Emperor Taizong of Song

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  • Reign: 976-997
  • Chinese: 太宗皇帝 (Taizong huangdi)

Emperor Taizong was the second emperor of the Song Dynasty in China, and the younger brother of the dynasty's founder, Emperor Taizu. He took the throne following his brother's death in 976.

Taizong continued his predecessor's efforts to unify China under Song control, seizing control of Jiangsu and Zhejiang in 978, and Shanxi in 979. He then attempted to take the area around Beijing, controlled by the Khitan Liao Dynasty empire. After two such attempts failed, Taizong resorted to paying tribute to the Liao in exchange for peace. Beginning in 1004, the Song paid the Liao 100,000 ounces of silver and 200,000 bolts of cloth every year. The Song would continue to pay tribute to northern nomadic groups for roughly three hundred years.

Realizing the potential for the military to overthrow his dynasty as militaries had overthrown many previous Chinese dynasties, Taizong also took the significant step of forcing his chief generals to retire, and restructuring the government such that the military was subject to the control of the civil bureaucracy, rather than being simply separate from it, as had been the case up until then.

Preceded by
Emperor Taizu of Song
Emperor of Song
Succeeded by
Emperor Zhenzong of Song


  • Valerie Hansen, The Open Empire, New York: W.W. Norton & Company (2000), 265-267.