Siege of Ansi

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Siege of Ansi
Part of the First campaign in the Goguryeo–Tang War
Date20 June–18 September 645
Result Goguryeo victory
Goguryeo Tang
Commanders and leaders
Yang Manchun
Go yeon-su (POW)
Go hye-jin (POW)
Emperor Taizong of Tang
Li Shiji
Zhangsun Wuji
Li Daozong (WIA)
Ashina She'er
Xue Rengui
Fu Fuai Executed
~5,000 garrisons
~150,000 Rescue Troops
~At least 30,000 soldiers[1]
Casualties and losses
20,000+ killed
36,800 surrendered[2]
2,000 killed[1]
Korean name
Revised RomanizationAnsiseong jeontu
McCune–ReischauerAnshisŏng chŏnt'u

The Siege of Ansi was a battle between Goguryeo and Tang forces in Ansi, a fortress in the Liaodong Peninsula, and a part of First campaign in the Goguryeo–Tang War. The confrontation had lasted for about 3 months from 20 June 645 to 18 September 645.[3]


On 1 April 645, Spearheads of Tang forces led by Li Shiji pretended to march to camp Huaiyuan and suddenly started to invade Goguryeo. They attacked several castles including Shin and Geonan, etc. to muddle defense system of Goguryeo. As the plan had failed, Li Shiji made an array of all of Tang force and they started to attack Gaemo on 15 April. Gaemo was fallen on 25 April. At the same time, the naval forces led by Zhang Liang had landed in Liaodong Peninsula and captured Bisa on 2 May. Meanwhile, Emperor Taizong of Tang joined the forces and they captured Yodong and Baegam one after another. They had decided to attack Ansi and invaded the fortress on 20 June. Against that, Yeon Gaesomun, Generalissimo of Goguryeo, sent about 150,000 forces with Go yeon-su and Go hye-jin to rescue Ansi.[4]


The battle to rescue Ansi[edit]

150,000 Goguryeo forces, which were led by general Go Yeonsu and general Go Hyezin, were sent to rescue Ansi. On 20 July, the two sides descended into battle. Tang Dynasty sent Li Shiji leading 15,000 infantry and cavalry to fight Goguryeo Army directly. But Tang general Zhangsun Wuji led 11,000 elite cavalry across the canyon from the north of the mountain to hit the rear of Goguryeo forces. In the battle, Taizong personally led 4,000 infantry and cavalry to fight. Tang army came out victorious in the end, nearly decimating the Goguryeo forces. At least 20,000 Goguryeo soldier were killed and 36,800 Goguryeo soldiers including their generals Go Yeonsu and Go Hyezin, surrendered. Only around 10,000 managed to escape. Tang army capture 50,000 horses, over 50,000 cattle, and over 10,000 iron armors. [2] After the battle Tang had succeeded in isolating Ansi fortress from other Goguryeo territory.

Assault on the Ansi fortress[edit]

Tang attacked Ansi Fortress with several siege weapons including catapult and battering ram. However Goguryeo repelled the attacks and repaired the ramparts each time. As a result, Taizong was furious and Li Shi asked to massacre all the men and women if the fortress was captured. After Anshi people heard this, they defended the fortress more tenaciously, the Tang Army's assaults were repelled several times. When the Geonan fortress attack came to a standstill, Tang was in a hurry. So Tang Army attacked the west side of the fortress as many as six or seven times per day.[3] One night, hundreds of Goguryeo soldiers climbed out of the fortress and attempted to attack the Tang Army. When Taizong heard about it, he called up soldiers to make an emergency jointly attack, killed dozens of enemies, and the rest of the Goguryeo soldiers fled back to the fortress. Under the leadership of Tang's prince Li Daozong, Tang force attempted to build a rampart in the southeastern corner of the fortress, gradually approaching the wall. Meanwhile, the external wall was constantly raised by the garrison. Li Daozong was injured in the battle. The Tang used 500,000 laborers and soldiers to build the rampart and the top of the rampart was only a few feet away from the fortress.[1] It overlooked the city downward. Fu Fuai, one commander of the Tang Army, stationed his troops on the top of the rampart. However, Fu Fuai left the camp privately and the rampart suddenly fell, at last Goguryeo army occupied the rampart. Taizong was very angry and put Fu Fuai to death. After that, Tang tried to regain the rampart for 3 days by turning loose on there but Tang failed. In addition, the weather was getting colder and food ran out. So Tang unavoidably retired.[5] Tang Taizong's retreat was difficult and many of his soldiers died.[6] Taizong himself tended to the injuries of the Turkic generals Qibi Heli and Ashina Simo, who were both wounded during the campaign against Goguryeo.[7]


Tang Dynasty estimated that about 2,000 Tang soldiers were killed during the 3 month long battle period and Tang Army lost plenty of war horses estimate 8,000. Taizong thought he could not win the war meanwhile feeling deeply sorry in the end.[1] In 645, Emperor Taizong founded the Minzhong Temple, the oldest temple in Beijing, to commemorate his soldiers who died in Goguryeo.[8][9][10][11]

Emperor Taizong prepared another invasion in 648, but died, possibly due to an illness he contracted during his Goguryeo campaigns.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

The 2018 South Korean film The Great Battle is based on this siege.


  1. ^ a b c d "资治通鉴·唐纪·唐纪十四_古诗文网". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  2. ^ a b Graff, David. Medieval Chinese Warfare 300–900. Routledge. p. 197. ISBN 9781134553532. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b "민족문화대백과사전- 안시성전투". encykorea (in Korean). Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "안시성싸움[安市城─] - 두피디아". (in Korean). Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "안시성싸움". (in Korean). Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Graff, David. Medieval Chinese Warfare 300–900. Routledge. p. 198. ISBN 9781134553532. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  7. ^ Skaff 2012, p. 95.
  8. ^ "Record of Restoring the Buddha Relic at Minzhong Temple". Museum of the Institute of History and Philology. Academia Sinica. The Minzhong Temple is known today as the Fayuan Temple in Beijing. The temple was built by Emperor Li Shimin to mourn and salvage the lost souls in his failed attempt to conquer Goguryeo.
  9. ^ Haw, Stephen G. Beijing – A Concise History. Routledge. p. 171. ISBN 9781134150335. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  10. ^ Perkins, Dorothy. Encyclopedia of China: History and Culture. Routledge. ISBN 9781135935696. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  11. ^ Jaivin, Linda. Beijing. Reaktion Books. ISBN 9781780233000. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  12. ^ Chen, Jack Wei. The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Harvard University Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780674056084. Retrieved 4 August 2016.