Emperor Zhezong

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Emperor Zhezong of Song
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign1 April 1085 – 23 February 1100
Coronation1 April 1085
PredecessorEmperor Shenzong
SuccessorEmperor Huizong
BornZhao Yong (1077–1085)
Zhao Xu (1085–1100)[a]
4 January 1077
Died23 February 1100(1100-02-23) (aged 23)
Kaifeng, Henan, China
Era dates
Yuanyou (元祐; 1086–1094)
Shaosheng (紹聖; 1094–1098)
Yuanfu (元符; 1098–1100)
Posthumous name
Xianyuan Jidao Shide Yanggong Qinwen Ruiwu Qisheng Zhaoxiao Huangdi
(憲元繼道世德揚功欽文睿武齊聖昭孝皇帝) (awarded in 1113)
Temple name
Zhezong (哲宗)
HouseHouse of Zhao
FatherEmperor Shenzong
MotherEmpress Qinsheng
Emperor Zhezong of Song
Literal meaning"Wise Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Xu
Traditional Chinese趙煦
Simplified Chinese赵煦
Zhao Yong
Traditional Chinese趙傭
Simplified Chinese赵傭

Emperor Zhezong of Song (4 January 1077 – 23 February 1100), personal name Zhao Xu, was the seventh emperor of the Song dynasty in China. His original personal name was Zhao Yong but he changed it to "Zhao Xu" after his coronation. He reigned from 1085 until his death in 1100, and was succeeded by his younger half-brother, Emperor Huizong, because his son died prematurely.

Emperor Zhezong was the sixth son of Emperor Shenzong. He ascended the throne at the age of nine under the supervision of his grandmother, Grand Empress Dowager Gao.


As the young emperor's regent, Grand Empress Dowager Gao appointed conservatives such as Sima Guang as Chancellor, who halted the New Policies set forth by Wang Anshi before dying in 1086. Emperor Zhezong was powerless and it was not until Grand Empress Dowager Gao's death in 1093 that the emperor was able to reinstate Wang Anshi's reforms and reduce the late Sima Guang's influence.

Emperor Zhezong lowered taxes, stopped negotiations with the Tangut-led Western Xia state, and resumed armed conflict which eventually forced Western Xia to enter a more peaceful stance with the Song Empire. However, Emperor Zhezong was unable to stop fighting between conservative members of his government and the more liberal members who supported Wang Anshi's reforms and in fact, the fighting intensified during Emperor Zhezong’s reign.[1] This split would eventually contribute to the Northern Song dynasty's demise in the 12th century.

On May 18, 1099, Zhezong became ill in which the symptoms were constant coughing and constipation.[2] Zhezong did not get any better, even though he had taken many medications and so Zhezong asked his councilors to recommend physicians.[2] Geng Yu, an physician who was recommended told advised Zhezong and even though Zhezong followed his directions, there were no signs of him getting better.[2]

On July, his constipation was replaced by severe diarrhea and Zhezong could not get up from his bed to receive medicine.[2] Geng recommended spleen-warming pills, an action Zhezong's mother supported.[2]

The coolness of the weather improved Zhezong's health; made him well enough to attend the celebration of his son Zhao Mao on August 8.[2] But his illness returned so Zhezong cancelled his audiences for two days.[2] When he saw his councilors on August 14, he told them that Geng gave him medicine to induce vomiting.[2] He was slightly better but his appetite was gone and his belly constantly hurted.[2] Zhezong attended the banquet in honor of his son, in which he was in a very good mood and that his younger brother Zhao Ji also attended.[2] However, Zhao Mao became sick. Zhezong, now in a bad mood due to his son's illness told his councilors that the royal doctors were treating Zhao Mao.[2] On September 26, Zhao Mao was getting better but soon died making Zhezong cancelling his audiences for three days.[2] His birthday was a great celebration but was cut short when after the birthday party, he fell ill and was vomiting all day long.[2] He also contracted laryngitis and could only speak with great effort.[2] By December 21, Zhezong was close to death; he had a weak pulse.[2]

Emperor Zhezong died On February 23, 1100 in Kaifeng at the age of 24 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Emperor Huizong.


  • Parents:
    • Zhao Xu, Shenzong (神宗 趙頊; 1048 – 1085)
    • Empress Qincheng, of the Zhu clan (欽成皇后 朱氏; 1052 – 1102)
  • Consorts and issue:
  1. Empress Zhaoci, of the Meng clan (昭慈皇后 孟氏; 1073 – 1131)
    1. Princess Xunmei (洵美帝姬; 1094 – 1096)
  2. Empress Zhaohuai, of the Liu clan (昭懷皇后 劉氏; 1078 – 1113), personal name Qingjing (清菁)
    1. Princess Shushen (淑慎帝姬; 1096 – 1164)
    2. Princess Chunmei (純美帝姬; 1097 – 1099)
    3. Zhao Mao, Crown Prince Xianmin (獻愍皇太子 趙茂; 1099)
  3. Unknown
    1. Princess Shuhe (淑和帝姬; d. 1117)

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. Sima Guang


  1. ^ "Song Zhezong". Baike Baidu.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (2014-01-06). Emperor Huizong. Harvard University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780674727687.
  1. ^ Had his name changed to "Zhao Xu" in March 1085 when he was officially designated as the Crown Prince. This name became his official personal name when he ascended the throne five days later.
Emperor Zhezong
Born: 4 January 1077 Died: 23 February 1100[aged 23]
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Shenzong
Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Huizong