Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tong Guan

Tong Guan , Daofu , was a court eunuch, military general, political adviser, and Council of State to of the Song Dynasty .

Life and career

Tong Guan began his military career under the mentorship of a leading eunuch general of the 1080s, becoming one of many eunuch generals found during the Song period. Despite being a eunuch, it was written by many that Tong had strong personal character and was in peak physical condition, with a long beard that was considered unusual for eunuchs. Emperor Huizong agreed, despite some protest by other ministers at court. In a secret alliance and mission of envoys across the borders, Tong Guan played a leading role in the agreement that was reached between the Jurchens and the Song government to divide Liao's territory . In 1120, at the age sixty-six, Tong Guan was put in command of an army to begin the assault on the Liao state's southern capital at Yanjing. However, the campaign was halted for a time when word came to Tong Guan's camp that a revolt had broken out within the Song Empire, the Fang Xi Rebellion in Zhejiang province. His army was forced to march several hundred miles south to Zhejiang in order to suppress this rebellion. After successfully quelling this rebellion, his army marched back north but was routed in battle. Shortly after this, the Jurchens defeated the Liao at Yanjing and occupied the city. The city of Yanjing was turned over to Song forces only after a substantial payment was made to the Jurchens. Due to his losses and inability to take Yanjing, when Tong returned to the Song capital at Kaifeng he was forced to retire from his post as commander.

Although earlier forced to retire, in 1124 Tong Guan was called back into military service by Huizong, who trusted no other general more than Tong Guan for heading the mission across the northern border. However, in the last month of 1125, Tong Guan fled across the border back to Kaifeng in order to deliver the ill-fated news that the Jurchens had begun an invasion of Song China. Tong was made the leader of Huizong's personal bodyguard after Huizong abdicated the throne and fled from Kaifeng. Tong Guan was later blamed for much of the disaster that befell Song when the Jurchens conquered northern China. While Huizong was kept in captivity by the Jurchens, Huizong's successor had Tong Guan executed.

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