Qian Liu - Destruction of Dong Chang

Destruction of Dong Chang

Throughout the years, despite Qian Liu's expansion in power, Dong Chang still viewed him as a vassal. Meanwhile, Dong had become increasingly megalomanic, such that he had a temple built to himself fashioned similarly to the temple to Yu the Great (the mythical founder of the Xia Dynasty) and ordered his people to worship only at his temple, not at Yu's temple. He also petitioned Emperor Zhaozong, seeking to be created the greater title of Prince of Yue (from his then-title of Prince of Longxi). The imperial government did not agree immediately, and Dong became displeased. His followers, wanting to please him, encouraged him to take the next step and become the Emperor of Yue. In spring 895, he declared himself the emperor of a new state of "Luoping of the Great Yue" (大越羅平國), after killing every staff member who dared to speak against it.

Dong sent messengers to Qian to inform Qian that he had become emperor and that he was making Qian the commander of the forces of the "Two Zhes" — i.e., Zhenhai and Yisheng, which were on the opposite banks of the Qiantang River (Zhe River). Qian, disagreeing with Dong's decision to claim imperial title, wrote back: "Rather than closing up your gates to try to be the Son of Heaven, so that your entire clan and the people will all fall into fire, why not open your door to be Jiedushi, so that you will have honor and wealth the rest of your life? It is still not too late to repent." Dong refused Qian's suggestion, so Qian advanced to Yue Prefecture with 30,000 men, bowing down to him outside the Yue city gates, and stating to him that he brought soldiers to force Dong to repent. Dong, in fear, rewarded Qian money and delivered several sorcerers who advocated his taking the throne to Qian, claiming that he would soon submit a confession to Emperor Zhaozong. Only then did Qian withdraw and report the matter to Emperor Zhaozong.

Emperor Zhaozong, however, believed that Dong had great contributions over the years and that he must have just been afflicted with a mental illness. He thus pardoned Dong but ordered him to retire. However, the ambitious Qian, who was hopeful that the imperial government would declare a campaign against Dong so that he could be able to turn on Dong without appearing to be ungrateful, then submitted an accusation against Dong, pointing out that Dong committed the unpardonable crime of treason. Emperor Zhaozong thus issued an edict ordering Qian to attack Dong. Meanwhile, Yang Xingmi, who did not want to see Qian take over Weisheng, sent messengers to Qian to point out that Dong had already repented and should be pardoned, but Qian did not relent. (During the campaign, Qian's father Qian Kuan died; Emperor Zhaozong sent imperial messengers to mourn him, and also created Qian the greater title of Prince of Pengcheng.)

Yang thus tried to relieve Qian's pressure on Dong by sending his officer Tai Meng (臺濛) to attack Su Prefecture. Qian did not let up his attack, however, and Yang further sent Tian Jun the military governor of Ningguo Circuit (寧國, headquartered in modern Xuancheng, Anhui) and An Renyi (安仁義) the military prefect of Run Prefecture to attack Qian as well. The Huainan attack was bogged down for some time, however, allowing Qian to continue his attack of Weisheng, even after, in spring 896, because of Yang's request, Emperor Zhaozong pardoned Dong completely and restored his titles.

Qian's forces repeatedly defeated Dong's, and Dong exacerbated the matter by killing anyone who dared to give him accurate information about Qian's military strength. By summer 896, Qian's officer Gu Quanwu (顧全武) had reached Yue and put it under siege. Only then did Dong become fearful. He abandoned the title of emperor and referred to himself as military governor again, but the siege continued. Qian considered abandoning the siege after Huainan forces captured Su Prefecture about the same time, but Gu pointed out that capturing Yue should be the first priority, and Qian agreed.

Soon thereafter, the outer city of Yue fell, and Dong withdrew into the inner city to continue to defend it. Qian then sent Dong's old subordinate Luo Tuan (駱團) to Dong, stating that there were imperial orders for Dong to retire to Lin'an. Dong thus agreed to surrender. Gu delivered Dong toward Hang Prefecture, but executed him and his family on the way, as well as some 300 subordinates who supported his imperial claim. Qian delivered Dong's head to Chang'an and took over his territory. As Dong's people had been greatly drained by his heavy taxation, Qian opened up the storages, gave money to the soldiers and food to the people, to relieve their financial distress.

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