An Lushan Rebellion and the Buddhist Persecution of 845 | Comparison
In history, many events change the future drastically. Although every event changes the future, some have a greater impact than others. These very large, impactful events are usually very unique, but all of them do have some things in common. Here are two events that although are very different, still have some things in common.
An Lushan was born in Luoyang China in 703. He was of Non-Chinese Origin but joined the Tang-Dynasty military in the 740’s and he quickly rose through the ranks. He was a favorite of the emperor at the time, Xuanzong. As he was rising through the ranks, he was also gaining the trust of the soldiers in the Tang-Dynasty Military. (“An Lushan Rebellion”) He became a trustworthy leader in the eyes of the military and at the time, soldiers pledged more loyalty to their commanders than they did to the imperial court. This let him launch a rebellion against the Tang-Dynasty in an effort to become the new emperor. (“An Lu-Shan Rebellion”)
On December 16, 755, An-Lushan proclaimed himself emperor after he turned his forces on the Eastern capital city of Luoyang. Six months later in 756, his forces took down the western capital city of Chang’an. This was the high point of the revolt because currently, An-Lushan had control of both capital cities. Lots of people weren’t happy that An-Lushan was the new emperor. These people were called the loyalists and fought back against the rebellion. The loyalists eventually murdered An-Lushan in 757. Without their leader, the rebellion forces weakened until eventually the loyalist troops took back control of Chang’an and ended the rebellion in 762 at the battle of Lo-yang. (“An Lu-Shan Rebellion”)
After the An Lushan Rebellion, the government wanted to raise quick money. To do this, they let anybody who paid a small fee to become a monk or a nun, even if they weren’t prepared to live a religious lifestyle. Even though this raised the cash needed, it made people be able to join the religious life and avoid paying taxes. Tax dodgers filled monasteries quickly. Many emperors avoided dealing with this problem until Emperor Wu Zong, who was a devout Daoist. He saw many reasons to attack the Buddhist community, including Daoist scholars urging him to take a chance to get rid of Buddhism in China. Wu Zong started in 842 to issue edicts which made monks and nuns to return to their old life, which meant they had to start paying taxes again. He also ordered the destruction of monasteries and shrines and he confiscated the property on which they built. Even though Buddhism was destroyed in many areas of China, in some areas, Buddhist government officials would not follow the edict’s directives. Ennin, a Japanese monk visiting China, left behind an account of what we saw which is where most information of the event comes from. Wu Zong died in 846 at the age of 32. The next emperor, Emperor Xuan Wong, almost immediately tried his best to undo the effects of Wu Zong’s actions to the best of his abilities. (“Hui Chang Persecution”)
Although these events are very similar, they do have many differences between them. First of all, they both happened for different reasons. The An Lushan Rebellion happened because An Lushan wanted to become the new Emperor of the Tang Dynast. The Buddhist Persecution of 845 happened because Wu Zong wanted to stop people from not having to pay taxes and he wanted to get rid of Buddhism as a whole. Second of all, the An Lushan Rebellion was able to happen in the first place because of a lack of loyalty to the Emperor in the military. If the military was more loyal to the Emperor than to their commanders, the rebellion would never be able to happen. On the other hand, the Buddhist Persecution would be able to happen no matter what. Since it was an Emperor ordering it, it was going to happen no matter what. The military would have no reason not to listen. The military was only more loyal to the commander because the commanders paid the military. The commanders have no reason to pay the military not to do these attacks and most likely were paid by the Emperor to have these attacks carried out. These are two examples of many, many differences between these two events.
There are quite a few differences between these two events, but there are also a number of similarities. The most obvious of these is that they both happened in China. These two events also both happened during the Tang-Dynasty. These two events also happened relatively close to each other in time with them happening in less than a hundred years of each other. The An-Lushan rebellion started in 755 while the Buddhist Persecution happened in 845. Both of these events also had greatly to do with the military. The An-Lushan Rebellion happened almost entirely by the military under the rule of An Lushan. In the case of the Buddhist persecution, if it wasn’t for the military, the persecution would have no success. They were the people who were destroying the monasteries and the shrines of the Buddhists. These two events were also both attacks. In the An-Lushan Rebellion, it was an attack on the Tang-Dynasty and the emperor in the quest to become the new emperor by An-Lushan. In the Buddhist persecution of 845, it was an attack on the Buddhist community by Emperor Wu Zong.
As shown above, impactful events in history can have many similarities also and are not all differences. In most cases, there are many similarities between two impactful events. The An Lushan Rebellion and the Buddhist Persecution of 845 are only two examples of this, and there are many, many more.
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- “Buddhism in Early Tang.” World Eras, edited by Guangqiu Xu, vol. 7: Imperial China, 617-1644, Gale, 2003, pp. 372-375. Gale In Context: World History, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3035200175/WHIC?u=nm_s_albuqacad&sid=WHIC&xid=876d66a6. Accessed 23 Sept. 2019.
- Gridley, Marilyn. “Buddhism.” The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 56, no. 1, 1997, pp. 150-152. elibrary, https://explore.proquest.com/elibrary/document/230382506?accountid=37230.
- Irons, Edward A. “Hui Chang Persecution.” Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Second Edition, Facts On File, 2016. Ancient and Medieval History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=100781&itemid=WE49&articleId=241699. Accessed 15 Oct. 2019