Yelü clan

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The Yelü clan (Chinese: 耶律; pinyin: Yēlǜ; Khitan small script: Ei.ra.u.ud.svg) of the Khitan people assumed leadership of the Khitan nation in 907 when Abaoji became khan of the Khitan nation. The clan, written "i.ra.u.ud" in the Khitan language, maintained that leadership through the fall of the Liao dynasty in the 1120s. Even following this fall, members of the clan appear in history, most notably during the Mongols era of conquest in the thirteenth century.

Rise to power[edit]

Main article: Emperor Taizu of Liao

Abaoji, born in 872, was the son of the chieftain of the Yila tribe. At this time, the Yaolian clan had led the Khitan people since the mid-eighth century, and were the only Khitan family to have adopted a surname at this point as this was seen as a mark of Chinese culture and not befitting of peoples of the steppe.

In 901, Abaoji was elected chieftain of the Yila tribe and in 905 forged relations with Li Keyong of the Shatuo Turks. In 907, he was chosen leader of the Khitan, the first outside the Yaolian lineage to be chosen in more than a century and a half. From this, Abaoji and his successors developed the Liao dynasty, which would conquer all of Manchuria, the northern fringe of China known as the Sixteen Prefectures and adjacent areas of northern Korea, eastern Mongolia and parts of far-eastern Russia.

Liao dynasty[edit]

Main article: Liao dynasty

Every leader of the Liao dynasty was of the Yelu clan, which adopted the surname sometime in the 930s, after the death of Abaoji. The clan directly governed the southern half of the empire while the Xiao consort clan governed the north. The Southern Chancellory was charged with governing the sedentary population of the empire, mostly Chinese and residents of the conquered kingdom of Balhae. As such, there is evidence of at least limited sinification on the part of the Yelu clan.

Even as late as 1074, a proposal was brought before the Yelu khans to adopt surnames throughout the empire. This was rejected as an idea that would disrupt the Khitan order.

The dynasty fell to the Jurchen Jin dynasty in the 1110s, but the clan survived to lead another kingdom further to the west known as Kara Khitai, also known as the Western Liao in Chinese sources.

Yelü Leaders[edit]

Liao dynasty[edit]

Liao dynasty 907-1125
Temple Names ( Miao Hao 廟號 miàohào) Posthumous Names ( Shi Hao 諡號 shìhào) Born Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號 niánhào) and their according range of years
Convention: "Liao" + temple name except Liao Tianzuodi who is referred using "Liao" + posthumous name
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Nieli (耶律涅里 yēlǜ Nièlǐ)
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Pidie (耶律毗牒 yēlǜ Pídié)
Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Keling (耶律頦領 Yēlǜ Kélǐng)
Suzu (Posthumosly honored) (肅祖 Sùzŭ) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Noulisi (耶律耨里思 Yēlǜ Nòulǐsī)
Yizu (Posthumosly honored) (懿祖 Yìzŭ) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Salade (耶律薩剌德 Yēlǜ Sàlàde)
Xuanzu (Posthumosly honored) (玄祖 Xuánzŭ) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Yundeshi (耶律勻德實 Yēlǜ Yúndéshí)
Dezu (Posthumosly honored) (德祖 Dézŭ) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Saladi (耶律撤剌的 Yēlǜ Sālàdī)
Taizu (太祖 Tàizǔ) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Abaoji (耶律阿保機 Yēlǜ Ābǎojī) 907-926 Shence (神冊 Shéncè) 916-922

Tianzan (天贊 Tiānzàn) 922-926
Tianxian (天顯 Tiānxiǎn) 926

Taizong (太宗 Tàizōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Yaogu (耶律尧骨 Yēlǜ Yáogŭ) 926-947 Tianxian (天顯 Tiānxiǎn) 927-938

Huitong (會同 Huìtóng) 938-947
Datong (大同 Dàtóng) 947

Shizong (世宗 Shìzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Wuyu (耶律兀欲 Yēlǜ Wùyù) 947-951 Tianlu (天祿 Tiānlù) 947-951
Muzong (穆宗 Mùzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Shulu (耶律述律 Yēlǜ Shùlǜ) 951-969 Yingli (應曆 Yìnglì) 951-969
Jingzong (景宗 Jǐngzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Mingyi (耶律明扆 Yēlǜ Míngyǐ) 969-982 Baoning (保寧 Bǎoníng) 969-979

Qianheng (乾亨 Qiánhēng) 979-982

Shengzong (聖宗 Shèngzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Wenshunu (耶律文殊奴 Yēlǜ Wénshūnú) 982-1031 Qianheng (乾亨 Qiánhēng) 982

Tonghe (統和 Tǒnghé) 983-1012
Kaitai (開泰 Kāitài) 1012-1021
Taiping (太平 Tàipíng) 1021-1031

Xingzong (興宗 Xīngzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Zhigu (耶律只骨 Yēlǜ Zhǐgŭ) 1031-1055 Jingfu (景福 Jǐngfú) 1031-1032

Chongxi (重熙 Chóngxī) 1032-1055

Daozong (道宗 Dàozōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Chala (耶律查剌 Yēlǜ Chálà) 1055-1101 Qingning (清寧 Qīngníng) 1055-1064

Xianyong (咸雍 Xiányōng) 1065-1074
Taikang (太康 Tàikāng) or Dakang (大康 Dàkāng) 1075-1084
Da'an (大安 Dà'ān) 1085-1094
Shouchang (壽昌 Shòuchāng) or Shoulong (壽隆 Shòulóng) 1095-1101

Did not exist Tianzuodi (天祚帝 Tiānzuòdì) Yelü Aguo (耶律阿果 Yēlǜ Aguŏ) 1101-1125 Qiantong (乾統 Qiántǒng) 1101-1110

Tianqing (天慶 Tiānqìng) 1111-1120
Baoda (保大 Bǎodà) 1121-1125

Kara Khitai[edit]

Sovereigns of Kara-Khitan Khanate 1124 or 1125-1221
Temple Names ( Miao Hao 廟號 miàohào) Posthumous Names ( Shi Hao 諡號 shìhào) Birth Names Convention Period of Reign Era Names (Nian Hao 年號 niánhào) and their according range of years
Convention: check each sovereign
Dezong (德宗 Dézōng) Tianyouwuliedi (天祐武烈帝 Tiānyòuwǔlièdì) Yelü Dashi (耶律大石 Yēlǜ Dàshí or 耶律達實 Yēlǜ Dáshí) 1 use born name 1124-1144 Yanqing (延慶 Yánqìng) 1124 or 1125-1134

Kangguo (康國 Kāngguó) 1134-1144

Did not exist Gantianhou (感天后 Gǎntiānhòu) Tabuyan (塔不煙 Tǎbùyān) "Xi Liao" + posthumous name 1144-1150 Xianqing (咸清 Xiánqīng) 1144-1150
Emperor Renzong of Western Liao (仁宗 Rénzōng) Too tedious thus not used when referring to this sovereign Yelü Yilie (耶律夷列 Yēlǜ Yíliè) "Xi Liao" + temple name 1150-1164 Shaoxing (紹興 Shàoxīng) 1150-1164
Did not exist Chengtianhou (承天后 Chéngtiānhòu) Yelü Pusuwan (耶律普速完 Yēlǜ Pǔsùwán) "Xi Liao" + posthumous name 1164-1178 Chongfu (崇福 Chóngfú) 1164-1178
Did not exist Mozhu (末主 Mòzhǔ) or Modi (末帝 Mòdì) Yelü Zhilugu (耶律直魯古 Yēlǜ Zhílǔgǔ) use born name 1178-1211 Tianxi (天禧 Tiānxī) 1178-1211
Did not exist Did not exist Kuchlug (Ch. 屈出律 Qūchūlǜ) use born name 1211-1218 Did not exist
1 "Dashi" might be the Chinese title "Taishi", meaning "vizier"; Or it could mean "Stone" in Turkish, as the Chinese transliteration suggests

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 37–42, 53, 75–76.