Northern Liao

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Northern Liao

Tengrism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion
• 1122
Emperor Xuanzong
• 1123
Emperor Yingzong
• Established
1122 1122
• Emperor Yingzong was killed
1123 1123
CurrencyChinese cash, Chinese coin, copper coins etc.
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Liao dynasty
Jin dynasty, 1115–1234

Northern Liao (simplified Chinese: 北辽; traditional Chinese: 北遼; pinyin: Běi Liáo) was a state created by the Khitans, separate from the Liao dynasty, in northern China around Liao Nanjing (now Beijing) and Zhongjing (today's Ningcheng). The state in Nanjing only existed for about nine months in 1122–1123. A further Northern Liao dynasty existed briefly in 1123.


When the Emperor Tianzuo of Liao fled to the west under the military pressure of the Jurchens of the Jin dynasty, he appointed Yelü Chun (1062–1122, a grandson of Emperor Xingzong of Liao), Prince of Yan, as the Governor of Nanjing (Nanjing Liushou) (Nanjing means "southern capital" and should not be confused with today's Nanjing). Yelü Chun however was enthroned as the Emperor Tianxi in March 1122 (Chinese calendar).[1][2] Since Liao dynasty of the Emperor Tianzuo still existed, the state at Nanjing was called Northern Liao by historians.

Yelü Chun's era name was Jianfu. He defeated the attack of the Song army, led by Tong Guan. He died in June 1122 (Chinese calendar), with temple name Xuanzong and posthumous name Xiaozhang.[1]

Yelü Chun was succeeded nominally by Prince of Qin, Yelü Ding. However, since Yelü Ding was in hiding with his father Emperor Tianzuo, the Empress Dowager Xiao Defei (蕭德妃) was enthroned as regent for the Prince of Qin, with the new era name Dexing. The Khitans under the command of Xiao Gan and Yelü Dashi were able to repulse attacks by the Song forces, but the Jurchens led by Aguda continued to advanced south toward Nanjing. In December 1122 (Chinese calendar, probably early 1123 in Western calendar), the city of Nanjing surrendered to the Jin army, ending the brief existence of Northern Liao in Nanjing. Just before the Jurchen conquest, Yelü Dashi led 7000 of his troops to rejoin Emperor Tianzuo in the western region, taking the empress with him. The empress Xiao Defei was however executed by Emperor Tianzuo.[3]

In 1123, the Jurchens attacked the Tianzuo's palace at Qingzhong (south of modern Hohhot), capturing members of his family. Tianzuo sought refuge with the Xi Xia, however his son Yelü Yali, the Prince of Liang, chose to go to the Yugu and Dilie tribes north of the Gobi Desert, and was enthroned there as another Northern Liao emperor in the fifth month of 1123. He died however in the tenth month that same year. His son, Yelü Zhulie, succeeded him, but was killed only a month later by his own troops.[4]


Temple Names
(Miao Hao 廟號 miàohào)
Posthumous Names
(Shi Hao 諡號 shìhào)
Birth Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號 niánhào)
and their according range of years
Xuanzong (宣宗) 天锡皇帝 Yelü Chun (耶律淳) 1122 Jianfu (建福)
See note 1122–1123 Dexing (德興)
None None Yelü Yali (耶律雅里) 1123 Shenli (神历)
Yingzong (英宗) None Yelü Zhulie (耶律术烈) 1123 None
  • ^Note : Xiao Defei (蕭德妃) acting as regent for the Prince of Qin (秦王).



  1. ^ a b Liao Shi, vol. 80
  2. ^ Biran (2005), pg 20
  3. ^ Biran (2005), pg 23
  4. ^ Biran (2005). pp 24-25


  • Biran, Michal (2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84226-3.
  • 遼史 Liao Shi, volume 30, biographies of Yelü Chun, Yelü Yali, and Yelü Dashi.
Preceded by
Liao dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
Succeeded by
Jin dynasty
(See also Western Liao)