Emperor Gong of Song

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Emperor Gong of Song 宋恭帝
Song Gongdi.jpg
Emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty
Reign 12 August 1274 – 4 February 1276
Predecessor Emperor Duzong of Song
Successor Emperor Duanzong of Song
Regent Empress Xie Daoqing
Empress Quan
Jia Sidao
Spouse Princess of Yuan Dynasty
Mailaiti (?)
Issue Zhao Yuanpu
Ukhaantu Khan, Emperor Huizong of Yuan (?)
Era name and dates
Deyou 德祐: 1275–1276
Posthumous name
Xiàogōng Yìshèng Huángdì (孝恭懿圣皇帝)
Temple name
Gong Zong 恭宗
Father Emperor Duzong of Song
Mother Empress Dowager Quan
Born 2 November 1271
Died 1323 (aged 51–52)

Emperor Gong of Song (1271- unknown[1] (possibly 1323), born Zhào Xiǎn (趙顯), was the 7th Emperor of the Chinese Southern Song Dynasty. He reigned from 1274 until his abdication in 1276 CE when he was succeeded by his elder brother, Emperor Duanzong of Song.

Early accession to the throne[edit]

In 1274, the tenth and final year of his Xianchun Era (咸淳), Emperor Duzong died. His four-year-old son Zhao Xian was enthroned as Emperor Gong of Song with the assistance of the powerful chancellor Jia Sidao. The following year Gong became regent under the aegis of his grandmother, Grand Empress Dowager Xie (謝太皇太后) and his mother Empress Dowager Quan (全太后), although real control of the army and the state remained in the hands of Jia Sidao.[citation needed]

At the time Gong became emperor, the army of the Mongol Empire had already taken control of the northern and south western areas of China, crossed the Yangtze River acquiring key strategic locations on the way including control of Xiangyang City (part of modern Xiangfan, Hubei), and were heading towards the Song capital at Lin'an (modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province). Grand Empress Dowager Xie pursued a dual solution to the pending destruction of her dynasty, on the one hand ordering the people to rally behind their emperor and save the country and on the other suing for peace with the advancing Mongols. The Mongol army meanwhile swept onwards, capturing territory as they went and taking control of various prefectures along the middle stretches of the Yangtze River.

In early 1275 CE, Jia Sidao led an army of 30,000 Song troops and engaged the Mongols at Wuhu City in Anhui. The Song army suffered defeat and not long afterward, bowing to public pressure, the empress dowager ordered Jia Sidao's execution. However, the move came too late and destruction of the Song Dynasty loomed closer.

By the middle of 1275 the Mongol army had control of most of Jiandong (江東), the southern part of modern day Jiangsu Province. On the 18th of January 1276 CE the leader of the Mongol forces, General Bayan arrived outside Lin'an with his army. The Song court dispatched statesman Lu Xiufu (陸秀夫) to negotiate, but the envoy was left with no option other than to surrender to the Mongols. Later the same year, Grand Empress Dowager Xie carried the five-year-old emperor out of Lin'an and into the Mongol camp where she too surrendered. The remnants of the Southern Song court and army who were still able to fight withdrew southwards to Fujian and Guangdong.

In 1279 CE after the Battle of Yamen, Lu Xiufu took the new emperor – the barely nine-year-old son of former Emperor Duzong, Emperor Huaizong – to Mount Ya (崖山) (modern day Yamen, Guangdong) from which they both leapt into the sea. The death of the last emperor brought about the final destruction of the Song Dynasty and opened the way for the new Yuan Dynasty.

Gong's ennoblement by the Yuan Dynasty[edit]

After the overthrow of the Song Dynasty, former Emperor Gong relocated to the Mongol capital at Khanbaliq or Dadu (modern day Beijing) then later to Shangdu or Xanadu, Tibet, (at that time called Tubo (蕃習) and afterwards to the Ganzhou District of Gansu Province. Some sources also claim that he lived in Qianzhou (謙州) (modern day Tuva in South Central Siberia). His sojourns make Gong the most well-travelled Han emperor in the history of China.

Expedition to the Mongol capital[edit]

Soon after Gong surrendered, General Bayan urged him to travel north for an audience with the Mongol ruler. As a result, in March 1276 CE, Gong left Lin'an and proceeded towards Shangdu. Grand Empress Dowager Xie remained behind due to illness so he was accompanied northwards by Empress Dowager Quan, Madam Longguo of the Huang family (隆國夫人黃氏) (mother of Emperor Duzong), Zhao Yurui (趙與芮) (younger brother of former Emperor Lizong, father of Emperor Duzong and Gong's grandfather), Zhao Naiyou (趙乃猷) and members of the Song Privy Council Gao Yinggong (高應松) and Xie Tang (謝堂). Lin'an government representatives Weng Zhongde (翁仲德), Wang Yuang Liang (汪元量) and other officials together with a group of palace employees completed Gong's entourage. After they crossed the Yangtze River the two Song Generals in the party Li Tingzhi (李庭芝) and Miao Zaicheng (苗再成) planned to hijack some transport to carry them all but failed. The group arrived in Dadu in May then proceeded onwards to Shangdu where the Mongol leader Kublai Khan received them in the Hall of Great Peace (大安殿). The Khan conferred the title of Duke of Ying (瀛国公/瀛國公) on Gong whilst his wife became a princess. Kublai further ordered that they be given a residence in Dadu and receive preferential treatment whilst Zhao Yurui was granted the title Duke of Pingyuan Canton (平原郡公). Later on, in 1298 CE the now Duke of Ying was given permission to move his residence to Shangdu. During his Yanyou Era (延祐年号) between 1314 and 1320, Emperor Renzong of Yuan received the Korean monarch Chungseon of Goryeo at his court. Chungseon asked to see the former residence of Duke Ying where he composed a song about him.

Relocation to Tubo[edit]

Kublai Khan wanted to preserve some vestiges of the Song imperial clan and in October 1288 issued an edict ordering the Duke of Ying to relocate to Tubo. There he was to study the Brahmana (ancient Hindu texts) and the classic books of the territory. Other sources claim that whilst in Tubo the Duke of Ying decided to study Buddhism instead.[citation needed] Kublai's motive for this edict is unclear, as is whether such a relocation constituted a banishment. The Mongol chieftain may have acted out of genuine concern for the former emperor or he may have wished to remove the Song heir to the throne out of China proper.[2] In December of 1288 the Duke of Ying departed from Duǒsīmá (Chinese: Standard Tibetan: མདོ་སྨད; Wylie: mdo smad) in today's Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, for Wūsīzàng (Chinese: Standard Tibetan: དབུས་གཙང; Wylie:dbus gtsang) within the borders of modern day Tibet. He became resident at the Sakya Monastery and was given the honorific title Mubo Jiangshi (木波講師). Later on, Gong took over as head monk at the monastery, translating Buddhist texts between the Chinese and Tibetan languages under the name Hezun (合尊).

Ordered to commit suicide[edit]

According to Sakya's monastic succession records, in April 1323, the third year of the Zhizhi (至治) era in the reign of Emperor Yingzong of Yuan, 52 year old Duke Ying received an imperial command to commit suicide at Hexi (河西) (modern day Zhangye in Gansu Province.[1] Many later Ming Dynasty historians believe that this was because Gong's poetry displeased the emperor and incurred a literary inquisition.[citation needed]

Prime Ministers[edit]

The following individuals held the office of Prime Minister during the reign of Emperor Gong:


See also[edit]

Emperor Gong of Song
Born: 1271 Died: unknown (possibly 1323)
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Duzong of Song
Emperor of China
Succeeded by
Emperor Duanzong of Song


  1. ^ a b Denis Twitchett and Paul Jakov Smith(eds.), The Cambridge History of China. Volume 5. Part One: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907–1279.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 929, 945.
  2. ^ Other male members of the Song Imperial survived the invasion, such as Zhao Mengfu, who was a well-known painter during the Yuan dynasty, and Zhao Yiguang who lived during the Ming dynasty

External links[edit]

(In Chinese) The Eighteen Emperors of the Song Dynasty

This article is based on a translation of 宋恭帝 in Chinese Wikipedia.