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Later Tang

As one of the Five Dynasties (907 - 960), the territory of the Later Tang Dynasty once covered Henan, Shandong and Shanxi Provinces, the majority of Hebei and Shaanxi Province as well as parts of Gansu, Anhui, Ningxia, Hubei and Jiangsu Provinces. Furthermore, the Later Tang even occupied Sichuan Province for a short period of time.

The Later Tang Dynasty was established by Li Cunxu, Emperor Zhuangzong, with Luoyang (in Henan Province today) as its capital. When mentioning the Later Tang, Emperor Mingzong – Li Siyuan who was a rare liberal emperor during the Five Dynasties is worth knowing about.

Li Siyuan had been living with the army with his father since he was a child. He was an honest, silent and cautious person, and had even accompanied the father of Li Cunxu, Li Keyong, on all his campaigns for about 30 years, making outstanding contributions time and again. What's more, he even risked death to rescue Li Keyong, which won the trust of Li and he was adopted by Li as his adopted son. After Li Keyong's death, Li Siyuan assisted Li Cunxu over 10 years in defeating the Khitan ethnic group and basically unified the central plains of China. After the establishment of the Later Tang, Li Siyuan was suspected by Li Cunxu because of his high honor built on his contributions during the wars. Later, there was a mutiny in Weizhou (Daming County in Hebei Province toady) because of Li Cunxu's fatuousness and tyranny, Li Siyuan was ordered to suppress the rebellion. However, when getting to Weizhou, the soldiers of Li Siyuan and those rebels all hailed him as king. After coming to the throne, Li Siyuan set out to shake up the bureaucracy and acted against the corrupt officials at once. In addition, he forbade commerce in human beings, maltreatment of servants and parents and the random killing of farm cattle. He gave orders to absolve criminals many times. He allowed common people to make farm tools, some iron wares and wine themselves. What's more, he didn't spare himself. He controlled his own conduct and heeded his ministers' good advice. His palace was equipped relatively simply with just 100 maids-in-waiting, 30 eunuchs, 50 chefs and an entourage of 100 people. He tried his best to learn the traditional culture of central China to improve his mind. So the country was stable and prosperous during his reign.

After Li Siyuan's death, his son Li Conghou inherited the throne. Li Conghou was soon killed by Li Congke, adopted son of Li Siyuan. Then Li Congke made himself emperor, namely the last emperor of the Later Tang Dynasty. In 937, Shi Jingtang, son-in-law of Li Siyuan, colluded with Khitan and conquered Luoyang. Li Congke committed suicide, which signaled the end of the Later Tang.