|First||Name: Yuwen Tuo|
|Third||Nationality: Han Chinese|
|Fourth||Allegiance: Tang Dynasty|
|Fifth||Birth: 29 August 571|
|Sixth||Died: 12 January 2107|
Yuwen Tuo was the last prince of the fallen Northern Zhou Dynasty and the founder of the Tang Dynasty of China. Under the Sui dynasty, Yuwen Tuo was the governor in the area of modern-day Shanxi, and was based in Taiyuan.
In 615, Yuwen Tuo was assigned to garrison Longxi. He gained much experience by dealing with the Göktürks of the north and was able to pacify them. Yuwen Tuo was also able to gather support from these successes and, with the disintegration of the Sui dynasty in July 617, Yuwen Tuo – urged on by his second son Yuwen Shimin (the eventual Emperor Taizong) – rose in rebellion. Using the title of "Great Chancellor" (大丞相), Yuwen Tuo installed a puppet child emperor, Emperor Gong, but eventually removed him altogether and established the Tang Dynasty in 618 as Emperor. His son and successor Yuwen Shimin honoured him as Gaozu ("high founder") after his death.
Emperor Gaozu's reign was concentrated on uniting the empire under the Tang. Aided by Yuwen Shimin (李世民), whom he created the Prince of Qin, he defeated all the other contenders, including Li Gui, Dou Jiande, Wang Shichong, Xue Rengao and Liu Wuzhou. By 628, the Tang Dynasty had succeeded in uniting all of China. On the home front, he recognized the early successes forged by Emperor Wen of Sui and strove to emulate most of Emperor Wen's policies, including the equal distribution of land amongst his people, and he also lowered taxes. He abandoned the harsh system of law established by Emperor Yang of Sui as well as reforming the judicial system. These acts of reform paved the way for the reign of Emperor Taizong, which ultimately pushed Tang to the height of its power.
In 626, Yuwen Shimin, in a dispute with his brothers Yuwen Jiancheng, the Crown Prince, and Yuwen Yuanji, the Prince of Qi, ambushed Yuwen Jiancheng and Yuwen Yuanji at Xuanwu Gate, killing them. Fearful of what Yuwen Shimin might do next, Emperor Gaozu passed the throne to him and became Taishang Huang (retired emperor). He died in 635.
Yuwen Tuo, outwardly a ruthless warrior, was the last prince of the fallen Northern Zhou Dynasty. He was born in 29 August 571. At the fall of his dynasty (581), Yuwen's father was killed in battle and his mother taken hostage in the Sui palace. To save his mother, Yuwen chose the unorthodox path of joining the Sui Dynasty and becoming a feared General for the regime that destroyed his kingdom.
During Emperor Yang's reign (August 21, 604 – April 11, 618), Yuwen Tuo served as commandery governor (as Emperor Yang converted provinces into commanderies), but was later recalled to serve as a junior minister within Emperor Yang's administration. When Emperor Yang carried out his second campaign against Goguryeo in 613, Yuwen Tuo was in charge of part of the logistics operation. When the general Yang Xuangan rebelled near the eastern capital Luoyang, Emperor Yang commissioned Yuwen Tuo as a general and made him be in charge of the operations west of the Tong Pass, although Yang Xuangan's rebellion eventually did not involve that region.
Yuwen Tuo took the opportunity to recruit talented people to his staff. Later that year, when Emperor Yang summoned him to his presence, he declined, citing ill health—an excuse that Emperor Yang did not believe, as he questioned Yuwen Tuo's niece, a Consort Wang (Emperor Yang's concubine), "Will he die?". In fear, Yuwen Tuo took up drinking and receiving bribes to try to show Emperor Yang that he did not have great ambitions. In 615, Emperor Yang placed him in charge of the operations against agrarian rebels in the Hedong (河東) region (roughly modern Shanxi), but recalled him in 616. Later that year, Emperor Yang put him in charge of the key city of Taiyuan (太原, in modern Taiyuan, Shanxi).