Emperor Guangzong of Song

Emperor Guangzong of Song (30 September 1147 – 17 September 1200), personal name Zhao Dun, was the 12th emperor of the Song dynasty of China and the third emperor of the Southern Song dynasty.

Emperor Guangzong of Song
Palace portrait on a hanging scroll, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Emperor of the Song dynasty
Reign18 February 1189 – 24 July 1194[a]
Coronation18 February 1189
PredecessorEmperor Xiaozong
SuccessorEmperor Ningzong
BornZhao Dun (趙惇)
30 September 1147[a]
Died17 September 1200(1200-09-17) (aged 52)
Yongchongling Mausoleum (永崇陵, in present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang)
(died 1200)
IssueEmperor Ningzong
Era dates
Shaoxi (紹熙; 1190–1194)
Posthumous name
Emperor Xundao Xianren Minggong Maode Wenwen Shunwu Shengzhe Cixiao
Temple name
Guangzong (光宗)
HouseHouse of Zhao
FatherEmperor Xiaozong
MotherEmpress Chengmu
Emperor Guangzong of Song
Literal meaning"Bright Ancestor of the Song"
Zhao Dun
Traditional Chinese趙惇
Simplified Chinese赵惇

He was the third son of his predecessor, Emperor Xiaozong. His mother was Emperor Xiaozong's first wife, Lady Guo (郭氏; 1126–1156), who was posthumously honoured as "Empress Chengmu" (成穆皇后). His reign was relatively peaceful, but his lack of filial piety eventually made officials replace him with his son Emperor Ningzong.

Early lifeEdit

During his childhood, Guangzong either suffered from bipolar or severe neurosis.[1] Despite this, Guangzong was reportedly filial to his father albeit his father kept on delaying the succession.[2]

In 1194, was promoted from the ruler of a Zhou to Fu.

Emperor Xiaozong abdicated in favor of Emperor Guangzong in 1194 which Emperor Guangzong later described his crowning as king and then Emperor Guangzong as a "double celebration" which gave the city of Chongqing its present-day name in honour of Guangzong.


Upon the succession of Emperor Guangzong in 1189, it was actually suggested that Empress Dowager Wu would act as his regent, because of his bad health.[3] However, during his reign, it was the spouse of Guangzong who de facto ruled the Song Empire.[3]

Guangzong constantly accompanied his father in tours and banquets.[2] This changed due to the enormous influence of his wife Empress Li Fengniang became notorious in Chinese history for being ruthless and shrewd, and for ruling the state through her husband, who became known a "henpecked weakling" dominated by his wife.[3] Eventually, Guangzong made up excuses in order to avoid his father.[2]

According to Xu Wei, the Nanxi style of theatre began in Emperor Guangzong's reign. Guangzong listened to some treacherous officials and dismissed the popular military leader Xin Qiji. Furthermore, Guangzong gave into drinking in his middle years which deteriorated his mental state.[1][2]

When the Retired Emperor Xiaozong became sick, Guangzong refused to visit him upsetting Xiaozong and furthermore, making Xiaozong's illness worse.[2]

He was forced to give up his throne to Zhao Kuo, his only surviving son and child in 1194 by his officials and his grandmother, Grand Empress Dowager Wu under the reason that he was "too ill" to perform the mourning rites.[2] In reality, they had forced him to abdicate because he refused to attend the funeral procession of his father, Emperor Xiaozong due to the influence of his wife Empress Li Fengniang, and that he refused to wear mourning clothes making the officials angry about his lack of filial piety.[2] He died in 1200 near Shaoxing, Zhejiang possibly from melancholy as he was mentally ill or he became sick and died.[4]


Consorts and Issue:

  • Empress Ciyi, of the Li clan (慈懿皇后 李氏; 1144–1200), personal name Fengniang (鳳娘)
    • Zhao Ting (趙挺), first son
    • Zhao Kuo, Ningzong (寧宗 趙擴; 1168–1224), second son
    • Princess Qi'an (齊安公主), third daughter
  • Noble Consort, of the Huang clan (貴妃 黃氏 d. 14 December 1191)
    • unborn child (d.1191)
  • Noble Consort , of the Zhang clan (贵妃 张氏)
  • Jieyu, of the Fu clan (婕妤 符氏)
  • Unknown
    • Princess Wen'an (文安公主), first daughter
    • Princess Hezheng (和政公主), second daughter


Zhao Shijiang
Zhao Linghua
Lady Li
Zhao Zicheng (d. 1144)
Lady Liu
Emperor Xiaozong of Song (1127–1194)
Lady Zhang (d. 1167)
Emperor Guangzong of Song (1147–1200)
Guo Ruojie
Guo Zhiqing
Lady Cao
Guo Jian
Lady Xia
Empress Chengmu (1126–1156)
Lady Zhao

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Davis, Richard L. "Troubles in Paradise: the Shrinking Royal Family in the Southern Song" (PDF). National Palace Museum.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Editorial, Asiapac (2018-11-27). The Classic of Filial Piety (2013 Edition - EPUB). Asiapac Books Pte Ltd. p. 72. ISBN 9789812296733.
  3. ^ a b c Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles: Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women, Volume II: Tang Through Ming 618 - 1644
  4. ^ Davis, Richard L. "Troubles in Paradise: the Shrinking Royal Family in the Southern Song" (PDF). The National Palace Museum.
  1. ^ a b Dates given here are in the Julian calendar. They are not in the proleptic Gregorian calendar.
Emperor Guangzong of Song
Born: 1147 Died: 1200
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of the Song Dynasty
Succeeded by