Emperor Zhenzong of Song

Emperor Zhenzong (December 23, 968 – March 23, 1022) (also Chen-tsung) was the third emperor of the song dynasty of China. He reigned from 997 to 1022. Zhenzong was the third son of Emperor Taizong. His personal name was Zhao Heng and his temple name Zhenzong means "True Ancestor".

Zhenzong's reign was noted for the consolidation of power and the strengthening of the dynasty. The country prospered, and its military might was further reinforced. However, it would also mark the beginning of a foreign policy towards the Khitan Empire (Liao Dynasty) in the north that would ultimately result in humiliation. In 1004, the Khitan waged war against the Song empire. Zhenzong, leading his army, struck back at the Khitan. Despite initial successes, in 1005 Zhenzong concluded the Shanyuan Treaty. The treaty resulted in over a century of peace, but at the price of the song dynasty agreeing to an inferior position to the Khitan, and also agreeing to pay an annual tribute of 100,000 ounces of silver and over 200,000 bolts of silk. The admission of inferiority would come to plague the foreign affairs of the song dynasty, while the payments slowly depleted the empire's coffers.

Zhenzong founded a celebrated ceramic kiln at Jingdezhen in 1004, which continued to produce porcelain for China's imperial use until the fall of the qing dynasty 900 years later. He was also responsible for ordering the shipment of 30,000 bushels of quick-maturing rice seed from the Fujian Province to the lower Yangtze basin in 1011–1012, improving agriculture.

Zhenzong stressed the importance of Daoism at Court. It was during his reign that the so-called Heavenly Texts, which glorified the Zhao family, were allegedly discovered. This was followed up by Imperial sacrifices carried out at Mount Tai. From 1013 to 1015 he issued official decrees deifying the Jade Emperor as the highest ruler of Heaven.


A number of Chinese artifacts dating from the tang dynasty and song dynasty, some of which had been owned by Emperor Zhenzong were excavated and then came into the hands of the Kuomintang muslim General Ma Hongkui, who refused to publicize the findings. Among the artifacts were a white marble tablet from the tang dynasty, gold nails, and bands made out of metal. It was not until after Ma died, that his wife went to Taiwan in 1971 from America to bring the artifacts to Chiang Kai-shek, who turned them over to the Taipei National Palace Museum.

Personal information


Emperor Taizong of Song


Empress Li, posthumously honored as Empress Yuande (元德皇后)


Princess Pan (968 - 989), eighth daughter of Pan Mei (潘美), died before Zhenzong's accession and was posthumously honored as Empress Zhanghuai (章怀皇后)

Empress Guo (975 - 1007), second daughter of Guo Shouwen (郭守文) and granddaughter of military officer Guo Hui (郭暉), mother of Crown Prince You, formally Empress Zhangmu (章穆皇后)

Empress Liu (968 - 1033), daughter of Liu Tong (劉通) and Lady Pang, formally Empress Zhangxianmingsu (章獻明肅皇后)

Empress Li (987 - 1032), daughter of Li Rende (李仁德), mother of Prince Zhen, posthumously honored as Empress Zhangyi (章懿皇后)

Empress Yang (984 - 1036), daughter of Yang Zhiyan (楊知儼), posthumously honored as Empress Zhanghui (章惠皇后)


Consort Shen (994 - 1076), daughter of Shen Jizong (沈繼宗) and granddaughter of Chancellor Shen Lun (沈倫), formally Consort Zhao Jing

Consort Du

Consort Cao

Consort Chen

Consort Dai

Consort Xu

Consort Chen


Zhao Ti (趙褆), the Prince of Wen (溫王), died young

Zhao You (趙祐), Crown Prince Daoxian (悼獻太子)

Zhao Zhi (趙祇), the Prince of Chang (昌王), died young

Zhao Zhong (趙祉), the Prince of Xin (信王)

Zhao Gui (趙祈), the Prince of Qin (欽王), died young

Zhao Zhen 趙禎 (30 May 1010 - 30 April 1063), Emperor Renzong


Princess Hui (惠國公主), died young

Princess Sheng (升國大長公主), previously Princess Lu (魯國大長公主), initially Princess Wei (衛國長公主)

Last update 06-06-2012

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