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The relationship that Xuanzong, Yang Gifei and An Lushan established has been cited as the thread that tied the history of the Tang Dynasty for the years it existed. Xuanzong led the Tang Dynasty as its seventh emperor during the golden age. During his reign, Xuanzong elevated Wu Zetian as the popular religion in Tang China. However, the emperor later felt that Buddhism had abandoned the teaching of Taoism ideologies. As a result, Xuanzong ordered that all families keep a copy of the Tao teachings. Interestingly, in 741 CE, Xuanzong fell in love with his son’s wife, Yang Guefei (Pu 113). Consequently, Yang went to live with the emperor in the palace. Yang managed to Lure Xuanzong to employ her family members, some of whom could not perform their tasks. Since Yang’s family members were abusing their positions, An Lushan, one of the senior army commanders led soldiers to overthrow Xuanzong. He overthrew Xuanzong and tried to establish his rule but was later defeated by the Tang forces.
Historically, the relationship between Xuanzong and Yang revealed the prosperity that the Tang Dynasty had achieved during the Golden age and that began to crumble when the two came together. Historians use the marriage between Yang and Xuanzong as the foundation of explaining how the Tang Dynasty almost fell after the Golden age (Pu 143). Before the two got married, the dynasty was flourishing. Xuanzong had managed to convince his people that Taoism could bring them together and live in harmony. Under the leadership of Xuanzong, the economy of the Tang Dynasty flourished as a result of maritime trading and sound financial reforms. The empire witnessed improved road networks during the reign of Xuanzong. However, his engagement with Yang led to the crumbling of the once flourishing economy. The Yang’s relatives that Xuanzong employed were not qualified and mismanaged the economy to the disadvantage of the many people in Tang Dynasty.
The revolt that an Lushan staged against Xuanzong contributed to the historical study of rebellion against empires in the Chinese dynasties. Lushan felt that Xuanzong did not rule based on God’s will and therefore he had to be ousted (Pu 137). He tried to show the military prowess of the Chinese Army that he led. The revolution that Lushan led contributed to the history of the Tang China in that it can be used to study how emperors and empires fell. Xuanzong fell because he adhered to all the demands that Yang made to him. Also, the relationship among the tree shows that the leadership of the Tang China was to be ordained by God. For instance, Lushan claimed that Xuanzong was going against the purpose of God’s anointment and therefore he was not fit to lead the Tang Dynasty.
Regarding literary contribution, the love between Xuanzong and Yang is said to have been ‘romantized’ by various poets of the 800 CE. For instance, in the Song of the Everlasting Sorrow, Bai Juyi reveals that Yang might have offered herself to be killed to save Xuanxzong as an indication of her love for him. Xuanzong is portrayed to have mourned Yang the rest of his life (Juyi 80). Therefore, their relationship has contributed to the growth of literature in China.
Therefore, the history of the Golden Age of the Tang Dynasty cannot be complete without the mention of Xuanzong, his love Yang and the man who overthrew him, Lushan. Historians have used Yang as the catalyst that misled Xuanzong thereby leading to Lushan trying to take over the Tang Dynasty. Interestingly, poets and authors have used the relationship that the three established to build their literary works to reflect on the events that surrounded the Tang Dynasty.
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