Emperor Shizong of Liao

The Emperor Shizong of Liao (Chinese: 辽世宗; pinyin: Liáo Shìzōng) (January 29, 919–October 7, 951), born as Yelü Ruan (Chinese: 耶律阮; pinyin: Yēlǜ Ruǎn), also known as Wuyu, was the third emperor of Liao dynasty, reigning from 16 May 947 to 7 October 951. He is the son of Prince Bei, the eldest son of Abaoji, the founder of the Khitan Empire. He came to power after the death of his uncle, Emperor Taizong, who raised him after his father left for China and the court of the later tang.


Emperor Taizong was on campaign in China when he died in 947. Ruan accompanied him on this campaign, allowing him to quickly gain the support of army leaders. While returning to the capital, his grandmother, the empress dowager Yingtian, had plotted to have her third son, Prince Lihu, ascend to the throne, and sent an army to intercept her grandson. She had denounced Ruan in her campaign to support her son. However, the Khitan nobles, knowing that Prince Lihu was entirely unfit for the throne, refused to support her this time as they did previously with the ascension of Deguang as Emperor Taizong. Fortunately, the strong support the court gave to Ruan's claim prevented a civil war among the Khitans.


Shizong was known both for his generosity as well as for his martial prowess. This generosity was not extended to either his grandmother or his uncle (Prince Lihu) both of whom were sent far from the capital by Shizong. Both died soon afterward, Prince Lihu in rebellion and Yingtian of old age.

Shizong took to the field in 951 in a successful effort to resist Chinese advances from the south. However, later that year, a mere four years after his ascension as emperor, he was killed by a rebellious nephew who was part of an effort within the imperial clan to usurp the throne.

During his reign, Shizong adopted several reforms that propelled the Liao Dynasty into a feudal society and consolidated power into one central government. However, Shizong was also a drunkard and liked to hunt. On a night in September 951, Shizong was murdered by an officer after a battle. He was only thirty-three, and had reigned for only three years.

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