Emperor Huizong (Song Dynasty)

Emperor Huizong (Song Dynasty)

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Emperor Huizong was the eighth and one of the most famous emperors of the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, with a personal life spent amidst luxury, sophistication and art but ending in tragedy.

Born Zhao Ji, he was the 11th son of Emperor Shenzong. In February 1100 his older half-brother Emperor Zhezong (哲宗) died without a surviving son, and Huizong succeeded him the next day as emperor. He reigned from 1100 to 1126.

Huizong was famed for his promotion of Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

. He was also a skilled poet
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

, painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, calligrapher
East Asian calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy is a form of calligraphy widely practised and revered in the Sinosphere. This most often includes China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The East Asian calligraphic tradition originated and developed from China. There is a general standardization of the various styles of...

, and musician
Musician
A musician is an artist who plays a musical instrument. It may or may not be the person's profession. Musicians can be classified by their roles in performing music and writing music.Also....* A person who makes music a profession....

. He sponsored numerous artists at his court, and the catalogue of his imperial painting collection lists over 6,000 known paintings.

His temple name
Temple name
Temple names are commonly used when naming most Chinese, Korean , and Vietnamese royalty. They should not be confused with era names. Compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive...

 means "Honorary Ancestor."

Biography


Emperor Huizong of Song, besides his partaking in state affairs that favored the Reformist party (refer to section on reformers and conservatives in Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

), was a cultured leader who spent much of his time admiring the arts. He was a collector of painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

s, calligraphies
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

, and antiques of previous Chinese eras, building huge collections of each for his amusement. He wrote poems of his own, was known as an avid painter, created his own calligraphy style, had interests in architecture and garden design, and even wrote treatises on medicine and Daoism. He assembled an entourage of court painters that were first pre-screened in an examination to enter as official artists of the court, and made reforms to court music. Like many learned men of his age, he was quite a polymath personality. However, his reign would be forever scarred by the decisions made (by counsel he received) on handling foreign policy, as the end of his reign marked a period of disaster for Song China.

A true artist, Huizong neglected the army, and Song China became increasingly weak and at the mercy of foreign enemies, despite his recasting of the symbolic Nine Tripod Cauldrons
Nine Tripod Cauldrons
According to legend the Nine Tripod Cauldrons were created following the foundation of the Xia Dynasty by Yu the Great, using tribute metal presented by the governors of the Nine Provinces of ancient China....

 in 1106 in an attempt to assert his authority. When the Jurchen of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 founded the Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty, 1115–1234
The Jīn Dynasty ; Khitan language: Nik, Niku; ; 1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later...

 and attacked the Liao
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

 kingdom to the north of the Song empire, the Song court allied with the Jin and attacked the Liao from the south. This succeeded in destroying the Liao kingdom, a long time enemy of the Song. However, an enemy even more formidable, the Jin, was now on the northern border. Not content with the annexation of the Liao kingdom, and perceiving the weakness of the Song empire, the Jin soon declared war on their former ally, and by the beginning of 1126 the troops of the Jin "Western Vice-marshal" Wanyan Wolibu crossed the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 and came in sight of Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

, the capital of the Song empire. Stricken with panic, Huizong abdicated on January 18, 1126 in favor of his son who became Emperor Qinzong (欽宗).
Overcoming the walls of Kaifeng was a difficult undertaking for the Jin cavalry, and this, together with fierce resistance from some Chinese officials who had not totally lost their nerve, as Huizong had, resulted in the Jin lifting the siege of Kaifeng and returning north. The Song empire, however, had to sign a humiliating treaty with the Jin, agreeing to pay a colossal war indemnity and to give a tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 to Jin every year.

But even such humiliating terms could not save the Song empire. Within a matter of months, the troops of both Jurchen vice-marshals, Wolibu and Nianhan
Wanyan Nianhan
Wanyan Nianhan , later known by his Chinese name, Zonghan was one of the top military commanders of the Jurchen people both during their pre-imperial and early Jin Empire period.-Biography:...

, were back south again, and this time they were determined to overcome the walls of Kaifeng. After a bitter siege, the Jin eventually entered Kaifeng on January 9, 1127, and many days of looting, rapes, and massacre followed. Huizong, his son Emperor Qinzong, as well as the entire imperial court and harem were captured by the Jin in the Jingkang Incident
Jingkang Incident
The Jingkang Incident , the Humiliation of Jingkang , or The Disorders of the Jingkang Period took place in 1127 when invading Jurchen soldiers from the Jin Dynasty besieged and sacked Bianjing , the capital of the Song Dynasty of China...

, and shipped north, mostly to the Jin capital of Shangjing
Huining Fu
Huining Fu was a prefecture in the Shangjing region of Manchuria . It served as the first superior capital of the Jin Dynasty between 1122 to 1234 .- History :...

 (near today's Harbin
Harbin
Harbin ; Manchu language: , Harbin; Russian: Харби́н Kharbin ), is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China, lying on the southern bank of the Songhua River...

). One of the sons of Huizong managed to escape to Southern China where, after many years of struggle, he would establish the Southern Song Dynasty, of which he was the first emperor, Emperor Gaozong
Emperor Gaozong of Song
Emperor Gaozong , born Zhao Gou, was the tenth emperor of the Song Dynasty of China, and the first emperor of the Southern Song. He reigned from 1127 to 1162. He fled south after the Jurchens overran Kaifeng in the Jingkang Incident, hence the beginning of the Southern Song dynasty 1127–1279...

 (高宗).

Huizong and Qinzong were demoted to the rank of commoners by the Jin on March 20, 1127. Then on May 10, 1127, Huizong was deported to northern Manchuria, where he spent the last eight years of his life as a captive. In a humiliating episode, in 1128 the two former Song emperors had to venerate the Jin ancestors at their shrine in Shangjing
Huining Fu
Huining Fu was a prefecture in the Shangjing region of Manchuria . It served as the first superior capital of the Jin Dynasty between 1122 to 1234 .- History :...

, wearing mourning dress. The Jurchen rulers granted the two former emperors offensively named ranks of the Marquess
Chinese nobility
Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical...

 (侯, hou) of Hunde (昏德, "Muddled Virtue") and marquess of Zhonghun (重昏, "Doubly muddled").

In 1137, the Jin formally notified the Southern Song court about the death of their captive. The man who once had been the most powerful ruler on earth and had lived in opulence and art died a broken man in faraway northern Manchuria in June 1135, at the age of 52.

A few years later (1141), as the peace negotiations between the Jin and the Song were proceeding, the Jin posthumously honored Huizong with the neutral-sounding title of Prince
Chinese nobility
Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical...

 of Tianshun qun, after a commandery in the upper reaches of the Wei River
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

 (now in Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

). His son, still alive, became styled the Duke
Chinese nobility
Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical...

 (公, gong) of Tianshun qun. His third brother, Zhao Si King Yue (越王赵偲), lived in Gioro, was the founder of the clan Gioro in which the Qing Imperial Family Aisin Gioro is a cadet branch. Gioro clan was split into Gioro and Donge (董鄂).

Art, calligraphy, music, and culture


Huizong was a great painter
Chinese painting
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. The earliest paintings were not representational but ornamental; they consisted of patterns or designs rather than pictures. Early pottery was painted with spirals, zigzags, dots, or animals...

, poet
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

, and calligrapher
East Asian calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy is a form of calligraphy widely practised and revered in the Sinosphere. This most often includes China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The East Asian calligraphic tradition originated and developed from China. There is a general standardization of the various styles of...

. He was also a player of the guqin
Guqin
The guqin is the modern name for a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family...

(as exemplified by his famous painting 聽琴圖 Listening to the Qin); he also had a Wanqin Tang 『萬琴堂』 ("10,000 Qin Hall") in his palace.

Huizong took huge efforts to search for art masters. He established the "Han Lin Hua Yuan"[翰林画院]("Han Lin imperial painting house") where top painters around China share their best works.

The primary subjects of his paintings are bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s and flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s. Among is works is Five-Colored Parakeet
Parakeet
Parakeet is a term for any one of a large number of unrelated small to medium sized species of parrot, that generally have long tail feathers...

 on Blossoming Apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

 Tree
. He also recopied Zhang Xuan
Zhang Xuan
Zhang Xuan was a Chinese painter who lived during the Tang Dynasty .Zhang Xuan painted many pieces of art, one of his best known paintings is Court Ladies Preparing Newly-Woven Silk, of which a single copy survives painted by Emperor Huizong of Song in the early 12th century...

's painting Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, and Emperor Huizong's reproduction is the only copy of that painting that survives today.

He invented the "Slender Gold" (瘦金體) style of calligraphy. The name "Slender Gold" came from the fact that Huizong's writing resembled gold filament, twisted and turned.

His era name of Xuanhe is also used to describe a style of mounting paintings in scroll format
Hanging scroll
A hanging scroll is one of the many traditional ways to display and exhibit Chinese painting and calligraphy. Displaying the art in such way was befitting for public appreciation and appraisal of the aesthetics of the scrolls in its entirety by the audience. The traditional craft involved in...

. In this style, black borders are added between some of the silk planes.

In 1114, following a request from Emperor Yejong
Yejong of Goryeo
Yejong of Goryeo was the 16th monarch of the Korean Goryeo dynasty.-Biography:He was the eldest son of king Sukjong and Queen Myeongui...

 of the Korean court of Goryeo
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

, Huizong sent to the palace in the Goryeo capital at Gaeseong
Kaesong
Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

 a set of musical instruments to be used for royal banquet music. Two years later, in 1116, he sent another, even larger gift of musical instruments (numbering 428 in total) to the Korean court, this time yayue
Yayue
Yayue , Wade-Giles ya-yüeh; ; ; ) was originally a form of Chinese classical music that was performed at imperial courts. The basic conventions of yayue were established in the Western Zhou. Together with law and rites, it formed the formal representation of aristocratic political power...

instruments, beginning that nation's tradition of aak
Aak
Aak is a genre of Korean court music. It is an imported form of Chinese ritual music. Aak is often labeled as "elegant music" in contrast with other traditional Korean music...

.

Huizong was also a great tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

 enthusiast. He himself wrote the famous Treatise on Tea
Treatise on Tea
The Treatise on Tea is a book written by the Chinese Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty in 1107.Emperor Huizong was a great connoisseur of tea, with masterful skill in the art of tea ceremony. He often engaged in tea tasting and tea competitions with his subordinates at the Song imperial court....

, the most detailed and masterful description of the Song dynasty sophisticated style of tea ceremony
Tea ceremony
A tea ceremony is a ritualised form of making tea. The term generally refers to either chayi Chinese tea ceremony, chado Japanese tea ceremony, tarye Korean tea ceremony. The Japanese tea ceremony is more well known, and was influenced by the Chinese tea ceremony during ancient and medieval times....

.

Titles from birth

  • Prince of Suining Commandery (遂宁郡王)
  • Prince of Duan (端王)
  • Emperor
  • Emperor Jiaozhu Daojun (教主道君皇帝)
  • Duke of Hunde (昏德公)
  • Prince of Tiansui Commandery (天水郡王)

Era names


The era names of his reign were:
  • Jianzhongjingguo (建中靖國 Jiànzhōngjìngguó) 1101
  • Chongning (崇寧 Chóngníng) 1102-1106
  • Daguan (大觀 Dàguān) 1107-1110
  • Zhenghe (政和 Zhènghé) 1111-1118
  • Chonghe (重和 Chónghé) 1118-1119
  • Xuanhe (宣和 Xuānhé) 1119-1125

See also

  • List of Song Emperors
  • Architecture of the Song Dynasty
    Architecture of the Song Dynasty
    The architecture of the Song Dynasty was noted for its towering Buddhist pagodas, enormous stone and wooden bridges, lavish tombs, and palaces. Although literary works on architecture existed beforehand, architectural writing blossomed during the Song Dynasty, maturing into a more professional...

  • Culture of the Song Dynasty
    Culture of the Song Dynasty
    The Song Dynasty was a culturally rich and sophisticated age for China. There was blossoming of and advancements in the visual arts, music, literature, and philosophy...

  • Economy of the Song Dynasty
    Economy of the Song Dynasty
    The economy of China under the Song Dynasty of China was marked by commercial expansion, financial prosperity, increased international trade-contacts, and a revolution in agricultural productivity. Private finance grew, stimulating the development of a country-wide market network which linked the...

  • History of the Song Dynasty
    History of the Song Dynasty
    The Song Dynasty of China was a ruling dynasty that controlled China proper and southern China from the middle of the 10th century into the last quarter of the 13th century...

  • Society of the Song Dynasty
    Society of the Song Dynasty
    Chinese society during the Song Dynasty was marked by political and legal reforms, a philosophical revival of Confucianism, and the development of cities beyond administrative purposes into centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce...

  • Technology of the Song Dynasty
    Technology of the Song Dynasty
    The Song Dynasty provided some of the most significant technological advances in Chinese history, many of which came from talented statesmen drafted by the government through imperial examinations....