Emperor Yangdi of Sui was the second son of Emperor Wendi of Sui and the last emperor of Sui Dynasty in China. Also called Yang Guang, Emperor Yangdi of Sui was famous for its brutality and inhumanity, which generally is considered to be the important reasons that lead Sui Dynasty to devastation.
Emperor Yangdi actually was named Yang Ying, but later renamed by Emperor Wendi according to some suggestions of mysterious saints at the time. Yang Guang was assigned as Jin Prince after the foundation of Sui Dynasty. In 588, Yang Guang took charge of absolute command of armies to conquer Chen State, and was highly valued by the victory. Yang Guang was a cunning man and made finally he himself be the heir of Emperor Wendi. Emperor Wendi died in 604 suddenly. Many historians believed Yang Guang murdered his father. Yang Guang eventually became the second Emperor of Sui Dynasty.
During his ruling time from 604 to 618, Emperor Yangdi finished some large-scale construction projects. The first historically famous project was Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal which greatly facilitated the north-south connection and exchange in waterway. Besides, it was another important channel for food transportation from south China to north China to meet the need of wars. Some other historians thought it was originally used for the amusement of Emperor Yangdi when Emperor Yangdi found there were many beauties in southern China. All in all, the construction of Grand Canal was the greatest project inferior to the Great Wall in ancient China. He also committed to the reconstruction of the Great Wall, a project that six million laborers worked for. Emperor Yangdi also launched several large wars for territorial extension, and caused thousands of soldiers to die. One of which, the conquest of Champa in what is now central and southern Vietnam, caused death of thousands of Sui soldiers through malaria. These expeditures, along with a series of disastrous campaigns against Goguryeo (one of the three kingdoms of Korea), left the empire bankrupt and the people in revolt. With northern China in turmoil, Emperor Yang spent his last days in Jiangdu, where he was eventually strangled in a coup led by his general Yuwen Huaji. Emperor Yangdi was a controversial emperor in Chinese history, and most considered him as the tyrant but some others thinks he indeed a great job in consolidating and developing China.
As a historic man, Emperor Yangdi gave us lots of lessons that learned carefully by later rulers and administrators meanwhile also left us many treasured tangible and invisible heritage which for sure is an important part of Chinese culture.
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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