Emperor Duzong

Emperor Duzong of Song (2 May 1240 – 12 August 1274), personal name Zhao Qi, was the 15th emperor of the Song dynasty of China and the sixth emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. He was a nephew of his predecessor, Emperor Lizong, and reigned from 1264 until his death in 1274.

Emperor Duzong of Song
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign16 November 1264 –
12 August 1274
Coronation16 November 1264
PredecessorEmperor Lizong
SuccessorEmperor Gong
BornZhao Mengqi (1240–1251)
Zhao Zi (1251–1253)
Zhao Qi (1253–1274)
2 May 1240
Shaoxing, Song dynasty
Died12 August 1274(1274-08-12) (aged 34)
Lin'an, Song dynasty (modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang)
Yongshaoling Mausoleum (永紹陵, in present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang)
(m. 1261⁠–⁠1274)

Lady Yang
(before 1274)
IssueEmperor Duanzong
Emperor Gong
Zhao Bing
Princess Xin'an Zhuangyi
Princess Zhenjing
Era dates
Xianchun (咸淳; 1265–1274)
Posthumous name
Emperor Duanwen Mingwu Jingxiao
Temple name
Duzong (度宗)
HouseHouse of Zhao
FatherZhao Yurui
MotherHuang Dingxi
Emperor Duzong of Song
Literal meaning"Measured Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Qi
Traditional Chinese趙禥
Simplified Chinese赵禥
Zhao Mengqi
Traditional Chinese趙孟啟
Simplified Chinese赵孟启
Zhao Zi
Traditional Chinese趙孜
Simplified Chinese赵孜

His birth name was Zhao Mengqi but his name was changed to Zhao Zi in 1251 and finally to Zhao Qi in 1253 after he was designated as Emperor Lizong's heir apparent. Duzong's reign was filled with rebellions and warfare; the court was dominated by his chancellor Jia Sidao and Duzong himself gave in into drinking and women, thus abandoning his duties. He died in 1274 leaving behind three young boys, one of whom took the throne as Emperor Gong. He is the last Emperor of the Song to issue coins; subsequent Emperors were too busy fighting the Mongols to establish mints to cast any coins and did not have enough resources. People later blame him for the fall of the Song dynasty.

Early lifeEdit

Despite his mother's attempt to induce an abortion (thinking herself of low social status),[1][2][3] Duzong was born in 1224 and would later be named heir to the Song Dynasty throne. The drugs his mother took as a method of attempted abortion affected him in many ways, impacting his intelligence, speech (allegedly he could not speak until 7 years of age), and his hands and feet were poorly developed and awkward to use.[1][2][4] He was Yurui's only son. Like his uncle Zhao Yun, he lived in Shaoxing.


Duzong was discovered by his paternal uncle Zhao Yun, better known as Emperor Lizong in 1253, who was sonless and therefore had no heirs so to compensate, adopted Duzong and designated him crown prince in 1260, an action historians still view as confusing.[1] Emperor Lizong died in 1264 and Emperor Duzong then ascended the throne.[5]


Emperor Duzong's reign was plagued with rebellions, warfare and corruption in his court; many officials accused the chancellor Jia Sidao of corruption but Duzong trusted Jia Sidao who Duzong honoured by bowing down to Jia even calling him "teacher" and according to anecdotes, when Jia was considering resigning, Duzong knelt down in tears begging Jia to remain in office.

Emperor Duzong ignored his duties and instead delegated all state and military affairs to the hands of Jia Sidao; the emperor instead indulged in drinking, women, and lived in opulence. To make things even worse, Duzong’s intelligence was lower than a normal person and he was often depressed.[citation needed] At first, he told the officials to be straightforward and tell him the problems in the countries, but this was all an act. Soon, he completely neglected his duties. Furthermore, he had a very high sexual appetite. Under Song laws, any woman who had sexual relations with the emperor had to pay respects to the emperor every morning. At one point, there were as many as 30 women paying their respects to Emperor Duzong in one morning. Duzong also gave official documents to four of his most favored women.[citation needed]

Mongol InvasionEdit

The Mongols had spent decades harassing the Song Empire's borders and were on the verge of conquering the whole of China. Emperor Duzong however, ignored this problem instead choosing to drink and indulging in sex because when Duzong heard that Xiangyang was being besieged by Mongol troops, Duzong asked Jia Sidao "I hear that Xiangyang had been besieged by the Yuan troops for several years. Is this true?" in which Jia said in all seriousness "Well, I haven't heard such a thing." Duzong replied with "A palace maid told me this."[6]

Siege of XiangyangEdit

Lu Wenhuan sent a messenger to Emperor Duzong, to request immediate reinforcements to defend Xiangyang. The messenger successfully got by the Yuan forts and reached the emperor but upon hearing the effectiveness of these new trebuchets, the emperor considered Xiangyang lost and did not send reinforcements. The decisive Battle of Xiangyang was fought in 1274 when the Mongols succeeded in capturing and destroying the last Song stronghold. The loss of Xiangyang sealed the fate of the Song dynasty and the news of its capture was deliberately hidden from Emperor Duzong by Jia Sidao.[citation needed]


Reports are disputed over how the Emperor died. Some say that he died from overindulgence in wine. But Historian Richard L. Davis and other sources claim that Duzong died suddenly from a severe negligence of a Palace Doctor.[7][8][2] In any case, he was succeeded by his sixth son, Zhao Xian (Emperor Gong), who was then only four years old. Although Emperor Duzong was technically not the last emperor of the Song dynasty, historians see him as the last Song emperor who could have made decisions that would've significantly halted or even prevented the fall of the dynasty, as Gong was forced to abdicate two years later at the age of 6. His reign ended with Chancellor Jia Sidao's execution, but the collapse of the Song Dynasty was inevitable as the Mongols drew closer.

Emperor Duzong was buried in the Yongshao Mausoleum on January 1275.[9]


Consorts and Issue:

  • Empress, of the Quan clan (皇后 全氏; 1241–1309), second cousin
    • Zhao Shu (趙舒; 1264), second son
    • Zhao Xian, Emperor Xiaogong (孝恭皇帝 趙㬎; 1271–1323), sixth son
  • Pure Consort, of the Yang clan (淑妃 楊氏; d. 1279), personal name Juliang (巨良)
    • Zhao Huang, Prince Qichongjing (岐衝靖王 趙鍠; b. 1268), fourth son
    • Zhao Shi, Duanzong (端宗 趙是; 1269–1278), fifth son
    • Princess (公主)
      • Married Jiang Rixin (江日新)
    • Princess Jin (晉公主)
  • Xiurong, of the Yu clan (修容 俞氏)
    • Zhao Xian, Duke Yichongding (益衝定公 趙憲; 1268–1270), third son
    • Princess Xin'an Zhuangyi (信安莊懿公主), first daughter
      • Married Fang Daosheng (方道盛)
    • Princess Zhenjing (貞靜公主), personal name Guangyi (光懿)
      • Married Huang Cai (黃材)
    • Zhao Bing, Emperor (皇帝 趙昺; 1272–1279), seventh son
  • Zhaoyi, of the Wang clan (王昭仪), personal name Qinghui (清惠)
  • Furen, of the Zhu clan (朱人 夫氏, d. 1276)
  • Unknown
    • Zhao Chao, Prince Guangchongshan (廣衝善王 趙焯; 1262–1263), first son


Zhao Bowu, a 7th generation descendant of Zhao Dezhao
Zhao Shiyi
Lady Liu
Zhao Xilu
Lady Shi
Zhao Yurui (1207–1287)
Quan Fen
Quan Dajie
Lady Dan
Lady Quan
Lady Wang
Emperor Duzong of Song (1240–1274)
Huang Dingxi

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Keith McMahon (21 April 2016). Celestial Women: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Song to Qing. ISBN 9781442255029.
  2. ^ a b c Davis, Richard L. "Troubles in Paradise: the Shrinking Royal Family in the Southern Song" (PDF). National Palace Museum.
  3. ^ Songren Yishi Huibian - Ch. 3. p. 102.
  4. ^ Davis, Richard L. (1996). Wind Against the Mountain: The Crisis of Politics and Culture in Thirteenth-century China. Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 29. ISBN 9780674953574.
  5. ^ History of Song.
  6. ^ Cheng, Qinhua (2000). Sons of heaven: stories of Chinese emperors through the ages. Foreign Languages Press. ISBN 9787119020471.
  7. ^ Songren Yishi Huibian - Ch. 3. p. 103.
  8. ^ . If that latter portion was true, then the Palace doctor was exiled.
  9. ^ Song Shi: “In August, Emperor Duanwen Mingwu Jingxiao, temple name Duzong died. In the first month of the first year of Deyou, he was buried in Yongshao Mausoleum.”
Emperor Duzong
Born: 1240 Died: 1274
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of the Song dynasty
Succeeded by