Emperor Zhenzong

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Emperor Zhenzong of Song
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign 8 May 997 – 23 March 1022
Coronation 8 May 997
Predecessor Emperor Taizong
Successor Emperor Renzong
Born Zhao Dechang (968–983)
Zhao Yuanxiu (983–986)
Zhao Yuankan (986–995)
Zhao Heng (995–1022)
(968-12-23)23 December 968
Died 23 March 1022(1022-03-23) (aged 53)
Empresses / Wives Princess Pan
Empress Guo
Empress Liu
Concubines Consort Yang
Consort Li
Consort Shen
Consort Cao
Consort Dai
Consort Chen
Consort Du
Consort Xu
  • Zhao Ti
  • Zhao You
  • Zhao Zhi
  • Zhao Zhong
  • Zhao Gui
  • Zhao Zhen
  • Princess of Hui
  • Princess of Sheng
Era dates
Xianping (咸平; 998–1003)
Jingde (景德; 1004–1007)
Dazhongxiangfu (大中祥符; 1008–1016)
Tianxi (天禧; 1017–1021)
Qianxing (乾興; 1022)
Posthumous name
Yingfu Jigu Shengong Rangde Wenming Wuding Zhangsheng Yuanxiao Huangdi
(膺符稽古神功讓德文明武定章聖元孝皇帝) (awarded in 1047)
Temple name
Zhenzong (真宗)
House House of Zhao
Father Emperor Taizong
Mother Consort Li
Emperor Zhenzong of Song
Chinese 宋真宗
Literal meaning "True Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Dechang
Traditional Chinese 趙德昌
Simplified Chinese 赵德昌
Zhao Yuanxiu
Traditional Chinese 趙元休
Simplified Chinese 赵元休
Zhao Yuankan
Traditional Chinese 趙元侃
Simplified Chinese 赵元侃
Zhao Heng
Traditional Chinese 趙恆
Simplified Chinese 赵恒

Emperor Zhenzong of Song (23 December 968 – 23 March 1022), personal name Zhao Heng, was the third emperor of the Song dynasty in China. He reigned from 997 to his death in 1022. His personal name was originally Zhao Dechang, but was changed to Zhao Yuanxiu in 983, Zhao Yuankan in 986, and finally Zhao Heng in 995. He was the third son of his predecessor, Emperor Taizong, and was succeeded by his sixth son, Emperor Renzong.

Emperor Zhenzong's reign was noted for the consolidation of power and the strengthening of the Song Empire. The empire prospered, and its military might was further reinforced. However, it would also mark the beginning of a foreign policy towards the Khitan-led Liao dynasty in the north that would ultimately result in humiliation. In 1004, the Khitans waged war against the Song Empire. Emperor Zhenzong, leading his army, struck back at the Khitans. Despite initial successes, in 1005, Emperor Zhenzong concluded the Shanyuan Treaty. The treaty resulted in over a century of peace, but at the price of the Song Empire agreeing to an inferior position to the Liao Empire, and also agreeing to pay an annual tribute of 100,000 ounces of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The admission of inferiority would come to plague the foreign affairs of the Song Empire, while the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers.

He was responsible for ordering the shipment of 30,000 bushels of quick-maturing rice seed from the Fujian Province to the lower Yangtze basin in 1011–1012, improving agriculture.

Emperor Zhenzong stressed the importance of Taoism at his imperial court. It was during his reign that the so-called Heavenly Texts, which glorified the Zhao family, were allegedly discovered. This was followed up by imperial sacrificial ceremonies carried out at Mount Tai. From 1013 to 1015, the emperor issued official decrees deifying the Jade Emperor as the highest ruler of Heaven.[1]

Champa rice was introduced to China from Champa during Emperor Zhenzong's reign.


A number of Chinese artifacts dating from the Tang dynasty and Song dynasty, some of which had been owned by Emperor Zhenzong were excavated and then came into the hands of the Kuomintang general Ma Hongkui, who refused to publicise the findings. Among the artifacts were a white marble tablet from the Tang dynasty, gold nails, and bands made out of metal. It was not until after Ma died, that his wife went to Taiwan in 1971 from the United States to bring the artifacts to Chiang Kai-shek, who turned them over to the Taipei National Palace Museum.[2]


  • Father: Zhao Jiong (Emperor Taizong)
  • Mother: Empress Li, posthumously honoured as Empress Yuande (元德皇后)
  • Spouses:
    • Princess Pan (968–989), Pan Mei's eighth daughter, died before Emperor Zhenzong's coronation, posthumously honoured as Empress Zhanghuai (章懷皇后)
    • Empress Guo (975–1007), posthumously honoured as Empress Zhangmu (章穆皇后), Guo Shouwen's (郭守文) second daughter, bore Zhao You
    • Empress Liu (968–1033), Liu Tong (劉通) and Lady Pang's daughter, posthumously honoured as Empress Zhangxianmingsu (章獻明肅皇后)
    • Empress Li (987–1032), posthumously honored as Empress Zhangyi (章懿皇后), Li Rende's (李仁德) daughter, bore Zhao Zhen[3]
    • Empress Yang (984–1036), Yang Zhiyan's (楊知儼) daughter, posthumously honoured as Empress Zhanghui (章惠皇后)
  • Concubines
    • Consort Shen (994–1076), Shen Jizong's (沈繼宗) daughter and Shen Lun's (沈倫) granddaughter, formally known as Consort Zhaojing
    • Consort Du
    • Consort Cao
    • Consort Chen
    • Consort Dai
    • Consort Xu
    • Consort Chen[4]
  • Sons:
    • Zhao Ti (趙褆), the Prince of Wen (溫王), died young
    • Zhao You (趙祐), Crown Prince Daoxian (悼獻太子)
    • Zhao Zhi (趙祇), the Prince of Chang (昌王), died young
    • Zhao Zhong (趙祉), the Prince of Xin (信王)
    • Zhao Gui (趙祈), the Prince of Qin (欽王), died young
    • Zhao Zhen (趙禎; 30 May 1010 – 30 April 1063), Emperor Renzong
  • Daughters:
    • Princess of Hui (惠國公主), died young
    • Princess of Sheng (升國大長公主), previously the Princess of Lu (魯國大長公主), initially the Princess of Wei (衛國長公主)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jonathan D. Spence. God's Chinese Son. New York 1996. p.42
  2. ^ China archeology and art digest, Volume 3, Issue 4. Art Text (HK) Ltd. 2000. p. 354. 
  3. ^ Initially Emperor Zhenzong's concubine, she was elevated posthumously to the rank of Empress
  4. ^ Not the same as the above
Emperor Zhenzong
House of Zhao (960–1279)
Born: 997 Died: 1022
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Taizong
Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Renzong
Emperor of China