Emperor Shenzong of Song

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Emperor Shenzong of Song
Shenzong of Song.jpg
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign25 January 1067 – 1 April 1085
Coronation25 January 1067
PredecessorEmperor Yingzong
SuccessorEmperor Zhezong
BornZhao Zhongzhen (1048–1067)
Zhao Xu (1067–1085)
25 May 1048
Died1 April 1085(1085-04-01) (aged 36)
Posthumous name
Tiyuan Xiandao Fagu Lixian Dide Wanggong Yingwen Liewu Qinren Shengxiao Huangdi
(體元顯道法古立憲帝德王功英文烈武欽仁聖孝皇帝) (awarded in 1113)
Temple name
Shenzong (神宗)
HouseHouse of Zhao
FatherEmperor Yingzong
MotherEmpress Gao
Emperor Shenzong of Song
Literal meaning"Spiritual Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Xu
Traditional Chinese趙頊
Simplified Chinese赵顼
Zhao Zhongzhen
Traditional Chinese趙仲鍼
Simplified Chinese赵仲针

Emperor Shenzong of Song (25 May 1048 – 1 April 1085), personal name Zhao Xu, was the sixth emperor of the Song dynasty in China. His original personal name was Zhao Zhongzhen but he changed it to "Zhao Xu" after his coronation. He reigned from 1067 until his death in 1085.


During his reign in 1068, Emperor Shenzong became interested in Wang Anshi's policies and appointed Wang as the 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 Emperor Shenzong's reign.

Emperor Shenzong sent failed campaigns against the Vietnamese ruler Lý Nhân Tông of the Lý dynasty in 1076.[1]

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

During Emperor Shenzong's reign, Sima Guang, a minister interested in the history of the previous 1000 years, wrote a very influential history book, the Zizhi Tongjian or A Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government. 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.[2]

Aside from the ancient Roman embassies to Han and Three-Kingdoms era China, contact with Europe remained sparse if not nonexistent before the 13th century. However, from Chinese records it is known that Michael VII Doukas (Mie li sha ling kai sa 滅力沙靈改撒) of Fo lin (i.e. the Byzantine Empire) dispatched a diplomatic mission to China's Song dynasty that arrived in 1081, during the reign of Emperor Shenzong.[3]

Emperor Shenzong died in 1085 at the age of 36 from an unspecified illness and was succeeded by his son, Zhao Xu who took the throne as Emperor Zhezong. Emperor Zhezong was underage and so Shenzong’s mother Empress Gao ruled as regent until her death.


  • Parents:
    • Zhao Shu, Yingzong (英宗 趙曙; 1032 – 1067)
    • Empress Xuanren, of the Gao clan (宣仁皇后 高氏; 1032 – 1093)
  • Consorts and Issue:
  1. Empress Qinsheng, of the Xiang clan (欽聖皇后 向氏; 1046 – 1101)
    1. Princess Shuhuai (淑懷帝姬; 1067 – 1078)
  2. Empress Qincheng, of the Zhu clan (欽成皇后 朱氏; 1052 – 1102)
    1. Zhao Xu, Zhezong (哲宗 趙煦; 1077 – 1100)
    2. Zhao Shi, Prince Churongxian (楚榮憲王 趙似; 1083 – 1106)
    3. Princess Xianjing (賢靜帝姬; 1085 – 1115)
  3. Empress Qinci, of the Chen clan (欽慈皇后 陳氏; 1058 – 1089)
    1. Zhao Ji, Huizong (徽宗 趙佶; 1082 – 1135)
  4. Guifei, of the Xing clan (懿穆貴妃 邢氏; d. 1103)
    1. Zhao Jin, Prince Hui (惠王 趙僅; 1071)
    2. Zhao Xian, Prince Ji (冀王 趙僩; 1074 – 1076)
    3. Zhao Jia, Prince Yudaohui (豫悼惠王 趙價; 1077 – 1078)
    4. Zhao Ti, Prince Xuchonghui (徐沖惠王 趙倜; 1078 – 1081)
  5. Guifei, of the Yang clan (懿靜貴妃 楊氏)
  6. Guifei, of the Song clan (貴妃 宋氏; d. 1117)
    1. Zhao Yi, Prince Cheng (成王 趙佾; 1069)
    2. Zhao Jun, Prince Tang'aixian (唐哀獻王 趙俊; 1073 – 1077)
    3. Princess Xianxiao (賢孝帝姬; d. 1108)
  7. Shufei, of the Zhang clan (懿靜淑妃 張氏; d. 1105)
    1. Princess Xianke (賢恪帝姬; c. 1067 – 1072)
  8. Defei, of the Zhu clan (德妃 朱氏)
    1. Princess Xianmu (賢穆帝姬; d. 1084)
  9. Xianfei, of the Wu clan (惠穆賢妃 武氏; d. 1107)
    1. Zhao Bi, Prince Wurongmu (吳榮穆王 趙佖; 1082 – 1106)
    2. Princess Xianhe (賢和帝姬; d. 1090)
  10. Xianfei, of the Lin clan (賢妃 林氏; 1052 – 1090), personal name Zhen ()
    1. Zhao Yu, Prince Yan (燕王 趙俁; 1083 – 1127)
    2. Princess Xianling (賢令帝姬; d. 1084)
    3. Zhao Cai, Prince Yue (越王 趙偲; 1085 – 1129)
  11. Cairen, of the Guo clan (才人 郭氏)
    1. Zhao Wei, Prince Yi (儀王 趙偉; 1082)
  12. Lady, of the Xiang clan (夫人 向氏)
    1. Zhao Shen, Prince Bao (褒王 趙伸; 1074)
  13. Unknown
    1. Princess Xianmu (賢穆帝姬; c. 1070 – 1111)
    2. Princess Xiankang (賢康帝姬; d. 1085)
    3. Princess Xianyi (賢宜帝姬; d. 1085)

See also[edit]

  1. Chinese emperors family tree (middle)
  2. List of emperors of the Song dynasty
  3. Architecture of the Song dynasty
  4. Culture of the Song dynasty
  5. Economy of the Song dynasty
  6. History of the Song dynasty
  7. Society of the Song dynasty
  8. Technology of the Song dynasty
  9. Wang Anshi
  10. Shen Kuo


  1. ^ Maspéro, Georges (2002). The Champa Kingdom: The History of an Extinct Vietnamese Culture. White Lotus Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-974-7534-99-3.
  2. ^ Sawyer, Ralph D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. Westview Press. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-8133-1228-6.
  3. ^ Sezgin, Fuat; Ehrig-Eggert, Carl; Mazen, Amawi; Neubauer, E. (1996). نصوص ودراسات من مصادر صينية حول البلدان الاسلامية. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. p. 25.
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