On 8 January 756, An Lushan crossed the Yellow River, quickly capturing Chenliu (陳留, roughly modern Kaifeng, Henan) and Yingyang (滎陽, roughly modern Zhengzhou, Henan) Commanderies. He approached Luoyang, where he encountered an ill-prepared army commanded by Feng, defeating Feng quickly and forcing Feng to flee and concede Luoyang to him. Feng joined forces with Gao and urged a retreat to Tong Pass; Gao agreed, and they took up defensive positions there, and An did not proceed quickly, but remained at Luoyang, planning to declare himself emperor there. (Soon, due to accusations of the eunuch Bian Lingcheng (邊令誠), Emperor Xuanzong executed Feng and Gao, and replaced Gao with Geshu Han.) Some Tang officials north of the Yellow River resisted An Lushan under the leadership of Yan Zhenqing, the governor of Pingyuan Commandery (平原, roughly modern Dezhou, Shandong). On Lunar New Year's day, 756 (5 February), An Lushan declared himself Emperor at Luoyang, establishing a new state of Yan, making Zhang Tongru and the surrendered Tang official Daxi Xun (達奚珣) his chancellors. He created An Qingxu the Prince of Jin and another son, An Qinghe (安慶和), the Prince of Zheng. Meanwhile, Yan Zhenqing's cousin Yan Gaoqing (顏杲卿), who initially submitted to An, rose against An at Changshan Commandery (常山, roughly modern Baoding, Hebei) but was quickly defeated and delivered to An in Luoyang; An executed him and sent An Qingxu to make an initial attack against Tong Pass, and Geshu Han repelled the attack.
By this time, the Tang generals Guo Ziyi and Li Guangbi had fought their way into Emperor An's territory north of the Yellow River, cutting off the communication between Luoyang and Fanyang, causing much fear in An's troops. An considered withdrawing north of the Yellow River to secure the territory, but meanwhile, suspicions had begun to rise between Yang Guozhong and Geshu, each believing that the other had designs on himself. Yang therefore persuaded Emperor Xuanzong to order Geshu to attack the Yan general Cui Qianyou, who was then stationed at Shan Commandery.
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