the hope that he had attained his object, but by that time the Tibetans had moved up fresh troops from the western districts, and were in readiness to resume the war. The Chinese commander was defeated with great loss in a pitched battle, when the advantage of a fortified position did not avail to turn the scale against the indignant impetuosity of the Tibetans. So far Mingti, therefore, reaped no solid advantage from his perfidy in breaking the treaty of A.D. 730. The death of the Princess Chincheng intensified the bitterness of the struggle, and Mingti abruptly refused to conclude a fresh peace when an envoy was sent to his court. In A.D. 749 the war reached its climax in the siege of Chepouching, which surrendered to the Chinese after a desperate defence of several weeks. It is admitted that the capture of this place cost the lives of more than thirty thousand men.
Against the Turks, the Khitans, and also in Yunnan, the Chinese arms were still more unfortunate.
In A.D. 751 a Chinese army of thirty thousand men was destroyed to a man in the desert of Gobi, and throughout the whole of the reign
the Khitans and other Tartars on the northern frontier carried on a desultory warfare. In Yunnan, the neighbouring state of Nanchao had so long been the victim of the attacks of Chinese subjects that its king resolved to appeal to arms. Success attended his efforts, and the year A.D. 751 was marked by further disasters in this quarter. The local forces were defeated, and thirty-three towns, including Yunnanfoo, surrendered to the invader. Three years later another Chinese army met with a defeat, scarcely less serious, in this same quarter, and it is stated that the losses of the army during this reign alone were nearly two hundred thousand men.
These reverses in the field proved the precursors of domestic troubles. They were a distinct incentive to the ambitious spirits in the country to fight for their own hand. Prominent among these was a soldier named Ganlochan, a man of Khitan race, but one who had distinguished himself in wars against his own people. Being trusted with the government of a province, he at once set himself the task of making him
a self independent therein ; and when Mingti strove to induce him to visit the capital, he received the mandate of his sovereign with indifference and contempt. It was shortly after this that he felt strong enough to throw the mask aside altogether, and to appear as a rebel at the head of an armed force. The people, "unaccustomed by the long peace to the use of arms," surrendered without resistance, and Ganlochan found that his enterprise was succeeding beyond the limit of his hopes. In A.D. 755 he had subdued the greater portion of the northern provinces, and Loyang, a former capital of the Empire, had surrendered to his arms. When the news of the subjection of all the country north of the Hoangho reached Mingti, he exclaimed, “Is it possible?” thus reminding us of another historical character who could only express surprise at the rapid progress of events.
Ganlochan, emboldened by success, was far from resting satisfied with triumphs north of the Hoangho. The very facility with which he had prospered up to this point was one of the strongest inducements to prosecute his undertaking to what might be considered its logical and legitimate conclusion. Ganlochan suffered one severe defeat in the following year;
THE CAPITAL SACKED.
but it could not arrest his career. He proceeded in person to the place of danger, and, having restored the balance of victory in his favour by the capture of the strong fortress Tunkwan, marched on the capital, which Mingti abandoned to its fate. Singan opened its gates to this would-be arbiter of the country's destiny, and suffered for some weeks from the exactions of a mercenary army, collected at the bidding of an adventurer who was far from being sure even of the objects he had in his own mind. Mingti, during his flight into Szchuen, abdicated the throne in favour of his son, who took the name of Soutsong. Mingti had reigned during a greater number of years than any other member of his House, but history has preserved the remembrance of no more solid achievement than that of the founding of the Hanlin College, which exists at the present day. Fond of flattery, and strongly imbued with a sense of his own ineffable wisdom, Mingti appears to have been a great ruler in the sense that our James I. was a wise prince. Whereas the penalty of James's conceit and obstinacy was paid by his son, Mingti lived long enough to suffer from similar defects in his own person. With that exception their characters seem to have been an exact counterpart.
Soutsong appears to have been a brave prince, and set himself resolutely to the task of restoring the authority of his family. While his father fled for safety to the province of Szchuen, he placed himself at the head of such troops as he could collect, and prepared to dispute his inheritance with the victorious Ganlochan. The rebels were detained several months in front of the town of Yongkiu by the valour of its commandant, and time was thus afforded Soutsong to gather round him all those who wished to uphold the authority of the Tangs. A general named Kwo Tsey stood forward conspicuously at this period as the champion of the reigning House, and very soon Soutsong found himself at the head of an army of fifty thousand men. It is said that auxiliaries came from far distant Bokhara and the fertile valleys of Ferghana to swell the ranks of the Imperial forces. In face of the gathering strength of the Imperialists, Ganlochan thought it prudent to abandon Singan, and to withdraw into Honan, north of the Hoangho. He plundered the capital, and embellished his city of Loyang with its spoil. The exactions which he sanctioned disgusted the people, and his authority was based on the sword alone. Still it was sufficiently formidable in his own ability, and that of his generals; and China was practically divided at this period into two states hostile to each other. The rulers and states dependent upon China seized the opportunity to recover their independence; and it would have gone much harder with the Chinese at this crisis had not the attention of the Turk and Tartar tribes been called off by the successes of the Arabs in Western Asia.
In A.D. 757, Ganlochan's best lieutenant, Sseseming, laid siege to the fortress of Taiyuen, in Shansi, defended by a small but select garrison under the command of Likwangpi, Kwo Tsey's not unworthy comrade in arms. This siege is among the most celebrated in Chinese annals. Taiyuen is described as being then a place of some strength, surrounded with a wall of considerable thickness, and a good ditch. Likwangpi spared no exertion to improve its defences, and we are led to believe that he constructed another rampart inside the town wall. The most remarkable preparation he made was, however, to construct cannons, or catapults, capable of throwing a twelve-pound stone shot three hundred paces. When Sseseming appeared before the walls, therefore, he was well received ; and during the thirty days that he remained in face of them, he failed to make any impression on the place. Likwangpi assumed a vigorous offensive as soon as he found the attack beginning to flag, and by means of his novel engines of war, as well as by constructing mines under the besiegers' positions, he inflicted tremendous losses on the assailants. Sseseming was obliged to beat a hasty retreat, leaving in his trenches sixty thousand men out of an army of one hundred thousand. This decisive success gave greater stability to Soutsong's authority, and restored the courage of all those who were the supporters of the Tangs.
Soutsong then felt strong enough to march on Singan, and he entrusted the command of his army to Kwo Tsey. A desperate battle was fought outside Singan, in which the
rebel forces were signally defeated, and the capital again fell into the possession of the Emperor. His victory on this occasion is attributed to the valour and steadiness of the Turk auxiliaries, who bore the brunt of the engagement. Meanwhile Ganlochan had been murdered at the command of his own son, who was in turn assassinated at a later period by Sseseming. These dissensions had greatly detracted from the strength of the rebellious faction; and a second victory, obtained by the skill of Kwo Tsey, and the valour of the foreign mercenaries, resulted in the surrender of Loyang, which was given over to the soldiers to pillage. In gratitude for the timely help he had afforded, Soutsong gave Chehou, the principal of their leaders, twenty thousand pieces of silk, and promised him a like quantity every year. Much of the fruit of these successes was lost by the impolicy of certain of Soutsong's acts; and Sseseming headed a fresh rising in the last years of his reign. Sseseming was successful in wresting Loyang and a considerable extent of country from the Emperor; but his assassination by his son cut short a career which promised to be both remarkable and successful. Soutsong's death occurred at this moment to give a fresh complexion to the struggle. He died in the early part of A.D. 762, a few months after the death of his father, the preceding Emperor Mingti.
Soutsong's son followed him as the Emperor Taitsong the Second, and the first acts of his reign afforded promise of a brighter era. His first measure was to remove a toopowerful minister, and his next to take all the steps required for the suppression of the insurgents, who still remained defiant under Sse-chao-y, the son and murderer of Sseseming. In fact, that chief was extending the limits of his authority when Taitsong turned his attention to the subject, and Likwangpi, the Imperial general, could barely hold his own against the rebels. In these straits Taitsong made overtures to the Tartar and Turk tribes, who sent a large force to co-operate with his army against the rebel Sse-chao-y. Victory crowned the efforts of the allied forces, and the death of the rebel leader seemed to afford a prospect of peace and tranquillity. The country suffered greatly at the