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Hsüan-tsung (shüän dzōng) [key], 685–762, Chinese emperor (712–56), 9th of the T'ang dynasty. Under his brilliant early rule the T'ang reached the height of its power. Improved administration and new grain-transport facilities increased the flow of revenue to the central government, and T'ang armies restored Chinese suzerainty over Central Asia. In 751, however, the T'ang armies were defeated by the Arabs at Talas (near modern Fergana, in Uzbekistan) and by the Thai state of Nanchao in the southwest. The revolt of the northeastern regional commander An Lu-shan in 755 forced Hsüan-tsung to abdicate. Peace was restored in 763 with the aid of foreign troops, but Central Asia was lost and control over the provinces of China proper was considerably weaker than that which had been achieved earlier by Hsüan-tsung. In Chinese legend Hsüan-tsung's infatuation with his concubine Yang Kuei-fei is blamed for demoralizing the T'ang court and paving the way for the rebellion of An Lu-shan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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