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Emperor Huizong of Song
"Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign 23 February 1100 – 18 January 1126
"Coronation 23 February 1100
Predecessor "Emperor Zhezong
Successor "Emperor Qinzong
Born Zhao Ji
(1082-06-07)7 June 1082["citation needed]
Died 4 June 1135(1135-06-04) (aged 52)
Burial 1137 (Qin Records)
Empresses "Empress Xiangong
"Empress Xiansu
Empress Mingda
Empress Mingjie
Empress Xianren
Concubines 143 concubines
Issue 38 sons and 34 daughters
Era dates
Jianzhongjingguo (建中靖國; 1101)
Chongning (崇寧; 1102–1106)
Daguan (大觀; 1107–1110)
Zhenghe (政和; 1111 – October 1118)
Chonghe (重和; November 1118 – February 1119)
Xuanhe (宣和; February 1119 – 1125)
"Posthumous name
Tishen Hedao Junlie Xungong Shengwen Rende Xianci Xianxiao "Huangdi
(體神合道駿烈遜功聖文仁德憲慈顯孝皇帝) (awarded in 1143)
"Temple name
Huizong (徽宗)
"House "House of Zhao
Father "Emperor Shenzong
Mother Empress Qinci
Emperor Huizong of Song
"Chinese 宋徽宗
Literal meaning "Fine/beautiful Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Ji
"Traditional Chinese 趙佶
"Simplified Chinese 赵佶
Duke Hunde
"Chinese 昏德公
Literal meaning Besotted Duke

Emperor Huizong of Song (7 June 1082["citation needed] – 4 June 1135), personal name Zhao Ji, was the eighth "emperor of the "Song dynasty in China. He was also a very well-known "calligrapher. Born as the 11th son of "Emperor Shenzong, he ascended the throne in 1100 upon the death of his elder brother and predecessor, "Emperor Zhezong, because Emperor Zhezong's only son died prematurely. He lived in luxury, sophistication and art in the first half of his life. In 1126, when the "Jurchen-led "Jin dynasty invaded the Song dynasty during the "Jin–Song Wars, Emperor Huizong abdicated and passed on his throne to his eldest son, "Emperor Qinzong, while he assumed the honorary title of "Taishang Huang (or "Retired Emperor"). The following year, the Song capital, "Bianjing, was conquered by Jin forces in an event historically known as the "Jingkang Incident. Emperor Huizong, along with Emperor Qinzong and the rest of their family, were taken captive by the Jurchens and brought back to the Jin capital, "Huining Prefecture in 1128. The Jurchen ruler, "Emperor Taizong, gave the former Emperor Huizong a title, Duke Hunde (literally "Besotted Duke"), to humiliate him. Emperor Huizong died in "Wuguocheng after spending about nine years in captivity.

Despite his incompetence in rulership, Emperor Huizong was known for his promotion of "Taoism and talents in "poetry, "painting, "calligraphy and "music. He sponsored numerous artists at his imperial court, and the catalogue of his collection listed over 6,000 known paintings.[1]



Emperor Huizong, besides his partaking in state affairs that favoured the reformist party that supported "Wang Anshi's "New Policies, was a cultured leader who spent much of his time admiring the arts. He was a collector of paintings, calligraphy, and antiques of previous dynasties, building huge collections of each for his amusement. He wrote poems of his own, was known as an avid painter, created his own calligraphy style, had interests in architecture and garden design, and even wrote treatises on medicine and Taoism.[2] He assembled an entourage of painters that were first pre-screened in an examination to enter as official artists of the imperial court, and made reforms to court music.[2] Like many learned men of his age, he was quite a polymath personality, and is even considered to be one of the greatest Chinese artists of all time. However, his reign would be forever scarred by the decisions made (by counsel he received) on handling foreign policy, as the end of his reign marked a period of disaster for the Song Empire.

Jurchen invasion[edit]

Emperor Huizong neglected the military, and the Song dynasty became increasingly weak and at the mercy of foreign invaders, despite his recasting of the symbolic "Nine Tripod Cauldrons in 1106 in an attempt to assert his authority.[3] When the "Jurchens founded the "Jin dynasty and attacked the "Khitan-led "Liao dynasty to the north of the Song, the Song dynasty allied with the Jin dynasty and attacked the Liao from the south. This succeeded in destroying the Liao, a longtime enemy of the Song. However, an enemy of the even more formidable Jin dynasty was now on the northern border. Not content with the annexation of the Liao domain, and perceiving the weakness of the Song army, the Jurchens soon declared war on their former ally, and by the beginning of 1126 the troops of the Jin "Western Vice-Marshal" Wolibu crossed the "Yellow River and came in sight of "Bianjing, the capital of the Song Empire. Stricken with panic, Emperor Huizong abdicated on 18 January 1126 in favour of his son, now known as "Emperor Qinzong (欽宗), and departed the capital.[4]

Pigeon on a Peach Branch, by Emperor Huizong

Overcoming the walls of Bianjing was a difficult undertaking for the Jurchen cavalry, and this, together with fierce resistance from some Song officials who had not totally lost their nerve, as Emperor Huizong had, resulted in the Jurchens lifting the siege of Bianjing and returning north. The Song Empire, however, had to sign a humiliating treaty with the Jin Empire, agreeing to pay a colossal war indemnity and to give a tribute to the Jurchens every year. From 1126 until 1138, refugees from the Song Empire migrated south towards the "Yangtze River valley.[5]

But even such humiliating terms could not save the Song dynasty. Within a matter of months, the troops of both Jurchen vice-marshals, Wolibu and "Nianhan,[6] were back south again, and this time they were determined to overcome the walls of Bianjing. After a bitter siege, the Jurchens eventually entered Bianjing on 9 January 1127, and many days of looting, rapes, and massacre followed. Emperor Huizong, his son Emperor Qinzong, as well as the entire imperial court and harem were captured by the Jurchens in an event known historically as the "Jingkang Incident, and transported north, mostly to the Jin capital of "Shangjing (in present-day "Harbin). One of the sons of Emperor Huizong managed to escape to southern China where, after many years of struggle, he would establish the "Southern Song dynasty, of which he was the first ruler, "Emperor Gaozong.

Emperors Huizong and Qinzong were demoted to the rank of commoners by the Jurchens on 20 March 1127. Then on 10 May 1127, Emperor Huizong was deported to "Heilongjiang, where he spent the last eight years of his life as a captive. In a humiliating episode, in 1128 the two former Song emperors had to venerate the Jin ancestors at their shrine in "Shangjing, wearing mourning dress.[7] The Jurchen ruler, "Emperor Taizong, granted the two former Song emperors degrading titles to humiliate them: Emperor Huizong was called "Duke Hunde" (昏德公; literally "Besotted Duke") while Emperor Qinzong was called "Marquis Chonghun" (重昏侯; literally "Doubly Besotted Marquis").[7]

In 1137, the Jin Empire formally notified the Southern Song Empire about the death of their former Emperor Huizong.[7] Emperor Huizong, who had lived in opulence and art for the first half of his life, died a broken man in faraway northern Heilongjiang in June 1135, at the age of 52.

A few years later (1141), as the peace negotiations leading up to the "Treaty of Shaoxing between the Jin and the Song empires were proceeding, the Jin Empire posthumously honored the former Emperor Huizong with the neutral-sounding title of "Prince of Tianshui Commandery" (天水郡王), after a "commandery in the upper reaches of the "Wei River.

Art, calligraphy, music, and culture[edit]

Emperor Huizong's calligraphy "Chong Ning Tongbao"

Emperor Huizong was a great "painter, "poet, and "calligrapher. He was also a player of the "guqin (as exemplified by his famous painting 聽琴圖 Listening to the Qin); he also had a Wanqin Tang (萬琴堂; "10,000 Qin Hall") in his palace.

The emperor took huge efforts to search for art masters. He established the "Hanlin Huayuan" (翰林畫院; "Hanlin imperial painting house") where top painters around China shared their best works.

The primary subjects of his paintings are birds and flowers. Among his works is Five-Colored Parakeet on Blossoming Apricot Tree. He also recopied "Zhang Xuan's painting "Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk, and Emperor Huizong's reproduction is the only copy of that painting that survives today.

Emperor Huizong invented the "Slender Gold" (瘦金體) style of calligraphy. The name "Slender Gold" came from the fact that the emperor's writing resembled gold filament, twisted and turned.

One of the emperor's "era names, Xuanhe, is also used to describe a style of "mounting paintings in scroll format. In this style, black borders are added between some of the silk planes.

In 1114, following a request from the "Goryeo ruler "Yejong, Emperor Huizong sent to the palace in the Goryeo capital at "Gaeseong a set of musical instruments to be used for royal banquet music. Two years later, in 1116, he sent another, even larger gift of musical instruments (numbering 428 in total) to the Goryeo court, this time "yayue instruments, beginning that nation's tradition of "aak.[8]

Emperor Huizong was also a great tea enthusiast. He wrote the "Treatise on Tea, the most detailed and masterful description of the Song sophisticated style of "tea ceremony.

Titles from birth[edit]




Title Name Birth Death Sons Daughters
"Empress Xian Gong Lady Wang 1084 1108 1 1
"Empress Xian Su Lady Zheng 1079 1131 1 5
Empress Ming Da Lady Liu Unknown Unknown 3 3
Empress Xian Ren Lady Wei 1080 1159 1 0
Empress Ming Jie Lady Liu 1088 1121 3 1
Noble Consort Lady Wang (Elder) Unknown Unknown 2 3
Noble Consort Lady Qiao 1081 Unknown 2 0
Noble Consort Yi Su Lady Wang Unknown 1117 2 5
Noble Consort Lady Wang (Younger) 1092 1127 1 1
Noble Consort Lady Cui 1091 1130 1 5
Able Consort Lady Yang Unknown 1115 1 1

At the time of the "Jingkang Incident, Huizong had in total 143 consorts and 504 court ladies and palace maids.


# Title Name Birth Death Mother
1 "Emperor Qinzong Huan 1100 1156 Empress Xian Gong
2 Prince of Yan Cheng 1101 1101 Empress Xian Su
3 Prince of Yun Kai 1101 1130 Noble Consort Wang (Elder)
4 Prince of Jing Ji 1102 1103 Unknown
5 Prince of Su Shu 1103 1130 Unknown
6 Prince of Jing Qi 1104 1138 Noble Consort Qiao
7 Prince of Ji Xu 1106 Unknown Noble Consort Qiao
8 Prince of Yi Yu 1107 1137 Empress Ming Da
9 "Emperor Gaozong Gou 1107 1187 Empress Xian Ren
10 Prince of Bin Cai 1107 1116 Unknown
11 Prince of Qi Mo 1107 1138 Empress Ming Da
12 Prince of Shen Zhi 1108 1148 Noble Consort Yi Su
13 Prince of Yi Pu 1109 1123 Unknown
14 Prince of Xu Di 1109 Unknown Unknown
15 Prince of Yi E 1110 1132 Noble Consort Wang (Younger)
16 Prince of Yun Gong 1110 1112 Unknown
17 Prince of He Shi 1111 1128 Able Consort Yang
18 Prince of Xin Zhen 1111 1139 Empress Ming Da
19 Prince of Han Chun 1112 1113 Noble Consort Cui
20 Prince of Ankang Wo 1112 Unknown Unknown
21 Prince of Guangping Jian 1112 Unknown Unknown
22 Duke of Chen Ji 1114 1114 Noble Consort Yi Su
23 Duke of Xiang Chan 1112 1137 Noble Consort Wang (Elder)
24 Duke of Ying Yue 1115 1131 Unknown
25 Prince of Jian'an Yang 1115 1127 Empress Ming Jie
26 Duke of Jia Yi 1118 1130 Empress Ming Jie
27 Duke of Wen Dong 1119 Unknown Unknown
28 Duke of Ying Si 1120 Unknown Empress Ming Jie
29 Duke of Yi Tong 1121 1148 Unknown
30 Duke of Chang Bing 1122 1132 Unknown
31 Duke of Run Cong 1123 Unknown Unknown
32 Duke of Han Xiang 1125 Unknown Unknown
33 Ji 1127 Unknown Lady Wang, Jieyu
34 Zhu 1130 Unknown Yan Bao Se, Wanrong
35 Tan 1131 Unknown Zheng Mei Niang, Zhaoyuan


# Title Name Birth Death Mother
1 Princess Jia De Yu Pan 1100 1141 Empress Xian Su
2 Princess Rong De Jin Nu 1103 Unknown Empress Xian Gong
3 Princess Shun Shu Unknown 1103 1105 Able Consort Yang
4 Princess Shou Shu Unknown 1104 1106 Empress Xian Su
5 Princess Hui Shu Unknown 1105 1105 Noble Consort Yi Su
6 Princess An Shu Unknown 1105 1109 Empress Ming Da
7 Princess Chong De Unknown 1105 1121 Noble Consort Wang (Elder)
8 Princess An De Jin Luo 1106 1127 Empress Xian Su
9 Princess Mao De Fu Jin 1106 1128 Empress Ming Da
10 Princess Kang Shu Unknown 1106 1108 Noble Consort Yi Su
11 Princess Rong Shu Unknown 1107 1110 Empress Xian Su
12 Princess Bao Shu Unknown 1107 1107 Noble Consort Wang (Elder)
13 Princess Cheng De Hu Er 1110 Unknown Empress Xian Su
14 Princess Xun De Fu Jin 1110 Unknown Empress Ming Da
15 Princess Dao Mu Jin Xian 1110 1117 Noble Consort Cui
26 Princess Xi Shu Unknown 1110 1112 Noble Consort Wang (Elder)
17 Princess Xian De Qiao Yun 1111 Unknown Lady Qiao, Talented Lady
18 Princess Shun De Ying Luo 1111 1137 Noble Consort Yi Su
19 Princess Yi Fu Yuan Zhu 1111 Unknown Unknown
20 Princess Rou Fu Huan Huan 1111 1141 Noble Consort Yi Su
21 Princess Dun Fu San Jin 1111 1112 Noble Consort Cui
22 Princess Bao Fu Xian Lang 1112 1127 Lady Han, Xiurong
23 Princess Ren Fu Xiang Yun 1112 1127 Noble Consort Cui
24 Princess Hui Fu Zhu Zhu 1112 Unknown Lady Wang, Wanrong
25 Princess Yong Fu Fo Bao 1112 Unknown Noble Consort Cui
26 Princess Xian Fu Jin Er 1112 1127 Noble Consort Yi Su
27 Princess Shen Fu Unknown 1113 1114 Noble Consort Wang (Younger)
28 Princess Ning Fu Chuan Zhu 1114 Unknown Noble Consort Cui
29 Princess He Fu Jin Zhu 1116 Unknown Empress Ming Jie
30 Princess Ling Fu Jin Yin 1118 Unknown Unknown
31 Princess Hua Fu Sai Yue 1119 Unknown Unknown
32 Princess Qing Fu Jin Gu 1121 Unknown Unknown
33 Princess Chun Fu Jin Ling 1124 Unknown Unknown
34 Princess Gong Fu Xiao Jin 1126 1129 Unknown

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ebrey, Cambridge, 149.
  2. ^ a b Ebrey, 165.
  3. ^ "Book of Song – Scroll 66
  4. ^ Frederick W. Mote (2003). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. p. 53. "ISBN "978-0-674-01212-7. 
  5. ^ Robert Hymes (2000). John Stewart Bowman, ed. Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 33. "ISBN "978-0-231-11004-4. 
  6. ^ Tao (1976). Pages 20–21.
  7. ^ a b c Franke (1994), p. 233-234.
  8. ^ [1]
Please see: "References section in the guqin article for a full list of references used in all qin related articles.
Emperor Huizong of Song
Born: November 2 1082 Died: June 4 1135
Regnal titles
Preceded by
"Emperor Zhezong
"Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by
"Emperor Qinzong
Honorary titles
Title last held by
"Emperor Zhaozong of Tang
"Retired Emperor of China
Title next held by
"Emperor Gaozong of Song
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