Yan Zhenqing -- A Politician with Integrity, A Brave General and A Great Calligrapher in Chinese Culture

Yan Zhenqing (709 -- 784) is one of the most exceptional calligraphers in the history of China; he was also a great general in the eight-year An-Shi Rebellion of the Tang Dynasty

One of his most valuable calligraphy masterpieces was finished during this war, after hearing his beloved nephew sacrificed in fighting against the rebel army.  

A Highborn Genius Who Didn't Flatter 

Yan Zhenqing was born into a noble family and achieved a high score on the Imperial Examination. Then he was promoted several times because of his excellent political performance.


However, the current Emperor Li Longji was enjoying life with his favorite concubine Yang Yuhuan, and soon nominated Yang’s brother as the most powerful prime minister.


However, Yan was too candid. He had never flattered and even displeased Yang's brother for several times. Yan was therefore demoted and banished to a small city. 


This small city was under the control of a powerful warlord, the person who initiated the eight-year-long rebellion war in the Tang Dynasty.


Sometime after Yan Zhenqing arrived in this city, he found the warlord was planning something against the Tang Empire.


Yan pretended to be a poet and a calligrapher who only loved literature and having fun; but secretly he constructed many defensive projects to protect his city. 


A Brave, Loyal and Successful General 

Years later, the rebel war started; Yan led his soldiers, and civilians fought against the rebel army bravely.


Of all the 24 cities that had been attacked by the warlord in the first round, only 2 cities didn’t surrender, Yan’s was one of them.


Initially, Yan only had about 3000 soldiers, but then he recruited and united more people who didn’t want to surrender.


He even sent money and his son as a hostage to make sure some powerful generals would stay firm and fight against the rebel army together. 


Yan’s brother was the leader of another city, who was also loyal and strong and fought against the rebel army decisively. 

In the end, they finally succeeded and defeated the rebel army with other Tang soldiers.


Yan Zhenqing was promoted because of his loyalty and his outstanding military achievements.


An Honorable Scholar Being Framed Up in His Late Years

Throughout his career, Yan Zhenqing had been promoted and demoted several times, and served in many positions; the highest was the teacher of the crown prince. 


However, some powerful people were displeased or threatened, because of his integrity, straightforward attitude, and exceptional achievements. 


When another army initiated another rebel war, Yan was framed up and was sent to the rebel army to "persuade" them to stop fighting by himself. 


Many people tried to stop this because everyone knew that the leader of the rebel army hated Yan very much.


But the person who set up this trap was quite powerful, so Yan went there anyway. 


Yan Zhenqing's Unbending Sacrifice

Yan was already 76 years old at that time.


This old man was captured right after he arrived, and was threatened and humiliated in the rebel army for a long time.


But he never complied as they commanded; he, like he always did, never abandoned his fidelity. So he was murdered soon. 

Yan Zhenqing had been banished, demoted, framed up several times, nevertheless, his loyalty to his country was permanent.


Besides, he was a great master in calligraphy who had created a new branch, which is influential and important throughout history. 


Nowadays, people could see his integrity and strength from his calligraphic masterpieces and excellent essays. 

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