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Tong Guan (童貫; 10541126), style name Daofu (道夫), was a Chinese court eunuch, military general, political adviser, and Council of State to Emperor Huizong (1100–1125) of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Life and careerEditar

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.[1] 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.[1] Tong gained his first military victory in battle during the year of 1104, Emperor Huizong granted him a valuable document of his own calligraphy, written in his unique "slender gold" style.[1] After Tong gained reputation by commanding a series of victorious battles in the northwest against the Tanguts, Tong Guan became the favorite military general and advisor of Emperor Huizong.[1] In the year 1111 he accompanied a diplomatic mission to the Liao Dynasty to the northeast, and after this his career steadily advanced. In 1112 he was promoted to the top of the military command structure and by 1116 he was the first eunuch in Song times to gain entry into the top echelons of central administration as one of the chief policy-makers.[1] Tong Guan was involved in all of the elite social gatherings of the time, as his name appeared as a guest on numerous lists for organized parties and banquets hosted by Emperor Huizong.[1] Tong Guan was also one of only ten palace eunuchs who had their biographies as painters compiled and written for the court.[1]

In the year 1118, Guan suggested to Huizong that a military alliance with the Jurchens would be favorable in crushing the Liao once and for all.[2] 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 (while the Song would ultimately obtain their coveted prize: the Sixteen Prefectures). 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 La 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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] 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.

FootnotesEditar

  1. 1,0 1,1 1,2 1,3 1,4 1,5 1,6 1,7 1,8 1,9 Ebrey, 166
  2. Ebrey, 165.

ReferencesEditar

  • Ebrey, Walthall, Palais (2006). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-13384-4.zh:童貫

ja:童貫 ko:동관

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