Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia

Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia (1003–1048), born Li Yuanhao (Chinese: 李元昊), or Tuoba Yuanhao (Chinese: 拓跋元昊), was the first emperor of the Western Xia Empire located in central China, reigning from 1038 to 1048. He was the eldest son of the Tangut ruler Li Deming.

Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia
Emperor of Western Xia Dynasty
Reign10 November 1038 – 19 January 1048
Actual reign1032 – 19 January 1048
Born7 June 1003
Died19 January 1048 (aged 44)
SpouseEmpress Yeli
Mozang Heiyun
Lǐ Yuánhào 李元昊 Birth name Li Weili 李嵬理
Era dates
Xiandao (显道):1032-1034
Kaiyun (开运):1034
Guanyun (广运):1034-1036
Daqing (大庆):1036-1038
Tianshoulifayanzuo (天授礼法延祚):1038-1048
Posthumous name
Wulie Huangdi (武烈皇帝)
Temple name
FatherLi Deming 李德明 (posthumously honored as Emperor Taizong)
MotherLady Weimu 卫慕氏 (posthumously honored as Empress Huicidun'ai)

Early backgroundEdit

After his father died in 1032, he became the leader of the Tangut. He was described as a talented army general and had always wanted to establish a country for the Tanguts.

Military campaignsEdit

Early in his leadership, Jingzong banished the surname Zhao which had been given by the Song dynasty, replacing it with the surname Weiming (Chinese: 嵬名, Tangut: 𗼨𗆟 ).

He had also started a revolution, changing the lifestyles of the Tangut people. He ordered Tangut men to shave their heads or they would face public execution. He also ordered a change of clothing and writing.

He took an aggressive stance with the Song dynasty. At its height, he claimed an army of 500,000 men.

In 1034 Jingzong attacked the Huanqing territories. He captured Song general Qi Zongju.

At this point, he changed his target to the Uyghur peoples of the West, and his efforts against them began in 1036.

From the Uyghurs, he took large portions of Gansu, and the Tangut people would control the Hexi Corridor for 191 years before being conquered by the Mongol Yuan.

In 1038 he declared himself the emperor of the Western Xia Dynasty whose capital was situated in Xingqing. Afterwards, he launched a campaign against the Song. Although the Tangut empire won a series of three large battles, the victories proved to be very costly and they found their forces depleted, due in part to a scorched earth policy by the Song. In 1044 the Tangut Empire signed a treaty with the Song dynasty resulting in the nominal acknowledgment of Song sovereignty by the Tangut and the payment of tribute by the Song.

Culture and politicsEdit

The Emperor led to a reorganization of much of the Empire with the help of Chinese advisors. The Empire created new departments and administrative services. The Emperor also knew Chinese and had Chinese works translated into his people's language. He accomplished this by supporting the development of a written language for the Tangut people.

However the Tangut script eventually went extinct after the Yuan conquest.

Nevertheless, Emperor Jingzong had strong opposition to the people imitating the Song dynasty too closely. He emphasized the value of their traditional nomadic way of life and discouraged any dependence on Song luxury items. Trade with the Song was minimized or cut off before the peace treaty that came four years before his death. Although Li used talented Song workers, to retain his own power and dynasty, he did not want to be conquered by the Song dynasty.

Later on the Tangut Li emperors would switch between multiple sides, Mongols, Jurchen Jin, and the Song in order to retain their power. Li's attacks weakened the Jin and Song dynasties to the extent that the Mongols would later be able to conquer China. For vacillating between multiple sides, colluding with Mongols and Jurchen, and launching attacks against the Song, Li Yuanhao is considered a traitor to the Chinese people.[1][2][3]

However, the Mongols ultimately crushed the Western Xia dynasty, destroyed nearly any vestige of the empire, and ended Li's reign in Ningxia. The Mongols would then reunify China under the Yuan dynasty.

Succession and deathEdit

In 1048, both the Prime Minister, Mozang Epang (沒藏訛龐), and Prince Ninglingge (寧令哥) conspired to assassinate Jingzong. Prince Ninglingge attempted to kill Jingzong with a sword, but he only managed to slice off Jingzong's nose. Frightened by what he had done, Prince Ninglingge fled to Mozang for backup, but Mozang betrayed Ninglingge by turning him in as the assassin.

Although Jingzong initially survived the assassination, he succumbed to his wounds a few days later.


  1. ^ "买宋-第二百二十三章 李元昊的帮手(第1/3页)_手机TXT无弹窗阅读". m.yookbook.com. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  2. ^ "大宋著名漢奸:好水川之戰輔助李元昊大敗宋軍,科舉制度因他改變" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  3. ^ "当王霸耳李元昊,称帝建国三鼎立". 知乎专栏 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2020-08-06.

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