Emperor Shizong of Liao

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Emperor Shizong of Liao
Emperor of the Liao dynasty
Reign 16 May 947 – 7 October 951
Predecessor Emperor Taizong
Successor Emperor Muzong
Born Wuyu (Khitan name)
Yelü Ruan (sinicised name)
(919-01-29)29 January 919
Died 7 October 951(951-10-07) (aged 32)
Era dates
Tianlu (天祿; 947–951)
Posthumous name
Xiaohe Zhuangxian Huangdi (孝和莊憲皇帝)
Temple name
Father Yelü Bei
Emperor Shizong of Liao
Traditional Chinese 遼世宗
Simplified Chinese 辽世宗
Wuyu (Khitan name)
Chinese 兀欲
Yelü Ruan
Chinese 耶律阮

Emperor Shizong of Liao (29 January 919 – 7 October 951), personal name Wuyu, sinicised name Yelü Ruan, was the third emperor of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty. He was the son of Yelü Bei, the eldest son of Abaoji (Emperor Taizu), the founder of the Liao dynasty. He came to power in 947 after the death of his uncle, Emperor Taizong, who raised him in his father's absence.


Emperor Taizong was on campaign in China when he died in 947. Yelü Ruan accompanied him on this campaign, allowing him to quickly gain the support of the military leaders. While returning to the capital, his grandmother, Empress Dowager Yingtian, had plotted to have her third son, Yelü Lihu, ascend to the throne, and sent an army to intercept her grandson. She had denounced Yelü Ruan in her campaign to support her son. However, the Khitan nobles, knowing that Yelü Lihu was entirely unfit for the throne, refused to support her this time as they did previously with the ascension of Emperor Taizong. Fortunately, the strong support the Liao imperial court gave to Yelü Ruan's claim prevented a civil war among the Khitans.


Emperor Shizong was known both for his generosity as well as for his martial prowess. This generosity was not extended to either his grandmother or his uncle (Yelü Lihu) both of whom were sent far from the capital by Emperor Shizong. Both died soon afterward, Yelü Lihu in rebellion and Empress Dowager Yingtian of old age.

Emperor Shizong took to the field in 951 in a successful effort to resist Chinese advances from the south. However, later that year, a mere four years after his ascension as emperor, he was killed by a rebellious nephew who was part of an effort within the imperial clan to usurp the throne.

During his reign, Emperor Shizong adopted several reforms that propelled the Liao dynasty into a feudal society and consolidated power into a central government. However, Emperor Shizong was also a drunkard and liked to hunt. On a night in September 951, the emperor was murdered by an officer after a battle. He was only 33 years old and had reigned for only three years.


F.W. Mote (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 52–53, 67. ISBN 0-674-01212-7. 

Emperor Shizong of Liao
House of Yelü (916–1125)
Born: 919 Died: 951
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Taizong
Emperor of the Liao Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Muzong
Emperor of China (Kaifeng region)
Succeeded by
Li Congyi
Emperor of China (Northern/Central)
Succeeded by
Liu Zhiyuan of Later Han