The reign of Li-tsung (1224–1264)

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Book chapter

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The reign of Li-tsung (1224–1264) volume 5 : the Sung dynasty and its precursors, 907–1279, part 1

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Cambridge University Press


The sudden elevation of Chao Yün (1205–64) to imperial son only five days before the death of Emperor Ning-tsung and the replacing of Chao Hung as heir to the throne might have turned the Sung court into a battlefield of warring factions. Instead, this irregular transfer of power took place initially without incident. No mutiny erupted among the guards assigned to protect Chao Hung. The guards were forcibly detained outside the palace on the night of Ning-tsung’s death and thereby denied any opportunity to interrupt the accession. Imperial clansmen living away from Lin-an raised no armies to lead against the capital with a pledge to restore the throne to its rightful occupant. The bureaucracy was also muted in its response. No one attempted to assassinate the chief councilor, Shih Mi-yüan, for his leading role in the controversial succession. There was no repeat of the Han T’o-chou incident. Students at the Imperial University proved uncharacteristically quiet. No indictments were submitted against powerful ministers exceeding their authority. The political elite, if not regarding the succession as legitimate, found it expedient to confine its suspicions and gossip to private quarters. Even the hot-tempered Chao Hung seems to have passively accepted his fate. He made no attempt to turn the bureaucracy against Shih Mi-yüan, its increasingly unpopular chief. The new emperor, known to history as Li-tsung, opted against a distant exile for his adoptive brother. Chao Hung was quickly moved to the quiet, scenic fishing town of Hu-chou, where he probably enjoyed considerable freedom of movement.



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ISBN of the source publication: 9781139055987

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Recommended Citation

Davis, R. L. (2009). The reign of Li-tsung (1224–1264). In Denis C. Twitchett, & Paul Smith (Eds.), The reign of Li-tsung (1224–1264) volume 5: The sung dynasty and its precursors, 907–1279, part 1 (pp. 839-912). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CHOL9780521812481.013