Yes, I love my family. Even the guys from 1,000 years ago.
This week’s blog assignment: Find out how far back your family can reliably trace your ancestry, and write about the most distant ancestors your family has identified. What do you know about them? Where did they live? What were their occupations? What were their lives like?
Well, my mom has never hesitated to remind me that she is a princess. At least, if she were alive 1,396 years in ancient China she would be a princess. That being said, the most distant ancestor of mine that I’m 100% sure of (as in, my mom has an ancestry book) is Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, or Li Shimin.
(Fun fact: No one was ever allowed to call the emperor or the royal family by their real surname (Li), so the royal family chose a pseudonym, in this case, Tang, so that others could refer to them this way.)
Anyways, Shimin was, and will probably remain, the most famous person in my family. Born on 28 January of the year 598, Shimin grew up to eventually become the “co-founder” of the Tang Dynasty. He is typically considered as one of the (and possibly) greatest emperors in Chinese history, as his reign was considered the epitome of the ancient Chinese empire, a “golden age.” During his reign, China flourished both economically and militarily, spanning from Vietnam to Kazakhstan during his reign, the largest and strongest nation in the world at the time. Even after his death, China enjoyed peace and prosperity.
Shimin himself was a rationalist and scholar of logic and scientific reason, unlike his predecessors who heavily believed in superstitions and claims of signs from the heavens. Some historians say that he achieved greatness by enduring harsh criticism while not abusing his powers. He had 14 sons and 21 daughters.
His 9th son (Li Yuanying) was allotted a portion of land in Jiangxi where he acted as a lord, and soon that branch of the family faded into oblivion. It was that branch that my family is from, as after a couple hundred years, they showed up in Guangxi, where my grandfather was born.
When I was a kid, I’d always dreamed of becoming a princess. Guess I always was one. 🙂