Emperor Shizong of Jin

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Emperor Shizong of Jin
Emperor of the Jin dynasty
Reign27 October 1161 – 20 January 1189
PredecessorWanyan Liang
SuccessorEmperor Zhangzong of Jin
Born29 March 1123
Died20 January 1189(1189-01-20) (aged 65)
SpouseEmpress Mingde
Consort Yuan
Empress Guangxian
Consort Xian
Consort De
Consort Rou
Lady Liang
Lady Shimo
Wanyan Yungong
Wanyan Yongzhong
Wanyan Yonggong
Wanyan Yongdao
Wanyan Yongji
Wanyan Yongde
Wanyan Yongcheng
Wanyan Yongsheng
Princess of Yu
Princess of Han
Princess of Lu
Princess of Yan
Princess of Wu
Princess of Shu
Princess of Wan
Princess of Xi
Princess of Cao
Princess of Wei
Heshilie Zhushennu's wife
Wanyan Changle
Full name
Wanyan Yong (new sinicised name)
Wanyan Xiu (old sinicised name)
Wulu (Jurchen name)
Era dates
Dading (大定; 1161–1189)
Posthumous name
Emperor Guangtian Yuyun Wende Wugong Shengming Renxiao (光天興運文德武功聖明仁孝皇帝)
Temple name
Shizong (世宗)
FatherWanyan Zongyao
MotherLady Li
Emperor Shizong of Jin
Traditional Chinese烏祿
Simplified Chinese乌禄
Wanyan Yong
Traditional Chinese完顏雍
Simplified Chinese完颜雍
Wanyan Xiu
Traditional Chinese完顏褎
Simplified Chinese完颜褎

Emperor Shizong of Jin (29 March 1123 – 20 January 1189), personal name Wulu, sinicised name Wanyan Yong (originally Wanyan Xiu), was the fifth emperor of the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty, which ruled northern China between the 12th and 13th centuries. Ruling from 1161 to 1189 under the regnal name "Dading", Emperor Shizong's reign was the longest and most stable among the Jin dynasty emperors.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wulu was a grandson of Aguda (Emperor Taizu), the founding emperor of the Jin dynasty. His father was Eliduo (訛里朵; also known as Wanyan Zongyao 完顏宗堯), Aguda's third son and a famous general in the early Jin dynasty. As Eliduo died when Wulu was just 12 years old, the latter grew up under the influence of his mother, who had come from a sinicised bohai gentry family from Liaoyang. After her husband's death, Wulu's mother preferred to become a nun instead of remarrying one of her husband's relatives, as was the Jurchen custom. Due to his mother and her relatives, Wulu received a Han Chinese-style education and acquired good knowledge of the Chinese classics.[1]

Wulu is said to have also been greatly influenced by the wife he had before becoming emperor. She was from the Wulinda (烏林荅) clan. She advised Wulu to be patient and to pretend to be loyal to his cousin, the emperor Digunai. Digunai admired Lady Wulinda so he summoned her to his inner court in 1151, but she committed suicide. Her death resulted in a deep enmity between Wulu and Digunai.[1]

In 1161, when Digunai invaded the Southern Song dynasty to unify China under the Jin dynasty's rule, he also sent agents to assassinate many of his own relatives and thus to cement his power within the imperial clan. Wulu, who was on the hit list, started a rebellion against the emperor. The rebellion was supported by many Jurchen officers and aristocrats who were dissatisfied with Digunai's policy of cultural sinicisation and administrative centralisation, and the human cost of the emperor's southern adventure. The first military officer to support the rebellion was Wanyan Mouyan (完顏謀衍). Digunai lost the Battle of Caishi against the Song dynasty and was assassinated by his own disaffected officers. Wulu was able to become the new emperor without having to struggle against Digunai whose title he demoted down to Prince Yang of Hailing.[1]


Yan Zi Miao (顏子廟) tablet (right) in the Temple of Yan, Qufu, installed in the 24th year of the Dading era (1184)

Once on the throne, Wulu – who is historically known as Emperor Shizong – abandoned his predecessor's plan for invading the Southern Song dynasty, and abolished his domestic sinicisation policies. Although conversant with Han Chinese culture himself, Emperor Shizong thought that the Jurchens' strength was in maintaining their "simple and sincere", culture, and would often attribute Digunai's defeat to the latter's wholesale abandonment of it. He was not opposed to Chinese culture per se – in fact, he once claimed that the "natural and honest" Jurchen way of life was much like what the ancient Chinese sages taught – but he thought that merely reading the Chinese classics without putting their ideas into practice was counterproductive.[1]

During Emperor Shizong's reign, he confiscated large areas of unused land and land that had been grabbed by a few large Jurchen landowners, and redistributed it to the Jurchen settlers in northern China. Still, many Jurchens preferred not to work their land plots, but lease them to Han Chinese farmers, and engage in heavy drinking instead. The emperor criticised his people for losing their martial spirit and military skills, such as archery and riding. To give an example to his subjects, Emperor Shizong made hunting an annual royal activity in 1162, and until 1188 he went hunting almost every autumn and winter. He also enjoyed archery and ball games.[1]

As part of his promotion of Jurchen culture and the Jurchen language, soon after ascending the throne, Emperor Shizong started a programme of translating Chinese classics into Jurchen. The Jurchen version of the Classic of History was the first to be published; by the end of the Dading era, many other Chinese classics had become available in Jurchen.

Early in his reign, Emperor Shizong chose 3,000 Jurchen men to study the Jurchen language. In 1173, the state started offering jinshi degrees in Jurchen, opened the Jurchen Imperial Academy (女真國子學) in the capital and local schools in all the circuits of the empire. It is thought by modern scholars that the purpose of offering the jinshi examinations in Jurchen was more to promote Jurchen scholarship than to recruit more Jurchen for the state service, as most of the Jurchen jinshi degree holders ended up working as teachers of the Jurchen language and of the Chinese classics in Jurchen translation.[1]

Emperor Shizong required that, when dealing with Jurchen speakers, government officials respond in Jurchen. In 1174, even the imperial guards were told to learn Jurchen, and not to speak in Chinese; in 1183, one thousand copies of the Jurchen edition of the Classic of Filial Piety were distributed to them for their edification.[1]

As one of the ways of restoring Jurchen traditions, Emperor Shizong prohibited servants and slaves from wearing silk, and in 1188 he prohibited Jurchens in general from wearing Han Chinese clothes.[1]

Emperor Shizong and his successor, Emperor Zhangzong, were described as believers in both Buddhism and Taoism.[2] In 1187, Emperor Shizong invited Wang Chuyi, a disciple of Wang Chongyang (the founder of the Quanzhen School of Taoism), to preach in his palace.[2] According to some sources, another of Wang Chongyang's disciples, Qiu Chuji, was invited as well. The emperor requested the presence of Wang Chuyi at his deathbed.[2]

Modern evaluation[edit]

Modern scholars feel that Emperor Shizong's efforts to maintain and revive the Jurchen language and culture were not particularly efficacious. The language lacked native literature, and his translations of Chinese works into Jurchen were helping to bring Chinese ideas and values into Jurchens' minds. In fact, the emperor himself once said that the Jurchen language was "inferior to Chinese", and could not even match Khitan. Outside of the old Jurchen lands in Manchuria, people did not see the utility of speaking the "dying" and "inferior" language, and Emperor Shizong himself was wondering if his descendants would criticise him for his attempts to force people use it.[1]

Emperor Shizong's attempts to preserve the Jurchens' identity as hunters, too, were conflicting with his drive to improve their livelihood by making them into good farmers.[1] Nonetheless, people generally admired his love of peace, his promotion of learning and care of people's well being; traditionally, his era was called a "miniature of Yao and Shun", referring to the legendary ancient sage kings.[1]


  • Father: Eliduo (訛里朵), sinicised name Wanyan Zongyao (完顏宗堯), posthumously honoured as Emperor Ruizong (金睿宗)
  • Mother: Lady Li (李氏), posthumously honoured as Empress Zhenyi (貞懿皇后)
  • Spouse: Lady Wulinda (烏林荅氏), posthumously honoured as Empress Mingde (明德皇后), bore Hutuwa, Shunian, Xielu and the Princess of Yu
  • Concubines:
    • Lady Zhang (張氏), Consort Yuan (元妃), bore Shilula and Songge
    • Lady Li (李氏), Consort Yuan (元妃), posthumously honoured as Empress Guangxian (光獻皇后), bore Yinzhuke, Wanyan Yongji, Echu and the Princess of Han
    • Lady Shimo (石抺氏), Consort Xian (賢妃)
    • Lady Tushan (徒單氏), Consort De (德妃)
    • Lady Da (大氏), Consort Rou (柔妃)
    • Lady Liang (梁氏), Zhaoyi (昭儀), bore Heye
    • Lady Shimo (石抹氏), Cairen (才人), bore Xiebuchu
  • Sons:
    • Hutuwa (胡土瓦), sinicised name Wanyan Yungong (完顏允恭), posthumously honoured as Emperor Xianzong (金顯宗)
    • Shunian (孰輦), Prince of Zhao (趙王)
    • Xielu (斜魯), Prince of Yue (越王)
    • Shilula (實魯剌), also known as Wanseng (萬僧), sinicised name Wanyan Yongzhong (完顏永中), posthumously honoured as Prince Li of Gao (鎬厲王)
    • Songge (宋葛), also known as Guangsun (廣孫), sinicised name Wanyan Yonggong (完顏永功), posthumously honoured as Prince Zhongjian of Yue (越忠簡王)
    • Yinzhuke (銀朮可), also known as Shigou'er (石狗兒), sinicised name Wanyan Yongdao (完顏永蹈), posthumously honoured as Prince La of Zheng (鄭剌王)
    • Wanyan Yongji (完顏永濟), posthumously honoured as Prince Shao of Wei (衛紹王)
    • Echu (訛出), sinicised name Wanyan Yongde (完顏永德), Prince of Lu (潞王)
    • Heye (鶴野), also known as Loushi (婁室), sinicised name Wanyan Yongcheng (完顏永成), posthumously honoured as Prince Zhongxian of Yu (豫忠獻王)
    • Xiebuchu (斜不出), also known as Heshou (鶴壽), sinicised name Wanyan Yongsheng (完顏永升), Prince of Kui (夔王)
  • Daughters:
    • Princess of Yu (豫國公主)
    • Princess of Han (韓國公主), married Pusan Kui (僕散揆)
    • Princess Supreme[3] of Lu (魯國大長公主), married Wugulun Yuanzhong (烏古論元忠)
    • Princess Supreme of Yan (兗國大長公主), married Pucha Husha (蒲察胡沙)
    • Princess of Wu (吳國公主), married Tangkuo Gong (唐括貢)
    • Princess of Shu (蜀國公主), married Tangkuo Ding (唐括鼎)
    • Princess of Wan (宛國公主), married Wulinda Fu (烏林荅復)
    • Princess of Xi (息國公主), married Tushan Gongbi (徒單公弼)
    • Princess of Cao (曹國公主)
    • Princess of Wei (衛國公主), married Pucha Pusulie (蒲察蒲速烈)
    • Daughter, name unknown, married Heshilie Zhushennu (紇石烈諸神奴)
    • Wanyan Changle (完顏長樂), Princess of Ze (澤國公主), married Puladu (蒲剌睹)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jing-shen Tao, "The Jurchen in Twelfth-Century China". University of Washington Press, 1976, ISBN 0-295-95514-7. Chapter 6. "The Jurchen Movement for Revival", Pages 69–83.
  2. ^ a b c Tao (1976), p. 107.
  3. ^ Lee, Lily; Wiles, Sue, eds. (2015). Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women. II. Routledge. p. 609. ISBN 978-1-317-51562-3. An emperor's [...] sister or a favorite daughter was called a grand princess (zhang gongzhu); and his aunt or grand-aunt was called a princess supreme (dazhang gongzhu).