Emperor Shenzong of Song

Emperor Shenzong of Song

Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign 25 January 1067 – 1 April 1085
Predecessor Emperor Yingzong
Successor Emperor Zhezong
Born Zhao Zhongzhen (1048–1067)
Zhao Xu (1067–1085)
(1048-05-25)25 May 1048
Died 1 April 1085(1085-04-01) (aged 36)
Empresses Empress Qinsheng
Empress Qincheng
Empress Qinci
  • Consort Lin
  • Consort Wu
  • Consort Song
  • Consort Xing
  • Consort Zhang
  • Consort Yang
  • Consort Zhu
  • Consort Qian
  • Consort Guo
  • Consort Gou
  • Zhao Yi
  • Zhao Jin
  • Zhao Jun
  • Zhao Shen
  • Zhao Xian
  • Zhao Xu
  • Zhao Jia
  • Zhao Zhou
  • Zhao Bi
  • Zhao Ji
  • Zhao Yu
  • Zhao Si
  • Zhao Cai
  • Princess of Zhou
  • Princess of Chu
  • Princess Shushou
  • Princess of Kang
  • Princess of Yun
  • Princess of Lu
  • Princess of Xing
  • Princess of Bin
  • Princess of Gun
  • Princess of Qing
Era dates
Xining (熙寧; 1068–1077)
Yuanfeng (元豐; 1078–1085)
Posthumous name
Tiyuan Xiandao Fagu Lixian Dide Wanggong Yingwen Liewu Qinren Shengxiao Huangdi
(體元顯道法古立憲帝德王功英文烈武欽仁聖孝皇帝) (awarded in 1113)
Temple name
Shenzong (神宗)
House House of Zhao
Father Emperor Yingzong
Mother Empress Gao
Emperor Shenzong of Song
Chinese 宋神宗
Literal meaning "Spirit Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Xu
Traditional Chinese 趙頊
Simplified Chinese 赵顼
Zhao Zhongzhen
Traditional Chinese 趙仲鍼
Simplified Chinese 赵仲针
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhao.

Emperor Shenzong of Song (25 May 1048 – 1 April 1085), personal name Zhao Xu, was the sixth emperor of the Song dynasty in China. His original personal name was Zhao Zhongzhen but he changed it to "Zhao Xu" after his coronation. He reigned from 1067 until his death in 1085.

Life and reign

During his reign, Emperor Shenzong became interested in Wang Anshi's policies and appointed Wang as the Chancellor. Wang implemented his famous New Policies aimed at improving the situation for the peasantry and unemployed, which some have seen as a forerunner of the modern welfare state. These acts became the hallmark reform of Emperor Shenzong's reign.

Emperor Shenzong sent failed campaigns against the Vietnamese ruler Lý Nhân Tông of the Lý dynasty in 1076.[1]

Emperor Shenzong's other notable act as emperor was his attempt to weaken the Tangut-led Western Xia state by invading and expelling the Western Xia forces from Gansu Province. The Song army was initially quite successful at these campaigns, but during the battle for the city of Yongle, in 1082, Song forces were defeated. As a result, Western Xia grew more powerful and subsequently continued to be a thorn in the side of the Song Empire over the ensuing decades.

During Emperor Shenzong's reign, Sima Guang, a minister interested in the history of the previous 1000 years, wrote a very influential history book, the Zizhi Tongjian or A Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government. This book records historical events from the Zhou dynasty to the Song dynasty. Another notable literary achievement which occurred during his reign was the compilation of the Seven Military Classics, including the alleged forgery of the Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong.[2]

Aside from the ancient Roman embassies to Han and Three-Kingdoms era China, contact with Europe remained sparse if not nonexistent before the 13th century. However, from Chinese records it is known that Michael VII Doukas (Mie li sha ling kai sa 滅力沙靈改撒) of Fo lin (i.e. the Byzantine Empire) dispatched a diplomatic mission to China's Song dynasty that arrived in 1081, during the reign of Emperor Shenzong.[3]

Emperor Shenzong died in 1085 at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Emperor Zhezong.


Emperor Shenzong's younger sister (Princess Shuguo, 1051-1080) was married to Wang Shen.[4]

See also


  1. Maspéro, Georges (2002). The Champa Kingdom: The History of an Extinct Vietnamese Culture. White Lotus Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-974-7534-99-3.
  2. Sawyer, Ralph D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. Westview Press. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-8133-1228-6.
  3. Sezgin, Fuat; Ehrig-Eggert, Carl; Mazen, Amawi; Neubauer, E. (1996). نصوص ودراسات من مصادر صينية حول البلدان الاسلامية. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. p. 25.
  4. Murck, Alfreda (2000). Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent. Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-674-00782-6.
Emperor Shenzong of Song
Born: 25 May 1048 Died: 1 April 1085
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Yingzong
Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor Zhezong
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