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Emperor Taizong (November 20, 939–May 8, 997), born Zhao Kuangyi, was the second emperor of the Song Dynasty of China from 976 to 997. He was the younger brother of Emperor Taizu (both born of the same mother).
During his reign as emperor, Song Taizong was a hardworking and diligent emperor. The part of his reign that is most notable is that he was the one that truly unified China by conquering the powerful Northern Han. He personally led the campaign in 979 against the Northern Han. During the campaign, he ordered his army to flood the cities by releasing the Fen River. In the end, Liu Jiyuan (刘继元) had to surrender. He paid much attention to the well being of his people and the Song dynasty became stronger. When he became emperor, he resumed many of the works left by Zhou Sizong (Song Taizu decided to put some of the works on hold) including increasing agricultural production, enlarging the examination system, organizing encyclopedias/volumes of books, expanding the court system, and further limiting the military power of the Jie Du Shi.
The two campaigns against the Liao EmpireEditar
Having just conquered the Northern Han Dynasty in 979, Song Taizong wanted to carry the momentum into the campaign against the Liao Empire. During the May of 979, Taizong started his first campaign from Taiyuan. At first, Taizong easily took down Chuo Prefecture and Yi Prefecture. Seeing the success of taking 2 prefectures, Taizong besieged Yanjing (modern day Beijing); however, the siege was bogged down when the protector-Yelu Xuegu did everything to defend the fortress. At the same time, Yelu Xiuge came from the Gaoliang River (west of Yanjing). Taizong would order his army to combat the back ups. At first, Taizong was told that the Liao army was suffering heavy casualties. Thinking that he has the whole battle under control, he ordered a full out assault, but Yelu Xiuge(耶律休哥) and Yelu Xiezhen(耶律斜轸) came from 2 roads to attack. Yelu Xiuge would directly concentrate all his attack on Taizong and the base. Frightened to death, Taizong started to evacuate from the battle ground. During the evacuation, the Song army was disseminated, and was obliterated by the cavalry of the Liao army. During the massacre, Taizong rode his horse toward the Yi Prefecture. Eventually, he returned safely under the protection of his generals. Because Taizong suffered an arrow injury, he wasn't able to ride the horse and had to sit in a carriage back to Ding Prefecture. Soon, after recollecting his mind, Taizong ordered a retreat. While Taizong and the army was separated, the army was without a leader. This time, people suggested to make Song Taizu's eldest son- Zhao De Zhao- emperor. After hearing this, Taizong's suspicions were raised, eventually causing De Zhao to suicide. In addition, Taizong also suffered the arrow injury that would bother the rest of his life. The significance of the Battle of River Gaoliang is that it was one of the first major factors that started to make the Song Dynasty turn into a defensive country. This early strong Song army suffered its first major and suffocating loss. At the same time, the incidence of De Zhao's potential coup started to worry Taizong. After the battle, Taizong completely ignores the official's words and would personally review the military situation and training, rather than ruling the country itself. Taizong would especially limit the military control and power of the royalties and army.
After Liao Jingzong died in 982, the 12 years old Liao Shenzong succeeded; however, due to the young age of the Shenzong, Xiao Empress(承天皇太后萧绰) was the ruler. It's around this time period in 986 that Song Taizong with the support the officials would launch his 2nd campaign. Still having nightmares of the first campaign, Song Taizong decided to stay at Kaifeng, but still direct the generals in combat (much as Han Gwuang Wudi of the Eastern Han did). He split the army into 3 roads- East, Central, West. The East was led by Cao Bing. The Central was led by Tian Zhong Jing. The West was led by Pang Mei and Yang Ye. All 3 of these armies were to cooperate and take down Yanjing. Because the year was Yongxi Year 3, the campaign became known as the Yongxi Northern Campaign. At first, there were some victories, but each of the 3 armies battled on their own and lacked cooperation. Cao Bing would riskily attack by itself, leaving the other 2 armies behind. Though Cao Bing quickly took back the Chuo Prefecture (which was taken once before during the last campaign), but because of the lack of food support, Cao Bing had to retreat back to the Xuong Prefecture. Later, because of miscommunication between the Central/West army with the East Army, the East Army again attacked the Chuo Prefecture. This time, the attack wasn't so lucky. Xiao Empress and Yelu Xiuge would each lead an army to support the Chuo Prefecture. As a result, combat ensued between the 2 army. Suffering heavy defeat, the East Army was nearly completely destroyed. Knowing the failure of the East Army would affect the whole plan, Taizong had no choice but to order a retreat. He ordered Cao Bing to return, Tian Zhong Jing to guard the Ding Prefecture, and Yang Ye/Pang Mei to guard 4 Prefectures near the border. Following the defeat of the East Army, the Liao Army led by Yelu Xiezhen would continue the pursuit and attack. The West Army led by Pang Mei met the Liao army led by Yelu Xiezhen at the Dai Prefecture. Once again, the Song army was no match and had to retreat. At this time, the West Army led by Yang Ye and Pang Mei was in conflict. Yang Ye suggested that the West Army should retreat because the East and Central armies had already suffered defeats and lost the advantage, but most of the generals, particularly Wang Sen thought he was betraying the army since he use to be from Northern Han. Even though Yang Ye knew it wouldn't turn out well, Yang Ye still led the army from the pressure of the other generals. The idea was that Pang Mei would back up Yang Ye when help was needed; however, when Yang Ye's army was trapped at the Chen Jia Gu (陳家谷), no help arrived. Eventually the whole army that was trapped got destroyed. Once again suffering another defeat under Yelu Xiuke and Yelu Xiezhen, Song Taizong decided to retreat the army once again in failure. This 2nd campaign was mainly a failure because the 3 armies couldn't work together (one army would be ahead or one army would fight alone) and lacked support (food was short). In addition, Song Taizong restricted the generals to a degree because the general game plan of how to combat the Liao were set by him. These failures prompted internal rebellions which were quickly suppressed. In 988, Xiao Empress again attacked the border, but this time around, Taizong merely ordered the generals to defend. From this point on, the Liao dynasty of the north would also come to plague the Song dynasty in the ensuing centuries.
Later reign after 988Editar
Seeing the fact that he can't surpass his brother in the martial area, Song Taizong took a literal and cultural approach to try and build up his legacy in the future. Song Taizong made many economic reforms and literal reforms that were superior to that of Taizu's. Furthermore, Taizong also built a lot of important buildings and created many important systems that were not included during Taizu's reign.
Song Taizong's accession to the throne have been shrouded in mystery, with claims that he murdered his elder brother, the Emperor Taizu and seized the throne. These allegations have not yet been proven as facts.
Taizong died in 997 after a reign of twenty-one years and was succeeded by his son. He was fifty-seven. His temple name means "Grand Ancestor".
- List of Song Emperors
- Architecture of the Song Dynasty
- Culture of the Song Dynasty
- Economy of the Song Dynasty
- History of the Song Dynasty
- Society of the Song Dynasty
- Technology of the Song Dynasty
Emperor Taizong of Song
House of Zhao (960-1279)Born: 939 Died: 997
The Taizu Emperor
|Emperor of the Song Dynasty|
| Succeeded by|
The Zhenzong Emperor
|Emperor of China|