This is an incredibly interesting period in Chinese history. This ruling family was actually half foreign- part Chinese and part Turks from Central Asia. They were significantly interested in foreign matters. The most famous emperor associated with the Tang Dynasty was Li Shimin- he was the embodiment of the Tang dynasty. He was a great warrior. Under Li Shimin, China expanded to the north and to the west. Li Shimin was also a writer and a reader, and he believed that political readers should indeed be intellectual and well educated. He wrote a lot himself. He wrote about the skills and attributes of a good emperor. Under Li Shimin, China not only grows dramatically, but it also becomes a super cosmopolitan empire. Its capital city was Chang'an- the largest city in the world at the time. Chang'an was designed on a grid pattern, very systematically laid out according to a plan. In fact, the city was divided up into a lot of different neighborhoods and each one was gated. It was a very international city and atmosphere as there were lots of foreigners. They came there as merchants, specifically it was sort of the end point in the old Silk Road and so tons of foreign merchants came there buying and selling. There were also a lot of Persians and Japanese. It is also very international because it was a real center for Buddhism. There were a lot of Buddhist monasteries and convents. During this period, the Chinese were open to foreigners and welcome to foreigners- they embrace things foreign. The son of Li Shimin is a great example of this- he was obsessed with all thinks Turkish. He spoke the language and preferred to use this, he ate in a Turkish manner, he lived in a tent like the Turks did, and he also played Polo. Tang Dynasty actively promoted Buddhism. Li Shimin himself was a patron of Buddhism. He spent a lot of money on the construction of Buddhist monasteries. China opened up and invited scholars to come there to study Buddhism. It was also a great age in literature, especially poetry. The great poet of the Tang dynasty was Li Bo- he wrote about 20,000 poets in his lifetime. Poetry was such a big deal during this time. It was expected to bring your own poetry to parties. This all comes to and end during the An Lushan Rebeliion. An Lushan was a commander posted to the frontiers of China. Even though there were great examples of military commanders, as that period unfolds, fewer and fewer members of the Chinese people wanted to serve in their own armies. The troops were loyal to their immediate commander but not to the Chinese state. An Lushan had decided to break away and he had the troops to support him. His rebellion lasted for about eight years and it changed China. China starts to pull back some. The later Tang is different and it affects the Song Dynasty.