Emperor Gaozong of Song - Biography

Biography

Gaozong was the 9th son of Emperor Huizong and the younger half-brother of Emperor Qinzong. His mother was a concubine from the Wei (韋) family who later became empress dowager, and is known posthumously as Empress Xianren (顯仁皇后) (1080–1159).

Gaozong was a regional ruler in the Northern Song dynasty. After Song's Qinzong and Huizong emperors were captured by the Jurchen, he became the emperor of China and established Southern Song empire. During his reign, Jurchens often attacked the Southern Song empire. Initially, he used military officials such as Li Gang, Zong Ze, Yue Fei, Han Shizhong and Yu Yunwen to hold the Jurchens at bay. However, after years of fighting and significant military success, Gaozong settled on a pacifist stance. One of the major reasons behind this was that Gaozong and the premier Qin Hui did not want the Song army to defeat the Jurchens, as this might result in Emperor Qinzong being restored to the throne. As a result, Gaozong and Qin plotted to frame Yue Fei for some ambiguous offence and had him put to death. General Han Shizhong was also dismissed from his military duties. Gaozong then signed the Treaty of Shaoxing with the Jurchens which further ceded huge amounts of territories to the Jurchens in the hope of appeasement.

Gaozong was also a notable poet, and had significant influence on other Chinese poets. Among his surviving works is "Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain" (left).

Gaozong abdicated in 1162 after reigning for more than 35 years but lived on until 1187. He was 80 when he died. His temple name means "High Ancestor".

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