Shi Jingtang

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Shi Jingtang
Emperor Gaozu of (Later) Jin (more...)
Shi Jingtang scth.jpg
an illustration from Sancai Tuhui (1609)
1st emperor of Later Jin
Reign 28 November 936[1][2] – 28 July 942
Successor Shi Chonggui (Emperor Chu), nephew
Spouse Empress Li
  • Shi Chongying (石重英), son
  • Shi Chongxin (石重信), son
  • Shi Chongyi (石重乂), son
  • Shi Chongjin (石重進), son
  • Shi Chongrui (石重睿), son
  • Daughter (m. Yang Chengzuo)
Full name
Family name: Shí ()
Given name: Jìngtáng ()
Era dates
Tiānfú ()
Year 1: 28 November 936 – 12 February 937
Year 2: 13 February 937 – 1 January 938
Year 3: 2 January 938 – 22 January 939
Year 4: 23 January 939 – 10 February 940
Year 5: 11 February 940 – 29 January 941
Year 6: 30 January 941 – 19 February 942
Year 7: 20 January 942 – 7 February 943
Posthumous name
Short: Never used short
Full: Emperor Shèngwén Zhāngwǔ Míngdé Xiào (皇帝)
Temple name
Gāozǔ (; "High Forefather")
Father Shi Shaoyong (石紹雍)
Mother Lady He (何氏)
Born (892-03-30)30 March 892
Taiyuan, Tang Empire[1] (in today's Yangqu County, Taiyuan, Shanxi)
Died 28 July 942(942-07-28) (aged 50)
Ye, Later Jin Empire (today's Linzhang County, Hebei)
Burial in today's Yiyang County, Henan 34°37′19.86″N 112°5′42.01″E / 34.6221833°N 112.0950028°E / 34.6221833; 112.0950028
Shi Jingtang
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Shi.

Shi Jingtang (石敬瑭) (30 March 892[1] – 28 July 942[3]), also known by his temple name Gaozu (高祖), was the founding emperor of imperial China's short-lived Later Jin during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, reigning from 936 until his death.

Likely of Shatuo descent ethnically, he was an important military general for the Later Tang before rebelling in 936. To overthrow Later Tang he enlisted the help of the Khitan-ruled Liao state, not only humiliating himself as Emperor Taizong of Liao's son but also yielding the strategically crucial Sixteen Prefectures to Liao after his rise to power — an event that would shape the Chinese political landscape for the next 200 years.

Background and early life[edit]

Shi Jingtang was likely of Shatuo descent. The official history Old History of the Five Dynasties stated that his family was originally descended from Shi Que (石碏), an official of the Spring and Autumn Period state Wey, through the Han prime minister Shi Fen (石奮), and further stated that Shi Fen's descendants fled west when Han fell, settling in what would eventually become Gan Prefecture (甘州, in modern Zhangye, Gansu, apparently in an attempt to try to link Shi with a Han Chinese ancestry despite the Shatuo origin. Under the Old History of the Five Dynasties account, his great-great-grandfather, whose name was given as Shi Jing (石璟), followed the Shatuo chieftain Zhuye Zhiyi (朱邪執宜) in submitting to Tang, and was settled, along with the rest of the Shatuo people under Zhuye, in Tang territory. Shi Jingtang's father Nieliji (臬捩雞), who was referred to by the Han Chinese name Shi Shaoyong (石紹雍), was said to be a successful general under Zhuye Zhiyi's grandson Li Keyong, who was an important late-Tang warlord, and Li Keyong's son Li Cunxu, who ruled the independent state of Jin after Tang's fall.[1] The other official history for the period, the New History of the Five Dynasties, apparently was skeptical of this account of Shi Jingtang's ancestry, and instead merely gave Nieliji's name, further stating that it was unclear when or how he received the surname of Shi.[4]

Shi Jingtang was born in 892, during the reign of Emperor Zhaozong of Tang, in Taiyuan. His mother was stated to be a Lady He, and it was not stated whether she was Shi Shaoyong's wife or concubine.[1] (However, after he later became emperor, Shi Jingtang honored Shi Shaoyong's concubine Lady Liu, first as consort dowager, and then as empress dowager, suggesting the possibility that Lady He was Shi Shaoyong's wife and Shi Jingtang's "legal" mother, but that Lady Liu was his birth mother.)[3] In his youth, Shi Jingtang was said to be quiet and stern. He studied the military strategies and particularly tried to take after Li Mu and Zhou Yafu.[1]

Service during Jin[edit]

When Li Siyuan was a Prefect of Daizhou (代州; today's Dai County, Shanxi), he married his 3rd daughter to Shi and allowed him to command his Left Archer Corps (左射軍).[1]

Service during Later Tang[edit]

During Li Cunxu's reign[edit]

During Li Siyuan's reign[edit]

In 926, a group of soldiers who were supposed to be stationed at Waqiao-guan Pass, rebelled, and threatened Zhao Zaili into assuming leadership. They seized Ye, so Cunxu, then Emperor Zhuangzong of Later Tang, order Li Siyuan to suppress the rebellion. Generals who had moved away from the rebellion attempted to force Siyuan into commanding the. Shi used this opportunity to talk Siyuan into overthrowing Zhangzong, and took Bian with three hundred. Siyuan turned to the direction of Bian and Luoyang. Zhuangzong was killed in an accident amidst the chaos, and Siyuan was crowned Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang.[5]

Shi Jingtang was a high-ranking official during Mingzong's reign. He was the Governor (尹) of Taiyuan, Administrator (留守) of the Northern Capital (Taiyuan), and jiedushi of Hedong (modern Shanxi), and had great financial and military power.[5]

During Li Conghou's reign[edit]

During Li Congke's reign[edit]

During Emperor Fei of Later Tang's reign, internal conflicts arose among the House of Tang. On top of that, the power of the state was declining. Shi decided to take advantage of the situation and prepare for the deposition of Tang.[5]

He moved his possessions in Luoyang to Taiyuan. Using defence against the Khitans as an excuse, he requested expansion of his military power, resulting in the troops of Bing and You being under his command. He sent his sons Shi Zhongyan and Shi Zhongyi to court to gain the positions of youwei shangjun (右衛上軍) and huangcheng fushi (皇城副使) and to use them to bribe Empress Cao's servants, enabling Shi to be notified of everything that Fei did.[5]

On Fei's accession anniversary, Shi did not attend the ball himself. Instead, his wife, the Princess of Jin, went in his place. Jin had to return to Jinyang immediately after the ball; Fei, drunk, commented that Shi could have been plotting against Fei. Shi thought Fei had seen through his conspiracy, so he requested that he move to a different town, to test if Fei had been suspicious of him.[6]

In 936, rumours of Shi's plot were widespread. This fuelled Fei's suspicions. Bi Wenyu, the zhizhigao (知制誥), suggested removing Shi's threat before he had a chance to rise up. Fei took his advice and made him the Jiedushi of Tianping.[6] Shi, who was moved to Yunzhou, asked his courtiers for advice. Liu Zhiyuan advised Shi to take advantage of the geographical features of Jiao, where he was based, and the strength of his army and overthrow the Emperor. Sang Weihan also advised him to do so, and suggested asking for help from the Liao Dynasty should it be necessary during the battle.[7]

When Fei was notified of Shi's rebellion, he ordered his official positions and titles to be revoked, and ordered the siege of Jiao, and deployed Zhang Jingda and Yang Guangyuan. Zhang set up his camp in Jinan and surrounded Shi's troops. Despite Liu's opposition, Shi requested help from the Liao, offering the Sixteen Prefectures and to declare himself son and subject of Emperor Taizong of Liao, who was a decade his junior.[7]

Taizong, who had been planning to expand to the south, promptly agreed. As Tang focussed on defeating Shi, they neglected to protect the state from Liao's forces. Before Zhang could invade Jiao, he had to face the Liao army. Fei ordered troops from all over the state to aid Zhang, and went to the battlefield himself to raise morale. Long Min suggested that Li Zanhua, Taizong's older brother, be crowned the Emperor of Liao and escorted to Liao,[8] although the plan was not implemented due to obstruction from Lu Wenji, the chancellor.[9]

Yang persuaded Zhang to surrender to Taizong. Zhang was reproached and furious at the suggestion. Yang murdered Zhang and surrendered to Taizong, ending the battle. Taizong crowned Shi Emperor Gaozu of Great Jin, known historically as Later Jin, in Jinyang,[9] to which he left his nephew Shi Zhonggui before going south with Taizong. Fei and loyal Tang soldiers fled to Luoyang, where they killed Li. Not longer afterwards, Fei, the Empress Dowager and the Empress Consort took all the treasure to Xuanwu Tower (玄武樓), where they burnt themselves, ending the Tang Dynasty.[10]

Reign as Later Jin emperor[edit]

Gaozu moved the capital to Bian, now known as Kaifeng (Henan). The Later Jin is often derided as being a puppet of the Khitans. Following the agreement between him and Taizong, he ceded the strategically crucial Sixteen Prefectures to Liao, as well as agreeing to give tribute and even to acknowledging Taizong - who was ten years his junior - as his godfather.[11]

An Chongrong, the Jiedushi of Chengde, advised him to take advantage of Liao's internal conflicts and attack it. Gaozu refused. Taizong criticised Gaozu for his inability to control An[12] An later rebelled, but was defeated.[6] Gaozu gave Taizong An's head, but Taizong did not forgive him and frequently condemned Gaozu.

Shi died of natural causes[13] in 942.[14]

Personal information[edit]


  • Father
    • Shi Shaoyong (石紹雍), né Nieleiji (臬捩雞), posthumously honored Emperor Xiaoyuan with the temple name of Xianzu
  • Mother
    • Lady He, posthumously honored Empress Xiaoyuan
  • Wife
  • Children
    • Shi Chongying (石重英) (killed by Li Congke 936), posthumously created the Prince of Guo (created 939)
    • Shi Chongxin (石重信) (killed by Zhang Congbin 937), posthumously created the Prince of Yi (created 942) and then the Prince of Chu (created 943)
    • Shi Chongyi (石重乂) (killed by Zhang Congbin 937), posthumously created the Prince of Shou
    • Shi Chongjin (石重進), posthumously created the Prince of Kui (created 942)
    • Shi Chonggao (石重杲), name posthumously bestowed, né Fengliu (馮六), posthumously created the Prince of Chen
    • Shi Chongrui (石重睿)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Old History of the Five Dynasties, vol. 75.
  2. ^ Academia Sinica Chinese-Western Calendar Converter.
  3. ^ a b Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 283.
  4. ^ New History of the Five Dynasties, vol. 8.
  5. ^ a b c d Tian, p. 31
  6. ^ a b c Tian, p. 32
  7. ^ a b Tian, p. 33
  8. ^ Tian, p. 34
  9. ^ a b Tian, p. 36
  10. ^ Tian, p. 37
  11. ^ Tian, p. 38
  12. ^ Tian, p. 39
  13. ^ Tian, p.43
  14. ^
  15. ^ Considering the father was originally called Nieliji without a surname, the fact that his patrilineal ancestors all had Chinese names here indicates that these names were probably all created posthumously after Shi Jingtang became a "Chinese" emperor. Shi Jingtang actually claimed to be a descendant of Chinese historical figures Shi Que and Shi Fen, and insisted that his ancestors went westwards towards non-Han Chinese area during the political chaos at the end of the Han Dynasty in early 3rd century.


Shi Jingtang
House of Shi (936–947)
Born: 892 Died: 942
Regnal titles
Preceded by
None (dynasty founded)
Emperor of Later Jin
Succeeded by
Shi Chonggui
Preceded by
Li Congke of Later Tang
Emperor of China (Shanxi)
Emperor of China (Central)
Sovereign of China (Zhejiang) (de jure)
Succeeded by
Qian Yuanguan of Wuyue