Thirteen Shaolin Monks Rescue the Tang Emperor
At the ending of the Sui Dynasty and beginning of the Tang Dynasty (circa AD 618), the Sui engaged in battle with the Tang armies. The Sui general Wang Shicong, giving himself the title Prince Zheng, led his army to the Honan Province mountains. He was met by Li Shimin leader of the Tang army. Fighting continued for several days, before Li Shimin was captured by the Sui and the Tang army was defeated. The Tang army quickly sent a message to the famous Honan Shaolin Temple desperately asking for help. The head masters of Shaolin had already encountered the Sui when their lands were seized by Wang Shicong.
Immediately thirteen Shaolin fighting monks were dispersed ambush the Sui army. The Shaolin monks, lead by Zhi Chao, Tan Zong, and Hui Yang, surprised the army, captured Wang Shicong’s nephew, and defeated a whole division of the Sui.
The monks rescued Li Shimin and returned to back home to Shaolin. Li Shimin rose to power and became the first Tang Dynasty Emperor. He reportedly supported Shaolin by giving generous amounts of land, wealth, and granted many special requests. Even today there are lions guarding the temple and even monuments with the emperor’s signature. Shaolin had prospered through Emperor Li’s gifts and had grown to over 1000 with 500 being fighting monks. At the height of Shaolin it had grown to over 2000 monks. Through its history Shaolin had participated in many military campaigns, although they remained a peaceful order.