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T' ang Studies 18-19 (2000-01) The Last Year of the T'ang-907, Not 906 PAUL W. KROLL UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO It is a cause for minor dismay to see that some scholars persist in citing 906 as the final year of the T'ang dynasty. There are also certain university presses and museums that insist on this date, even though authors and curators provide evidence to the contrary . 1 That evidence is clear and incontrovertible. It is as follows. The last monarch of T'ang, Li Chu *~£, posthumously titled Ai-ti :Rif& (and, subsequently by the Later T'ang, Chao-hsiian-ti Bl1'g$), formally abdicated the throne on the chia-tzu E13-=f day of the fourth month of the fourth year of the T'ien-yu 7(1;b ("Heavenly Safekeeping") reign-period. That date is equivalent to the 1st of June, 907. The Chiu T'ang shu ~m?flf, Hsin T'ang shu *JTfflf~" Hsin Wu-tai shih *JTlif-t3!:, and Tzu-chih t'ung-chien jiY5iffiii all agree on this.2 Four days later, on the wu-ch'en ~~ day (= 5 June 907)"the newly installed emperor" Chu Wen *i~(posthumously 1 Perhaps the most unfortunate of all such errors, because so visible and consequently influential, is that made in the subtitle of the prestigious Cambridge History of China, vol. 3: Sui and Tang China, 589-906, part 1, ed. D. Twitchett (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979). 2 Chiu Tang shu (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chil, 1975), 20B.810; Hsin Tang shu (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chil, 1975), 10.305; Hsin Wu-tai shih (Peking: Chunghua shu-chil, 1974),2.13; Tzu-chih fung-chien (Hong Kong: Chung-hua shu-chil, 1976), 266.8673. The statement in the Chiu Tang shu, preceding the emperor's official proclamation of abdication, is as terse as possible: EfI-=fij.$, "On the chia-tzu day the deed was done." This is a wonder of rhetorical phrasing, coming after numerous entries about the machinations of Chu Wen to bring events to this point. Only the Chiu Wu-tai shih 1!!E {i;~ (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chil, 1976), 3.47, is out of step on the day, confusing the date of abdication with the decretal date of the new reign-period; see 3.57 n. 2 for a comment on this discrepancy . 107 Kroll: T'ang's Last Year-907 Liang T'ai-tsu **ffr§.), whose designs had at last come to fruition after years of treachery, violence, and maneuvering, proclaimed the establishment of his own Liang *dynasty and decreed a new reign-period, K'ai-p'ing F7fjzp. (UOpenedTranquility").3 Why, then, should there be any reason to cite 906 as the ending date of the T'ang? It is common practice that, since Chinese and Western years do not exactly coincide, most scholars give year-dates by using the Western year with which the Chinese year most fully coincides. This usually results in a discrepancy of from two to six weeks at the beginning of the Western year. We seem to find this level of approximation and error generally acceptable , although there are instances when the practice does yield particularly misleading dates-as in the death-dates of the famous official and poet Shang-kuan I L'§'1R who was executed on 3 January 665 but who is commonly said to have died in 664 (because his execution took place near the end of Lin-te ml.H~1, which mostly corresponds to our 664)or the even more renowned official and poet Chang Yueh 5.&m who breathed his last on 9 February 731 but who is commonly said to have died in 730 (because he died at the end of K'ai-yuan 1*J7G 18,which mostly corresponds to our 730).4 One may think these are not matters of consequence, though no doubt an extra three or thirty-nine days of life would 3 The unlucky Li Chu, who had never been anything but a puppet during his few years on the throne and who was just sixteen sui at the time of his forced abdication, was made Prince of Chi-yin 1J1f~3:.,a title...


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