Emperor Gaozong of Song

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Emperor Gaozong of Song
SongEmperorAlbumGaozongPortrait.jpg
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign12 June 1127 – 26 March 1129
Coronation12 June 1127
PredecessorEmperor Qinzong
SuccessorZhao Fu
Reign20 April 1129 – 24 July 1162
PredecessorZhao Fu
SuccessorEmperor Xiaozong
Retired Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign24 July 1162 – 9 November 1187
BornZhao Gou
12 June 1107
Died9 November 1187(1187-11-09) (aged 80)
Era dates
Jianyan (建炎; 1127–1130)
Shaoxing (紹興; 1131–1162)
Posthumous name
Shouming Zhongxing Quangong Zhide Shengshen Wuwen Zhaoren Xianxiao Huangdi
(受命中興全功至德聖神武文昭仁憲孝皇帝)
(awarded in 1191)
Temple name
Gaozong (高宗)
HouseHouse of Zhao
FatherEmperor Huizong
MotherEmpress Xianren
Emperor Gaozong of Song
Chinese宋高宗
Literal meaning"High Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Gou
Traditional Chinese趙構
Simplified Chinese赵构
Deji
(courtesy name)
Chinese德基

Emperor Gaozong of Song (12 June 1107 – 9 November 1187), personal name Zhao Gou, courtesy name Deji, was the tenth emperor of the Song dynasty in China and the first emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. He was the ninth son of Emperor Huizong and a younger half-brother of Emperor Qinzong. In 1127, during the wars between the Song dynasty and Jurchen-led Jin dynasty, the Song capital Bianjing (present-day Kaifeng) fell to Jin forces in an event historically known as the Jingkang Incident. Emperors Huizong and Qinzong were taken prisoner by the Jurchens, while Zhao Gou managed to escape to southern China. He reestablished the Song dynasty (as the Southern Song dynasty) in Lin'an (present-day Hangzhou) and was proclaimed emperor. He reigned from 1127 until 1162, when he abdicated the throne in favour of his adopted son Zhao Shen (Emperor Xiaozong), and became a Taishang Huang ("Retired Emperor") until his death in 1187. He was a capable ruler who brought stability to the Song but was criticized for executing Yue Fei.

He was the last descendant of Emperor Taizong to become emperor; subsequent Song emperors were descendants of Emperor Taizu.

Early life[edit]

Emperor Gaozong was the ninth son of Emperor Huizong and a younger half-brother of Emperor Qinzong. His mother, whose maiden family name was Wei (韋), was a concubine of Emperor Huizong. She was honoured as Empress Xianren (顯仁皇后; 1080–1159) after his ascension to the throne.

Emperor Gaozong was originally a prince named Zhao Gou during the reigns of his father and brother. After Emperor Huizong abdicated, his older brother Emperor Qinzong became emperor. During this time, the capital of Bianjing was under siege by the Jurchens. He was ordered to the Jurchen camp to negotiate peace by Qinzong in a effort to end the siege early but Zhao Gou was held for ransom. He later came back after being ransomed due to the Jurchens' doubts of his identity. After his brother and father and the capital of Bianjing were captured by forces of the Jurchen-led Jin Empire in the Jingkang Incident in 1127 along with majority of the imperial clan members due to his predecessors' incompetence and the imperial court's corruption, he escaped to Southern China due to being in Cizhou for a diplomatic mission and therefore, not in Bianjing.[1] In order to escape, Zhao Gou had to move province to province in order to escape the Jin troops. The Jurchens tried to lure him back to Bianjing where they could finally capture him, but did not succeed.[2] Zhao Gou finally arrived in the Song Southern Capital at Jiankang, the first of many temporary capitals.[3]

Reign[edit]

Enthronement[edit]

Quatrain on the Heavenly Mountain, calligraphy by Emperor Gaozong.

After proving himself to be a competent administrator than his predecessors, he won support from imperial court's remnants of his ascension to the throne; he reestablished the Song Empire (historically known as the Southern Song dynasty) and was proclaimed as Emperor Gaozong with the era name Jianyan in Jiankang (present Nanjing) which at the time was a temporary residence for the remnants of the Song. He would later move to Yingtianfu (應天府; modern Shangqiu) due to the historical significance to Emperor Taizu of Song.[1]

From 1127 to 1129, the Song sent thirteen embassies to the Jin to discuss peace terms and to negotiate the release of Gaozong's mother and Huizong, but the Jin court ignored them.[4] The Da Chu, a puppet state established by the Jin Empire, was abolished in 1127 when Zhang Bangchang and the regent of Da Chu, the former Empress Meng submitted to Emperor Gaozong, who then ordered Zhang's execution under the pressure of Li Gang.

Emperor Gaozong's early reign was filled with Jurchen raids and attacks on his realm. This can be traced to Zhang's execution and the submission of Da Chu which ultimately caused the Jin to renew their attacks and quickly conquer Northern China.[5] Initially, he employed military leaders such as Li Gang, Zong Ze, Yue Fei, Han Shizhong, and Yu Yunwen to lead the Song forces to hold off the Jurchens as well as to improve his public image of his declaration to restore the Song Empire to its former glory. However, when one of Li Gang's guerrilla forces, the Red Scarf Army, scored a major victory against the Jin troops and almost captured their commander-in-chief, the emperor dismissed the minister, implied that he did not want to win this battle possibly due to that if they win, Emperor Qinzong might be restored.[6]

He moved to Yangzhou in late 1127 or early 1128 due to the vulnerability of Yingtianfu.[7] However, Yangzhou would not forever be a safe haven for the Song as just barely on year later, the Jurchens advanced to the point were they were threatening to capture Yangzhou. When the Jurchens advanced to the Huai River, the court was partially evacuated to Lin'an (modern Hangzhou) in 1129.[8] Days later, Gaozong narrowly escaped on horseback, just a few hours ahead of Jurchen vanguard troops.[9][10]

Mutiny & First Abdication[edit]

Seated portrait of Emperor Gaozong.

In March 26, 1129, Gaozong lost his throne to a mutiny that was instigated by the palace guards led by Miao Fu (苗傅) and Liu Zhengyan (劉正彥) who were unsatisfied with Gaozong's decision to appoint one of their adversary Wang Yuan, to important imperial post hence would outrank them. Miao and Liu banded together with at least ten thousand palace guards under the pretense that Wang and the eunuchs in court were plotting, mutinied and murdered Wang. They then forced Gaozong to abdicate in favor of his two-year-old son Zhao Fu. The plot came to an abrupt end less than a month later in April 20, 1129 when Miao and Liu was defeated by Gaozong's loyal army led by Han Shizhong and were both executed for treason. His son later died from illness after a unofficial reign of 3 months. After being restored to the throne, he was pursued by Jin forces and was not in full control of southern China until the late 1130s. The mutiny would cause Emperor Gaozong to move his capital to Jiankang.[11]

In 1130, Wuzhu, general of the Jurchens crossed the Yangtze southwest of Jiankang where he captured it.[12] Wuzhu set out from Jiankang and advanced rapidly to try to capture Gaozong.[13] The Jin seized Hangzhou on January 22 and then Shaoxing further south on February 4 where Emperor Gaozong was almost captured by Wuzhu at Mingzhou near Lin'an but Zhang Jun, another general who briefly halted the Jin advance, giving Emperor Gaozong the chance to flee the city by ship.[14] Soon, the Jurchens gave up the pursuit and retreated north.[14] After they plundered the undefended cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou, they finally started to face resistance from Song armies led by Yue Fei and Han Shizhong.[14]

In 1130, during the Battle of Huangtiandang, when fleeing to the south, he had the newly appointed commander-in-chief, Yue Fei, who was only 27 years old at the time, to help with the defense, and Yue scored a major victory against the Jin armies neared Nanjing. After the Song forces defeated the Jin, they stayed north of the Yangzi River, and Emperor Gaozong declared the city of Lin'an as the dynasty's new temporary capital, replacing Kaifeng in 1133.[15][16]

Having no surviving sons of his own, he adopted two boys in 1133: one of them became the foster son of the future Empress Wu in 1140, and the other one in 1142.[17]

Invasion from Da Qi[edit]

Reluctant to let the war drag on, the Jin decided to create Da Qi (the "Great Qi") in 1130, their second attempt at a puppet state in Northern China.[18] The Jurchens believed that this state, nominally ruled by someone of Han Chinese descent, would be able to attract the allegiance of disaffected members of the insurgency. The Jurchens also suffered from a shortage of skilled manpower, and controlling the entirety of northern China was not administratively feasible.[18] In the final months of 1129, Liu Yu (劉豫; 1073–1143) won the favor of the Jin Emperor Taizong. Da Qi[18] had more autonomy than the previous Da Chu[4] although Liu Yu was obligated to obey the orders of the Jurchen generals.[4] With Jin support, Da Qi invaded the Song in November 1133. Li Cheng, a Song turncoat who had joined the Qi, led the campaign. They initially had success as Xiangyang and nearby prefectures fell to his army. The capture of Xiangyang on the Han River gave the Jurchens a passage into the central valley of the Yangtze River.[19] However, their southward push was halted by the general Yue Fei.[20] In 1134, Yue Fei defeated Li and retook Xiangyang and its surrounding prefectures. Later that year, however, Qi and Jin initiated a new offensive further east along the Huai River. For the first time, Emperor Gaozong issued an edict officially condemning Da Qi. The armies of Qi and Jin won a series of victories in the Huai Valley, but were repelled by Han Shizhong near Yangzhou and by Yue Fei at Luzhou (廬州, modern Hefei).[21] In 1135, The Jin Emperor Taizong died. This caused the Da Qi to suddenly withdraw in response giving the Song time to regroup.[21] The Da Qi lost a battle at Outang (藕塘), in modern Anhui, against a Song army led by Yang Qizhong (楊沂中). The victory boosted Song morale, and the military commissioner Zhang Jun convinced Emperor Gaozong to begin plans for a counterattack. Emperor Gaozong initially agreed, but he quickly abandoned the counteroffensive when an officer named Li Qiong (酈瓊) killed his superior official and defected to the Jin with tens of thousands of soldiers.

Steps towards Peace[edit]

Emperor Xizong (left) and the Chancellor Qin Hui (middle) and Emperor Gaozong (right) all took steps to ratify peace.

Meanwhile, Emperor Xizong inherited the Jin throne from Taizong, and pushed for peace.[22] He and his generals were disappointed with Liu Yu's military failures and believed that Liu was secretly conspiring with Yue Fei.[22] These conditions caused the Jin to officially abolish Da Qi in late 1137 and the Jin and Song began negotiations towards peace.[22]

When Emperor Gaozong was eventually told of the death of Huizong and Empress Zheng in 1137, he reportedly reacted quite severely, ordering an extended period of mourning.[23]

In 1138, Gaozong officially declared Lin'an the capital of the dynasty, but the label of temporary capital would still be in place.[24] Despite this, Lin'an would remain the capital of the Southern Song for the next 150 years, growing into a major commercial and cultural center.[25]

Gaozong promoted Qin Hui in 1138 and put him in charge of deliberations with the Jin.[22] Yue Fei, Han Shizhong, and a large number of officials at court criticized the peace overtures.[26] Aided by his control of the Censorate, Qin purged his enemies and continued negotiations.

Treaty of Shaoxing[edit]

Left: Emperor Gaozong supported negotiating a peace treaty with the Jurchens, the Treaty of Shaoxing, ratified on October 11, 1142. Right: The general Yue Fei who would be framed and imprisoned.

After years of fighting and significant military success, Emperor Gaozong settled on a pacifist stance.[27] One of the major reasons behind this was that Emperor Gaozong and the chancellor Qin Hui did not want the Song army to defeat the Jurchens, as this might result in his half-brother and the last emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty, Emperor Qinzong who was living in Jin-imposed exile in Manchuria might had a good chance of being recalled to the throne should the Jin Dynasty be destroyed causing Gaozong to lose power. At the time, Yue Fei and Han Shizhong were preparing to attack Kaifeng and recapture it. Fearing that a victory at Kaifeng might cause the Jurchens to release the captured Emperor Qinzong, Emperor Gaozong followed their advice, sending 12 orders in the form of 12 gold plaques to Yue Fei, recalling him back to the capital in which Yue Fei in tears stated, "Thirty years of effort now is wasted." Emperor Gaozong also recalled every soldier under threats to kill their families. As Yue Fei returned to the capital, Emperor Gaozong and Qin Hui imprisoned Yue Fei for some ambiguous offense and had him put to death.[28] Han Shizhong was also dismissed from his military duties. During Emperor Gaozong's reign in October 11, 1142, the Song and Jin empires signed the Treaty of Shaoxing, which recognised the Jurchens' claims to the former Song territories they already conquered which meant that Emperor Gaozong had to give up all land north of the Huai River, in exchange for peace between the two empires which lasted for seventy years aside from two incidents.[29][30] The Song also had to pay a yearly tribute of 250,000 taels of silver and 250,000 packs of silk to the Jin.[31] The negotiation allowed the emperor's mother and other selected members of the imperial clan returned to Song; Empress Wei then named Empress Dowager in Southern Song. However the treaty designated the Song as the "insignificant state", while the Jin was recognized as the "superior state". People would later blame the emperor for Yue Fei's death and vilified him as a tyrant. However, despite the treaty's terms resulted the Song as a vassal state to the Jin, it saved Song's economy: since the dynasty's founding, the regime lost more capital on military defenses than annual payments to their neighbors, about over three-quarter of state revenue. In addition, with the southern part of China remained under Song's controls, transport of goods became more cost-effectively by boats through streams and canels criss-crossing the region. It also eliminated obstacles on trades, allowing traders import goods between Song and Jin territories.[32][33] Qin Hui, in a reply to Gaozong's gratitude for the success of the peace negotiations, told the emperor that "the decision to make peace was entirely Your Majesty's. Your servant only carried it out; what achievement was there in this for me?"[34]

Emperor Gaozong was also a notable poet and had significant influence on other Chinese poets. Among his surviving works is the Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain.

In 1161, the ruler of the Jin Dynasty, Wanyan Liang declared war on the Song in the Battle of Tangdao and the Battle of Caishi due to him wanting to unify China. The Jin lost the war and it importantly removed the status of the Song as a vassal although they still had to pay tribute. Wanyan Liang was assassinated shortly due to many Jin officers rebelling as a result of the Jin defeat.

Second Abdication[edit]

Emperor Gaozong abdicated in 1162 after reigning for more than 35 years, and passed the throne to his adopted son and distant cousin Zhao Shen who then became Emperor Xiaozong, because his only son, Zhao Fu (趙旉), died prematurely around the age of three from an illness. Emperor Gaozong may also abdicated to due his handling of the Battle of Caishi with Wanyan Liang. Emperor Gaozong then assumed the title of Taishang Huang ("Retired Emperor") and remained to hold some power until his death in 1187.

His death saddened Emperor Xiaozong and caused him to abdicate only two years after Gaozong's death.

Titles from birth[edit]

  • His Imperial Highness The Prince of Kang 康王
  • His Imperial Majesty The Emperor 皇帝
  • His Imperial Majesty The Retired Emperor 太上皇

Family[edit]

  • Parents:
    • Zhao Ji, Huizong (徽宗 趙佶; 1082 – 1135)
    • Empress Xianren, of the Wei clan (顯仁皇后 韋氏; 1080 – 1159)
  • Consorts and Issue:
  1. Empress Xianjie, of the Xing clan (憲節皇后 邢氏; 1106 – 1139), personal name Bingyi (秉懿)
  2. Empress Xiansheng, of the Wu clan (憲聖皇后 吳氏; 1115 – 1197)
  3. Xianfei, of the Pan clan (賢妃 潘氏; d. 1148)
    1. Zhao Fu, Crown Prince Yuanyi (元懿皇太子 趙旉; 1127 – 1129)
  4. Unknown
    1. First Princess Kang (康大宗姬; 1124 – 1127), personal name Fuyou (佛佑)
    2. Second Princess Kang (康二宗姬; b. 1124), personal name Shenyou (神佑)
    3. Third Princess Kang (康三宗姬; b. 1125)
    4. Fourth Princess Kang (康四宗姬; b. 1126)
    5. Fifth Princess Kang (康五宗姬; b. 1126)

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. Yue Fei
  10. Jin–Song Wars
  11. Tang Clan

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tao 2009, p. 647.
  2. ^ Mote 1999, p. 291.
  3. ^ Franke 1994, p. 230; Mote 1999, p. 197.
  4. ^ a b c Tao 2009, p. 658.
  5. ^ Tao 2009, p. 649.
  6. ^ Mah, Adeline (2009). China: Land of Dragon and Emperors. New York: Random House, Inc. pp. 108–116. ISBN 9780385737487.
  7. ^ Mote 1999, p. 293; Tao 2009, p. 650.
  8. ^ Tao 2009, p. 650.
  9. ^ Mote 1999, p. 293.
  10. ^ Mote, Frederick W. (2003). Imperial China: 900–1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 292–3. ISBN 978-0-674-01212-7.
  11. ^ Tao 2009, p. 652.
  12. ^ Tao 2009, p. 654.
  13. ^ Mote 1999, p. 298.
  14. ^ a b c Tao 2009, p. 655.
  15. ^ Mah, Adeline (2009). China: Land of Dragon and Emperors. New York: Random House, Inc. pp. 108–116. ISBN 9780385737487.
  16. ^ Mote 1999, p. 298 (date of return to Hangzhou); Tao 2009, p. 696 (renamed Lin'an).
  17. ^ Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles: Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women, Volume II: Tang Through Ming 618 - 1644
  18. ^ a b c Franke 1994, p. 230.
  19. ^ Tao 2009, p. 674.
  20. ^ Franke 1994, p. 232.
  21. ^ a b Tao 2009, p. 675.
  22. ^ a b c d Tao 2009, p. 677.
  23. ^ Toqto'a and Alutu (1346), liezhuan di er houfei xia
  24. ^ Tao 2009, p. 662.
  25. ^ Mote 1999, pp. 197 (150 years) and 461 (major Song city).
  26. ^ Tao 2009, p. 679.
  27. ^ Peter Allan Lorge (2005). War, politics and society in early modern China, 900–1795. Taylor & Francis. p. 55. ISBN 0-415-31690-1. Retrieved March 2, 2012. He therefore initially brought the belligerent Li Gang back into government to reassure the officials and generals of his intent to resist the Jurchen and perhaps recapture the north, and then sacked Li and brought in officials more concerned with Gaozong's personal authority. The military situation began to change, however, as Song loyalist forces became more coordinated and competent generals emerged to deal the Jurchen several defeats. Jurchen armies also began to run into the usual operational problems that diminished the power of steppe armies on extended campaigns. Even in economically-developed areas, an army that lived off the land could not return through the same place it had just looted. As Jurchen soldiers became more encumbered with loot, they became less mobile and less interested in further campaigning, though they might be more willing to return in the future. Southern China was also much less favorable for cavalry than northern China, and the Jurchen had to cross not only numerous small rivers and canals but also the Huai and Yangzi rivers.
  28. ^ Qian, Cai. General Yue Fei. Trans. Honorable Sir T.L. Yang. Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co., Ltd. (1995) ISBN 978-962-04-1279-0
  29. ^ Franke 1994, p. 235.
  30. ^ Hymes 2000, p. 34.
  31. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 175.
  32. ^ Ebrey, PatriciaCam (1996). China. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 138–150. ISBN 052166991X.
  33. ^ Franke 1994, p. 234.
  34. ^ Tao 2009, pp. 688–689.
Emperor Gaozong of Song
Born: 12 June 1107 Died: 9 November 1187
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Qinzong
Emperor of the Song Dynasty
1127–1162
Succeeded by
Emperor Xiaozong
Honorary titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Emperor Huizong
Retired Emperor of China
1162–1187
Vacant
Title next held by
Emperor Xiaozong