Zhang Yichao (張義朝 or 張義潮 or 張議潮) (799?-872) was an ethnic Han Chinese resident of Sha Prefecture (沙洲, in modern Dunhuang, Gansu), who, with the ruling Tibetan state (Tufan) plunged into civil war, led a rebellion against the Tibetans and reverted the region to allegiance to China's Tang Dynasty. He subsequently conquered the Hexi Corridor region and governed it as the military governor (Jiedushi) of Guiyi Circuit (歸義, headquartered in modern Dunhuang) under nominal authority of the Tang emperors.
Rebellion against the Tibetans
Little is known about Zhang Yichao's early life, other than that he was a resident of Sha Prefecture (Dunhuang). By 851, the Tibetan Empire (Tufan), which had ruled the southern Xinjiang and Gansu regions since the Tang recalled its garrisons from these territories in the aftermaths of the Anshi Rebellion, was being torn by civil war. Zhang secretly plotted with the other Han Chinese residents of Sha Prefecture, planning to return Sha Prefecture to Tang allegiance. One day, he led armed soldiers and approached the city gates, and the Han all rose in response. The Tufan defenders of the city, surprised, abandoned the city and fled. Zhang thereafter claimed the title of acting prefect of Sha Prefecture and submitted a petition to then-reigning Emperor Xuānzong, offering to submit. Emperor Xuānzong thus made him the defender (防禦使, Fangyushi) of Sha Prefecture.
Later in the year, Zhang launched troops to clear 10 other nearby prefectures of Tufan forces — Gua (瓜州, in modern Jiuquan, Gansu); Yi (伊州, in modern Hami Prefecture, Xinjiang); Xi (西州, in modern Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang); Gan (甘州, in modern Zhangye, Gansu); Su (肅州, in modern Jiuquan); Lan (蘭州, in modern Lanzhou, Gansu); Shan (鄯州, in modern Haidong Prefecture, Qinghai); He (河州, in modern Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu); Min (岷州, in modern Dingxi, Gansu); and Kuo (廓州, in modern Haidong) — and then prepared the files about and the maps of the 11 prefectures and had his brother Zhang Yize (張義澤) go to the Tang capital Chang'an to submit the files and maps to Emperor Xuānzong, effectively submitting control of the 11 prefectures to Tang. Emperor Xuānzong established a new Guiyi Circuit (歸義), with its capital at Sha Prefecture, to govern the 11 prefectures, and made Zhang Yichao its military governor, and made his secretary Cao Yijin (曹義金) its secretary general.
As military governor of Guiyi
In 866, Zhang submitted a report stating that the Huigu chieftain Gujun (固俊) had recaptured, from Tufan, Xi Prefecture, Ting Prefecture (庭州, in modern Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang), Luntai (輪台, in modern Ürümqi, Xinjiang), and Qingzhen (清鎮, modern location unknown) — apparently implying that Gujun did so under his command.
In 867, Zhang went to Chang'an to pay homage to then-reigning Emperor Yizong (Emperor Xuānzong's son). Emperor Yizong made him a general of the imperial guards and kept him at Chang'an. Emperor Yizong also commissioned Zhang's nephew Zhang Huaishen (張淮深) to serve as the acting military governor of Guiyi. He died in 872, apparently while still at Chang'an, and Emperor Yizong commissioned Cao Yijin to be the military governor of Guiyi.
Notes and references
- The Chinese Wikipedia article on Zhang Yichao gave his birth year as 799, apparently citing as its source the Biography of Zhang Yichao contained in a work known as the Additions to the Book of Tang (補唐書), but as the source is apparently not available on line, the information has not been verified.
- Silkroad Foundation | Dunhuang Studies, retrieved Feb. 5, 2010.
- Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 249.
- Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 250.
- Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 252.