Emperor Hailingwang of Jin

Emperor Hailingwang (海陵王) of Jin (February 24,1122–December 15,1161) was emperor of the jin dynasty, the Jurchen dynasty which ruled northern China. He reigned from January 9, 1150 to December 15, 1161. His birth name was Wányán Liàng (完顏亮), or in Jurchen, Digunai (迪古乃). He promoted the policy of sinicization of Jurchens, which was partially reversed by his successor, emperor Shizong of Jin.

Wanyan Liang was a son of Wanyan Woben, who in his turn was a son of the dynasty's founder Wanyan Aguda. Liang's father, Woben, was described as the most influential man during the reign of Liang's predecessor, Wanyan Dan.

Wanyan Liang, himself a marshal under Wanyan Dan, killed the emperor and usurped the throne in 1149. As a usurper of the Jin throne, Hailing was suspicious of other members of the Jurchen aristocracy, and, immediately upon seizing the power, started assassinating or executing potential rivals. In a mass execution of several aristocratic families, the lineage of Wanyan Wuqimai was exterminated, to secure the position of the lineage of Wuqimai's brother Aguda, to which Hailing himself belonged.

Capitalizing on the Jin Empire's being recognized as the "superior" state by other powers of the region after its victory over Song had been formalized in 1141, Hailing embarked on a program of making Jin Empire the Chinese Empire. To legitimize himself as a Chinese ruler, he lifted (1150) Wuqimai's prohibition of wearing Chinese dress, and adopted an array of Chinese practices and institutions, such as holding of sacrificial ceremonies in the northern and southern suburbs of his capital (1149) (cf. ceremonies conducted at the Temple of Earth and Temple of Heaven in Beijing under Ming and Qing), the use of the imperial carriage (1151), a system of feudal rights (1156), and the Song's shan-hu (山呼) style of court ceremonies (1157). Hailing introduced palace examinations (1150) and set up the Imperial Academy (Guozijian) in 1151. In his pursuit to become the "real Chinese", entitled to rule all over the Heavenly Kingdom, Hailing moved his court from the original Jurchen capital, Huining to Yanjing (modern Beijing ) in 1153, and later on (1157) ordered to destroy the palaces in Huining.

In contrast to China's Tang and Song traditions, which rarely imposed corporal punishment on the members of the society's educated elites, Hailing continued the Khitan and Jurchen tradition of floggings with a gusto, sometimes enjoying personally watching his officials and court members - including prime ministers, censors, and a princess - beaten with poles or whips.

Hailing's attempts to conquer the southern song dynasty and unify China under his rule ended in failure, his fleet defeated by the Song (1161) at Tangdao and Caishi, many of his officers defecting, and population rebelling in some areas. The emperor was killed by one his officers, and Hailing's cousin Wanyan Wulu, who had led a major rebellion against him, was proclaimed the new ruler.

Reign periods

Tiāndé 天德 1149–1153

Zhènyuán 貞元 1153–1156

Zhènglóng 正隆 1156–1161

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