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|Emperor Taizu of (Later) Zhou (more...)|
an illustration from Sancai Tuhui (1609)
|1st emperor of Later Zhou|
|Reign||13 February 951 – 22 February 954|
|Successor||Chai Rong (Emperor Shizong), nephew of 1st wife|
|Born||10 September 904|
modern Longyao County, Hebei
|Died||22 February 954 (aged 49)|
modern Kaifeng, Henan
in modern Xinzheng, Henan
|Daughter (m. Zhang Yongde)|
|Father||Guo Jian (郭簡)|
|Mother||Lady Wang (王氏)|
Guo Wei (郭威) (10 September 904 – 22 February 954), also known by his temple name Taizu (太祖), was the founding emperor of imperial China's short-lived Later Zhou during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, reigning from 951 until his death.
When Guo Wei was born in 904 in Yaoshan (堯山; in modern Longyao County, Hebei), the Tang Dynasty had disintegrated into regions controlled by warlords fighting amongst one another. Guo was just a toddler when his family moved to Taiyuan (in modern Shanxi), as his father Guo Jian (郭簡) became the prefect (刺史) of Shunzhou (順州, modern Shunyi District, Beijing), serving the Taiyuan-based warlord Li Keyong. Shortly afterwards, Guo Jian was killed by warlord Liu Rengong's forces which conquered Shunzhou, and before Guo Wei's deciduous teeth fell out his mother Lady Wang (王氏) also died. Orphaned, the young boy was raised by a distant relative, Lady Han (韓氏).
Guo Wei grew up into a muscular young man interested more in warfare than agriculture. He was also fond of drinking and gambling and frequently participated in brawls. When he was around 17, to escape arrest, he went to live with an acquaintance Gentleman Chang (常氏) in Huguan close to Luzhou (潞州, modern Changzhi, Shanxi), shortly before joining the army of Luzhou's interim regent (留後) Li Jitao. Li Jitao was serving Jin, ruled by Li Keyong's son Li Cunxu, but actually plotting to defect to the Later Liang, Jin's archenemy. He was therefore more interested in recruiting brave and talented soldiers than enforcing the law, so when an inebriated Guo stabbed a menacing marketplace butcher to death following an argument, he let Guo walk free, eventually summoning Guo back to serve him.
In 923, Li Cunxu established the Later Tang and overthrew Later Liang. Li Jitao was killed a few months later and all of his former soldiers, including 19-year-old Guo Wei, were assigned to the cavalry rotations. As Guo was literate and good at mathematics, he soon became an officer. He delved into the available literature on military strategy as much as he could, particularly enjoying Spring and Autumn Annals for a Wider World (閫外春秋), recommended by a blood brother Li Qiong (李瓊).
In 927, the Later Tang emperor Li Siyuan personally led an army to suppress Zhu Shouyin's rebellion. Guo Wei, then under the leadership of general Shi Jingtang, was among the first soldiers scaling the defensive wall of Xun (in modern Henan). Shi saw Guo's literary talents and tasked him to manage military records. Guo proved very popular among generals and ministers.
Later Tang was replaced by the Later Jin in 936.
The Later Han was founded by a Shatuo Turk by the name of Liu Zhiyuan, posthumously known as Gaozu of Later Han. Guo Wei was already familiar with life under the Shatuo Turks as he had lived under their rule since he was nineteen years old. He served as the Assistant Military Commissioner to the founder of the Later Han. However, when a teenager assumed the throne in 948, court intrigue enabled Guo to usurp the throne in a coup and declare himself the founding Emperor of the Later Zhou Dynasty on New Year’s Day in 951.
He was the first Han Chinese Emperor in northern China since 923. His rule was able and he passed reforms that attempted to relieve pressures on China’s massive peasantry. His rule was vigorous and well-organized. However, he died from an illness three years into his reign in 954.
|Ancestors of Guo Wei, Emperor Taizu of Later Zhou|
House of Guo (951–960)Born: 904 Died: 954
None (state founded)
| Emperor of Later Zhou
Guo Rong (Emperor Shizong)
Liu Chengyou of Later Han
| Emperor of China (Central)|
Li Jing of Southern Tang
| Emperor of China (Northwestern Hunan) (de jure)|
| Emperor of China (Southeastern Hunan) (de jure)|