Emperor Shizong of Liao

Emperor Shizong of Liao (29 January 919 – 7 October 951), personal name Wuyu, sinicised name Yelü Ruan, was the third emperor of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty of China. He was the son of Yelü Bei, the eldest son of Abaoji (Emperor Taizu), the founder of the Liao dynasty. He ascended to the imperial throne in 947 after the death of his uncle, Emperor Taizong, who raised him in his father's absence.

Emperor Shizong of Liao
3rd Emperor of Liao Dynasty
Reign16 May 947 – 7 October 951
PredecessorEmperor Taizong
SuccessorEmperor Muzong
BornWuyu (Khitan name)
Yelü Ruan (sinicised name)
29 January 919
Died7 October 951(951-10-07) (aged 32)
Era dates
Tianlu (天祿; 947–951)
Posthumous name
Emperor Xiaohe Zhuangxian (孝和莊憲皇帝)
Temple name
Shizong (世宗)
FatherYelü Bei
Emperor Shizong of Liao
Traditional Chinese遼世宗
Simplified Chinese辽世宗
Wuyu (Khitan name)
Yelü Ruan


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


Emperor 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 (Yelü Lihu) both of whom were sent far from the capital by Emperor Shizong. Both died soon afterward, Yelü Lihu in rebellion and Empress Dowager Yingtian of old age.

Emperor 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, Emperor Shizong adopted several reforms that propelled the Liao dynasty into a feudal society and consolidated power into a central government. However, Emperor Shizong was also a drunkard and liked to hunt. On a night in September 951, Emperor Taizong's cousin Yelü Chage (耶律察割) mutinied and killed Emperor Shizong and Empress Zhen in a coup, at the age of 33 years old and had reigned for only three years.


  • Empress Zhen (?–951) (皇后 甄氏); a former court lady of Later Tang
    • 3rd son Yelü Zhimo, the Prince of Ning (?–983) (耶律只没 宁王)
  • Xiao Sagezhi, the Empress Huaijie of the Xiao clan (?–951) (萧撒葛只 怀节皇后 萧氏); Shulü Ping's niece
    • 1st son Yelü Houabu, the Crown Prince Zhuangsheng (耶律吼阿不 庄圣皇太子)
    • 2nd son Yelü Xian (948–982) (耶律贤), become Jingzong of Liao (辽景宗)
    • 1st daughter Yelü Hegudian, the Princess of Qin State (耶律和古典 秦国公主)
    • 2nd daughter Yelü Guanyin, the Princess of Jin State (耶律观音 晋国公主)
    • 3rd daughter Yelü Sala, the Princess of Menggu (950–?) (耶律撒剌 萌古公主)
  • Consort Chuoli (?–971) (啜里) – No issue.
  • Consort Puge (?–971) (浦哥) – No issue.


Yelü Yundeshi
Yelü Saladi
Yelü Abaoji (872–926)
Yaonian Tila
Xiao Yanmujin (d. 933)
Yelü Bei (899–937)
Shulü Shensi
Shulü Pogu
Shulü Ping (879–953)
Yelü Yundeshi
Lady Yelü
Emperor Shizong of Liao (919–951)
Empress Rouzhen (d. 951)


  • F.W. Mote (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. pp. 52–53, 67. ISBN 0-674-01212-7.
Emperor Shizong of Liao
House of Yelü (916–1125)
Born: 919 Died: 951
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor of the Liao Dynasty
Succeeded by
Emperor of China (Kaifeng region)
Succeeded by
Emperor of China (Northern/Central)
Succeeded by