Xia Jingzong

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Xia Jingzong ( Chinese  夏景宗 , Pinyin Xià Jǐngzōng ; * 1003 as Li Yuanhao ( 李元昊 , Lǐ Yuánhào ); † 1048 in Xingqing ) was the first emperor of the western Xia dynasty . He took over the rulership of the Tangut state of Xia from his father Li Deming , but refused to submit to the Song and Liao emperors . He established a state with institutions on the basis of Tangut society, had land reclaimed and waged several wars against Liao and Song. In doing so, he established the Western Xia Dynasty as the third power in China of his time. He is considered a talented statesman with great foresight, although he is said to have suffered from moral decline towards the end of his life.

Origin, childhood and youth

Jingzong was born as Li Yuanhao. His grandfather Li Jiqian was the leader of the Tanguts and was made a Jiedushi by the Song Dynasty . In several campaigns and domestic political efforts, this laid the foundation for the Tangut's increase in power. After Li Jiqian's death, his son Li Deming took over the leadership role of the Tanguts, who under him became the third strongest force after the Song and Liao. He was recognized as King of Xia by the two states. He married a woman from the Weimu clan, who later became Queen Weimu .

Li Yuanhao was considered extraordinarily bold even as a teenager and was able to gather followers. He studied warfare books from childhood. He learned the Chinese and Tibetan languages ​​and studied the legislation of the Song Empire and the Tibetan monarchy . He rejected his father's foreign policy, which aimed to appease his neighbors and with which he had declared himself vassal to Liao and Song. In particular, he did not see why one should submit to the weakened Song dynasty. His father thought the people were tired of war, but Li Yuanhao believed that waging war was part of the Tangut nature. In 1028 he was commissioned at the age of 26 years with a campaign in which the Ganzhou (now Zhangye ), Guazhou and Shazhou (now Dunhuang ) conquered. Thus the Hexi Corridor became part of the Xia Empire. The satisfied King Li Deming raised his son to crown prince in the face of this achievement, in which he had successfully used ploy and surprise attacks. When the king died in 1032, Li Yuanhao succeeded him on the throne.


At the time of Li Yuanhao's accession to the throne, the other two major states in China were pursuing a policy of containment towards Xia. They recognized Li as the legitimate ruler of Xiah and sent numerous gifts. The titles that Emperor Renzong Li Yuanhao agreed to bestow were not enough for Li. Long before that he had decided to proclaim himself emperor, for which he first initiated changes in Xia's society. This included first of all the emphasis on Tangut cultural independence. He had the family names given by the Han abolished and converted into Tangut names. He called himself the blue son of heaven (兀 卒). He had the counting of the years after the beginning of the reign of the Song emperors replaced by a separate calendar. He ordered that all Tangut men had to shave the back of their heads - anyone who did not obey this instruction within three days would face the death penalty. He also introduced new regulations for the color of clothes his government officials wore; the color white was reserved for itself. He had the Chinese script replaced by an equally complex Tangut script , and the scholar Yeli Renrong was given the task of systematizing the script and translating the most important Chinese and Tibetan books. Perhaps the most important innovation concerned the military. All Tangut men over 15 years of age were registered for army service, a standing army and a reservist army were created. Li also had a mercenary force set up, which consisted mainly of Han Chinese prisoners.

In the tenth month of 1038, Li proclaimed himself emperor of the Great Xia Empire in his capital, Xingqing (now Yinchuan ). He asked the Emperor of the Song Dynasty to recognize him as emperor, but was rejected. Emperor Renzong decreed that Xia could no longer be treated with goodwill, stopped the border trade and offered a high reward for the capture of Li Yuanhao. Li Yuanho therefore prepared a war against Song. In the spring of 1040 he invaded Song with a force of about 100,000 men near present-day Yan'an . South of today's Zhidan , they encountered Song's army, which they were able to defeat. Xia had to withdraw because of the bad weather for which it was not prepared. The following year, Xia attacked near what is now Pingliang ( Gansu ). Li allowed a small vanguard to penetrate deep into Song's territory and, after being noticed by the Song Army, quickly withdraw. The Song Army, which pursued the vanguard, was encircled and destroyed by Xia troops northeast of what is now Longde ( Ningxia ). A third attack was also successful. Although the Xia army defeated the Song army several times in the field, Li Yuanhao had to enter into peace negotiations with Song. The campaigns were expensive, the suspension of border trade had hurt Xia's economy and an attack by Liao on Xia was looming. After a year of negotiations, it was agreed to return to the old coexistence: Xia formally submitted to Song, Song recognized Xia's current borders, Li Yuanhao was confirmed as Xia's legitimate ruler, and both sides returned to the system of tribute payments and border trade.

At the same time, however, relations with Liao had deteriorated. Originally, Li Yuanhao had an alliance strategy with Liao against Song. The Liao Emperor Xingzong had even given Li to his older sister Princess Xingping as a wife. However, she was granted neither a happy nor a long life at the Tangut court. The strengthening of Xia led to a return migration of Tanguts from Liao to Xia, but also to border conflicts in which at least one high Liao dignitary was killed. Not only Liao Xingzong, but Li Yuanhao as well, were in a worsening mood because Li believed that Liao had made undue profit from the Song Xia wars . He was particularly angry at the arrest of one of his ambassadors during the peace negotiations. A war against Liao had become inevitable. Liao took the initiative when Xingzong crossed the Yellow River with 100,000 men in three divisions , penetrated 400 Li deep into the Xia area, and inflicted a severe defeat on the Xia troops. Li was only able to lure them to Xia using a scorched earth tactic , where he defeated the starving Liao troops. Xingzong could only retreat with a small cavalry force. He had to accept Li Yuanhao's peace offer and release the captured ambassador.

As a result of these wars, Xia was only formally a vassal of Song and Liao, in fact it had risen to become an equal state.

Later life and death

Li Yuanhao became increasingly addicted to alcohol and sexual appetite, and was also considered extremely suspicious. Even before his conquests, he had the entire clan of his first queen killed; his own mother had to poison herself. Li is said to have had a very large number of concubines in his palace and to force other men to give him their wives as concubines . After the death of the scholar Yeli Yuqi , his wife fled the Mozang clan to a nunnery. Li Yuanhao continued to have a relationship with her and used hunting trips as an excuse to visit her. In 1047 she gave birth to a son named Ningling Liangcha . The relationship between Ms. Mozang and the emperor was strengthened and the ambitious older brother of the woman named Mozang Epang took the opportunity to be promoted to the office of Chancellor by Li. In the same year, Li Yuanhao's son from his marriage to Empress Yeli Ninglingge celebrated his wedding, but Li Yuanhao claimed Ninglingge's bride as a concubine for himself. When the empress was upset, she was deposed and ostracized by the emperor, and Ninglingge was deposed as heir to the throne. Mrs. Mozang was promoted to Empress Mozang .

Mozang Epang allied himself with Ninglingge in this situation and convinced him to kill his morally decrepit father. In 1048, Ninglingge ambushed his drunken father in his own apartment and tried to stab him. In the scuffle that followed, Ninglingge cut off the emperor's nose, but did not succeed in killing him. Ninglingge tried to hide in the apartments of Mozang Epang, but Mozang betrayed him and blocked his way, so that the assassin himself died. The emperor succumbed to his injuries a few days later. He was buried in the Tangut necropolis , was given the temple name Xia Jingzong and the posthumous name Wulie (武 烈). His successor was his then one-year-old son Ningling Liangcha.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g 善 从: 中国 皇帝 全 传 . 11th edition. 中国 华侨 出版社, Beijing 2018, ISBN 978-7-5113-1710-0 , pp. 457-460 .
  2. 张宏伟: 中国 后妃 全 传 . 5th edition. 中国 华侨 出版社, Beijing 2017, ISBN 978-7-5113-3273-8 , pp. 428 .