Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia

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Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia
Emperor of Western Xia Dynasty
Reign10 November 1038 – 19 January 1048
Actual reign1032 – 19 January 1048
Born7 June 1003
Died19 January 1048 (aged 44)
SpouseEmpress Dowager Xuanmohuiwen
Full name
Lǐ Yuánhào 李元昊 Birth name Li Weili 李嵬理
Era dates
Xiandao (显道):1032-1034
Kaiyun (开运):1034
Guanyun (广运):1034-1036
Daqing (大庆):1036-1038
Tianshoulifayanzuo (天授礼法延祚):1038-1048
Posthumous name
Wulie Huangdi (武烈皇帝)
Temple name
FatherLi Deming 李德明 (posthumously honored as Emperor Taizong)
MotherLady Weimu 卫慕氏 (posthumously honored as Empress Huicidun'ai)

Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia (1003–1048), born Li Yuanhao (Chinese: 李元昊), or Tuoba Yuanhao (Chinese: 拓跋元昊), was the first emperor of the Western Xia Empire located in northwestern China, reigning from 1038 to 1048. He was the eldest son of the Tangut ruler Li Deming.

Early background[edit]

As a youth Jingzong was physically imposing yet also possessed a love of learning; he knew both the Tibetan and Chinese languages. Being a voracious reader, he was knowledgeable regarding matters of law and military strategy and also knew how to paint. After his father died in 1032, he became the leader of the Tangut.

Military campaigns[edit]

Early on in his leadership, Jingzong discarded the surnames Li and Zhao which had been given by the Tang and Song dynasties, replacing them with the surname Weiming (Chinese: 嵬名, Tangut: 𗼨𗆟 ). He took an aggressive stance with the Song dynasty, and they described him as "a vigorous and persevering leader versed in military strategy." At its height he claimed an army of 500,000 men.

In 1034 Jingzong attacked the Huanqing territories. He was largely successful in these expeditions and captured Song general Qi Zongju. At this point he changed his target to the Uyghur peoples of the West, and his efforts against them began in 1036.

These campaigns proved to have more meaningful success. From the Uyghurs he took large portions of Gansu. The success of these efforts proved fairly permanent as well. The Tangut people would hold the Hexi Corridor for 191 years.

In 1038 he declared himself the emperor of the Western Xia Dynasty whose capital was situated in Xingqing. Afterwards he launched a campaign against the Song. Although the Tangut empire won a series of three large battles, the victories proved to be very costly and they found their forces depleted, due in part to a scorched earth policy by the Song. In 1044 the Tangut Empire signed a treaty with the Song dynasty resulting in the nominal acknowledgment of Song sovereignty by the Tangut and the payment of tribute by the Song.

Culture and politics[edit]

The Emperor led to a reorganization of much of the Empire with the help of Chinese advisors. The Empire created new departments and administrative services. The Emperor also knew Chinese and had Chinese works translated into his people's language. He accomplished this by supporting the development of a written language for the Tangut people. (This development of new writing, however, would lead to immense headaches for historians, as very few people can understand the writing.)

Nevertheless, Emperor Jingzong had strong opposition to the people imitating the Chinese too closely. He emphasized the value of their traditional nomadic way of life and discouraged any dependence on Chinese luxury items. Trade with the Song was minimized or cut off before the peace treaty that came four years before his death. The use of Chinese talents was not to lead to sinicization.

Succession and death[edit]

In 1048, both the Prime Minister, Mozang Epang (沒藏訛龐), and Prince Ninglingge (寧令哥) conspired to assassinate Jingzong. Prince Ninglingge attempted to kill Jingzong with a sword, but he only managed to slice off Jingzong's nose. Frightened by what he had done, Prince Ninglingge fled to Mozang for backup, but Mozang betrayed Ninglingge by turning him in as the assassin.

Although Jingzong initially survived the assassination, he succumbed to his wounds a few days later.


  • The Ageless Chinese by Dun J. Li

External links[edit]