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Dynasty: China - Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD)
Ruler: Kao Tsu (Li Yuan)
Reigned: 613 AD - 626 AD
Denomination: Bronze Kai Yuan
Obverse: "Kai Yuan tong bao" (The Inaugural Currency)
Reverse: Crescent
Reference: S 315
Weight: 3.4 gms
Diameter: 23.4 mm


The Tang dynasty was founded by Li Yuan, who became emperor Gao Zu, the first emperor of the Tang. He had been successful in his bid for power following the death of the emperor Yang Ti, last of the declining Sui dynasty.

Later, Li Yuan was then compelled to abdicate in favour of his son Li Shi-min, who ascended the throne as Emperor Tai Zong.

Tai Zong was a wise and able ruler. During his reign China flourished, and there was a flowering of arts and culture. Goods and ideas, such as silk, spices and paper-making, were sent to the west down the Silk Road. China increased it's influence in Central Asia and defeated the Eastern Turks.

Tai Zong died in 649 A.D., and was succeeded by his son Gao Zong, who was a weak ruler, dominated by his wife Wu Zetian. His son Zhong Zong ruled after his death, but as Wu Zetian's puppet.

Wu Zetian then ruled, the only woman to rule in her own right in Chinese history. In spite of later prejudice, she was a wise and able ruler.

Wu Zetian was deposed shortly before her death in 705 A.D. She was followed by Xuan Zong.

Xuan Zong presided over the Golden Age of China, but as his reign wore on, he became infatuated with the infamous Yang Guifei and neglected state affairs. Incursions by barbarians increased and the economy declined due to corruption. The rebellion of An Lushan and Shi Siming took 8 years to put down, weakening the state and putting power into the hands of powerful regional warlords. In the late 740s, Chinese troops claimed lordship over Kabul and Kashmir of India, but in 751 A.D. at the Battle of Talas River, China lost to an army of Muslim Arabs, supported by Uighurs, Khitan, Mongols, Tangut and Thais. China thus lost its hold on Central Asia.

After Xuan Zong the Tang Empire began a long decline. Floods, famine and taxes took their toll and the population fell greatly. Northern incursions became more common, until, in 907 A.D. the throne was seized by Zhu Quangzong (Zhu Huang).

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