Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Emperor Renzong of Song -- An Excellent Artist and An Extremely Kind Person

Zhao Zhen (1010 -- 1063), also respected as Emperor Ren Zong of Song, was an extremely kind and thoughtful person, and was one of the politest and most open-minded emperors in the history of China.


The Song Dynasty reached great prosperity under his ruling period, when population and revenue all dramatically increased; paper currency was published in this period.


In addition, Zhen provided a bright and light environment for those intelligent people; many well established ministers and literatures were glowing.


Emperor Zhao Zhen himself, as a great calligrapher and poet in Chinese culture, never stole their thunder. 

Heartless Adoptive Mother Who Erased His Birth Mother 

Zhao Zhen was the son of Emperor Zhao Heng, whose queen Liu didn’t have any sons. This Queen snatched Zhao Zhen from his birth mother when he was born, and raised him as her own son. 


Zhao Zhen didn’t know who was his real mother until the queen died, however, his real mother had already passed away for a long time. 

Zhao Zhen ascended to the throne when he was only 13 years old, so his adoptive mother, also the Empress Dowager Liu, was in charge of everything, until she passed away ten years later.


During this period, they had many disagreements and conflicts about lots of things.


Emperor Zhao Zhen had been suppressed for a long time, he even couldn’t make his own decision for his love life. 


An Emperor Who Could Not Control the Queen's Crown

His adoptive mother, the Empress Dowager Liu, didn’t like the first girl that Zhao Zhen fell in love with, so she forced the girl to marry her ex husband’s son.


Then Liu forced Zhao Zhen to marry a girl she approved, though that girl was arrogant and impolite.


After Liu passed away, Zhao Zhen finally found an opportunity to take the queen’s title back.


Then, Zhao Zhen, now the Emperor Renzong of Song, was in love with another lady and wanted to nominate her as the next queen. However, his ministers strongly disagreed, because she wasn’t from a noble family.


The same thing happened again with another woman, who was the love of his life.


Zhao Zhen, as honorable as an emperor, gave up every time, and never awarded the queen's crown to any of his truly beloved women. 

Extremely Kind and Thoughtful to All ministers and Servants 

When it came to political issues, Emperor Renzong of Song was not very strong willed either. Emperor Zhao Zhen once tried some new reform policies, but failed. 


However, he brought his civilians almost half a century’s peace and prosperity. Economy, science, art and literature all developed well. 


Zhao Zhen was one of the kindest and most respectable emperors to his ministers in the history of China; and his genuine kindness was not because he didn’t have enough power or was being manipulated.


His imperial censors always surrounded and gave him unpleasant suggestions or criticisms, sometimes their saliva even sprayed onto his face; but he always politely negotiated with or listened to them and never got angry. 

Besides being kind to his officers, Zhao Zhen was even quite thoughtful for his servants.


When he was hungry at night, or felt thirsty during a walk, he never asked the servants to just do whatever he needed.


From his perspective, waking up people at night or making them to get water after a long walk would make people tired and bring them lots of troubles.


As a powerful emperor of a big kingdom, his kindness was extraordinary and quite unique. 

Calligraphy Work of Emperor Renzong of Song Zhao Zhen

Whether Zhao Zhen was a good emperor or not has been doubted and discussed for a long time in the history of China.


Some criticized that he was too soft. He could modestly listen to suggestions and critical ideas, but he didn’t have the ability to implement those right ones completely; some political reforms failed because of his weakness as well.


Others, however, thought Zhao Zhen was a very good emperor. He was extremely kind, polite, frugal, talented and well-educated; people lived in peace and wealth under his ruling period.

Zhao Zhen was not famous for expanding territory or implementing influential reforms, still, was highly respected by his people, and even his neighboring countries.


Respect and Love From Everyone 

According to documented history, when Zhao Zhen, the Emperor Renzong of Song, passed away, large numbers of people, even those living in remote areas, cried and voluntarily held many memorial ceremonies for him.


King of the nomadic regime Liao even was quite sad and wept for his death, he then established a memorial palace for Zhao Zhen in his nomadic country.


Emperor Zhao Zhen was truly a kind person with a great heart, who was loved by almost everyone.