(posthumous title, Kao-tsu). Born 566; died June 25, 635. Chinese emperor, 618–26; founder of the T’ang dynasty.
Li Yüan was a powerful feudal lord from the province of Shansi. Taking advantage of the weakened power of the Sui dynasty, which had resulted from numerous peasant uprisings and internecine feudal strife, Li Yüan seized the capital, Ch’ang-an, in 617. There he was proclaimed emperor in 618. Together with his son, Li Shih-min, he fought to subjugate the entire country. Attempting to end the peasant uprisings, he announced a reduction in the tax burden. He was removed from power by Li Shih-min.