Open main menu

Emperor Tianzuo of Liao (5 June 1075 – 1128 or 1156), personal name Yelü Yanxi, courtesy name Yanning, was the ninth and last emperor of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty. He succeeded his grandfather, Emperor Daozong, in 1101 and reigned until the fall of the Liao dynasty in 1125.

Yelu Yanxi
Emperor of the Liao dynasty
Reign12 February 1101 – 26 March 1125
PredecessorEmperor Daozong
BornYelü Yanxi
Aguo (infant name)
5 June 1075
Died1128[1] or 1156[2] (aged 53 or 81)
Era dates
Qiantong (乾統; 1101–1110)
Tianqing (天慶; 1111–1120)
Baoda (保大; 1121–1125)
FatherYelu Jun
MotherLady Xiao
Emperor Tianzuo of Liao
Traditional Chinese遼天祚帝
Simplified Chinese辽天祚帝
Aguo (infant name)
Yelü Yanxi (sinicised name)
Yanning (courtesy name)
Traditional Chinese延寧
Simplified Chinese延宁

Jurchen invasionEdit

During the reign of Emperor Tianzuo, the Jurchen tribes led by Aguda established the Jin dynasty in 1115. Aguda formed the Alliance Conducted at Sea with the Han Chinese-led Northern Song dynasty against the Liao dynasty, and began to establish authority over former Liao territory in Mongolia. Emperor Tianzuo, however, proved incompetent in dealing with the Jurchen threat, and in 1115 a coup was attempted by Liao generals to install his uncle Yelü Chun to the throne but was thwarted. The Jurchens advanced from Manchuria in 1117, and captured the Liao supreme capital in 1120, then its central capital in 1122.[3]

Another coup was attempted in 1121 to install Emperor Tianzuo's son, the prince of Jin, on the throne, but was again thwarted. The prince was executed, and most of the coup participants defected to the Jurchens.[4] In 1122, Emperor Tianzuo fled from the Liao southern capital (present-day Beijing) to the western regions. His uncle Yelü Chun then formed the short-lived Northern Liao dynasty in the southern capital, but died soon afterwards, and the southern capital was conquered by the Jurchens at the end of 1122 or early 1123.

End of the Liao dynastyEdit

After the end of the Northern Liao dynasty, a general Yelü Dashi rejoined Emperor Tianzuo. In 1123, the Jurchens captured Emperor Tianzuo's palace at Qingzhong (south of present-day Hohhot), capturing members of his family. Emperor Tianzuo fled to Western Xia and sought refuge there. Later, Emperor Tianzuo expressed his intention to attack the Jurchens, but Yelü Dashi withheld his support, considering it folly as the Jurchens were too strong. In 1124, Yelü Dashi fled to the west with a band of his followers, and established the Western Liao dynasty. In 1125, Emperor Tianzuo was captured by the Jin dynasty, ending the Liao dynasty.[5]


In 1156, in an act of humiliation, the Jin emperor who at the time was the Prince of Hailing ordered him and the former Emperor Qinzong of Song to compete in a match of polo. Emperor Qinzong was weak and frail, thus quickly fell off the horse. Yelü Yanxi himself was more familiar to horse riding, tried to escape but was shot to death by Jurchen archers.


  • Prince of Liang (1081–1084)
  • Prince of Yan (1084–1101)
  • Emperor of Jian (1101–1125)
  • Prince of Haibin (1125)


  1. ^ History of Liao
  2. ^ Da Song Xuanhe Yishi (大宋宣和遗事)
  3. ^ Biran, Michal (2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0521842263.
  4. ^ Biran, Michal (2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0521842263.
  5. ^ Chinese History – Liao Dynasty
Emperor Tianzuo of Liao
House of Yelü (916–1125)
Born: 1075 Died: 1128 or 1156
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Daozong
Emperor of the Liao Dynasty
Succeeded by
Yelu Dashi
as Emperor of Kara Khitai Khanate
Emperor of Northern China
Succeeded by
Emperor Taizong of Jin