Emperor Xiaozong of Song -- A Determined Monarch with Huge Restrain

Zhao Shen (1127 -- 1194), also respected as Emperor Xiaozong of Song, was a descendant of the founder of the Song Dynasty, the Emperor Zhao Kuangyin, who passed away out of a sudden and had his throne occupied by his younger brother.


Selected As Crown Prince From Civilian's World

When the nomadic army captured two emperors of the Empire Song and almost the entire royal family, Emperor Zhao Gou was the only prince left in the current royal clan. 

However, Zhao Gou had only one son who died young, his five daughters were captured by the nomadic army.


After he reestablished the Song Empire in southern China, he was unable to give birth to another child. So Zhao Gou sent people to search for descendants of Emperor Zhang Kuangyin from the civilian world.


Then he found the five-year-old Zhao Shen, who was very smart and polite. Later, Zhao Shen was adopted by Emperor Zhao Gou and raised in the royal palace as the heir of the Empire Song. 


Ascending to the Throne in Crisis

Zhao Shen always respected his adoptive father and was very kind to the people around him. In his 30s, the Kingdom Jin invaded the Song Empire again, despite they already signed a very profitable, unfair treaty with Song before.


The next year, Emperor Zhao Gou nominated Zhao Shen as the crown prince and abdicated the throne months later. 


Unlike his adoptive father, Zhao Shen, now Emperor Xiaozong of Song, was quite determined on searching for vengeance.


The second month after he ascended to the throne, he summoned back those brave generals who wanted to fight and recover the lost lands.


Soon, he cleaned great general Yue Fei’s name, and welcomed all of Yue Fei’s expelled family members back and set them free.


Then Emperor Zhao Shen led his country diligently preparing for the revenge war. 


Xiaozong of Song's Ambition, Failure, and Compromise

The next year, Emperor Xiaozong of Song initiated a war toward Jin.


Song’s army achieved some successes in the beginning, but they failed later because those commanders of Song didn’t trust each other and were disunited.


Then the overlord Zhao Gou and his doves strongly disagreed to keep fighting, plus the big failure on the battlefield, Zhao Shen agreed to negotiate with the Kingdom Jin. 


As expected, Jin proposed even greedier and more insulting requirements to Song.


However, unlike those previous emperors who agreed on everything that Jin wanted, Emperor Xiaozong of Song denied the shameful treaty and started to prepare for another war.


After several rounds of fights and difficult negotiations, as well as the pressure of Zhao Gou and many doves, Emperor Xiaozong of Song signed another treaty with Jin, which included way less insulting items and less tribute money.  


This time, the Song Empire finally stopped respecting Jin as their monarch. 

A Disappointed, Exceptional Emperor

In the meanwhile, Emperor Xiaozong of Song dedicated to developing agriculture and economy in his empire, as Zhao Gou expected from him; but he still kept recruiting and training his army.


A few years later, his most trusted minister, who was able to lead the army to fight against Jin, departed because of overwork.


Zhao Shen, the ambitious Emperor Xiaozong of Song, now realized that there were no commanders like General Yue Fei who could support him to realize his recovery dreams. 


Therefore, he kept working diligently and developing his country, while waiting for a miracle to send him an exceptional, capable marshal. 


Emperor Xiaozong of Song was a frugal, diligent monarch in the history of China; also the best emperor after the Empire Song migrated southward.


He made his government efficient and implemented many good policies to encourage the development of society. His governance provided a kind environment for agriculture, economy, and culture, all of which achieved huge progress during that period.


He was never a big fan of beautiful women or a luxury lifestyle; he always wore old clothes and never constructed fancy architectures.


His civilians lived in peace and his national treasury was always full of money.   

Abdication of the Throne and His Peaceful Retirement Life

After his adoptive father Zhao Gou passed away, Emperor Xiaozong of Song was very sad; soon he abdicated the throne to his crown prince, and lived a normal and quiet retire life since after.


Years later, he passed away in his palace peacefully, old and sick. 


As a monarch who was always restraint by his adoptive father, the doves inside his government, and incapable commanders, Emperor Xiaozong of Song did a good job.


He brought people in his empire with comfortable and wealthy lives, and led his country to develop into a prosperous stage in the history of China; also, he tried his best and won some dignity back.


The Tragedy of the Song Dynasty

Zhao Shen, Emperor Xiaozong of Song, was an exceptional monarch with remarkable management ability, kind personality and strong will to recover his ancestor’s realm, but he had no intelligent supporters like General Li Gang and Yue Fei, who could help him realize his dream.


On the contrary, great ministers and generals like Li Gang and Yue Fei didn’t have a supportive, brave emperor like Zhao Shen.


This was a tragedy for Emperor Xiaozong of Song Zhao Shen, those excellent ministers, large numbers of civilians, as well as to the Song Dynasty. 

Most of Zhao Shen’s descendants had a strong will and tried several times to fight back against the Kingdom Jin, however, they never had capable commanders in the military who could unify the realm again. 


Undoubtedly, there were still large numbers of brave and loyal people in the Song Dynasty, but the reunification was not possible anymore. 

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