Emperor Shenzong of Song

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Zhao Zhongzhen
Shenzong of Song.jpg
Reign 25 January 1067 – 1 April 1085
Born (1048-05-25)25 May 1048
Died 1 April 1085(1085-04-01) (aged 36)
Spouse Empress Yinshen
Empress Yincheng
Empress Yinzhe
Full name
Family name: Zhào (趙)
Given name: Zhongzhen (仲鍼), later Xu[1] (頊)
Era dates
Xining (熙寧) (1068–1077)
Yuanfeng (元豐) (1078–1085)'
Posthumous name
Full: Emperor Tiyuan Xiandao Fagu Lixian Dide Wanggong Yingwen Liewu Qinren Shengxiao[2]
Temple name
Shénzōng (神宗)
Dynasty Sòng (宋)
Father Emperor Yingzong of Song
Mother Gao Taotao, Empress Xian Ren Shen Li

Emperor Shenzong of Song (Chinese: 宋神宗; pinyin: Sòng Shénzōng; 25 May 1048 – 1 April 1085) was the sixth emperor of the Chinese Song dynasty. His personal name was Zhao Xu. He reigned from 1067 to 1085.

The era names of his reign are Xīníng (熙寧; "Peaceful Prosperity") 1068–1077, and Yuánfēng (元豐; "Primary Abundance") 1078–1085.

During his reign, Shenzong became interested in Wang Anshi's policies and appointed Wang as Chancellor. Wang implemented his famous New Policies aimed at improving the situation for the peasantry and unemployed, which some have seen as a forerunner of the modern welfare state. These acts became the hallmark reform of Shenzong's reign.

Shenzong sent failed campaigns against Lý Nhân Tông in 1076.[3]:71

Shenzong's other notable act as emperor was his attempt to weaken the formative nation of Western Xia by invading and expelling the Xia forces from Gansu. Shenzong's army was initially quite successful at these campaigns, but during the battle for the city of Yongle, in 1082, Shenzong's forces were defeated. As a result, Western Xia grew more powerful and subsequently continued to be a thorn in the side of the Song dynasty over the ensuing decades.

During Shenzong's reign Sima Guang, a minister interested in the history of the previous 1000 years, wrote a very influential history book: "A Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government" (simplified Chinese: 资治通鉴; traditional Chinese: 資治通鑒; pinyin: Zīzhìtōngjiàn). This book records historical events from the Zhou Dynasty to the Song Dynasty. Another notable literary achievement which occurred during his reign was the compilation of the Seven Military Classics, including the alleged forgery of the Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong.[4]

Shenzong died in 1085 at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son. His temple name means "Divine Ancestor".


Shenzong's younger sister (Princess Shuguo, 1051-1080) was married to Wang Shen.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ His name was changed into Xu in 1063 when his father
    Yingzong ascended the throne.
  2. ^ This is the final version of the posthumous name given in 1113
  3. ^ Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., ISBN 9747534991
  4. ^ Sawyer, Ralph D. (2007). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. New York: Basic Books. p. 489. ISBN 0-465-00304-4. 
  5. ^ *Murck, Alfreda (2000). Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent. Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London: Harvard University Asia Center for the Harvard-Yenching Institute. ISBN 0-674-00782-4, page 126.
Emperor Shenzong of Song
Born: 25 May 1048 Died: 1 April 1085
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Yingzong
Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Zhezong